woman sitting on a beach on a large piece of driftwood with the Deception Pass State Park Bridge behind her
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The Best Day Trip to Whidbey Island: A One Day Itinerary

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When traveling throughout much of Washington, Whidbey Island for at least a day trip spending one day on this Puget Sound island was a no-brainer! We drove to Whidbey Island and back while staying in Anacortes, Washington on an extended RV Road Trip.

Washington truly blew me away! From spending time in Mount Rainier, Winthrop, and North Cascades, Olympic National Park, and Anacortes, our day exploring Whidbey Island was one of my State of Washington favorites! 

Let’s jump into the details of this fantastic location including an itinerary for your perfect Whidbey Island day trip.

The view from Deception Pass State Park near /oak Harbor, WA

About Whidbey Island

Whidbey Island, although not large in size under 40 miles (north to south) long and ranges from 1 ½ to 10 miles wide depending on where. Located in the Puget Sound of Washington 30 miles north of Seattle between the Olympic Peninsula (where Olympic National Park and Port Angeles, Washington) is located and the I-5 corridor of Western Washington. 

How to get to Whidbey Island

You can travel to Whidbey Island either by car or ferry. When I visited we left from Fidalgo Island (Anacortes) and drove there for the day. 

Keep in mind that Fidalgo Island is north of Whidbey Island so if you’re coming from Seattle you could flip some of the itinerary around or skip Deception Pass State Park. (I don’t recommend that though, Deception Pass is worth the trip!) Keep in mind, Deception Pass State Park is about 80 miles north of Seattle. 

If you’re planning on getting to Whidbey Island by ferry there are a few options. Either the Clintom/Mukilteo route or Port Townsend/Coupeville route. If you’re traveling from Seattle to Whidbey Island, the Clintom/Mukilteo ferry would be the one you’d likely take. Try to avoid peak ferry travel times if you can and be aware of these Whidbey Island ferry travel tips.

Whidbey Island has an extensive bus system, but to make the best use of your day allowing you access to the most activities getting there by car via driving or ferry is best!

Things to do: Day Trip Itinerary to Whidbey Island

Deception Pass State Park

Depending on where you’re coming from, if you pass through Deception Pass State Park, it’s worth spending at least a few hours there. Deception Pass State Park spans the gap between two islands. Fidalgo Island (where Anacortes is located) and Whidbey Island where you want to spend an amazing day! 

Seattle to Deception Pass is about an 83 mile drive. You’d make your way north then cross over onto Whidbey Island via the bridge. It’s worth the drive, Deception Pass State Park is one of the best things to do on Whidbey Island!

Deception Pass State Park boasts Incredible views of Skagit Bay and passage along the beautiful Deception Pass bridge. It’s absolutely beautiful! Which is attributed to it being the most visited state park in Washington. The southern part of the bridge has stairs where you can hike several trails starting here in the state park. 

You can easily spend multiple days here exploring, but as a part of your day to Whidbey Island, I recommend walking (and driving) across the bridge. As well as taking a short hike to view the bridge from the shore down below. 

In order to spend time in Deception Pass State Park, you’ll need to purchase either a day or year pass valid for Washington State Parks. You can purchase it online in advance.

woman sitting on a beach on a large piece of driftwood with the Deception Pass State Park Bridge behind her

Langley, WA

Whidbey Doughnuts is the perfect stop after hiking and exploring in Deception Pass State Park. You will definitely need fuel for the day to explore Whidbey Island things to do!

The Langley Whale Center is a free museum and Whale resource center. Our visit was a lot of fun! It gave us a chance to learn more about whales and marine mammals but also had some great local resources as well.

A few things we were told when we visited was they maintain an online Facebook group that tracks whales in the area telling both locals and tourists alike the good places to go to whale watch from shore.

We had already done a whale-watching boat tour in Anacortes, but we kicked ourselves a little bit because the whale center had coupons they were giving out for Bogo (buy one get one 50% off) tours! 

Map of whale citings at Langley Whale center on Whidbey Island

Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar is an amazing spot for fresh and local seafood. They don’t take reservations and especially on the weekends, the wait list fills fast! It’s best to get there right when they open to get a spot. We showed up a little after (about 10 minutes) and ended up having to wait 30 minutes to be sat. They were out of lobster rolls by the time we ordered. 

Even if you have to wait, the oysters were amazing! Truly everything we ate here was delicious. If you love seafood, you need to have a meal here while on Whidbey Island.

While you’re walking around downtown Langley, be sure to know that there are public restrooms behind Sweet Mona’s! Grab an ice cream or sweet treat afterward.

Langley even has a brewery! Grab a pint or a flight of beer at Double Bluff Brewing Co.

a flight and pint of beer at Double Bluff Brewing Co in Langley WA on Whidbey Island, WA

Definitely stroll in and out of the cute shops in Langley. Some of our favorites were: The Star Store, In the Country, and The Beach House among other fun specialty boutique shops.

