Near Cranberry Lake
What You Will Find
During a typical trip to Cranberry Lake, at Deception State Park it would not be uncommon to see kayaks floating atop the still waters, fisherman sitting along the winding edges of the lake, and kids splashing in the shallow waters while their parent’s BBQ.
Have You Seen It All?
But if that is all you have seen you have not gone far enough. Just past the lake is a trail that will lead you through a very rare treasure to this region. SAND DUNES. Dunes are created as grains of sand accumulate into a sheltered area when the wind blows. The limited nutrients, high winds, sun exposure, and salty spray from the ocean makes it extremely difficult for plants to grow here. Many of the plants you see today have adapted to the harsh growing conditions causing them to develop things like small leaves that stand perpendicular to the sun to avoid direct sunlight that assists in the plant’s survival.
The Old Growth Tree
However, despite the challenges stands this old-growth tree. It is quite a unique Douglas-fir.
This particular tree has stood for over 850 years watching as the dunes have taken shape. Its thick bark has guarded it against the harsh conditions in addition to storms, fires, droughts, and disease that claimed others over the years. For generations, people have climbed this stunning tree. Unfortunately, now the bark is thinning but it can still be appreciated from afar.
Take a Look at Our Interactive Map of the Area Here:
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Plan your Trip to Langley
A Little History Before You Plan Your Trip to Langley
On the southern side of Whidbey Island along the Saratoga Passage lies the lovely little town of Langley. With a population of just over one thousand, this quaint town is home to a creative culture and endless entertainment.
Langley’s history has led to its unique and diverse culture. Established in 1891, Langley served as South Whidbey’s trading center for all types of goods with the wharf connecting island merchants to Everett and Seattle. In the 60s and 70s, that same wharf brought in a wave of hippies who would forever shift the culture of South Whidbey.
Although Langley’s docks no longer see the traffic they once did, downtown is filled with remnants of the original trades-town married beautifully with the artistic culture of the mid-century hippies. It’s quite a treat to visit. If you get the chance to spend a day in Langley and aren’t sure what to do, you’re in luck! We’ve created an itinerary for the perfect one-day trip in Langley. Just don’t forget your mask and keep a social distance!
Itinerary for Day Trip to Langley
Coffee at Useless Bay
Enjoy some amazing early morning coffee from this local roaster to give yourself an extra boost at the beginning of your day. Between the friendly baristas, great drinks, and buzzing atmosphere you’ll be excited to return to this cafe over and over.
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Breakfast at The Braeburn
BEST. BREAKFAST. EVER. Or at least it’s hard to top. The Braeburn has an amazing assortment of breakfast choices ranging from light and sweet pastries to hearty mashes and breakfast burritos. There’s something for everyone!
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Morning Stroll Down Seawall Park
When you make your way out of The Braeburn you might consider taking a stroll down Langley’s Seawall Park. This seaside park is full of beautiful art that pays tribute to past island tribes and a walking path to help you get the most out of the beautiful view.
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Lunch at Ultra House
Ready for lunch? This ramen house is tucked away in the dead center of Langley village and serves absolutely incredible food! Enjoy slurping noodles and sipping broth and feeling like you’re another world away.
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Ice Cream at Sprinklz
What better way to end lunch than with some sweets?! Sprinklz is a local favorite when it comes to ice cream. It’s hard to beat their fun store or their incredible old fashioned ice cream.
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Explore Downtown and the Star Store
Even though a few of the Langley shops have closed their doors during the pandemic, The Star Store alone could keep anyone’s attention for quite some time. This century-old mercantile seamlessly transitions from produce to products and more.
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End the Night at the Taproom at Bayview
What better way to end the night than with some comfort food and a good beer? Bayview Taproom provides that and much more. You’ll love this community watering hole for its juicy burgers, kind servers, and joyful atmosphere.
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Whidbey Island Water Sports: Just in Time for Summer
As Island County transitions into we’ve noticed quite a few changes.
Restaurants have re-opened their doors.
Parks are now open to the public again.
Even a few offices are welcoming back their employees.
For many, this change couldn’t have come soon enough. For those who enjoy water sports, the lifted restrictions were right on time.
