A Fall Visit to Whidbey Island

 

A Fall Visit
to Whidbey Island


 
by Jack Penland

Sunny days are still out there, and there's plenty to do."

It’s tempting, I know, when fall weather gives us a couple of “those” days.  You know what I’m talking about.  There’s bad attitude in the skies, a little rain falling, and a slightly aggressive wind.  You want to crawl into your cave and seal the door.

But don’t give into this temptation.  Sunny days are still out there, and there is plenty to see and do.

Seattle Magazine has that in mind with their “Scenic Fall Road Trips” cover story.  And yes, we’re happy to say they included a visit to Whidbey Island among their offerings.  The writer, Niki Stojnic, detailed lots of great fall things to do and see, of course.  But, she also offered some ideas to Seattle readers, that resonate during any season


A full moon over one of the historic Coupeville houses.

She points out that, once on Whidbey, it’s tempting, “to stick to the south end of Whidbey Island (because) there’s plenty to do here.”  Instead, she encourages drivers to drive the whole island, and to, “plan on a bit of zigzagging” during your drive.  For those who’ve stuck with the south end of the island and think you’ve “done” Whidbey, you really need to think again.

Stojnic’s guide does start you out with a stop at the south end of the island, and a visit to Whidbey Island Winery.   She then whisks you up the road to Bayview Farm and Garden.  While a stop at a nursery seems odd for a road trip, there’s plenty of fall inspiration and a café.

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Grapes nearly ready to harvest at
Whidbey Island Winery.

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Fall colors at
Bayview Farm and Garden.

But, before you settle in, Stojnic urges you on to Coupeville, where much of the island’s history is still alive. There are scenic prairie vistas of farmland that has often been owned by one family for generations.  Sherman’s Pioneer Farm offers trolley rides to the pumpkin patch, several acres where the kids can explore and try to find that perfect specimen.

What’s also there, is the home of Penn Cove Mussels.  They grow in Penn Cove and are served in restaurants all over town.  There are many shops in the historic town, giving you time to walk off that big lunch of mussels.  In November on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the merchants offer a day of shopping and an evening of local wines and spirits they call, “Sip and Shop on the Cove.”

Another fall inspiration is the Coupeville Farmers Market that runs through October.  A Saturday tradition, the market is more than just produce.  Stojnic points out in her article that, among the many locally-made products are, “North Whidbey Farm’s decadent cajeta (caramel sauce made from goat milk).”  That sounds like a must-have for when the weather turns really cold.

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Rafts are where
Penn Cove Mussels Are Grown.

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The rest of the featured visit is still centered around Coupeville, with a visit to Fort Casey State Park, with its spooky maze of concrete bunkers, and the region’s first lighthouse, Admiralty Head Light House.  The fort really gets its haunting game going in October with the “Haunted Fort” where those bunkers are filled with zombies, ghosts and all sorts of scary things.  This has become one of the top October events on Whidbey Island.

There’s lots more to do, of course.  And, about this time our writer friend must have realized that she’s offered up several days’ worth of activities and explained to her readers about one of the most unique lodging opportunities around.  Captain Whidbey Inn, located on the water at Penn Cove, has been around for 110+ years.  Many of the rooms date back to another era and offer a simpler take on what lodging was about.


Morning at the Coupeville Wharf

There’s lots more to do, of course.  And, about this time our writer friend must have realized that she’s offered up several days’ worth of activities and explained to her readers about one of the most unique lodging opportunities around.  Captain Whidbey Inn, located on the water at Penn Cove, has been around for 110+ years.  Many of the rooms date back to another era and offer a simpler take on what lodging was about.

Stojnic ends her Whidbey Island trip here.  She’s filled the plate for anyone who hasn’t visited the historic center of the island.

But, just a few miles up the road is Oak Harbor and the expansive northern part of the island.  And, in our rush to get to Coupeville, beautiful Langley was completely missed.  We’ll have to save those for another trip and another season.