Motorcycle Touring: Whidbey Island, Washington

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Whidbey Weekend

Serene Views and Miles of Back Roads

If you're looking for a break from the fast pace grab your deer radar and head for Whidbey Island.

Whidbey offers motorcyclists a few hundred miles of back roads that can be explored leisurely over a two day period. The island has plenty of accommodations, wild life, activities and events to make it a perfect spot for a weekend getaway.

You can reach Whidbey by ferrying in from Port Townsend or Mukilteo, or you can come via what is called the 'long way' by taking highway 20 in from I-5 at Burlington, 60 miles north of Seattle.

Getting off the main highways of Whidbey (SR 20 and 525) offers riders some great touring. Ultimately the island can be explored over two days, one day covering the south and the other touring the north.  Rather than suggest a route we recommend you pick up a map of the island and chart your own course. Attaching it to your tank helps a lot, or navigating by GPS - whatever that is?

As you ride you'll see plenty of spectacular views that will include Puget Sound as well as wildlife and turn of the century architecture. There are numerous waterfront parks on every side of the island so consider packing a lunch each day and picnicking along the way.  Another obvious trait of riding the island's back roads is the overabundance of waterfront property and homes for sale. Your bike offers an excellent way to quickly view a potential second home location without the hassle of getting in and out of your car each time.

Whidbey has better weather than other areas of Puget Sound as it falls into the Olympic rain shadow that runs along the north side of the range. Fair weather riders will find Whidbey to be accommodating more often in the spring and fall than other areas of the Northwest.

Nearly every weekend there's an event worth making the trip. From the Mussel Festival in early March to the street festivals and boat races during spring and summer, until the Harvest Festival in late fall, Whidbey provides a variety of great excuses for spending time on the island. 

Accommodations are plentiful, but can be known to fill up fast during the summer months, so do make reservations beforehand when possible. You can stay inexpensively at a motel in Oak Harbor, or take a step up and stay at a quality inn such as The Captain Whidbey Inn near Coupeville.

Finding food is easy as there are restaurants in each of the five rural cities on the island.

Deer are plentiful on the island and have no fear of crossing the road. "I saw Miss Doe, she saw me, but it was too late" comments Tom Rice, a resident who had the misfortune of hitting a deer on his Honda. Stick with the speed limits, keep your eyes extra peeled and you'll decrease your chances of a run in. And don't think that just because it's not deer feeding time they won't be out. 24 hours a day is the rule when it comes to being alert here.   

Other activities that can be enjoyed during your stay include fishing, kayaking, sailing and bicycling.

Patrick Thomas/Spring 2000, revised April 2019

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