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8 Fun places to go on Whidbey Island 

Explore Whidbey Island like a local

Delightful Whidbey Island, located in Puget Sound north of Seattle Washington, is fun to explore whether you have only one day or are visiting for a longer time. While certain “touristy” favorites on the island (like visiting Fort Casey) continue to be fun for us too, I wanted to share a few unique ideas from a local perspective. I got the opportunity to spend an entire month of summer in my hometown, on the south end of Whidbey Island. Here are the 8 fun places that I discovered and that you should add to your itinerary when visiting this beautiful island.

Family entertainment

The historic Blue Fox Drive-In movie theater, located close to the north end town of Oak Harbor, has always intrigued me. I never bothered to check it out until this past summer. Now that I have older kids, I thought it would be fun to try out. It was so family-friendly that we were even able to bring the dog.

The tricky part about seeing a movie at the Blue Fox is that movies don’t start until dusk and that can be very late (9 p.m.+). You can’t pre-order tickets ahead of time so you need to get there early. This involves spending money at the arcade and on the go-karts. That cost can add up quickly. (Box office opens at 4 p.m.)

The Blue Fox Drive-In is open year-round on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You might enjoy checking it out during the rainier fall or winter months to avoid some of the crowds.

Local tip: Read the schedule carefully. The day we went, there was a last-minute schedule change and the drive-in ended up playing the family movie second, which would have started extremely late (11 p.m.)

If you’re from out of town you can camp on the property in your camper van or RV. See the website for more details.

Market Shopping on Whidbey Island

One of the downsides to leaving our house in the Willamette Valley, in late summer, is that we miss out on some of late summer’s bountiful produce. Luckily there’s the Bayview Farmer’s Market for island-grown produce. The market runs every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine, from April 29 to October 21.

Local tip: Grab baked goods, coffee, and lunch or brunch at the Flower House Cafe. If you’re out sightseeing on the island mid-week, make sure to stop by the Organic Farm School in Clinton for their weekly fresh produce stand. Check the website for current hours of operation.

Tide Pooling on Whidbey Island

In the Puget Sound area, you can explore tide pools year-round. Tide pooling aficionados prefer to time their outings one to two hours before the low tide during a minus tide cycle. The summer months, in particular, are the best times to hit the super-low tides along coastal Washington and Oregon beaches (with May-August featuring the lowest tide days in 2023).

While Double Bluff Beach is often recommended as a nice place to go tide pooling on Whidbey Island, we were fortunate to go with a knowledgeable family friend who recommends Bush Point beach in Freeland.

On one particular excursion, we saw: hermit crabs, tubeworms, a mottled sea star, painted anemones, brooding sea stars, baby decorator crabs, graceful kelp crabs, red rock crabs, ochre sea stars, and rough piddocks.

The highlight of our adventure was the discovery of a giant California sea cucumber that measured almost two feet long! It was an unusual find and a mystery as to why it was there.

Local tip: Start by downloading a tide pooling app on your phone (Our friend recommended Tides PRO). You can also pick up wonderful laminated guides to sea life, types of seaweed, and more at the Langley Whale Center in downtown Langley and/or refer to the Sound Water Stewards Marine Species Identification link during your explorations.

More tips: Make sure you wear sturdy and waterproof footwear, this beach is rockier. You also might want to have your trekking poles to help guide you along the rocks. Make sure to respect the critters who are exposed and stressed during low tide events. Watch where you walk and do not remove them from their home. To further expand your knowledge, make sure to check out Sound Water Stewards of Island County, where you can choose from a variety of educational programs.

Explore on foot

While there are many wonderful trails to explore on the island, for a more authentic taste of the island’s rural beauty, explore some of the new and lesser-trafficked Whidbey Camano Land Trust trails. The Whidbey Camano Land Trust, a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has been working hard to protect the best of the islands since 1984. Their projects have helped expand county and state parks, protect natural areas and family farms, improve beach access, and protect and restore fish and wildlife habitats. Click here for an interactive map of their many protected properties.

