Taking the kids to Washington State’s Whidbey Island for spring break, a summer vacation or day trip? We spoke with Deb Crager, author of 101 Things to Do on Whidbey Island, for her suggestions on what to do on this beautiful 35-mile-long island, an easy day trip from Seattle (it’s only 30 miles north of Seattle), or weekend getaway from British Columbia or North Washington.
Why is Whidbey Island a great destination for a family vacation?
I think there are plenty of things to do for all ages. Being out on the water in a boat, or watching the tankers make their way through the sound, or hiking in the outdoors is always a great way to tire kids out! Environment is very important to the residents of Whidbey, so the water is clean, the beaches are clean. The people are so friendly, you can feel safe bringing your children here.
What kinds of things can you do with younger kids on Whidbey Island?
The libraries on Whidbey Island have many things for the kids to do, including storytimes and craft projects. Even if the structured events don’t appeal to the kids or you, walking on the beach, collecting the rocks and shells is a timeless hobby.
In February, the Mystery Weekend in Langley always has whole families taking the challenge and it seems to keep them going for two days straight! During other times of the year, there is a Fishing Derby for the young kids, a Driftwood Day (a contest to build a themed structure with only driftwood found on the beach), and a contest to build the largest pumpkin at the Coupeville Farmer’s Market in October.
Can you recommend any hiking spots for kids on Whidbey Island?
It’s pretty rugged, although there is a flat one near Sunnyside Cemetery (Lora’s note: This area is called “one of the prettiest areas on the Pacific Northwest”), and Deception Pass has a short one that’s pretty stable near the bottom (Lora: here’s a map of Deception Pass State Park, including hiking trails) Lots of beaches to roam along though, such as Maxwelton Beach and in the campgrounds at Libbey Road in Fort Casey Park.
Do you have any favorite family Whidbey Island beaches?
The best beach for kids is Double Bluff Beach in South Whidbey Island. It’s got the gentle open water—with a good view of Mt. Rainier—but also has a small “kiddie” pool, where the water comes up and pools within a small area. The water gets pretty warm there because it’s shallow too. Another place might be Cranberry Lake, which is within Deception Pass Park and completely enclosed, there might even be a lifeguard, but I’m not sure. They also have a place to rent paddleboats and canoes, so I know the older kids like it there too. Lora’s Note: Here’s a great map of family-friendly beaches on Whidbey Island, from the Whidbey-Camano Islands Visitor Bureau.
What kinds of things can big kids do on Whidbey Island?
Occasionally, there are events for the pre-teens to get together to dance or mingle, usually in Bayview. Other things that might interest that age range are at the Whidbey Highland Games, where the contests with riding and music may interest them. There is a fenced in area that has children’s activities, including jumping platforms, or those with plastic balls. The Coupeville Arts & Crafts Festival in July offers a pirate ship and stations where the young artists can show their stuff!
Fishing can be done right from the shore, and paddleboards are often seen in the quieter areas around the island. The Polar Bear Dive might be good for the older kids, there are lots of families that do it every year, and it’s a good fund raiser for the 4-H groups here on the island.
Which Whidbey Island activities are great for teens?
Again, I think the dances offer some options for meeting other teens, and many teens enjoy going to the fair to see the others, the animals, ride on the amusement rides, basically just hang out! Occasionally, there are art classes that are only for this age range, or they can blow glass at Callahan’s Firehouse in Langley. The state park at Deception Pass also has classes and a learning center where they sometimes have classes. Hiking would be great too. Up at Deception Pass during the summer, you can rent paddleboats or canoes and spend some time paddling around the cove there.
Do you have a favorite family-friendly restaurant on Whidbey Island?
While all the restaurant accept children, the menu may not be as accommodating as it is for adults. The kids do like the Pizza Factory, there is one in Coupeville and one in Oak Harbor, where there are video games too. Some of the sandwich shops on Coupeville’s Front Street are nice for kids too because they have some control over what they eat and can still be on the water. (Lora’s Note: Knead ‘n’ Feed gets good reviews)
Whidbey Island is an island that offers so much, every day, every month. There are events every weekend that cover the range of environmental issues to historical events, to art events. There is a lot of topics to choose from, and most of what happens takes place because of volunteers, the great Whidbey residents will make it happen.
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