whidbey island

Want to discover the best things to do in Whidbey Island?

Nestled in the Puget Sound, north of Seattle, Whidbey Island emerges as a captivating destination, offering a blend of scenic beauty, rich history, and vibrant cultural experiences.

This remarkable island stretches over 50 miles long, making it one of the largest islands in the contiguous United States and a diverse playground for adventurers, families, and solitude seekers alike.

Whether you’re drawn by the promise of peaceful hikes through lush forests, the thrill of spotting whales from windswept coastlines, or the charm of its quaint, historic towns, Whidbey Island offers an array of activities that cater to every interest.

From the rugged cliffs of Deception Pass to the artistic alleys of Langley, the island’s unique attractions make it a must-visit destination.

Each visit promises memorable experiences filled with natural beauty, historical insights, and local flavors.

If you’re wondering about the best things to do in Whidbey Island, you’ll find that the island is not just a place to visit, but a world to be discovered.

Join us as we explore the top activities and hidden gems that make Whidbey Island an unforgettable escape from the ordinary.

1. Explore Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass State Park, a crown jewel of Washington State’s park system, spans the northern tip of Whidbey Island and offers some of the most stunning vistas in the Pacific Northwest.

Renowned for its breathtaking views of rugged cliffs, lush forests, and turbulent waters of Deception Pass, the park’s natural beauty is both dramatic and serene.

Its landscape is a mosaic of sky, water, and earth that seems to shift with the changing light, making it a photographer’s paradise and a nature lover’s retreat.

Visitors to Deception Pass State Park can engage in a variety of outdoor activities that highlight the area’s diverse ecology and geography.

Hiking is a popular way to explore the park, with trails ranging from the easy beachfront paths at Rosario Beach to the more challenging trek across the Deception Pass Bridge.

Each trail offers unique perspectives of the island’s fauna and flora, alongside opportunities for bird watching and spotting local wildlife like deer or bald eagles.

For photography enthusiasts, the park provides endless subjects, from the iconic bridge spanning the gorge to the serene sunsets over the Puget Sound.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for your next challenge or a casual visitor eager to capture the perfect sunset, Deception Pass State Park embodies the essence of the natural wonders available when exploring things to do in Whidbey Island.

2. Visit the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station

Situated on the serene expanse of Whidbey Island, the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station holds a pivotal position in both the local community and the broader military history of the United States.

Established during World War II, this base has grown significantly over the decades, serving as a critical training and operational site for the U.S. Navy.

Its strategic location and role in national defense make it a landmark of military significance and a source of pride for residents.

For those interested in military history and aviation, the Naval Air Station offers public tours that provide a deeper understanding of its operations and contributions to America’s naval capabilities.

These tours often include visits to hangars, a glimpse of the sophisticated aircraft like the P-8 Poseidon and the EA-18G Growler, and interactions with some of the personnel who support and carry out the base’s critical missions.

Moreover, the air station hosts spectacular air shows that draw crowds from across the nation.

These events feature thrilling aerobatic performances by military and civilian pilots, demonstrating breathtaking maneuvers that showcase the agility and power of modern aircraft.

These air shows are not only a display of aerial mastery but also a celebration of the community and its enduring connection to the field of aviation.

Visiting the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station offers a unique addition to the list of things to do in Whidbey Island, appealing to those who cherish history, technology, and the thrill of flight.

Whether you’re exploring the base on a guided tour or marveling at the precision of pilots at an air show, it’s an experience that encapsulates the spirit of adventure and discovery found on Whidbey Island.

3. Enjoy the Local Art Scene

langley art

Langley, a charming small town on Whidbey Island, is often celebrated as the heart of the island’s thriving art community.

This picturesque enclave not only boasts stunning views of the Saratoga Passage but also serves as a vibrant hub for artists and art enthusiasts alike.

The town’s commitment to fostering creativity is evident in its abundance of galleries, studios, and public art installations, making it an essential destination for those looking to immerse themselves in local culture.

As you stroll through Langley, you’ll discover a diverse range of art galleries featuring works from both local and internationally acclaimed artists.

