History and nature on Whidbey Island, off the Washington coast.

By Travel & Leisure
September 07, 2012
Whidbey Island Fort-Hopping
Credit: Brad Mitchell / Alamy

This 45-mile-long island off the coast of Washington makes for an easy and relaxing escape, just a half-hour ferry ride from Seattle. It’s filled with farms and forests, and the downtown areas have a few excellent restaurants and worthwhile galleries. In Whidbey’s many beachfront parks, easy hiking trails lead past military remnants to views of endless blue water. And really, that’s what this quiet place is all about.

Inn at Langley Restaurant

Chef Matt Costello scours nearby farmers’ markets for his six-course prix fixe menus (Whidbey Island lamb loin; citrus-cured wild salmon), served Friday to Sunday. With only one seating a night, the meal can seem like a festive dinner party.

Fort Casey State Park

See the park's lighthouse and artillery units from the 1890s or fly kites on the parade field.

Fort Ebey State Park

Day-trippers head 25 miles north of Seattle to Whidbey Island, where beaches, nature, and wildlife abound. For panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and Strait of Juan de Fuca, visit Fort Ebey State Park. Once called the "Triangle of Death," the 635-acre park served as a coastal defense fort to protect Puget Sound during World War II. Although bunkers remain intact, now, the landscape is crisscrossed with miles of scenic biking and hiking trails. Breathe in salty air and spot bald eagles, whales, and seals from the shoreline bluffs along Admiralty Inlet. Or brave a stroll on the rocky, driftwood-strewn beach below.

Gerry's Kitchen

Kids can feast on burgers and fish-and-chips while parents enjoy more sophisticated fare like fresh Penn Cove mussels.

Fort Casey Inn

The island’s most unique lodging—two-bedroom Victorian houses that were officers’ quarters. Each house has a full kitchen and subtle pieces of military memorabilia.