Looking for a kid-friendly getaway from Seattle? Catch a ferry ride from Mukilteo to find all the things to do in Whidbey Island with kids. Scroll down for all the information!
This post about Whidbey Island things to do was originally published October 7, 2019 and was updated September 1, 2020 and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Thanks Whidbey and Camano Islands for hosting us on the press trip. All opinions are my own. Whidbey Island is so much fun!
Growing up in the Everett-area of Washington State, the only ferry ride we used to do was the Mukilteo Ferry.
It would take us on an epic ride across the sound to Whidbey Island, where we could get ice cream or play at the beach.
I remember doing it a few times as a kid and it was such a unique adventure.
As I got older, we’d take the ferry over to Whidbey Island for high school cross country meets and we’d still run up to the top and snap pics or talk about how cold it was outside. The ride felt so long!
After talking about it for years, my husband and I finally took our kids to Whidbey Island earlier this month.
I almost laughed when I realized the ferry ride was only 20 minutes long! It seemed so much longer when I was little!
We had a super fun weekend over there and we’re excited to head back soon!
And you should definitely plan your own trip to Whidbey Island.
If you’re wondering about what to do in Whidbey Island with kids, keep scrolling for my top ideas!
Top 8 Things to do in Whidbey Island WA with Kids
1. GET PENN COVE MUSSELS
If you even remotely like mussels, you HAVE to come to Coupeville and eat their Penn Cove Mussels. In fact, it’s one of the top things to do in Coupeville WA!
Penn Cove is located on Whidbey Island and that’s one of the best places to find plump, juicy mussels!
There’s even the Penn Cove Musselfest every year to celebrate just how amazing their mussels are!
The traditional style is with white wine, but we also had them in creamy sauces, curries, and even a blood orange sauce!
We ordered them at 4 different restaurants and they were unbelievably delicious each place. And yes, we ate them at almost every single meal including breakfast!
Kids will love using the shells as make-shift tongs to pull the mussels out of other shells. I mean, there are so few foods that include their own utensil!
2. VISIT DECEPTION PASS
One of the most iconic Whidbey Island attractions is Deception Pass. They have a popular campground, great fishing, and tons of fun trails.
When we went, there were a bunch of people fishing and my kids got an up close view of the entire process. My oldest had a lot of questions and one of the people fishing was kind enough to answer them all for him!
You’ll definitely want to check out the Deception Pass Bridge. There are scenic viewpoints right off the road where you can park and walk across the bridge.
But, you can also go into Deception Pass State Park and go on an easy, short hike to get right under the bridge.
Depending on how energetic your kids are, there are lots of other hikes for more scenic views of the water and surrounding area.
Deception Pass also makes a super easy Whidbey Island day trip.
You’ll need a Discover Pass to enter the park. You can purchase the pass and it’s good for an entire year, but you can also buy a day pass a discounted rate.
3. CHECK OUT AN INDIE BOOKSTORE
When we travel, we always try to shop local. Thankfully, Coupeville has a lot of mom and pop shops, instead of chain stores.
We headed to The Kingfisher Bookstore while we waited for our table to be ready at a nearby restaurant.
I’m so glad we popped in!
It’s super kid-friendly. They have a step stool and binoculars at the back of the store so kids can “look for pirates!”
There’s also an adorable area for kids to sit and look at books.
4. FIND PAINTED ROCKS
While I was on Whidbey Island, one of my followers DM’d me on Instagram and asked if we’d looked for painted rocks yet. I hadn’t even heard of it, so I quickly headed to Google!
Whidbey Island Rocks such a cool program!
The whole purpose is to spread joy and kindness through painting, hiding, and posting painted rocks.
The hope is that it will bring families together and get people outside and doing something positive for their community.
Basically people are painting rocks and hiding them all over Whidbey Island. If you find a painted rock, you can keep it or re-hide it for someone else to find.
Had we known about this program, I would have had the kids paint a bunch of rocks before our trip so we could have hid them at every stop.
My youngest actually found a rock while we were walking around Fort Casey. It was hidden in some tall grass and he was SO excited!
My oldest was bummed that we didn’t have any art supplies with us because he really wanted to hide rocks.
In fact, he keeps asking when we are going back specifically so he can bring his own painted rocks!
