The reception on my cell phone plunges to its lowest bar. As if on the other end of a seesaw, my mood vaults upward. I’m tooling down a winding road on Whidbey Island, a sideways mustache of land—long and slim in the middle, fuller at north and south ends. When I am here, where sea spray scents the air and every few miles another rolling farm spills away toward forest, I feel beyond the reach of creditors and editors, free to rest computer-weary eyes and take in the ocean views and the arabesque shapes of madrone trees. It is only a 20-mile drive from Seattle to the ferry in Mukilteo, and a 20-minute boat trip to the island—no time to grow stressed en route. No need to pack heavy or plan ahead, either: The weather is mild, good food is abundant, and the island offers enough quiet inns to accommodate every weary urban escapee. I base myself near Greenbank—mid-mustache—to take advantage of the sights from north Whidbey to Coupeville to Langley. At the weekend’s close, it’s a short drive back to the south end of the island for the ferry ride home.
Must See: There are beaches, meadows and views at spectacular Deception Pass State Park (parks.wa.gov), and
Ebey’s Landing (nps.gov) is great for a bluff or beach walk, and clear-day views of both the Cascades and Olympics.
Must Do: Check out kayaking or stand-up paddling with the seals along the Langley shoreline at Whidbey Island Kayaking Company (360.661.5183; whidbeyislandkayaking.com).
Where to Eat: Delicious dining options are scattered like artisanal breadcrumbs all along the island. On the outskirts of Langley, tuck into organic breakfast or lunch platters, house-made pastries and, of course, strong coffee at the Ca’buni Café at the secluded Mukilteo Coffee Roasters (360.321.5262; mukilteocoffee.com). Indulge in fresh, French-style dinners in the historic seaside town of Coupeville at The Oystercatcher (360.678.0683; oystercatcherwhidbey.com), with its emphasis on local fresh fish (don’t skip mussels from nearby Penn Cove) and exquisite desserts. Prima Bistro (primabistro.com), also in Langley and also French inspired, has water views and a patio.
Where to Stay: Located on a quiet side street in the town of Langley, The Boatyard Inn (360.221.5120; boatyardinn.com) makes the most of the island’s shoreline with decks, barbecue grills and window views. And it’s a short stroll to shops and restaurants. Inland, there is the sweet, homey, budget-priced Yoga Lodge (pictured left) (360.929.5985; yogalodge.com; rates from $65 to $155, depending on the room and season), a bed-and-breakfast and retreat center tucked into alder forest near Greenbank. All rooms but one share a bathroom; an abundant vegan or vegetarian breakfast basket is included. Guests can pay extra to join morning classes in the forest-facing studio or schedule a private lesson. —MARIA DOLAN
Ferry dock: Mukilteo Ferry Terminal to Clinton
Frequency of sailing: Every 30 minutes starting at 5:05 a.m. and ending at 2 a.m. (some sailings scheduled only on certain days)
Travel time: About 20 minutes
Fare: One adult, walk on, $4.65; drive on, $7.75
Tip: During long waits, you can grab ice cream in a cup from the open counter at Ivar’s, or on Wednesdays pick up some goodies at the Mukilteo Farmers’ Market, 3-7 p.m.