Family favorites

Possession Sound Preserve in Clinton on the south end was opened to the public in July of 2021. At Possession Sound Preserve, you can take a short nicely maintained trail (somewhat steep) down to the beach, ending at a rugged rocky beach with views of crossing ferries, Cascade Mountains, and more. We’ve visited twice and we did not encounter many people. There were lots of wild blackberries to pick along the way, too!

Hammons Family Farm Preserve, located also in Clinton, was protected in 2006. The farm is a 9.5-acre preserve with a ¼-mile trail, wildlife habitat, a wetland and stream, and a heritage orchard with scenic views of Cultus Bay. The preserve is also adjacent to a 40-acre forest with significant wildlife habitat and watershed values that will be open to the public in the future. The trail, according to my kids, is short and “easy”.

Strawberry Point Preserve, located in Oak Harbor, is the newest project we visited with the first phase of the trail open in May 2022. The 208-acre preserve includes pretty forest land, wetland, and meadows. We were disappointed to drive up to the north end, only to find that there was only a very short stretch of the trail open to the public. However, the second phase opened in December 2022 and families can now enjoy the full trail.

Burgers and brews

Bailey’s Corner Store, a small local convenience store and gas station has long been a favorite pit stop for locals to grab a snack or cold drink. I recently learned that they created a family-friendly beer garden and stage. Now offering food as well as local music and trivia nights.

We went to check it out with my parents (long-time Whidbey Island locals) and enjoyed burgers and the music scene. The menu is fairly minimalistic, but we found tasty options for our veggie and non-veggie needs. Bonus: Place your order right up at the convenience store checkout counter for quick and easy service.

Bailey’s Corner Store is set up well for a visit year-round, with outdoor and indoor gathering spaces. Follow them on Facebook here for information about upcoming performances or call ahead at 360-579-1814.

Bring the whole family! Bailey’s was very family-friendly. You can bring the dog too!

Say cheese! Visit the Glendale Farm

You can pick up this local cheesemonger’s wares at the Bayview Farmer’s Market or at markets throughout the Seattle area. But wait, this company also welcomes visitors.

Glendale Shepherd Cheese, located down a long windy dirt road through the forest in Clinton, is a family-owned and operated sustainable dairy farm along the eastern coastline of Whidbey Island. On their beautiful farm, which has been in the family for three generations, you’ll find marvelous sheep milk cheeses and pasture-raised lamb. The farm store is open Friday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. They do not offer samples on-site, but we happily made our purchases anyway. I must say, it was some of the best cheese I’ve had in my life.

Local tip: Since this is a working farm and farm stand don’t expect to see the sheep and lambs since they are in a lower pasture, but you may be surprised by the rare appearance of the newborn lambs during the lambing season.

Hike the State Park on Whidbey Island

Another wonderful local resource for hiking trails is the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District’s Trustland Trails, a 200-acre property that has been in public trust since 1895. (The Whidbey Camano Land Trust was instrumental in helping to secure this property on the DNR transfer list starting in 2004.)

One of the best things about this property is that the trails were designed for accessibility. Families of all abilities enjoy the forest lands of South Whidbey. The land also features multi-use trails for bicyclists or equestrians. There is also a covered picnic shelter.

Park hours: 7:00 a.m. – dusk daily

Savor the seafood

If all this exploring is working up an appetite, head up the island to Coupeville (and right across from the Port Townsend Ferry). You’ll find local favorite Callen’s Restaurant. According to my dad, this is the “best seafood on the island.” And, trust me, he knows his way around a plate of seafood!

At Callens, they serve up “Washington and Whidbey Island-inspired real food.” The decor is a humble setting with great views of the Admiralty Inlet and the bird sanctuary at Crockett Lake. Callens aims to serve handmade food at an affordable price and offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also offer live music on the first and third Wednesdays from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Have I piqued your interest to see Whidbey like a local? Take your next trip to the island and incorporate some of these suggestions for a grand time.

Editor’s note: This travel piece was first published on the author’s personal blog


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About the Author

Camille Gullickson

Camille Gullickson was born in Seattle, raised on Whidbey Island and has lived in Oregon since 2007. After many years working in the nonprofit sector, she is currently focused on freelance writing and contracted projects while exploring the Pacific Northwest and beyond with her family. Follow her adventures on Instagram @tournesoladventures and at