Join their Facebook group to learn more about Whidbey Island Rocks and how you can get involved!
5. GO DUTCH
While you are hanging out in downtown Coupeville, be sure to take a few moments to head to “A Touch of Dutch.”
It’s this awesome store that has all kinds of things families would want to check out.
Our favorite section was the candy aisle! They have tons of licorice, chocolate, and lots of fruity candy.
Yes, we bought our box of Stroopwaffles, but I also picked up some candies that are supposed to be good for sore throats and some Kinder eggs for the boys.
And there were tons of funny hats that would be perfect for Oktoberfest!
It’s also a great place to stock up on Christmas gifts and food items.
Oh, and they had a huge array of Dutch wooden shoes in kid sizes and for adults.
6. EXPLORE FORT CASEY
One of the top things to do in Whidbey Island (especially with kids) is hanging out at Fort Casey State Park. It’s home to lots of Whidbey Island activities.
It was built in the late 1800s and was used for training during both World Wars. Visitors can check out their 10 inch disappearing guns (which were state-of-the-art back in the day.)
Kids will love climbing up the little ladders to hang out at the top of the Fort!
If you really want to make it an adventure, pack some flashlights and let your kids explore all the dark tunnels!
Again, you will need a Discover Pass to visit Fort Casey State Park. So, if you are just getting the day pass, make sure to go on the same day as Deception Pass to get the most bang for your buck!
You can also stay on site. There are barracks on site that are rented out to large groups where people can sleep in sleeping bags on bunk beds.
There are a lot of old training facilities that are used for meetings and events.
I stayed here during high school for a leadership training and it’s definitely a little eerie in the middle of the night!
There’s also a campground at the park, for a cheap place to stay on Whidbey Island. Or the Fort Casey Inn, if you want an immersive experience.
7. LANGLEY WHALE CENTER
On the way to or from the Clinton/Mukilteo ferry, be sure to stop at the Langley Whale Center.
It’s located in their cute downtown area in a former shop. But, it’s much larger than it looks!
What’s fun about the Langley Whale Center is that it’s great for hands on learning.
One of the staff members showed my son how whales hear through vibrations using a tuning fork and a whale skull. How cool is that?!
Plus, there’s a kids play area!
It’s worth a stop no matter the weather, but it’s the perfect thing to do in Whidbey Island in the rain.
My husband actually couldn’t stop talking about it the entire ferry ride back! He was SO impressed!
The Langely Whale Center is open Thursday – Monday from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
8. SEE A LIGHTHOUSE
While you are at Fort Casey, walk (or drive) up a bit to check out the Admiralty Head Lighthouse.
Rebuilt in 1903 in Spanish style, the Admiralty Head Lighthouse has three bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, and a living room. Plus an indoor bathroom and laundry room, which was rare in 1903!
There were some budget cuts in the 1990s, and that resulted in the loss of interpretive park rangers at the lighthouse.
Thankfully, Washington State University’s Island County Extension stepped up and staffed the lighthouse with volunteers in exchange for office space in the structure.
Kids might be interested to know that other kids actually helped re-build the lantern room in 2012. Oak Harbor students built the cross-barred central section, Coupeville students built the roof, and South Whidbey students built the base section, which includes a door.
Admiralty Head Lighthouse is in the southwest corner of the Fort Casey State Park and is open daily in June, July and August from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Check here for the hours the rest of the year.
How to Get to Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island is and easy trip from Seattle or Vancouver, B.C. It’s accessible by car or by ferry.
DRIVING TO WHIDBEY ISLAND
Drive north from Seattle on I-5 and take exit 226.
Turn left onto Highway-536W until you reach Highway 20, a two-lane roundabout (stay in the left lane).
Turn left and travel about 4 miles until you cross over the Deception Pass Bridge onto Whidbey Island.
It takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive from Seattle to Whidbey Island, depending on traffic.
From Vancouver, B.C.
Drive south from Vancouver and take exit 226.
Turn right onto state highway-536W until you reach Highway 20, a two-lane roundabout (stay in the left lane).
Turn left and travel about 4 miles until you cross over the Deception Pass Bridge onto Whidbey Island.
It takes about 3 hours to drive from Vancouver, BC to Whidbey Island, depending on traffic.
