4 Day Culinary Itinerary

About one hour’s drive north of Seattle are two islands that show off the rural side of America. Located in the middle of Puget Sound, cut off from the mainland and its expanding cities, much of Whidbey and Camano Islands has happily held onto its agricultural roots.

The slower, more relaxed feel, has attracted chefs who left the big cities to bring high quality cuisine to our islands. The chefs take advantage of the amazing seafood that is in the Sound, giving diners their spin on delicious seafood. As a result, our islands have become a culinary destination in the Pacific Northwest.

Spoil Yourself

From Seattle, drive north on Interstate 5 and take the Mukilteo-Whidbey Island exit State Route 525. The road is at first a freeway, then a major roadway through Mukilteo, and finally it is a two-lane road that ends at the Whidbey Island ferry. Time your arrival for as early in the day as possible. The ferry lines are generally longer in the afternoon and late afternoon.
“Life’s short, eat dessert first.” Follow that advice and make Sweet Mona’s the first stop on your culinary tour. Sample some of her delicious and decadent chocolates and take some with you to snack on as you drive.
221 Second Street #16, Langley
Phone 360.221.2728
Hours: Daily 10 am – 5 pm

Visit Sweet Mona’s Website…
Mid-morning is a great time to walk around the small town of Langley, Whidbey Island’s, “Village by the Sea.” You can continue with your chocolate theme by visiting the “Chocolate Flower Garden.” There are multiple wine shops and tasting rooms along with galleries and shopping. Double Bluff Brewing brews its beer on site. Pace yourself, because there are lots of things to do today.
The French-inspired Prima Bistro is a culinary adventure for lunch or dinner. For starters, try their Wild Pacific Octopus or their Croque Monsieur – a French inspired ham and cheese sandwich. Pair it with the Onion Soup for a filling, yet light meal. If the weather is nice, their outdoor rooftop patio may be open.
201 1/2 1st Street, Langley
Phone: 360.221.4060
Hours: Daily 11:30 am – 9pm
Options –The Braeburn or Useless Bay Coffee
Visit Prima Bistro’s Website…
If you’re here on Friday or the weekend, it’s time to name a designated driver and explore the vineyards and distilleries of South Whidbey. You’ll want a map for this vineyard loop, as cell phone reception can be spotty. Head first to Comforts of Whidbey. This winery overlooks Puget Sound and is sometimes used for weddings and other celebrations. From there, drive to Clinton and Cadeé Distillery. Their award-winning scotches nod to the homeland. Next up is Spoiled Dog Winery with a beautiful tasting room and gorgeous vineyard. Whidbey Island Distillery is nearby with handcrafted liqueurs distilled on the premises. Then, it’s to Holmes Harbor Cellars and their 20-acre estate overlooking Holmes Harbor. Finally, head back towards Langley to the winery that started it all, Whidbey Island Winery. Their vineyard and tasting room provides the perfect end to an afternoon of wine tasting and exploration. In late summer they host a concert series. Pick up something from Pickles Deli or the Star Store and let the afternoon drift by
These dining experiences are, by themselves, reasons to visit Whidbey Island. Choosing between the two is like choosing just one ride at Disneyland. Both Chef Matt Costello of the Inn at Langley and Chef Vincent Natress of the Orchard Kitchen have just one seating and one dining experience for everyone. They each take their guests on a seasonal, specially prepared, locally-sourced taste adventure. Make your choice, and your reservations, well before visiting. These restaurants are open on weekends and some week days, so plan ahead. This is an all evening experience, no matter which restaurant you choose.
Options – Hold Prima Bistro for dinner and head to the Braeburn or Useless Bay Coffee for lunch.

