South Whidbey Island: the place for whales

I had an extra day off this week, thanks to a banked Christmas holiday day held over to use by the end of the month. Since I refuse to use tire chains, or travel in any form of snow, my exploring options are fairly limited this time of year.

That didn’t stop me from wanting ice cream. Kapaw’s Iskreme in Coupeville is one of my favorite shops, with their massive portions and waffle cones. It’s been awhile since I went to Whidbey Island, so I decided to make the ferry trip.

I had to stop by at work for a brief detour, and one of my co-workers mentioned how she loved the town of Langley. I mentally added the town to my tour list for the day, as the last trip on the island, I mainly stuck to the northern end of the island.

One of my favorite things to do on a road-trip in Western Washington is to go on the ferry. My only complaint about the Mukilteo-Clinton route is it’s too short!


I decided to go straight to Langley, to check it off on my list before heading to get ice cream. Fortunately, I arrived around lunchtime, so I was able to look walk around the town before settling on the Useless Bay Coffee Co Cafe, mainly because I love the name (yup, there’s a ‘Useless Bay’ off the island’s coast nearby). The atmosphere is great: a mixture of work space, group gathering spot, and eatery. Their veggie wrap is delicious, but their coleslaw is even better!

I stopped by the Langley Whale Center, part of the Whale Network, a non-profit working to teach people about the whale populations in the Pacific Northwest. The Center includes a board of recent sightings, and even a map! It was great to  look around and remind myself just how large (and diverse) our whales are! While some transients were spotted recently, none traveled by during my visit. I guess my notice to the whales wasn’t translated properly earlier in the week…

After walking a bit more, I decided it was time for ice cream: 20 miles later, I was in the familiar main street of Coupeville. Only this time, it wasn’t summer, and Kapaw’s was closed!

After a few moments of heartbreak, I decided to turn around and head to South Whidbey State Park to cross of my list of state parks visited.

The park is great, and fairly large! I didn’t walk around too much, as my hiking shoes are caput, but I did get a glimpse down the beach access trail (I love going to the beach when I can at state parks). Unfortunately, the trail was closed due to a washout.

On my double-backing trip, I stopped in Freeland, hoping there would be an ice-cream shop. I found at least two restaurants and several espresso shots, but no ice cream! I even asked the visitor’s center: no, they only have a soft-serve ice cream shop in the summer. I told them I would just need to be back to open a full time shop, as 20 miles between good ice cream, and the soon-to-be opened Sprinklz in Langley is just too far to drive  in the winter!

Not to put too bad of an impression on Freeland, it does have an impressive waterfront park, complete with playground for kids.

Still on the hunt, I took a scenic drive along East Saratoga Road back into downtown Langley to South Whidbey Commons Coffee House, where they serve hard ice cream in cones, as well as a good selection of coffee drinks. It’s a community non-profit coffee house with a great selection of books to read while you sip!

While walking around, I stumbled on several display boards I missed the first time around and learned that several early businesses were destroyed by fire. That wasn’t the cool part. I learned that women got the right to vote in Washington state in 1910. By 1919, when the 19th amendment was passed, Langley elected it’s first female mayor, and three female city councilors. Two men on the council quit, and were henceforth replaced by…you guessed it, women, becoming the second town in the United States to be run solely by women! How awesome is that!


I decided to go right back to Clinton to the ferry dock. Shortly after handing my ticket, while waiting in line, I wondered if I should’ve stayed back longer to explore Clinton. After all, there are a few more parks and spots around I missed!

PS: in Langley, make sure you stop at Star Store. One person can shop for groceries and another can shop for clothes…in the same store! Plus, their staff are really friendly!




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