Water sports is something particularly special to Whidbey as we are after all, completely surrounded by water. With the sun making more and more guest appearances in the sky you can place a good bet on the expectation of increased activity on the waves. Between kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, and more; the Whidbey shores offer quite a bit of enjoyment for those willing to get wet.
Below are just some water activities popular on Whidbey.
Kayaking is easily an island favorite when it comes to water sports. The flexibility of kayaking regardless of weather and the ability to do it alone is a HUGE draw for many.
Another island favorite, especially in the summer, is tubing! The wonderful thing about tubing is the community feel to it. It’s a great activity that brings people together and almost always results in a few humorous stories.
Want to kick tubing it up a notch? Water skiing is for you! This sport requires a bit more resilience and core strength, but once you get it down you are sure to leave the water with some epic pictures of yourself.
Paddleboarding is a slightly newer interest on the island, but well deserving of the hype. This sport is made for those who simply want to enjoy the water. Sit, stand, lay down, it doesn’t matter! Paddleboarding allows you to enjoy the sea the way you want to.
Sailing is a Whidbey Island classic. There is a long history of sailing on Whidbey that has been passed down from generation to generation.
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When it comes to the struggle of entertaining quarantined kids, Windermere moms get it!
Like many of you, we have spent the last few weeks cooped up in our homes with our families and have been trying desperately to keep entertained. Through the weeks our “Windermoms” have discovered their favorite activities to do with their kids and want to share them with you!
One of my daughter’s favorite things to do is painting. And she loves to paint anything and everything! So I introduced her to painting rocks! We love to look for painted rocks when we are out and about and she wanted to make some for us to hide when we are at parks and on trails. During this time where parks and trails have been closed, we have enjoyed painting them and talking about all the fun we will have hiding them in the near future. This is an especially great activity for a rainy day. – Rachel Bennett
My family has really enjoyed cooking together. My kids pick a theme, research the recipe they want to make, and they each are responsible for a portion of dinner. It’s been great together time and they are loving being challenged with recipes we’ve never made. – Marissa Evans
I was born and raised in Italy and food has always been a profound part of my life. In everyday life, families gather around the table and enjoy each other’s company over the delicious homemade meals prepared. For most of us, it’s like an art and I find joy when I’m able to recreate for my son those traditional dishes my mom prepared for me when I was little. I always find comfort and relief in cooking, especially baking. The smell of freshly baked bread always brings back memories of me and my mom baking several loaves of bread in our country home. Sliced with homemade olive oil, oregano, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes … yum! Fresh ingredients, colorful dishes, great company, and a bit of wine. What’s not to love? – Simona Groves
Our favorite activity since we’ve been in quarantine has been cooking. We’ve made everything from coffee drinks, pizza, cookies, scones, macaroons and my daughter picked out a recipe and made Teriyaki chicken for dinner. A lot of times we will think of things to make and be like “oh, we do not have time,” well now we’ve found the time to make or try all kinds of different cooking and baking. She FaceTimed a friend who was guiding her through making macaroons. I’ve always loved to cook and bake, so sharing that with her is fun! I feel like cooking together helps her to learn to cook and cooking is an activity the whole family can benefit from. – Kate Hauter
Hatching Chickens and Starting a Garden
During this stay home with my daughters (16 and 19) it’s been such a change for our family with no sports or school. We decided to do something we have always wanted to do but never had the time. Hatching chickens from eggs and starting a huge vegetable garden. The quarantine made the 21 day wait time for babies go quickly and we even decided to do another round. 🐣 Working together to plan and plant our garden was a big and rewarding task! Loving my time with my girls. – Konni Smith
Play Outside! Embracing your inner child during this stressful time can be so uplifting! Jump-rope, laugh, play, kick the ball around, collect rocks, or just go on walks with your kids! Being outside makes it all better; from taking turns doing tricks on the trampoline with photos-ops to just laying on the grass or on the bow of a boat watching cloud formations… it’s all an innocent diversion to the daily stresses of working/schooling from home and the constant bombardment of news. Enjoy! – Jennifer Wynn
I absolutely enjoy outside time with my son! Since he was an itty-bitty infant being outdoors has been an integral part of our relationship. Outdoor space was what brought us to Washington state and Whidbey Island. I wouldn’t give up my son or my lifestyle here for anything. – Anita Johnston
My littles and I are soaking up the sun while running and playing tennis! We especially enjoyed building a backyard fire pit, roasting marshmallows, and backyard camping together. – Kareena Gonzalez
We have created a challenge for our kids to walk every bit of trail in the Fort Ebey/Kettles Trail system. We downloaded and laminated a map for each of them from the Island County Website (CLICK HERE).