To get to the Mukilteo Ferry from Seattle, drive north on I-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.
Kids LOVE the ferry ride from Mukilteo to Clinton. It’s just a 20 minute ride and it’s the perfect amount of time to run up to take photos on the ferry deck before racing down to get back into the car.
Where to Stay on Whidbey Island
FORT CASEY INN
We stayed at the Fort Casey Inn and it was such a cool experience!
Originally built as officer’s housing just before World War I, the Fort Casey Inn features rows of cute cottages overlooking Puget Sound.
Our family loved how much space we had at the Fort Casey Inn. There’s a huge mudroom as soon as you enter, perfect for taking off wet rain jackets and muddy boots.
There’s also a full kitchen so families can cook their own meals, or even just store breakfast supplies.
And there’s a cozy fireplace in the living room, where families can play board games or read books together.
Upstairs, there are two bedrooms and a bathroom with a vintage bathtub!
CAPTAIN WHIDBEY INN
Newly remodeled, the Captain Whidbey Inn is what I’d call a “hipster paradise.”
As soon as you walk inside, you’ll feel like you are on a vintage ship. There are porthole windows and lots of photos of what Whidbey Island was like years ago.
And the grounds are completely Insta-worthy. You will feel truly unplugged and immersed in island life.
They also have a restaurant that serves an incredible breakfast spread!
WHIDBEY HIDDEN HAVEN
If you are looking for an awesome Airbnb option, head to the Whidbey Hidden Haven just 10-15 minutes from the Clinton Ferry Terminal.
The kitchen was just remodeled in 2016 and is fully stocked with everything you need to make and serve a delicious meal for your family.
There’s a dining area, living room with a wood stove, an adorable book nook, a master bedroom, a kids bedroom downstairs, a washer/dryer, and a fabulous deck.
If you’ve never used Airbnb, get $40 off with my link!
Where to Eat with Kids on Whidbey Island
One of my favorite things to do on Whidbey Island is eat SO many mussels! And there are so many great places to eat on Whidbey Island with kids.
This is where we ate our first night on Whidbey Island. It’s right next to a ferry terminal and the food is amazing!
The kids portions are large and I had the best BBQ sandwich there! Plus, amazing Penn Cove mussels in a white wine sauce.
It’s one of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants on Whidbey Island. Not only do they have a great kids menu, but they also have a big basket of coloring books and crayons to keep kids occupied while you wait for your food.
Plus, there’s a fish tank where kids can go over and look at the fish.
FRONT STREET GRILL
If you want to try Penn Cove mussels prepared in unique and non-traditional ways, head to Front Street Grill.
You can order mussels with rosé wine, coconut green curry, Thai peanut sauce, saffron, Rockefeller-style, and more.
I ordered the Blood Orange mussels and they were OMG good! I sopped up as much of the sauce as I could we extra orders of bread!
They also have a nice kids menu. My kids were mostly excited to order Shirley Temples!
CAPTAIN WHIDBEY INN
We had our last breakfast at the Captain Whidbey Inn.
During the summer, they offer a full breakfast menu every day. The rest of the year, they offer a brunch menu on weekends.
While they don’t have a kids menu for breakfast (they do for lunch), we found that their Breakfast Board was perfect for our kids.
It comes with lots of small portioned breakfast items including yogurt, eggs, bacon, fruit, berries, bread, pastries, honey, and more. Plus, it comes with a little shot of juice!
Whidbey Island is such a fun weekend getaway in the Pacific Northwest for any time of year.
There is so much stuff to do on Whidbey Island with kids! We can’t wait to come back to hide rocks, explore more trails, and of course, eat more Penn Cove mussels!
Looking for more Family Weekend Getaways in Washington State? Check out our posts about Seabrook, Tacoma, Semiahmoo, Suncadia, Olympia, Mount Rainier, and the San Juan Islands!
Wednesday 2nd of September 2020
These are some great ideas! I recently went to Whidbey Island, one of my favorite local weekend trips!
Thursday 10th of September 2020
We love Whidbey Island! And it's so close to Seattle!
Catherine @ To & Fro Fam
Wednesday 9th of October 2019
What a terrific post! I definitely want to take my kids to Whidbey Island the next time we're in the Seattle area. The hike at Deception Pass looks gorgeous.