5 Nearby Travel Destinations for Exceptional Dining and Water Views

Gorgeous accommodations and a spa oasis are nice, but when it comes to a full-service getaway, it’s all about the on-site dining
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The Willows Inn’s tasting menu is pure art

This article appears in print in the January 2020 issue. Click here to subscribe.

Gorgeous accommodations and a spa oasis are nice, but when it comes to a full-service getaway, it’s all about the on-site dining. If your idea of a grade A Pacific Northwest vacay starts with breakfast and ends with dinner, these are the spots to visit—all with water views.

The Willows Inn
Internationally renowned as the epitome of Pacific Northwest cuisine, the restaurant at this Lummi Island inn is a bucket-list destination for anyone who calls themselves a food lover. Helmed by James Beard Award–winning chef Blaine Wetzel, the kitchen capitalizes on produce foraged or grown on the nearby farm (ask the front desk about taking a tour) and protein plucked fresh from the glistening waters off the front deck. The dinnertime tasting menu, on its own, is worth the travel time, but if you stay in the humble accommodations, don’t forgo the fantastic breakfast spread the next morning. 


Cedar-plank salmon is a popular dish at Captain Whidbey Inn. Photo by Meghan Klein

Tokeland Hotel
What happens when one of Seattle’s most talented bakers takes over a haunted hotel on the coast? You get one of Washington’s surest bets for good food from a bed-and-breakfast. Heather Earnhardt (founder of The Wandering Goose café on Capitol Hill) and partner Zac Young moved their family to Tokeland in 2018 to take over the state’s oldest resort, which first opened for business in 1899. The rooms are homey and heavy on the floral prints, but now the food is the Southern comfort fare Earnhardt’s fans have come to love: Benedicts for breakfast, fried Willapa oysters from the bay outside, shrimp and grits, and the very best baked goods. 

Headlands Coastal Lodge and Spa
On Oregon’s Tillamook Coast, this relaxation-focused property has a wide range of activities—from complimentary vinyasa flow yoga classes to concierge-planned surf lessons—to work up an appetite before dinner. The air of luxury carries through from accommodations to spa services to the on-site restaurant Meridian, where the menu leans heavily toward seafood dishes like clam linguine, crab cakes and chowder, and diners linger over glasses of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and sunset views. In-room dining is prepared in the same skilled kitchen.


Captain Whidbey’s remodel makes rustic look chic. Photo by Lexi Rebar

Captain Whidbey
This 6-acre summer-camp-like destination on the shores of Whidbey Island’s Penn Cove got a major makeover last year. The history of the 113-year-old property, which is surrounded by a grove of old-growth fir and madrona trees, is evident, though the new owners have freshened the rooms with an artist’s eye and emphasis on hygge. That Scandinavian influence carries over to the restaurant, a casual tavern in which house-smoked meats and house-pickled vegetables show up as precursors to mains like Penn Cove mussels and cedar-plank salmon.

Kingfish at West Sound
Last September, Holly and Raymond Southern took over this charming Orcas Island inn, with its guest suites named after local trees. In October, they reopened the restaurant, which former owners had closed two years before. There, Raymond creates a menu of inspired takes on classic dishes, from a burger with pork belly to apple pie ice cream, in partnership with local OrcaSong Farm. Rooms aren’t ultraluxe, but they convey the same heart as the restaurant—and the water views don’t hurt.

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