We know a lot of you are parents - and parents of young kids at that. One of the worst things our writer Kate Neidigh was told when she was pregnant was that she'd "never travel again" once baby was born. Well guess what - that doesn't fly with us! There are plenty of places that are baby-friendly are these parts, and we've sent Kate and her nine-month-old baby June on a series of family-friendly adventures to prove it to us. She'll help you navigate your way around must see (baby friendly) spots in the state. It's all about how to satisfy your wanderlust with kids in tow. This is Part One: The Whidbey Island Getaway! Happy travels!
When we shared the news with the world that we were having a baby, of course the reaction from our friends and family was nothing short of ecstatic. But (for some unknown reason) everyone has something to say, and a bunch of it, to be honest, was unsolicited advice. One thing we heard over and over again was "you'll NEVER travel again".
Well guess what? Those people were wrong.
If exploring is important to you, make it happen. Washingtonians are so lucky, we have a plethora of different options to chose from; mountains, deserts, lakes, rivers, rain forests, islands…you catch my drift, we have a little bit of everything.
I never said traveling with a baby was easy but with destinations like Whidbey Island, it sure seems like it. My little family of three just ventured out and explored the island for three days and two nights - and we had the BEST TIME! I went ahead and did the (REALLY) hard work of finding the best spots on the island to bring your bundle of joy. But to be honest, the people there are so nice I'd find it hard to believe that anyone would turn us away.
To start our island bound adventure, we took the Deception Pass route. From Seattle it took us only a little bit more than an hour to get there, and the drive is very scenic and lovely. We took a break (for a snack and diaper change) at Deception State Park and it was stunning. Just a heads up, there's a $10 entrance fee and a Discovery Pass is a must. We then stopped to stretch our legs and get lunch in Coupeville, a super quaint town with a historic wharf and a cute little front street. Side note, it's where the movie "Practical Magic" was filmed, so my inner fangirl was showing.
We ate at Front Street Grill, and we loved it! My husband had the signature "Coconut Green Curry Mussel Linguine", and it was delish (yes, we are one of those couples whose eats off the others plates, whoops). I had the Smoked Salmon Clam Chowder and our babe ate a grilled cheese. And when I say my babe ate the grilled cheese, what I really mean is she ate a bite and I ate the rest (I know I'm not alone here). We then grabbed a coffee and cinnamon roll from Kneed and Feed, which was NO JOKE, best cinnamon roll of my life. You know how you savor the middle of the cinnamon roll, well the entire roll tastes like the middle. Ooey-gooey and perfect.
We finally ventured on into Langley where we stayed the night at the Boatyard Inn, where they have great waterfront views (we saw seals splashing around) and lots of room for baby to crawl around. I asked our neighbor if he could hear June crying and he said not at all (phew! Mom guilt alleviated). Also, the bathroom is big enough to fit a pack n' play which is a huge bonus. Our room had a kitchen with all the appliances (great for cooking in-room when baby is cranky). Note: Make sure to bring your own travel high chair. We ended up ordering a pizza from Village Pizza (pro-tip, go for the Barbecue Chicken pizza). At one point we handed June off to the waiter for a bit to finish our meal (not kidding, he was super friendly and had a toddler - and two hands).
We spent our second day exploring Langley. In the morning we opted out of dining out and stayed in bed (a rare experience for new parents). We went to lunch at Cafe Langley, which I would describe as a Mediterranean-Northwest fusion, and our waitress was darling, a sweet grandmother to a handful of kiddos. Multiple fellow diners greeted us and chatted with our little one. We then strolled around Langley with stops at the Star Store and Tipsy Gourmet (nothing like shopping for wine with a baby on the front pack). We gathered our purchased wine and cheese and headed to Oak Harbor to meet some friends. With a sleeping babe in the car our drive turned into a mini road trip with scenic views of farm houses, oyster beds in Penn Cove (just outside of Coupeville), little shops and views of sail boats peacefully on the water.
Our last day was spent exploring Camp Casey where we saw a variety of wildlife - the roaming deer let us get so close we could almost reach out and touch them. We grabbed a coffee from Useless Bay Coffee before heading to Double Bluff Beach for a picnic, and this is a must see! A great place for families to spend the day building sand castles and beachcombing. We then made stops at Whidbey Island Winery and Spoiled Dog Winery (both of which we literally just wrote about). We purchased a ridiculous amount of wine that we swore we'd save for a special occasion, but somehow looking into my kitchen as I write this, I realize it's all gone.
A quick ferry back to Seattle had us fist-pumping all the way - we did it! We had a vacation that felt like a vacation with a baby!
When it comes to family travel, one size most definitely does not fit all. The needs of parents making their first anxious foray with a baby are very different from those of a well-traveled clan with high-energy grade-schoolers. We LOVED Whidbey Island! Going as a couple, new parents or a big family, there is really something for everyone. Plus...its proximity people! That counts for a lot.
So here is my plea to you as we go through this series together; don't be scared to venture out. Remember what it felt like to be a spontaneous couple? You can still do that [ just with extra diapers, wipes and at least two cameras to document every waking moment of that sweet baby of yours]!
*Next stop is Mt. Rainier, coming in just a couple weeks!