Fall Wanderlust: A True Taste of Whidbey Island

by | Sep 7, 2023

Whidbey Island, Washington, is such a special place in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you love art, seafood, wine, outdoor adventures or all of the above, this island is the perfect destination for a fall weekend trip. Experience local flavors, culture and appreciation for this seaside sanctuary. Whidbey Island is all about regenerative travel, which is essentially leaving a destination better than it was before you arrived. Keep reading for the ideal weekend itinerary on this beautiful island.

Day 1

Before your trip begins, plan ahead to pick up a hand-selected order of Whidbey Island Grown Goodies. The Whidbey Island Grown Cooperative Food Hub is a popular online farmers market for produce and locally-made food products. If you’re arriving on the island on a Friday, make sure to place your order by Tuesday.

The best way to travel to Whidbey Island is by ferry, where you can take in the breathtaking views of the Puget Sound. It is just a 20-minute ferry ride from Mukilteo. When you arrive on Whidbey, stop at Island Nosh to grab a bite, which is right by the ferry terminal in Clinton. Then visit Cultus Bay Distillery, a true island tasting experience that offers tastes of its handmade spirits in a converted boathouse. The distillery is only open by appointment, so be sure to call ahead if you’d like a personalized tasting experience.

If you’re feeling like getting some steps in, taking a guided trail walk on a natural preserve is the perfect way to do so. Plan to arrive on the island in time to align with a guided trail walk with the Whidbey Camano Land Trust. This team of naturalists offers tours and trail cleanup parties.

After your trail walk, travel up the island and stop at Hierophant Meadery, a colorful and delicious tasting destination. Then head to Salty Vons Waterfront Inn, a new, locally owned, lovingly restored inn that sits on Penn Cove in the heart of Coupeville. This is a great place to stay while you’re on Whidbey. Once you’re settled in, try a tasting at Greenbank Cidery. Their cider is locally produced with island-grown heirloom apples, and housed in the same building as Salty Von’s Inn.

The town of Coupeville is great for wandering locally owned shops, galleries and the Island County Historical Museum. Spend a few hours exploring before grabbing dinner at Overboard, a new waterfront enclave that offers delectable dining alongside water views and creative cocktails.

Day 2

After a good night’s rest, begin your second day with one of the coolest things you can do on Whidbey Island — a whale-watching tour! Deception Pass Tours run tours through September, and offer an exciting ride through the whirlpools of Deception Pass with an opportunity to see resident whales in their natural environment. You will have the chance to see Orca whales dining on massive salmon runs in the Salish Sea, as well as potentially viewing Humpbacks, Minke and Gray whales.

After an exciting whale-watching adventure, spend the afternoon relaxing and tasting at a variety of wineries, breweries and distilleries. Opportunities abound throughout the island, and the following list is only just the beginning:

Misfit Cider
Driftwood Cider
Whidbey Island Distillery
Spoiled Dog Winery
Ott & Hunter Wines
Blooms Winery
Holmes Harbor Cellars
Dancing Fish Vineyards
Double Bluff Brewing
Penn Cove Brewing

For dinner, check out Frasers Gourmet Hideaway for one of the island’s most beloved and delicious meals. You’ll be satisfied with anything from the chef’s counter, although the Penn Cove mussels are always a crowd pleaser.

If you’re feeling like a nightcap, then don’t miss The Tipsy Jellyfish (next door to Frasers), a female-owned neighborhood wine bar in Oak Harbor’s historic Old Town. This is a one-stop-shop for a well-curated menu of libations.

Day 3

Spend the morning on a local beach or explore one of the many trails on Whidbey. Here are a few that we recommend:

Beach View Farm Trail
Dugualla State Park Property
Garry Oak Tree Tour
Strawberry Point Preserve

Before heading back home on the ferry, stop for a quick beer at Ogres Brewing, which is right near the ferry terminal. This stop is well-worth it, especially when paired with the famous burgers from Bailey’s Corner Store next door. You might even catch some live music.

Finally, make sure to save the date for the Whidbey Island Cider Festival on September 30, 2023.

For more information on amenities, lodging and a calendar of events, visit whidbeycamanoislands.com. Connect on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook via @GoWhidbeyCamano. 

Happy traveling!


Upcoming Events

what’s new

A Tale of Two Victors, part 2

A Tale of Two Victors, part 2

Building a legacy at De La Luz Wines Victor De La Luz is from Tehuacán, Mexico, about 150 miles southeast of Mexico City. He had a difficult childhood. After losing his father when he was 3 years old, his mother tried hard but struggled to make ends meet. “When I was...

read more
Tale of Two Victors

Tale of Two Victors

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, this two-part story celebrates two Washington state Hispanic winemakers named Victor. Victor Palencia and Victor De La Luz have a lot more in common than their occupations and first names. Their journeys are about deep...

read more

get the latest


By subscribing online, you are opting in to receive our Sip Magazine Insider e-newsletter— with the latest coverage in Pacific Northwest beverage scene, product reviews, libation destinations, events + more.