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Travel Articles
Whidbey Island with Kids: 7 Ways to Get on Island Time
By Heather Larson


Filled with beaches, parks, forests, farms and quaint towns, Whidbey Island makes the perfect close-in getaway. You can explore history at Admiralty Head Lighthouse or Deception Pass Bridge; enjoy kayaking and beachcombing at one of the numerous gorgeous beaches; hike, bike, savor good food; learn about saving the environment and much more.

But the best part of Whidbey has to be the spectacular views that force you to slow down and appreciate what nature has created. You won’t hear any cries of “I’m bored,” on Whidbey. From sand play to full-blown boat excursions, enough activities exist to keep the entire family busy and happy. Here are seven of my favorite things to do with my grandkids and their friends on Whidbey. Add yours in the comments!

1. Beachcomb, run and fly a kite at Double Bluff Beach

About one third the way up the island, you'll find Double Bluff Beach, a waterfront spot so lovely kids and teens who normally spend most of their days in front of screens will soon be drawing in the sand, searching tide pools and rearranging driftwood. Sit on a bench and let the surf breeze blow . Bring your furry friend because he’ll give the off-leash beach area at least five tail wags.

Address: S. Double Bluff Rd. & E. Shore Ave. Freeland
Info: whidbeycamanoislands.com

2. Explore Greenbank Farm

Greenbank Farm, north of Double Bluff, takes the term “farm” up a few notches. It boasts farm components like loganberries, animals and a historic barn. But you'll also find art galleries, a cheese shop and a restaurant with yummy pies. For the kids, grab one of the scavenger-hunt lists at the main building and get to work finding out about rain gardens and solar arrays, but don’t tell them this fun is educational.

Theres even a kids' carnival on Sunday, July 27!

Address: 765 Wonn Road #A201, Greenbank
Info: greenbankfarm.biz

3. Climb to the top of a lighthouse

Discover what the inside of a lighthouse looks like and see two actual Fresnel lenses at Admiralty Head, located in Fort Casey State Park near Coupeville. Grab a “Keepers Kids” activity book at the base of the lighthouse and use it later on to keep the youngsters busy learning. (Note: They also offere group tours.)

Address: 1280 Engle Road Coupeville, WA 98239
Info: admiraltyhead.wsu.edu

4. Jet boat through Deception Pass

As you “head into the danger zone” just like in Top Gun, your friendly narrator with Deception Pass Tours talks about the bridge’s history, how Deception Pass got its name and points out wildlife like harbor seals and bald eagles. You might even imagine the giant Pacific Octopus wiggling through caves under the water beneath you as you skim along on the Island Whaler. (Tours start at $24.95/person.)

Not so into boat tours? How about hiking around Deception Pass and swimming in Cranberry Lake?

Address: Deception Pass Tours, 160 E. Cornet Bay Road, Oak Harbor, WA
Info: deceptionpasstours.com

5. Take a Go Kart spin to a drive-in movie

Put your competitive racers into Go Karts at at one of the last local drive-ins, the Blue Fox — also in Oak Harbor. They can navigate the one-quarter mile track before the film begins. No “B” movies here, just first-run flicks. If you’re game, try the snack bar’s refillable 100-ounce drink jugs.

Address: 1403 Monroe Landing Road, Langley
Info: bluefoxdrivein.com

6. Paddle around Saratoga Passage

After two-plus hours maneuvering a two-person kayak around Puget Sound with Whidbey Island Kayaking, which runs guided tours out of Langley, the entire family may need a nap. But oh, the sights you’ll see. Mountains, big and tiny islands, harbor seals, sea lions, bald eagles, Dahl’s porpoise and your children zooming right past you. Don’t worry. Each tour begins with an in-depth safety lesson and nobody leaves without wearing a life jacket. First-timers welcome.

Address: 201 Wharf St., Langley
Info: whidbeyislandkayaking.com

7. Create glass art

Professional glass blowers already have tons more patience than most of us, so helping novices create their own glass art at Callahan’s Firehouse is second nature. The old firehouse makes a perfect backdrop for Callahan McVay’s stunning creations, which are available to purchase. You might need to let your work of art cool overnight, but that gives you even more time to discover new parts of Whidbey Island. Langley. Minimum age limit is 5.

Address: 179 Second St. Langley
Info: callahansfirehouse.com


Sleep: Four places to stay

Every type of lodging exists on the island from those that include breakfast in your room fee to cabins where you can cook, to hotels, cottages and more. Just pick a location and you’re sure to find a comfortable place to spend the night.

Boatyard Inn, Langley. Wake up to the stunning view of ships wending their way through Saratoga Passage. Each of the 12 oversized units comes with a waterfront or water view deck, mini-kitchen and roomy living space. Loft units have an additional queen bed and bath. The smallest unit, a waterfront studio, still measures 600 square feet.

Whidbey Wayfarer, South Whidbey. Perfect for a family of four and located one-half block from Columbia Beach, this home has a full kitchen, barbecue, propane stove, fenced yard, decks, Wi-fi and washer and dryer. It’s also dog-friendly. South Whidbey.

Pitch a tent. Several RV parks and campgrounds are scattered throughout Whidbey from Deception Pass State Park to Fort Casey Historical State Park to the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds. Find all of them at whidbeycamanoislands.com.


Eat: Five places to chow down

The Braeburn. Stop here for breakfast or lunch where the chef likes to use fresh and local organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible. You’ll discover Braeburn Apples in many of the dishes.

Sweet Mona’s. For a sweet indulgence to top off a meal or take back to your room for a late night snack, try Mona’s salted caramels, brittles, seafoam or truffles.

Front Street Grill. This cozy eatery overlooks Penn Cove and focuses on its namesake, Penn Cove Mussels. They have at least eight different preparations of mussels plus oysters, clams, crab, salads, pasta, steaks, chicken and a kids menu. Front Street also offers gluten-free options.

Fraser’s Gourmet Hideaway, Oak Harbor. If your kids enjoy new tastes, take them here. They can sample oven-roasted duck breast, herb and pistachio-crusted lamb, pasta tossed with lobster and many more delectable entrees. Call ahead and try to get a seat at the counter in front of the performance kitchen. Watch the speedy and at the dame time delicate work of the cooks and sous-chef.


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