Inn at Langley
400 1st St, Langley
Phone: 360.221.3033
Hours: 7 pm seating Fri. – Sun. Summers also on Thur.
Visit the Inn at Langley’s Website…

Orchard Kitchen
5574 Bayview Rd, Langley
Phone: 360.321-1517
Hours; 7 pm seating Fri. – Sat. Spring also on Thur. 6:30 pm
Visit The Orchard Kitchen’s Website…

How to Do This Tour

You can do this tour in order, day 1, 2, 3, 4, or backwards, 4, 3, 2, 1. It doesn’t matter. Just take it slow and have fun! You can stay in one place while on Whidbey Island or a new location every night. Whidbey Island is more than 58 miles (93 kilometers) in length, so you’ll want to plan according to how much driving you want to do. When exploring Camano Island, you’ll want to stay somewhere on the island or nearby on the mainland.

Food from the Source
Get up early and head north. State Route 525 is the main highway north and there are several ways to get there from Langley. A few miles south of Coupeville SR 525 joins up with State Route 20 through the rest of the island.
If you’re looking for an authentic American-style breakfast local hangout, stop at the Freeland Cafe. Eggs, bacon, biscuits, French-toast and more served just like it was 1962. Further north is Coupeville and Knead and Feed. At street level, it’s a bakery and down one floor it’s a small restaurant overlooking the waters of Penn Cove.
Options – The Bagel Factory or Pickles Deli at Ken’s Corner in Clinton or the Wi-Fire Cafe in Freeland
Coupeville is the second-oldest town in the state of Washington and it looks much the same as it did a hundred years ago. So, it’s time to explore the shops of Coupeville and, of course, the Coupeville Wharf, which has stood proudly since 1905. Two must see locations are the specialty store “bayleaf” and Kawpaws Iskreme. bayleaf is a food lovers delight with and the line for ice cream from Kawpaws is often out the door. Check the historic plaque on the building for the real story of how the Seattle coffee movement began.
2.6 miles (4 km) from Coupeville and overlooking the western end of Penn Cove, the restaurant at the Captain Whidbey Inn has been serving guests for more than 100 years. What better place to try Penn Cove Mussels than overlooking Penn Cove? Lunch is served Friday through Sunday.
Options – Christopher’s, Front Street Grill, or Toby’s Tavern (21 and over)
When you’re in Coupeville, you’re inside Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, a national park that people actually live in! It was put in place to preserve not only the hundred-year-old buildings of Coupeville, but also the surrounding agricultural community and amazing natural landscape. Many of the farms have been in the same family for several generations. Check with the Coupeville visitor’s center for suggested destinations or just drive through the countryside.
The Oystercatcher features a masterfully prepared, and locally-sourced seasonal menu. From the first “trifle” through an ever-changing selection of entrees, Chef Tyler Hansen, with his wife, Sara, running the front of the house, assemble an evening’s dining experience that will be long-remembered. Their bread is so good, other restaurants serve it. Their menu changes based on what’s in season, but it’s a good bet that their Local Bean Cassoulet or their pan roasted duck breast is likely available. Open Wednesday through Sunday. They happily prepare vegetarian and vegan options as well.
Options – Christopher’s, Front Street Grill, or Toby’s Tavern (21 and over)

Farmers Markets / Farm Stands

From late spring to late fall there’s a farmers market somewhere on Whidbey and Camano Islands almost every day. These markets are the fastest and best way to sample the local food and meet the people who grow it.
Market and Farm Stand Directory…

Get it Yourself!
From Coupeville head north on State Route 20 into Oak Harbor, Island County’s biggest town and a place rich with great culinary experiences.
Located in historic downtown Oak Harbor, Riverside Cafe is an unpretentious, if slightly decadant way to start the day. Try their straweberry smothered stuffed french toast or spicy huevos rancheros or chicken fajita omlette and see if you don’t agree! It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Options – Franks Family Restaurant
If you fish, then today is your day. You’re on an island in the middle of Puget Sound and there are plenty of great spots. You’ll need a fishing license, of course, but after that you can head to any of the state parks for a day of salt-water fishing along the shore. When the salmon are running there are plenty of great spots all along the north and west side of Whidbey Island. Deception Pass has two fresh water lakes for trout, bass, and perch. You should plan ahead to find the best fishing.
At low tide, you can also go clamming at any of several beaches on the island. You’ll need a license and need to plan ahead for the tides and places open for clamming.

