Back to Travel

Explore beyond Deception Pass

Whidbey Island enchants on a retro weekend

Michael and Charlie Cleveland hike the Bluff Trail at Ebey’s Landing. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Fall is a busy time for most families, with soccer games, school activities, meetings and military field exercises with long hours. Whidbey Island is a great destination to reconnect for a retro family weekend.

The Fort Casey Inn will be your base for the weekend.  This circa 1909 inn is the former Fort Casey non-commissioned officers' quarters. Each unit has two bedrooms, a living area, an upstairs bath and a farm kitchen. There are picnic tables and charcoal grills located outside each unit. On site are hiking trails, the beach and a heated pool during summer months.  From the front porch are beautiful water views. There's no television, which is part of the charm and retro vibe, but WiFi (shhh) is available. Insider tip: Book the Doctor's House.  The other units are duplexes, and this is a single home tucked a little bit away with more privacy.

Fort Casey Inn, daily, 1124 S. Engle Road, Coupeville, 360.678.5050,

There are three small towns worth exploring while in the area: Coupeville's historic waterfront, Oak Harbor and Langley, a more upscale experience. Each has eclectic local restaurants and shops that are interesting to explore. The following are must-see activities to experience during your visit.

The Bluff Trail at Ebey's Landing is a fun way to work up an appetite before breakfast. Access the Prairie Overlook trailhead, which is near the Sunnyside Cemetery from S. Sherman Rd. For more trail information, visit The Washington Trail Association is a great resource for information about hiking.

You have a variety of options for the length of your hike. We chose to head down the trail until we reached the coastline. There is a short jaunt up a hill to a view that includes Mount Baker to the east and the Olympic Mountains and peninsula overlooking the Puget Sound to the west. From here, you can continue hiking with a loop that will take you down to the beach and back around. We choose to hike a half hour out, which brought us past some of the Ebey Landing historic buildings, through farmland and prairie to a great view of the area then a half hour back to the car.  

Head over to the Knead and Feed Bakery to pick up some pastries for breakfast back at the inn. There is also a restaurant with great food, but it is extremely busy on weekends and is very small, so I would not recommend for small children. Insider Tip: Five percent military discount.

Knead and Feed, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday-Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 4 Front St., Coupeville, 360.678.5431,

After breakfast, take the family to Oak Harbor to tour the PBY Naval Air Museum and learn about the local history. The sleepy town of Oak Harbor had a population of 350 prior to World War II. With the addition of the Naval Air Base, the population rose to more than 25,000. The museum is very kid friendly, and the volunteers that run the place love to share their "sea stories." Children will love climbing into a nose gun turret from a PBY aircraft. Everyone will enjoy testing their skills on the flight simulators. 

PBY Naval Air Museum, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m., Sunday, 270 SE Pioneer Way, Oak Harbor, 360.240.9500,

Finish your day with a trip to the Blue Fox Drive-In for dinner and a movie. This is a fun retro experience just like you would expect it to be.  Entrance price includes two first-run movies and a vintage cartoon for $6.50 cash or $7 with a card (cash preferred so you don't slow the line). Plan to eat dinner at the snack bar. Each week there is a special, such as $2.50 cheeseburgers or corndogs.  The popcorn is fantastic and the "Big Hotdog" is really big. As a small local business, they ask that you don't bring in outside food. The prices are reasonable compared to indoor movie theaters. Insider tip: Gates open at 4 p.m. We arrived at 5 p.m. and were able to park in a premium middle spot. (Note: summer hours are much busier). Bring blankets and chairs. You can rent a radio for $2 at the snack bar or run your car radio. Movies run rain or shine.

Blue Fox Drive-In, check website for hours and movie schedule, 1403 Monroe Landing Rd., Oak Harbor, 360.675.5667,

For more information about the area visit The site also has current hours and locations for visitor centers on the island.

Read next close

Online Newspapers

Madigan's history

comments powered by Disqus