They are planning out the day’s walk, learning to navigate, reading a map, collaborating, and getting physical activity. They are also finding new species of plants and trees on their walks and bringing home samples to ID and glue to our big poster board for us to refer too and quiz the kids on. It might sound serious but it’s actually super fun and has been a neat challenge! – Kristen Stavros
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Windermere Real Estate Whidbey Island COVID19 Word Search
- Download the #HASHTAGS Word Search by clicking here
- Complete it
- Send a picture of it completed to WhidbeyCommunications@Windermere.com
- Include a note saying if we can use your picture on our social media (share your social profile name if you want to be tagged if you win).
- Be entered to win a $25 gift card to Rock Island Coffee
- Winner will be announced April 27, 2020
Whidbey Family Resources During COVID-19 Closures
Many working parents with young children are scrambling to reassess the next 6 weeks and putting plans in place to keep kids healthy and learning while still earning necessary income. This is going to be a trying time for everyone but families with 2 working parents are facing a particular logistical headache. There are options out there and below is a collection of what is available…
Boys & Girls Clubs are offering more than 50% off child care and reduced transportation fees. Fill out the application and find out more via the following links.
High School and College Students are out of school as well and might be looking for child care work. The going rate for long term child care is anywhere from $7-$15 an hour depending on how many kids, their ages, responsibilities, driving required, etc. When screening babysitters this article might come in handy. https://www.care.com/c/stories/6753/babysitter-interview-questions/
Short Term Homeschooling:
If you are finding yourself staring down the tunnel at 6 weeks of homeschooling when this has never been a part of your plan it can feel daunting. Here are three tips that may help.
1. Create Structure through a Schedule:
Having a schedule that everyone can refer to and count on will help things from getting out of control. Here is a simple schedule we like.
2. Use the Online Resources at Your Fingertips:
Thank goodness we live in the digital age and that we still have the internet through this. We highly recommend Prodigy Game for keeping kids 1-8th grade on track with their math. Looking for a daily curriculum and content to guide your academic time at home? This Scholastic site has set up day by day themed learning opportunities at four different age levels for free! https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html
We would love to hear what you recommend and be sure to check out this long list of free or discounted resources! http://www.amazingeducationalresources.com/
3. Stay Positive & Create Community:
This too shall pass and you can choose to either wallow in the negatives or focus on all the silver linings! Since we are all in this together on Whidbey be sure to reach out to your fellow families, whether you have a previous relationship with them or not. Times of trial can bring people closer together in very authentic ways. Being outside is the safest way to convene and with some beautiful Spring days planning a walk with just a few families might be the perfect way to brighten everyone’s day. Want to learn more about outdoor opportunities?
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Discover the Best Places to Whale Watch
When it comes to natural wonders, Whidbey Island is unbelievably blessed. With expansive undeveloped areas, nine state parks, and views that take your breath away, it’s hard to imagine it could get any better.
But it does!
In addition to our incredible outdoor opportunities for explorers, we are one of the few places in the world where land-dwellers have an opportunity to get a glimpse of some spectacular mammals of the sea. Puget Sound’s cold and nutrient-rich water makes it the perfect place for whales to roam. Although you could spend the money to board a whale-watching boat and find the mammals out on the water, boats aren’t always required when you’re on Whidbey.
Below are the top 5 places to see whales from land on Whidbey!
At the west-most point of Oak Harbor lies a stretch of beach beloved by wanderers and sea life alike. With wide-open views and miles of ocean just off the shore, it’s not hard to see why West Beach is one of the best places to see whales near Whidbey.