Coupeville, WA

Visit the historic Red Wharf that goes out into Penn Cove in Coupeville. It has been there since 1905. Originally it was used as a grain wharf for easier shipment of locally grown grains when there was low tide. Due to the history of the town in Coupeville, you’ll want to be sure to include it in your Whidbey Island places to visit!

Red Wharf in Coupeville, WA on Whidbey Island

In the town of Coupeville, as it stands now most of the existing buildings are the original structures from 1800-1900. These are now filled with boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, wine tasting rooms, and specialty gift shops.

Coupeville, WA sign in Coupeville a town on Whidbey island, Washington

Greenbank Farm is a historic farm on Whidbey Island dating back to 1904. Through a profitable history, it was purchased in the 90’s by the Port of Coupeville. Since then, it’s open to the public to visit. Stop by to try some wine or learn more about the history of this longstanding farm on the island.

Before leaving Coupeville, we had to check out Penn Cove Brewing Company

Flight of beer at Penn Cove Brewery in Coupeville Washington on Whidbey Island

Oak Harbor, WA

Oak Harbor is the largest city on Whidbey Island. There’s a lot to do here including adventures in Deception Pass State Park, Joseph Whidbey State Park, and the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum. 

You could also choose to have another pint and hit up Wicked Teuton Brewing Company a veteran owned independent craft brewery. 

flight of beer at veteran owned brewery Wicked Teuton Brewing Company

Ebey’s Landing

Visit Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve and hike Bluff Trail. While this isn’t a National Park, you can still get your National Park Passport stamps here (or as it’s referred to an official cancellation.) Ebay’s Landing is a National Historical Site. 

While in the area, you can even check out a historic WWII Old Battery Fort!

FAQs: One Day on Whidbey Island

What is Whidbey Island known for?

Whidbey Island is known for its breathtaking views, whale watching in Puget Sound, being the fourth longest island in the United States, and having a high population of local artists and artisans. You can explore much of the island in a day or so and it’s very driveable as it’s not incredibly large.

Is Whidbey Island a San Juan Island?

No, Whidbey Island isn’t a part of the San Juan Islands. They are in relatively the same area. The San Juan Islands consist of over 170 islands and rock formations. Whidbey Island is located in the Puget Sound north of the city of Seattle but south of the San Juan Islands. 

How many lighthouses are on Whidbey Island?

There are three lighthouses on Whidbey Island. Admiralty Head Lighthouse is located just above Fort Casey State Park on Whidbey Island commanding a view of the Puget Sound. Mukilteo was originally built in 1906 making it the oldest of the three. Bush’s Point Lighthouse is actually located on private property so you can only view it from afar.

What is the largest town on Whidbey Island?

Oak Harbor is the largest town on Whidbey Island. It is also home to the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum. Oak Harbor is located on the Northern Part of Whidbey Island close to Deception Pass State Park and Fidalgo Island with the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the West and Skagit Bay to the East.

How long is the ferry ride to Whidbey Island?

The ferry ride from the Mukilteo ferry terminal (North of Seattle) is just 20 minutes long. However, the Port Townsend to Coupeville ferry route will take a little longer at 35 minutes long. During peak ferry times, you can expect to wait 2 to 3 hours before getting on the ferry!

What is the cutest town on Whidbey Island?

There are three major towns: Coupeville, Langley, and Oak Harbor. Coupeville is the oldest town on Whidbey Island and is considered very charming due to its restored early architecture and historic vibe. Langley is very quaint but has enough to do with great restaurants and shopping. Oak Harbor is the largest of all three.

How long does it take to drive around Whidbey Island?

It typically takes about an hour total without stopping. Whidbey Island from top to bottom is under 40 miles in length. The length of time it takes to drive from the top to bottom (or vice versa) largely depends on the time of year (the weather) and the traffic.

Is Whidbey Island Worth Visiting?

Yes, it most certainly is! Whidbey Island is in close proximity to Anacortes and Seattle but has so much to offer. There is so much to do from shopping, dining out, outdoor activities, or just a relaxing reprieve from city life. It’s a common long weekend destination for those living in Seattle.

Which is better Bainbridge or Whidbey?

It depends on your situation. Bainbridge Island is easier to visit without a car, whereas Whidbey Island requires a car to fully appreciate it. Bainbridge is more so a suburb or outer part of Seattle so it also depends on how much time you have to explore. Whidbey is more remote and rural compared to Bainbridge.

Final Thoughts: One Day Whidbey Island Itinerary

Even if you only have one day on Whidbey Island, it’s definitely worth the trip! So if you’re trying to decide to take a day trip from Seattle or even Anacortes, the answer is to take the trip. But, let’s be honest if it’s at all feasible that’s usually my answer to that question. 

After spending a day on Whidbey Island exploring Deception Pass State Park and the towns of Langley, Coupeville & Oak Harbor you’ll be sure to plan a return trip as you look back fondly on an amazing day spent on Whidbey Island, Washington in the stunning Pacific Northwest!

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