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San Juan Island
I-5, Exits 225/230 to Deception Pass
Miles upon miles of shoreline and
truckloads of fun.
Driving south through the winding, shaded roads of Fidalgo Island, you’ll suddenly emerge into bright openness, with airy views of sapphire water far below on either side. You’ve reached Deception Pass, the gateway to Whidbey Island.
With breathtaking views of islands, beaches, rocky outcroppings and swooping bald eagles, the bridge is a fitting entrance to an island full of attractions.
Deception Pass State Park is the most-visited state park in Washington for a reason. Covering more than 4,000 acres of old-growth forest, lakes, rocky coastline and sandy beaches, the park defies crowding and invites leisurely waterside meanderings, especially during magnificent sunsets. Campsites are well spaced and clean, and the ones near the shore offer spectacular views.
Heading south from Deception Pass, you’ll arrive in Oak Harbor, the largest town on Whidbey Island. A vibrant city of 22,000 residents, it is home to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Artisan outlets, wine shops and boutiques abound in the historical Harborside Shops district. Whidbey State Park, three miles west, has a spectacular beach. Relax in the sand or take in the scenery and wildlife away from the crowds, as this park is often overlooked. Flyers Restaurant and Brewery offers great burgers and a craft Hefeweizen with a twist of banana.
Coupeville is a few miles south of Oak Harbor on Penn Cove. Captain Whidbey Inn, at 106 years old, is one of many historical buildings in Coupeville, but is one of the few with a dock that can accommodate a 100-foot boat. It also offers bike rentals so visitors can easily explore the sumptuous local scenery.
If you decide to rent a bicycle, you’ll want to check out the Kettles trail system, which runs from Coupeville to Fort Ebey State Park. Named for depressions in the earth formed following the last ice age, the unusual topography makes for great hiking, mountain biking and swimming in certain water-filled “kettles.” Many of the trails are flat and paved allowing for easy bike riding for the entire family.
Find equal parts history and scenery at Fort Ebey, where WWII artillery stations lie hidden among the grass. A freshwater lake for fishing and three miles of shoreline on Juan de Fuca Strait captivate the young and old alike at this windswept seaside park.
The south end of Whidbey Island is an artists’ haven, as evidenced by the many galleries and art exhibits on display. Check out the Artworks Gallery at Greenbank Farm in Greenbank for a taste of the local art scene.
For any green thumb, a trip to Whidbey would not be complete without a stop at Cultus Bay Nursery. Described in the New York Times as an English garden in the Pacific Northwest, the nursery sells perennial herbs, vines and shrubs but also offers tours for those who just want to take in the beauty of an exquisite garden setting. W
For more info, visit whidbeycamanoislands.com.
Out and about on Whidbey Island.
GET OUTSIDE: Walk along the driftwood on West Beach in Deception Pass State Park to its south end where dunes and marshland surround an 800-year-old Douglas Fir tree.
GET A TASTE OF LOCAL SEAFOOD: Eat freshly harvested mussels by the pound and tip back some delicious brews at Toby’s Tavern, a Coupeville locals’ favorite.
FIND ROMANCE: Enjoy a romantic getaway and take in the breath-taking beauty of the Northwest with a stay at Eagle’s Nest Inn or the historic Saratoga Inn in Langley.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH: Lavender Wind Farm
sells its fragrant flowers year-round in its shop in Coupeville, but summer is the purple season. Take a trip to the farm and see the vivid fields at their height of color.