The nutrient-rich water of Penn Cove cultivates a thriving ecosystem for small and large sea life. It’s this sea life in the form of ghost shrimp and fat seals that attracts the attention of gray whales and transient Orca alike. It’s not uncommon for the residents of Penn Cove to see a gray whale’s tail break the surface of the water as they dig in the mudflats for shrimp or a full-on chase between a stealthy Orca and a seal.
What this public beach lacks in amenities it makes up for with view and privacy. On a sunny day, beach-goers have the opportunity to see Camano Island sitting peacefully across the Saratoga Passage and – if they come at just the right time – maybe even a whale!
Just north of this charming seaside community is a county park boasting nothing more than public access to the Lagoon Point community beach. Luckily access to the beach is really all you need to catch a glimpse of traveling orcas or scavenging grey whales.
Hidden below the streets of downtown Langley is a quaint little park with beautiful art, well-maintained landscaping, and a spectacular view of the Saratoga Passage. Onlookers often have the wonderful treat of seeing a whale pass or even watch them feed in the massive ghost shrimp beds. If you do, don’t forget to ring the Whale Bell!
Bonus: Your own back porch?
Can you say “waterfront property”? Yes, please! Our beautiful island has many waterfront homes and properties with beautiful views of Puget Sound. How amazing would it be to sip coffee on your own patio while enjoying pods of orca passing by or gray whales feeding on the beach right in front of you? If this sounds like your dream, give us a call today!
Now, remember, if you do see a whale you should report it to the Orca Network! Reporting sightings to the Orca Network helps with scientific efforts and helps other whale watchers like yourself!
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The gifts are all open, friends and family have returned to their respective homes, the ball has fallen, and the kids are back in school. The holiday season has officially come to a close, leaving us with the annual question of “Now what?”
Although this question can be an ominous one correlating to all that life may hold for us in the coming 12 months, for many it also applies to right here and right now. The sudden calm after Christmas can leave people dazed or even in a state of shock when they realize they have a bit of post-holiday cleanup to complete. It can be hard to know where to start or what to do when it comes to reorienting your home back to normal. We are here to help with 5 After Christmas Activities.
Donate Old Toys
If you’re like most families, the quantity of toys in your home this time of year probably spikes quite a bit. When new and exciting Christmas gifts join those that came before it can feel like you’re living on the Island of Misfit Toys. Sneaking unplayed-with toys out of their room in the dead of night may be the easiest option but encouraging your children to choose which toys they would like to donate can help teach generosity, the importance of cleaning up, and critical decision making skills. Once you and your kids have decided which toys they can bear to part with there are a few choices on where you can donate. Below are some of Whidbey’s second-hand shops and charities that accept lightly used toys.
Island Thrift | 600 SE Barrington Dr, Oak Harbor
Upscale Resale | 210 SE Pioneer Way, Oak Harbor
Habitat for Humanity | 280 SE Pioneer Way, Oak Harbor
The Garage of Blessings | 800 SE Barrington Drive, Oak Harbor
Recycle Your Tree
Now for that (maybe less than lush) tree currently gracing your living room with its presence. It’s always a little sad when the time comes around to take down the Christmas tree, but the end of its needle droppings is usually welcomed. What’s not welcomed is the question of what to do with it. If you live in a house with a wood burning fireplace it might be a little tempting to chop it up and throw it in, but this is a BAD IDEA. When pine needles catch on fire they don’t burn slowly like wood, but instead spark out in all directions which can be a huge fire hazard in a home. Instead, what you should do is deposit your tree at one of the island’s Solid Waste drop-off locations where they can be put with other yard waste and recycled properly:
North Whidbey Solid Waste | 3151 Oak Harbor Road, Oak Harbor
Coupeville Solid Waste Complex | 20018 State Highway 20, Coupeville
Bayview Solid Waste | 5790 S Kramer Road, Langley
What You Can and Can’t Recycle
“Did you know that household waste increases by more than 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s?” (King5) It’s little wonder why this increased waste occurs. However, it doesn’t make the statistic any less startling. To put that in perspective, since the average American produces about 4.5 lbs of waste a day (EPA); Whidbey Island theoretically produces an additional 3,500 TONS of waste every holiday season. If there was ever a stat to make you want to recycle, that should be it! However, in order to be an effective recycler you need to know what can and what can’t go in that little blue bin of yours. So here’s a quick rundown of what can and can’t go in your recycling bin.