These galleries exhibit an array of mediums, from traditional paintings and sculptures to more contemporary digital works and mixed media installations.

Each venue offers a unique glimpse into the creative minds that thrive in this inspiring environment.

In addition to the permanent galleries, Langley hosts several annual art events that draw visitors from all over the region.

One of the highlights is the Langley Art Walk, where galleries open their doors for extended hours, artists perform live demonstrations, and the streets come alive with music and performances.

Another notable event is the Mystery Weekend, an interactive community art event that combines storytelling, performance, and visual art, creating an engaging experience for participants of all ages.

For those interested in things to do in Whidbey Island that connect deeply with the arts, Langley is a must-visit.

Whether you’re an art collector, an aspiring artist, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty and expression of art, Langley’s vibrant art scene offers a rich and rewarding cultural experience that reflects the artistic spirit of Whidbey Island.

4. Discover the Historic Coupeville


Coupeville, the heart of Whidbey Island and the second oldest town in the state of Washington, is a historical gem waiting to be explored.

This quaint town is not only notable for its picturesque seaside setting but also for its well-preserved Victorian architecture and rich history, tracing back to the mid-19th century.

Walking through Coupeville is like stepping back in time, with its historic waterfront district offering a glimpse into the island’s past.

As you wander through the town, you’ll encounter numerous landmarks that tell the story of Coupeville’s heritage.

The Island County Historical Museum provides insights into the local history, from Native American artifacts to relics from the town’s early settlers.

Another significant landmark is the 1853 blockhouse at Fort Casey, which stands as a testament to the area’s military history and offers panoramic views of Puget Sound.

Coupeville also boasts a vibrant shopping and dining scene that reflects its historical and maritime heritage.

The town’s main street is lined with charming antique shops, local artisan boutiques, and bookstores that invite leisurely browsing.

For dining, visitors can enjoy a range of options from cozy cafes serving locally sourced fare to fine dining restaurants offering fresh seafood straight from the waters of Puget Sound.

The Penn Cove Mussels, a local delicacy, are a must-try for any food enthusiast visiting the area.

Visiting Coupeville is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Whidbey Island for anyone interested in history, architecture, or simply soaking up the atmosphere of a historic American town.

Whether you’re exploring its landmarks, shopping in its boutiques, or dining at its exquisite eateries, Coupeville offers a charming and enriching experience that captivates visitors of all ages.

5. Relax at Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve

Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve

Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve is a unique area on Whidbey Island, dedicated to preserving the historical, agricultural, and cultural traditions of the region while offering spectacular natural landscapes.

This reserve, named after Isaac Ebey, who was among the first permanent settlers on the island, encompasses a living rural community whose residents work hard to maintain its character and heritage.

The preservation efforts here are crucial in maintaining the landscape as it was when settlers first claimed this land in the mid-19th century, providing a living snapshot of Pacific Northwest history.

The reserve offers a wealth of recreational activities set against the backdrop of its historic farms and breath-taking views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound.

Hiking is a popular way to explore the area, with the Bluff Trail providing one of the most scenic routes.

This trail offers an easy walk along the ridge, where hikers are treated to uninterrupted views of the surrounding waters and landscapes.

Along the way, several points of interest recount the area’s history, making it a walk as educational as it is beautiful.

Bird watching is another activity that draws visitors to Ebey’s Landing. The reserve’s diverse ecosystems, from its rugged beaches to its grassy fields, support a variety of bird species.

Seasonal migrations turn the area into a bird enthusiast’s paradise, with opportunities to spot everything from majestic bald eagles to delicate shorebirds.

For those looking for relaxing things to do in Whidbey Island, Ebey’s Landing offers a perfect combination of natural beauty, historical exploration, and peaceful outdoor activities.

It’s a place where you can spend a day hiking and bird watching, or simply sitting back and enjoying the serenity of the preserved landscapes.

6. Wine Tasting at Local Vineyards

whidbey island winery

Whidbey Island may be famed for its natural landscapes and rich history, but it’s also becoming a celebrated destination for wine enthusiasts.

