Whidbey Island Day Trip – the best of Washington state

No kitty’s adventure in the Pacific Northwest is truly paw-some without a journey into the infamous Puget Sound. This traveling cat particularly enjoyed visiting Whidbey Island. This area’s spooky weather and diverse nature, make it the perfect getaway from the fast-paced life of Seattle. The best part of embarking on a Whidbey Island day trip? You’ll only need to endure approximately 90 minutes of highway driving to arrive in a land that feels worlds away.

How to get to Whidbey Island

There are 2 main routes from Seattle to Whidbey Island – the iconic Washington Ferry Boat, which will take you to the southern tip of the island, and the bridge over Deception Pass, which will land you on the northern tip. To make the most of your trip, I’d recommend utilizing both – take the bridge in and the ferry out.

What to bring

I know it sounds cliche but dress in layers for this trip. As always, start with hiking pants, good walking shoes, and a T-shirt. In addition, I brought along a thin sweater, fleece, and raincoat. I ended up using every article at least once!

I also brought a refillable water bottle, trail snacks, and a picnic lunch for the park. Most of the good picnic spots are not too far from parking lots. So, feel free to go a little overboard with your picnic spread. You’ll be glad you did!

Deception Pass Park, a Whidbey Island Day Trip Essential

Rosario Beach on Whidbey Island
Rosario Beach

Today you are going to experience one of Washington’s most beautiful destinations – a Whidbey Island day trip! Get ready for a relaxed day filled with nature and amazing food. As with all vacation days, you should start with a lazy morning and a delicious cup of coffee (it really does taste better in Seattle!). After that, it’s time to grab a refill and hit the road. 

Your first stop will be Deception Pass State Park, an easy 1.5-hour drive from the heart of the city. I recommend taking I5 past the Mukilteo ferry all the way up to Highway 20. Using this route will allow you to bypass a potential wait for the ferry and prevent backtracking later in the day. Don’t worry, you’ll be taking the ferry back to Seattle in the evening.

Rosario Beach

Upon arrival at Deception Pass Park, it’s time to get out of the car and relish nature. I recommend Rosario Beach for a long lunch followed by tide pool exploration. There is even a short loop that transverses the perimeter of Rosario Head and offers an amazing ocean view with very little effort (my favorite kind of hike!).  

Be sure to stop to read the history of the Maiden of Deception Pass, to learn more about the legends of the Samish Indian Nation. The story is located on a series of informational podiums next to the large, wooden statue of the maiden holding a fish above her head.

Lighthouse Point & Pass Lake Loop

Deception Pass Park on Whidbey Island
Deception Pass Park on Whidbey Island

After lunch, you’ll have 2 main places to explore – the northern and southern sections of the park. The must-sees on the northern side are Lighthouse Point (1.5 miles) and Pass Lake Loop (1.4 miles).

While crossing the bridge to the south side of the park, make sure to pull over either before or after the bridge and take the pedestrian path back onto the bridge. From here you can fully appreciate the amount of water that rushes in and out of Puget Sound each time the tide changes. It’s also not a bad place for a picture. 

Sand Dunes Loop & Goose Rock

On the south side of the park make sure to see Sand Dunes Loop (1.2 miles) and some of Goose Rock (various routes, up to 2.5 miles). 

Shopping & dinner in Coupeville

Once you are done with the park, your next stop will be the Historic Waterfront in Coupeville. This is about a 30-minute drive from the park, the perfect amount of time to rest your legs. Aim for the Coupeville Warf and then park wherever you can find a space (don’t worry there is plenty of parking for such a tiny town). 

Front Street is an adorable strip of shops and restaurants. Take the time to browse all of the interesting shops and make sure to walk to the end of the pier and grab a cappuccino at Coffee on the Cove. There is plenty of outdoor seating where you can enjoy your caffeinated beverage and an unobstructed view of Penn Cove. Who knew that expresso pairs so well with the ocean breeze? 

For dinner, you’ll need to backtrack roughly 3 miles to Captian Whidbey’s Inn and Restaurant. This unique setting features a huge deck overlooking the ocean along with plenty of lounging spots including a garden and lagoon. The menu is seasonal but always has local shellfish – the Penn Cove mussels are a must-have! 

Sunset at Captain Whidbey's Inn and Restaurant on Whidbey Island
Sunset at Captain Whidbey’s Inn and Restaurant

Time to leave lovely Whidbey Island

After dinner, it’s time to make the drive to the Clinton Ferry Station, which is about 45 minutes away. The ferries run until 11:45 pm, so there is no need to rush! Once you check in the wait is typically 20 minutes or less. Once you’ve boarded the ferry, feel free to exit your car and go to the passenger deck for amazing views. Take a moment to pause and inhale the cold, salty air. It’s the perfect way to knock yourself out of your post-dinner food coma. 

Once you find yourself back on dry land, you’ll be about 30 minutes outside of the Seattle City Center. It’ll be early, but you’ll still feel tired. Good thing you drank 3 cups of coffee today!

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