If you enjoy art, talking to artists, eating delicious food, and seeing gorgeous sights, then Whidbey Island in beautiful western Washington is the perfect place to enjoy a weekend getaway. But take care to make it a three-day weekend by heading over on the first ferry Friday morning. Trust me, you are going to want all the time on the island you can get. Your weekend will be packed with memories to last any long winter.
The Whidbey Art Trail
The Whidbey Art Trail is a self-guided, around-the-island tour of artists who have opened up their studios to talk to the public about their art. Many of them will even do demonstrations of how they create their art. You will need to call ahead to some of the artists to make sure that they are available at the time that you want to visit.
If you are pressed for time, I suggest heading first to Greenbank Farm, which has a wonderful restaurant and several galleries including the Rob Schouten Gallery run by Rob (also a painter) and his wife Victory. It is worth a pop in the gallery to say “hi” and peruse the amazing art on display for sale.
Need a Christmas gift for the chef in your life (or for yourself)? Then Cook On Clay is the perfect studio to drop by. Owners Maryon Attwood and Robbie Lobell create ceramic cookware that will take all of your favorite recipes up a notch.
Make sure you hit up mother and daughter Mary Ellen O’Connor and Linnane Armstrong, who share a studio on the trail. Linnane creates stunning woodcut block prints and her mother Mary Ellen makes jewelry, silk scarves, and etched glass. Their art can be found in many of the galleries throughout Whidbey.
If you love textiles and weaving, don’t pass up RainShadow Textiles with Anne Davenport. There is a good chance that you will catch Anne at the loom creating her newest fabric, and it is amazing to watch a scarf or hand towel come together right in front of your eyes. You probably won’t be able to leave her studio without picking up one of her creations for yourself.
There are 16 artists and galleries that you can visit on the trail, and they are all worth checking out, but you can’t leave Whidbey Island without visiting a glass artist. There are 80 glass artists currently working on Whidbey, so glass blowing is a big part of the Whidbey art scene. On the trail you can visit Island Glass Art and meet owners Robert Adamson and Janis Swalwell. They have amazing hand blown glass for sale and you can go to their shop out back and take a turn at blowing glass yourself. I got to help create a glass pumpkin and it was fun to be part of the process.
For When You Get Hungry
You are bound to get a bit hungry as you take in all of the wonderful art, and Whidbey Island does not disappoint — there are many delicious meals to be had. One of my favorite places to eat was at Whidbey Pies Café, which has an amazing assortment of savory and sweet pies. The crust makes the pie and they have it down.
If you would like more upscale dining, head then over to Coupville and The Captain Whidbey Inn. Their chef, Ryan Houser, has been creating amazing menus fueled by his passion for food.
Another eatery that I thoroughly enjoyed was Ciao. Owner Mark Laska studied pizza-making in Italy and prepares an authentic and mouthwatering Neapolitan pizza. You don’t want to miss it.
Don’t Forget About Having a Drink, Too
I also got the chance to check out Spoiled Dog Winery. Taste their wines, including some Pinot Noirs, and meet the spoiled dogs, Blue and Sami.
A Place to Lay Your Head
Whidbey Island has an amazing amount of unique and charming places to stay. I had the honor of staying at Willow Pond Lodge, which has a beautiful view and the most lovely skylight living room. It is the perfect place to have your morning tea. Willow Pond can also accommodate large groups and events.
If you choose to stay at The Captain Whidbey Inn, which is centrally located with lots of character (and possible ghost sightings…), you could have a fun story or two to tell. Though the owner doesn’t think the hauntings are true, he believes everyone can make their own decisions on the matter.
Whidbey Island has its own magazine called ‘Whidbey Life Magazine.’ The magazine is published by Sue Taves, who is also a sculptor on the island, and it contains everything that you need to know for your stay, including human interest stories about the people who inhabit the island. They also have a website that lists all of the happenings on the island. Especially in the summer, there are music, theater, and art shows throughout the island every night. Also in the summer, artists from all over the island will be out plein air painting.
If you are interested in photography, I highly recommend the photo walk with Whidbey Photo Adventures lead by Kim Tinuviel. Kim not only guides you to photogenic scenery on the island but also gives you a bit of a photography lesson if you request it and helps you better understand what you can do with your camera. Like many of the individuals on the island, Kim is not only a photographer, but she is also an artist and a musician.
If you want a weekend getaway that is packed with art, music, and food (and why wouldn’t you!?!), then Whidbey Island will more than fulfill your needs. In fact, I bet you will be planning your next trip there the moment you leave on the ferry home.