Historic and Relaxing Whidbey Island Washington
By a San Diego wanna be Charles Harmon
Beautiful Whidbey Island (historically known as Whidby) lies within the Puget Sound, on the Pacific Northwest, just north of the city of Seattle, Washington. The island has become a favorite relaxation spot for mainland residents, who would like to exchange skyscrapers and the noise of busy traffic for quaint historical towns and shimmering coves, even if it’s only for a little while.
Frequently referred to as Puget Sound’s Largest Artist’s Colony, Whidbey is home to numerous working artists, writers, and performers. There are many well-known painters, sculptors, wood workers, metal workers, glass artists, mixed media artists, photographers, authors, poets, actors, and musicians. Each has found the atmosphere of Whidbey to be conducive to their particular trade.
As if being a haven for artists was not enough, the southern end of Whidbey Island also serves as a minor bedroom community for the nearby cities of Everett, where the Boeing Everett Factory is located, and Seattle. Commuters to and from those areas use the Washington State Ferries system’s run between Clinton and Mukilteo.
A Few Statistics
According to the 2000 census Whidbey Island Washington is home to 58,211 residents also known as Whidbey Islanders. An estimated 29,000 of Whidbey Islanders live in rural locations. The Island is approximately 58 miles (93 km) long and 1.5 to 12 miles (2.4 to 19.3 km) wide, with an area of 168.67 square miles (436.9 km2). This makes it the 40th largest island in the United States. It is also ranked as the fourth longest and fourth largest island in the contiguous United States. It is the largest island in the state of Washington.
Tourism is Important
Tourism is especially important for Whidbey Island. The economy of Whidbey Island south of Oak Harbor relies heavily on tourism, small-scale agriculture, and the arts. On Whidbey, tourists find a wide range of amenities in the towns of Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Freeland and Langley. Coupeville’s Penn Cove Mussel Farm exports large quantities of its highly renowned Penn Cove Mussels. This aquaculture facility, along with a number of small farms, reflects the rural agricultural nature of most of central Whidbey Island.
Langley is one of the towns on the island. It is charming, small and has many historical buildings. One of them is the 1937 movie house, Clyde Theater. The theater remains excellently preserved and is still screening classic and contemporary films to this day. Another historical town on the island is called Coupeville, which is the county seat and is the second oldest town in the state of Washington. Here, you will find over 100 buildings listed in the National Historic Register. So walking in the town’s shopping areas and waterfront is like walking back into the past.
Coupeville was founded in 1852 and is the second oldest town in the State of Washington. The town continues to preserve original pioneer homes with a variety of historic architectures including Queen Anne, Saltbox, and pioneer Block Houses. Coupeville has a number of historic inns, restaurants and pubs. It is an ideal base for anyone who would like to explore Whidbey for a couple of days. Aside from lovely towns, the island also enchants its visitors with its wineries, wonderful parks and scenic coast.
The Nature Side of Whidbey
A visit to Whidbey is all about delighting in the beauty of nature. Deception Pass State Park is one of the major attractions on the island. It is home to a wide range of bird species, mainly because of the island’s ideal temperate climate. If you are an angling enthusiast, you should look no further. There are plenty of rich fishing areas on Whidbey. While in the park area, you can head out to Cranberry Lake to catch the big ones.
Traveling with the whole family? Consider bringing them to Cornet Bay’s marina. Here, you can book a charter boat to take you whale-watching or sightseeing, and they will even arrange a marvelous dinner onboard. If you want to rough it up in the wilderness, experience camping at this state park as camping sites and RV parking are available throughout the year.
For beach lovers, the perfect spot to head out to is Ala Spit. The name may sound funny, but this site gives you gorgeous views of the coast as well as Strait of Juan de Fuca and other islands in the distance. Here, you can lounge on the beach all day or enjoy a picnic by the seaside.
Old Forts on Whidbey?
The history buff in you will probably be thrilled to visit Fort Ebey State Park and Fort Casey. Fort Ebey was the main line of defense from invasion for the Puget Sound. There are no more threats of war and invasion today. But what remains are intriguing hiking trails, and the magnificent views of the Olympic Peninsula and Port Townsend.
Speaking of trails; one of the newest and more fascinating one you could follow is the Island County trail that links Fort Ebey and Coupeville to ‘kettles’. Kettles are distinct but quite picturesque geologic formations formed during the Ice Age. Fort Casey, on the other hand, was also designed to prevent naval invasion. It is home to the iconic Admiralty Head Lighthouse.
Visiting Whidbey?Located specifically in Puget Sound, Whidbey Island can be reached by a daily ferry service, which cruises from the Seattle suburb of Mukilteo. Ferries depart every 30 minutes, and is in operation seven days a week, all year round.
If visiting Whidbey by highway, the only bridge that reaches Whidbey Island is the Deception Pass Bridge, State Route 20, which connects the north end of Whidbey to the mainland via Fidalgo Island. Whidbey Island’s State Routes 525/20 is the only nationally designated Scenic Byway on an island. It is named the “Whidbey Island Scenic Isle Way.”
For more information about the Island: