A Pacific Northwest island wonder

Whidbey Island

Discover history, art, mouthwatering seafood and, of course, the beautiful waters of Puget Sound while visiting the largest island in Island County. Outdoor thrill seekers will find activity at every turn whether kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking or biking around the island. Those seeking refuge will find treasures while shopping at waterside boutiques, gift shops, art galleries and flavorful cuisine.

Travelers can make it to the island by ferry or over the Deception Pass bridge bonding Fidalgo and Whidbey islands. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the iconic 177-foot-high bridge is admired for its graceful architecture and front-row seat overlooking lush emerald trees and turquoise waters.

Spend the day at Deception Pass State Park, Washington’s most-visited state park. Kids and adults can fish and swim in Cranberry Lake, search for seashells along the beach, hike through forests and along bluffs and listen to the collective chirp from some of the 155 species of the birds inhabiting the island. Keep an eye on the waters to catch a glimpse of harbor seals. Can’t leave just yet? Make reservations and set up camp at one of the park’s 172 tent sites.

Further south, visitors will find Oak Harbor, named for its distinguishing Garry Oak trees. Oak Harbor is the largest of seven towns on the island. Dating back to the early 1850s, the town is rich with history and close to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, built in 1942, and still operates today. Visitors can visit the PBY Memorial Foundation Naval Heritage Center to view seaplanes, artifacts, a flight simulator and learn more about naval history.

Don’t miss Oak Harbor’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July that transforms Windjammer Park into a grand carnival event. The day is kicked off with a parade, complete with music, candy and performers and ends with a bang with the night’s fireworks show. Rides, fair food and vendors all contribute to a Fourth of July celebration that’s fun for the whole family.

From museums to historic landmarks from World War I and II, history buffs will delight in all that Coupeville and the surrounding area has to offer. Visitors can go back in time at the Fort Casey Historical State Park, a 999-acre marine camping park along 10,810 feet of shoreline. Fort Casey, built in the 1800s, was used as a training facility until the mid-1940s. Park visitors can explore the original catacomb-like bunkers, an interpretative center and gift shop and admire the red and white, brick Spanish-style Admiralty Lighthouse, built in 1903.

Visitors will marvel at the sight of the Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens, a 1960s woodland filled with 10 acres of gardens and 43 acres of woodlands to explore. Hikers and cyclists alike will love the 35-mile-long Kettles Trail System, which connects Coupeville with Fort Ebey State Park, located within Ebey’s Landing, a national historical reserve known for its beautiful trails.

Heading down into Langley, near the southern tip of the island, travelers along the waterfront will find posh boutiques gleaming with art, jewelry, books and clothing. An art hub is Langley’s claim to fame, with galleries, studios and art walks filling the city. An art walk is held every first Saturday of the month. A must-stop is the Langley Whale Center.

Summer galleries will focus on local landscapes, glass art, jewelry and table-top sculpture. Langley will be bustling during the Whidbey Island Fair, July 27-30. Fair visitors will experience farm exhibits, animals, live entertainment, a wine garden and eye-popping art on historic farm ground.

Explore the plentiful parks, woods and shorelines or join in the waterside fun; there is something for everyone to enjoy on Whidbey Island.

Visit whidbeycamanoislands.com.

Whidbey Island Kids Corner

Fun: Meerkerk Gardens

Water access: Fort Ebey State Park

Playground: Windjammer Park, Oak Harbor

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