The island’s moderate climate, influenced by the Puget Sound, creates ideal conditions for viticulture, particularly for growing cool-climate varietals like Pinot Noir and Siegerrebe.

This burgeoning wine scene is supported by a community of passionate vintners who are eager to share their craft with visitors.

Among the must-visit local wineries is the Whidbey Island Winery, a pioneer in the area’s wine industry.

Known for its small-batch wines that capture the essence of the island’s terroir, this winery offers tastings in a cozy setting that feels like a home away from home.

Their selection ranges from vibrant whites to robust reds, providing something to please every palate.

Another notable vineyard is the Comforts of Whidbey, a family-owned estate known for both its wines and its stunning views of the Puget Sound.

Here, visitors can enjoy a tasting tour that not only highlights their excellent wines but also offers an insight into the winemaking process.

The winery’s top deck is a perfect spot for sipping a glass of wine while overlooking the tranquil waters and lush landscape of the island.

For those seeking an intimate wine tasting experience, Blooms Winery on Whidbey offers a boutique atmosphere where the focus is on artisanal wine production.

Their tasting room, located in the charming setting of Bayview Corner, provides a delightful ambiance to explore their award-winning wines.

Exploring the wineries is undoubtedly one of the enjoyable things to do in Whidbey Island for wine lovers and those curious about the island’s local produce.

Each vineyard offers unique experiences that highlight the diversity and quality of Whidbey Island’s wine offerings, ensuring that visitors have a memorable and flavorful journey.

7. Attend the Whidbey Island Kite Festival

Whidbey Island Kite Festival

The Whidbey Island Kite Festival is a colorful and family-friendly event that paints the sky with a myriad of vibrant kites each September.

Held at the picturesque Camp Casey near Coupeville, this festival attracts kite enthusiasts and families from across the region for a weekend of fun, creativity, and community spirit.

The festival not only showcases traditional kite flying but also includes competitions, kite making workshops, and demonstrations by professional kite flyers.

Visitors can expect to see a spectacular array of kites soaring high – from giant octopus kites that float gracefully above the ground to fast-moving stunt kites that zip through the air in intricate patterns.

The festival’s highlight is often the Rokkaku kite battle, where kite flyers maneuver their six-sided kites in a friendly combat in the sky, trying to knock each other’s kites down.

For families attending the Whidbey Island Kite Festival, here are a few tips to enhance the experience:

  1. Participate in Workshops: Engage in kite-making workshops offered at the festival. These workshops are great for children and adults alike, providing a fun learning experience and a chance to create your own kite.
  2. Bring Comfort Items: Pack a picnic, blankets, and comfortable chairs. The festival offers plenty of open space perfect for a family picnic while enjoying the aerial show.
  3. Check the Schedule: Review the festival schedule beforehand to plan your visit around special events like kite battles, precision flying demonstrations, and children’s parades.
  4. Capture the Moments: Don’t forget your camera. The festival is an excellent opportunity for photography, offering vibrant visuals and joyous family moments against a backdrop of flying kites and scenic views.
  5. Dress Appropriately: The weather can be unpredictable; it’s wise to dress in layers and bring sunscreen and hats to protect from the sun.

8. Kayaking and Water Sports

Whidbey Island kayaking

Whidbey Island is not only a haven for those who enjoy serene natural settings and vibrant community events but also a paradise for water sports enthusiasts.

The island’s extensive coastline offers numerous opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and more, providing visitors with a unique way to explore its scenic beauty from the water.

One of the best spots for kayaking is Penn Cove, renowned for its calm waters and stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape.

This area is ideal for both beginners and seasoned kayakers, offering a chance to glide over clear waters while admiring the lush shoreline and wildlife.

Another popular location is Langley’s Saratoga Passage, where kayakers often spot gray whales during migration seasons, making for an unforgettable experience.

For those interested in more structured activities, several local businesses on Whidbey Island offer rentals and guided tours.

Whidbey Island Kayak Company, for instance, provides not only the equipment necessary for a day on the water but also guided tours that cater to all skill levels.