If you don’t fish, or don’t have a way to get it home, then just play outside!
Let’s head south for the morning. Fort Casey and Admiralty Head Lighthouse offer spectacular views of Admiralty Inlet. There are trails to suit every hiker, experienced or not. The fort was one of three built in the 1890’s to defend Puget Sound from invasion. The Admiralty Head Lighthouse, first operated in 1861, was the first built on Puget Sound. Nearby is Fort Ebey, built as a result of World War II. The park features numerous hiking and biking trails. They run through a region known as the “kettles” dug-out patches in the earth left by retreating glaciers.
Also, stop at 3 Sisters Farm Store for quality locally-made goods. Even if you don’t have a way to buy and take home many of their products, it’s always fun to look!

It is time for some serious fish, or not so serious fish. Either way, Seabolt’s Smokehouse has you covered. You can go heavy with home-made salmon and chips or light with a salad topped by grilled fish. If not everyone is into fish, there’s a filet mignon wrapped with their smoked bacon that will keep you happy! It’s open daily for lunch and dinner.
Options – China City, El Cazador Mexican Grill, Zorba’s Greek and Italian Restaurant
Although this is a culinary tour, you owe it to yourself to get out on the water. Deception Pass Boat Tours offers several one-hour boat tours daily. The open jet boat gives riders a thrilling tour through Deception Pass, an amazing work of nature bridged by an unbelievable work of engineering! You’ll see lots of wildlife and see the region in a whole new way! Return downtown and stroll the shops and perhaps have a glass of wine at Rustica or the Terrace Cafe.
Since 2006, chef and owner Scott Fraser has presented his French-trained culinary skills to diners in Oak Harbor. Following years of work at the French restaurants in Vancouver B.C., and training at the Pierre Dubrulle Culinary School, chef Fraser has enchanted and pampered diners with seasonal cuisine that promotes the bounty of the Northwest. Guests can dine in the luxury dining area, or view all of the cooking action from the illuminated onyx chef’s counter. Frasers is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
Options – Save Seabolt’s for dinner and head to one of the many other options for lunch

Get Your Discover Pass

Parking at all Washington State Parks is $10. However, if you buy a $33 Discover Pass online, your car is good at any state park for the next year! Order it online well before you travel or search the state parks website for where you can buy it in person.

Who Serves Penn Cove Mussels?

The answer is, it’s on practically every menu. Some restaurants have several different dishes featuring Penn Cove Mussels. These mussels have become famous and are served in fine restaurants as far away as New York City. You can have them fresh from the source on Whidbey and Camano Islands.If you arrive in early March, you’re in time for MusselFest, a 3-day celebration of the region’s illustrious bivalve.

Catch - Cook - Play

Camano and Whidbey Islands are about an hour’s drive from one another. It’s a beautiful drive from one island to the other, taking you through the farming region of the Skagit Valley.
Located at Terry’s Corner, the marketplace is several stores rolled into one location. There’s a bakery and a small restaurant featuring sandwiches and meat from Del Fox Butchers. There’s also Camano Island Coffee with fresh roasted coffee on site and Seattle’s Naked City Brewing has opened a Camano island location. There’s also great gift-shopping and an art gallery! It’s like a whole town packed neatly in one location!
Cama Beach State Park is a throwback fishing resort from the mid 20th century. The cabins are right on the beach along with the Center For Wooden Boats.
But, what makes this place special as a culinary destination is that this area is one of the best in the region for Dungeness crabs! You can rent a boat and a crab pot and take it out into the water. Either paddle around for a while or come back and hike the park. Then retrieve your pot and you can cook and eat your crab right there on the beach!
Dining with a water view! That’s island life and that’s dining at the Camano Island Inn. Chef Kris Gerlach has honed his craft from the beaches of Miami and Key Largo to the mountains of the Rockies to here on Camano Island. He brings together the best from all those regions in a simple, yet elegant style. The menu includes salmon with bacon and a coffee-crusted flat iron steak. Chef Gerlach features ingredients from the Inn’s own organic garden. Dine on the deck watching a summer’s sunset and you’ll be plotting ways to never go home!