● Cardboard boxes
● Plain paper boxes and bags
● Plain wrapping paper
● Holiday Cards (w/o embellishments)
● Tissue paper
● Bubble wrap
● Plastic Bags
● Holiday Lights
● Foam Packaging
Give to the Food Bank
During the holidays it’s very easy to get caught up in the good cheer and generosity of the season. But the time immediately after the holidays can be especially difficult for charities and food banks. The financial exasperation many experience directly after the holidays can cause an all out stop to donations for a while; but unfortunately, needs don’t cease just because Christmas is over. Donating to charities and especially food banks is something critical to do throughout the year and not just in November and December. Below are some local food banks who could do a great amount of good with your post-Christmas donations.
Throw a Regifting Party!
We all have that one gift (or 5) that we simply didn’t want or need. Yes, Aunt Kathy meant well, but what on earth are you going to do with a crochet pillow of her cat?? Often these gifts are begrudgingly placed deep into the depths of our closets never to be seen again (or at least not for a few years). However, it doesn’t have to be this way! We know you aren’t a fan of seeing Whisker’s face on a pillow every day, but who is to say your friend Bethany might not LOVE it? Unwanted gifts don’t need to sit gathering dust in the closet, especially when there’s a simple solution of how to find someone who might actually find use or enjoyment in it.
Throw a Regifting Party!
Regifting Parties are basically White Elephants thrown after Christmas with the intention of finding better homes for those unwanted gifts. The concept and rules for the Regifting Game is simple and match White Elephant almost exactly. So makes some warm drinks, grab a few good friends, and have a great time discovering new treasures!
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The adventures available on Whidbey never quite seem to end. Between wondrous hikes, quaint local shops, and astounding historical buildings there never seems to be an end to what this island has to offer. You might just start to believe Whidbey Island is perfect and we can’t say we disagree.
Among Whidbey’s countless opportunities is one for the more athletic individuals – cycling.
Whidbey Island is FILLED with amazing roads and trails perfect for individuals whose preferred method of transportation is two wheels. The centralized location of highway 20 and 525 draws motorized vehicles away from roads near the water, making them ideal for cyclers! Enjoy breathtaking views of the sound while flying down the rolling hills of the island or testing your resolve while going up them.
In fact, cycling is so popular that the island has its own club. The Whidbey Island Bicycle Club was formed in 2010 to “support, promote and educate about cycling on beautiful Whidbey Island.” Through the years this group has teamed together with other island organizations providing resources to island cyclists (like this amazing Whidbey Island Bike Map!) including some pretty great cycling events. The best place to find their events is through their Facebook page.
Each summer cyclists come from all over Puget Sound to ride the Tour de Whidbey (on August 17th this year). With four different routes to choose from, this beloved island tradition is perfect for all cyclists regardless of their skill level. New riders can enjoy the short 10-mile ride circling Crocket Lake, while experienced riders with a passion for pushing the limits can test their skills with the POWER route that covers the entire perimeter of the island. To bring this event full cycle, all proceeds benefit Whidbey Health Medical Center.
Ready to gear up for your own cycling adventure and not sure where to start? We’ve talked to our resident cycle enthusiast and got the 411 on where to start:
Visit Skagit Cycle
Located in downtown Oak Harbor on Pioneer, Skagit Cycle is a blessing to all Whidbey Island cyclists. The employees are knowledgeable and eager to help. Simply spend a few minutes with any sales associate and you will soon be out the door with exactly what you need to get your journey started. Check them out here.
A dangerous mistake made by one too many riders is not taking proper precautions. Biking without a helmet or proper attire is a large risk that can cost your life. Make sure when to wear a helmet properly fitted to your head, clothes that are bright and easy to spot, and include proper reflectors/lights on your bike if you are going to be riding at night.
Try Crockett Lake
Crockett Lake (near the Coupeville ferry and Fort Casey) is a great starting point for any new cyclist. The low traffic roads and relatively flat area provide a ride that eases newcomers into the activity while still enjoying some spectacular island views. When you’re done grab an ice cream or meal at Callen’s Restaurant across from the ferry terminal.
So, get out there! You’re sure to have a wheel good time.
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