These tours can take you along hidden coastlines, through marine reserves, and past historic sites, enriching your experience with educational insights about the area’s ecology and history.

Another option is the Possession Point Water Sports Center, which specializes in more than just kayaking.

They offer lessons and rentals for stand-up paddleboarding, sailing, and even windsurfing. This variety ensures that every water sports enthusiast can find something exciting to do while visiting the island.

9. Visit the Island County Historical Museum

Island County Historical Museum

Located in the heart of Coupeville, the Island County Historical Museum serves as a vital repository of the rich heritage and culture of Whidbey Island and the surrounding region.

This museum is not just a collection of artifacts; it’s a dynamic space that tells the story of the island’s past through engaging exhibits and thoughtful presentations.

The museum’s collections are extensive and varied, covering aspects from the Native American tribes who first inhabited the region, to the early European settlers, and up to contemporary times.

One of the highlights includes a detailed exhibit on the maritime history of Puget Sound, showcasing the importance of the sea in shaping local life.

Additionally, the museum houses an impressive array of pioneer and Victorian-era artifacts, providing insights into the daily lives of Whidbey Island’s early residents.

Beyond its collections, the Island County Historical Museum places a strong emphasis on the importance of local history and culture in understanding the present and shaping the future.

Through its educational programs and community events, the museum actively engages with visitors and locals alike, fostering a sense of identity and continuity.

Special programs for schools and families make history accessible and interesting for younger audiences, helping to instill an appreciation for the island’s heritage from an early age.

Visiting the Island County Historical Museum is more than just one of the educational things to do in Whidbey Island; it’s an opportunity to connect with the island’s past and gain a deeper understanding of the forces that have shaped this unique community.

Whether you’re a history buff, a family with curious kids, or just looking to enrich your visit, the museum offers a compelling and enriching experience that brings Whidbey Island’s history to life.

10. Explore the Local Cuisine

Penn Cove mussels

Whidbey Island is not only a feast for the eyes but also for the palate, offering a vibrant food scene that reflects its rich agricultural heritage and coastal location.

The island’s culinary landscape is characterized by a commitment to farm-to-table dining, where local produce, seafood, and artisan products take center stage.

This dedication to fresh, locally-sourced ingredients makes dining on Whidbey Island a unique and flavorful experience.

One of the must-try local dishes is the Penn Cove mussels, famous throughout the Pacific Northwest for their sweet flavor and tender texture.

These mussels are harvested right in the waters off Whidbey Island, and you can enjoy them at their freshest in restaurants across the island.

The Oystercatcher in Coupeville is renowned for its mussel dishes, serving them steamed with a variety of flavorful broths that enhance their natural taste.

For those who appreciate organic produce and artisan cheeses, a visit to the farmers’ markets in Langley or Bayview offers a chance to sample and purchase from a wide array of local vendors.

Here, you can find everything from heirloom vegetables to handmade chocolates, all produced on the island.

Whidbey Island also boasts several standout restaurants that are worth a visit.

Prima Bistro in Langley offers a French-inspired menu with a Pacific Northwest twist, featuring dishes like Dungeness crab cakes and lavender crème brûlée.

Another local favorite, Christopher’s on Whidbey, in Coupeville, specializes in sophisticated dishes made from local ingredients, such as pan-seared scallops with a seasonal vegetable medley.


Whidbey Island is a treasure trove of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, making it a perfect destination for travelers seeking a diverse and enriching experience.

From the breathtaking vistas at Deception Pass State Park to the historic charm of Coupeville, the island offers a variety of attractions that cater to all interests and ages.

Whether you’re exploring the rugged landscapes, diving into the local art scene in Langley, or indulging in the fresh flavors of the island’s cuisine, Whidbey Island ensures memorable moments and lasting impressions.

The island’s unique offerings, such as the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and the annual Kite Festival, provide distinctive experiences that are hard to find elsewhere.

The opportunities for outdoor activities like kayaking and hiking through Ebey’s Landing afford visitors a chance to connect with nature and enjoy the serene environment.

