Whidbey Island, Washington is located only 20 minutes away from Seattle by ferry. You can also access the island from the north by driving over the scenic Deception Pass Bridge. The 55-mile-long island is filled with lovely beaches and parks, as well as towns and villages with eclectic shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Whidbey Island vacation rentals offer easy access to an abundance of exciting opportunities such as beachcombing, kayaking, and fishing. You can explore its antique shops and street markets, join a whale-watching tour, and enjoy hiking, cycling, and other outdoor activities. Here are the top things to do with children on Whidbey Island.

1. Comb the Beaches

Whidbey Island’s many beaches are great places to stroll and comb for agates, shells, driftwood, smooth transparent beach glass, and other treasures. North Beach at Deception Pass State Park offers a stunning view of the magnificent bridge. The beach at Ebey’s Landing allows you to walk for miles along the shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Double Bluff Beach in the south is sandier than most Whidbey beaches and has lots of shells. Dugualla Bay Beach at Oak Harbor is a smaller beach where you can watch eagles, cormorants, ducks, and other bird species.

2. Hike the Trails

From your Whidbey Island vacation rental, you have access to hundreds of miles of hiking trails. For instance, Deception Pass State Park, the most popular state park in Washington, has almost 40 miles of hiking trails over sand dunes and through old growth forest. A portion of the Pacific Northwest Trail, which begins in Montana and ends on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, goes from Deception Pass along half the length of Whidbey Island to the ferry terminal at Keystone. Ebey’s Landing has a trail that offers a stunning view of the Olympic Mountains to the west. Other lovely trails are at Kettles Trail Park, Cama Beach State Park, and South Whidbey State Park.

3. Pedal a Bike

Cycling is an ideal way to explore Whidbey Island. Its pleasant rural roads between towns offer beautiful vistas of farmlands, forests, lakes, and the deep blue waters of Puget Sound. For great mountain biking, try Kettles Trail or the trails in Putney Woods and Saratoga Woods. Bring your own bikes, or rent some from the numerous bike shops in towns all over the island.

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4. Ride a Horse

Horseback riding on Whidbey Island is a great family-friendly adventure. Beginners can take lessons and go on short rides on equestrian trails on private ranches. Join a guided tour on horseback that leads through forests of white pine, Douglas fir, and hemlock where you can observe eagles, owls, woodpeckers, and other wildlife. If you own a horse, various stables on the island can board it for you.

5. Go Shopping

The town of Langley on Whidbey Island features a number of antique, specialty, gift, and flower shops where the whole family can enjoy browsing for purchases. Additionally, throughout the island are galleries, glass works, and other art studios where you can shop for paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glass figures, jewelry, and weavings. Farmers markets in various locations offer fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, baked goods, and local handicrafts.

6. Learn Local History

The Island County Historical Museum in Coupeville offers a look at local history through fascinating exhibits such as the remains of an ancient mammoth, Native American artifacts, and pioneer clothing and household items. The PBY Naval Air Museum at Oak Harbor highlights the long-term military presence on Whidbey Island and its importance during and after World War II. Interactive exhibits and flight simulators allow you to get a feel for what Navy pilots went through. You can also tour the Admiralty Bay Lighthouse in Fort Casey State Park, which was built in 1861, rebuilt in 1903, and decommissioned in 1922.

7. Paddle a Kayak

Paddling a kayak is a wonderful way to explore the shoreline of Whidbey Island and other nearby islands. As you ply the waters parallel to the shore, you may discover hidden bluffs, coves, and beaches. In the clear waters, you can observe fish, crabs, and other marine life, while eagles and herons fly overhead. You may even catch a glimpse of sea lions and harbor seals. If you haven’t done much kayaking, experienced guides can lead you through the tricky currents and tides to calm waters and gorgeous sights.

8. Fish the Waters

For a bracing outdoor experience, try some family fishing. The lakes on Whidbey Island are ideal for fly fishing for trout and largemouth bass. From the Puget Sound beaches or a chartered boat, you can fish for salmon, smelt, sturgeon, and other species. Catching crabs in pots or with your bare hands and then cooking them right on the beach is a popular and fun activity. Another unique experience is digging for fresh clams and oysters on Whidbey Island beaches.

9. Watch Whales

The waters of Puget Sound off Whidbey Island are full of gray whales and orcas. Often you can spot these huge denizens of the deep from the deck of a ferry or from numerous spots along the shoreline. For a close-up look at gray whales on their migratory paths from late February through early June, join a whale-watching tour from Oak Harbor or Langley. You may also spot humpback whales, orcas, porpoises, dolphins, and sea lions.

10. Try an Extreme Sport

Canopy Tours Northwest features six different zip lines of various lengths through a spectacularly beautiful evergreen forest setting. Adventure Terra offers the experience of canopy tree climbing, in which you gear up with harnesses, helmets, safety goggles, and other equipment and climb with expert help to the tops of giant fir trees for breathtaking views of the island scenery. Other exciting activities you can try include kite boarding, water skiing, and scuba diving.

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