To Whidbey Island via the Clinton ferry

Your island vacation starts the moment your car is on the ferry. The ferries are beloved Washington icons and riding them is a unique experience. However, these tips will make your trip more enjoyable.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Mukilteo Ferry Terminal Sign says "to Whidbey Island."

New signs clarify that the Mukilteo Ferry heads to Whidbey Island. It disembarks at the seaside community of Clinton.

From Seattle-Tacoma, Everett and points south

Drive north on Interstate 5 and take exit 182. Bear left on the exit and merge onto state highway-525N (Mukilteo Speedway). Follow Whidbey Island Ferry signs and catch the ferry to Whidbey Island.  The ferries at the Mukilteo terminal only go to the community of Clinton on Whidbey Island.  There are no other scheduled routes.

From Bellingham, Vancouver and points north

Take Interstate 5 south and just south of downtown Everett, exit west onto SR 526.  Locals call it the Boeing Freeway.   You’ll know you’re on the right track because this freeway takes you right by the very large Boing manufacturing facility.  Drive approximately 9 miles and turn right at the light onto 84th St. SW. Drive down a steep hill about .4 miles to Mukilteo Speedway. Mukilteo Speedway goes directly into the ferry line.  The only scheduled ferry destination is Whidbey Island.  You’ll disembark in the seaside community of Clinton.  There’s lots to do there before you set off to explore the rest of the island.

Also, starting just south of Everett, you’ll also see signs referring to the “Cascade Loop.”  Whidbey Island is part of the Cascade Loop, so those signs will also help you find your way to Whidbey Island.

From Redmond, Bellevue and points east

Take Interstate 405 north. As it crosses over I-5, it becomes state highway 525N, the Mukilteo Speedway and goes directly to the ferry line.  As noted above, the only scheduled departure from Mukilteo is to Clinton on Whidbey Island.  At that point SR 525N continues on the island.

Washington Ferries...

Learn more about this route, including the schedule and current wait times.

Go

The ferry steaming toward Whidbey Island with puffy white clouds overhead

The ferry Kittitas crossing from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island.

Notes & Hints about taking this ferry.

This is the direct route to Whidbey Island from the Seattle area, Tacoma, Everett and points south and east. When driving from the north, most people usually enter via Deception Pass.

When you get off the ferry, you’ll be at the Clinton terminal on the southern end of Whidbey Island. You are on state highway 525 and on the “Whidbey Scenic Isle Way.”

The drive from downtown Seattle is usually slightly more than an hour, depending upon freeway traffic. However, during the summer, especially on Friday afternoons and early evenings, there can be long waits for the ferry. During the day, ferries sail every half-hour.

An alternative route from Seattle is State Route 99N, Aurora Avenue in Seattle. It will take you through many communities and there are frequent stoplights and congested commercial areas. The drive time is longer than I-5, however, if you have the time to explore, this is an alternative to the freeway.

When you get near the ferry, you’ll see that about halfway down the hill to the ferry building there is a right hand lane that cars heading to the ferry must use.  This lane takes you to the two car holding areas.  As you buy your ticket, you will be told which lane you are to park in.  The lots (and the ferries as well) for the most part, load first in – first out.  Motorcycles, established car-pool vehicles and some busses are given a priority along with those with a special medical card.  Heavy trucks are also loaded out of order so they can be safely parked on the ferry.

Waits for this ferry can be long, especially on Fridays and extremely long going into long weekends.  Therefore, the ferry line can be backed up for a mile or more.  Don’t try to cut in line.  It’s a traffic violation and the people you cut in front of will call you in.  Ivars operates an outdoor concession stand and a restaurant near the holding area.  The outdoor stand will handle your orders quickly so you can get back to your cars for your ferry ride.  The restaurant is intended for those who are not on a scheduled ferry.  The same goes for the Diamond Knot Brewery and Restaurant just south of the ferry holding lots.  For both places, the restroom is for sit-down customers only.  Porta-potties are the only public restrooms at the holding lot.