Meanwhile, the local vineyards and the historical museum offer deeper insights into the island’s heritage and the community’s dedication to preserving and celebrating their rich history.

things to do in whidbey island

FAQ’s About Whidbey Island:

Why is Whidbey Island famous?

Whidbey Island is famous for its stunning natural landscapes, including dramatic cliffs, lush forests, and expansive beaches.

It’s also known for its rich history, vibrant arts community, and charming towns like Langley and Coupeville.

Additionally, the island is celebrated for Deception Pass State Park, one of the most photographed locations in Washington State, and its local festivals and community events.

What famous people live on Whidbey Island?

Whidbey Island has been home to various artists, writers, and actors who appreciate its seclusion and natural beauty.

Notable residents have included the world-renowned author Elizabeth George and actress Marta Kristen.

The privacy and tranquility of the island make it an attractive retreat for many in the creative professions.

Is Whidbey Island worth seeing?

Absolutely, Whidbey Island is worth seeing.

Its combination of natural beauty, historical sites, and vibrant arts scene offers something for everyone.

Whether you’re interested in hiking, history, wine tasting, or just relaxing by the sea, Whidbey Island provides a diverse range of attractions and activities that make it a worthwhile destination.

What is the cutest town on Whidbey Island?

Langley, often referred to as “The Village by the Sea,” is considered the cutest town on Whidbey Island.

Langley charms visitors with its quaint architecture, picturesque streets lined with unique shops and galleries, and stunning views of the water.

The town also hosts several festivals and community events throughout the year, adding to its appeal.

What movies have been filmed on Whidbey Island Washington?

Whidbey Island has been a picturesque backdrop for several films.

Notable movies filmed on the island include “War of the Roses” and “Snow Falling on Cedars.”

The island’s scenic vistas and small-town ambiance make it an ideal location for movie productions seeking beautiful settings.

Who is the largest employer in Whidbey Island?

The largest employer on Whidbey Island is the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

It plays a crucial role in the local economy, providing many jobs to residents and contributing significantly to the economic stability of the region.

Are there predators on Whidbey Island?

Yes, there are predators on Whidbey Island. The island is home to native wildlife including coyotes, raccoons, and bald eagles.

While larger predators like bears and cougars are rare, they have been spotted occasionally.

It’s always important to be aware of your surroundings when exploring natural areas.

Do you need a car to get around Whidbey Island?

Having a car is highly recommended for getting around Whidbey Island due to its size and the distances between attractions.

While there are some public transportation options available, such as buses operated by Island Transit, a car will provide more flexibility and convenience for exploring the island thoroughly.

What is the best month to visit Whidbey Island?

The best month to visit Whidbey Island is September.

The weather is typically mild and pleasant, and the summer crowds have diminished, providing a more relaxed experience.

Additionally, many local events and festivals take place during this month, making it a great time to experience the local culture and community.

Is there a bridge from Seattle to Whidbey Island?

No, there is no bridge directly connecting Seattle to Whidbey Island.

The most common way to reach the island from Seattle is by taking the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry, which connects the mainland to the southern end of the island.

Alternatively, you can drive north around the Puget Sound and cross over via the Deception Pass Bridge from the north.

How long is the ferry ride to Whidbey Island?

The ferry ride from Mukilteo to Clinton on Whidbey Island typically takes about 20 minutes.

This route is serviced by Washington State Ferries, which runs frequent trips throughout the day.

Can you swim at Whidbey Island?

Yes, you can swim at Whidbey Island, though the waters of Puget Sound are known to be quite chilly.

Popular swimming spots include Double Bluff Beach and Goss Lake.

During the warmer months, locals and visitors enjoy these and other beaches for swimming, though it’s always a good idea to be prepared for cooler water temperatures.

whidbey islands must do

(Island Expert)

Christian is a dynamic serial entrepreneur and a licensed real estate agent with a relentless passion for unlocking the potential of island real estate. Christian's expertise extends beyond entrepreneurship and property transactions. He possesses a profound expertise in crafting captivating content and persuasive copywriting tailored exclusively to the enchanting realm of island real estate.

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