When the pandemic hit in 2020 and international borders shut down, my husband and I took to our car and hit the road to explore all that our beautiful “backyard” has to offer here in our little corner of the grand Pacific Northwest! I am constantly amazed at how we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of all the stunning hikes, views and hidden gems there are to see here in our Evergreen State. If you’re looking for a great scenic drive in Washington to change it up a bit, but aren’t keen on driving too far from Seattle, then Whidbey Island, Deception Pass, Anacortes, and La Conner should be your next day trip! This trip includes a ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton (on the Eastern side of Whidbey Island). In this blog post, I’ll detail all the must-see stops, scenic views and places to eat in all five towns.
Located in Northern Washington just Southwest of Bellingham and North of Skagit Valley where the tulip festival happens every April (see this blog post for more: Skagit Valley Tulip Festival – A Splash of Spring Color).
This drive for the senses will take you on a ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton, which will put you on Whidbey Island. You’ll continue over the bridge at Deception Pass where your knees may go a bit shaky and your hands start to sweat. Standing at 180′ (60 meters), this bridge connects Washington’s mainland to Whidbey Island. This is one of the areas I featured in one of my top blog posts, 20 Best Weekend Getaways in Washington State. Below I’ve mapped out the sequence of cities, in order from South to North, which are easily visited all in a day trip!
Any season is a great time to visit (with the exception of winter, unless you get a rogue sunny day!) I highly recommend Autumn to see the beautiful colors, but summer is also great, especially since we have 15 hours of daylight from July through September!
Whidbey Island & Port Towns
Whidbey Island is narrow, so everywhere you look you’ll see views of the water and Mt. Baker on a clear day. There are many small port towns anywhere from 1 – 4 blocks long where you can grab a coffee, a pastry, or do a bit of shopping at local mom-and-pop shops, finding plenty of made-in-Washington goodies.
STOP #1 – LANGLEY
Langley is a sleepy little port town just ten minutes NW from the ferry terminal in Clinton. Your first stop will be “downtown”, consisting of all of a few blocks. Marvel at the gorgeous views of Mt. Baker up close. I highly recommend visiting in Fall when the colors pop.
Visit the Chocolate Flower Farm where the owners have managed to track down the sweetest-smelling flowers, providing a delightful olfactory experience. For breakfast, check out Flower House Cafe, featuring farm-to-table meals with lovely outdoor dining and a giant chess board (for those of you who have been binge watching “Queen’s Gambit” recently. 😉)
Next, make your way to the Rainbow Wings Mural at Sprinklz Ice Cream Parlor and Coffee Shop. Who wore it better? 😂
Greenbank Farm is a nice stop if you enjoy wine tasting, cheese and a nice nature walk, probably in that order. They also make fresh Whidbey Island pies here! Apparently pie is a thing here on the island.
STOP #2 – COUPEVILLE
If you’re keen on mussels (the food variety, not the biceps – for that you’ll have to go to Venice Beach, California 😉), Coupeville is known for harvesting them fresh right here in Penn Cove.
Grab a coffee & pastry for takeaway at the Little Red Hen Bakery.
If you’ve eaten too much whilst sampling your way through the bakeries and coffee shops and after a giant pie from Greenbank on the previous stop, you may be up for a nature walk! Head on over to Ebey’s Landing where you can do a 5.6-mile walk and marvel at the views of Mt. Baker, the Olympics and the Cascade Mountain Ranges.
STOP #3 – DECEPTION PASS STATE PARK
Deception Pass State Park is one of the most visited state parks in Washington. All hikes in this area require a Discover Pass ($10 for day use or $30 for an annual pass), and you can purchase it at any kiosk within the park. Be sure to display your pass on your dashboard at all times. You can read more about the history of the bridge construction and how Deception Pass got its name here.
Hike Lighthouse Point for beautiful coastal views around each corner. This hike begins at Bowman Bay on Fidalgo Island. There aren’t any clear signs, but don’t worry, if you see the sign for Bowman Bay, your’e going the right way. This hike really reminded me of the historic Maha’ulepu Trail on the island of Kauai.
The seaweed in the water made for an interesting look.
You can also hike around the bridge; just park at the car park and there are trail signs to the summit, which is only .4 miles, making it easy for dogs and kids. This walk takes you directly underneath the bridge, so you get to see it from a really neat angle!
STOP #4 – ANACORTES
On your way back, be sure to factor in plenty of time to visit the coastal town of Anacortes, just 20 minutes from Deception Pass. Here you can see an abandoned ship carcass covered in trees, called the Overgrown Ship Hulk.
Head up the hill to see the marina down below, and views of Mount Baker up close and personal on a clear day from Car Sante Park. Once you’ve worked up an appetite with all the sightseeing, head on over to Bob’s Chowder Bar for some fish and chips and clam chowder; perfect on a cold day!
For an easy hike (4.5 miles with 900′ elevation gain) that takes about 45 minutes up and 30 minutes down, check out Mt. Erie where you can see jaw-dropping views of the North Cascades to the East and the Olympic Mountain Range to the West, with Mt. Rainier right smack in the middle. There aren’t too many vistas in Washington State where you can see both mountain ranges simultaneously.
Don’t feel like hiking? Not to worry – you can literally just drive your car up to the lookout point and get to these same views (it’s just a tad more rewarding when you’ve hiked it and can eat a sandwich at the top.) 😉
STOP #5 – LA CONNER
On your way back off the island, stop by the historic waterfront town of La Conner, voted “Best Tiny Town in Washington”. If you’re into classics, check out the Classic Boat and Car Show if you’ll be visiting in August. Have a picnic underneath the Rainbow Bridge (built in 1957 and now a National Landmark).
Walk the waterfront boardwalk and stop in at all the shops. Our favorite was a wooden shop, featuring over 100 local artists with items all hand-made in the U.S. Support local! ❤️
I hope this gives you some ideas for your next Washington State day trip!
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