Between Seattle and the Canadian border, lying just off the mainland, is a confetti of islands. Some are accessible only by boat or ferry, but a few can be reached by car and offer a delightful variety of activities, breathtaking scenery, and mouth-watering eateries. Best of all, there’s plenty to do with your dogs!
Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands are the epitome of the word bounty – everywhere you look, a cornucopia pours forth from the land and sea. But these are not posh islands cluttered with ostentatious homes and exclusive country clubs. There are farms, vineyards, and orchards … fishing villages … and artist communities. The people are down-to-earth and friendly. It’s like someone took a bit of the rural midwest and plopped it here next to the ocean, with seals playing in the bays and orcas roaming the depths. It’s comfortable, and beautiful, and connected to it’s surroundings in a way you don’t often see anymore.
Discovering all the pet friendly attractions around the islands was the icing on the cake for us. We hope our experience encourages you to add this to your pet friendly travel plans!
Anacortes sits at the north end of Fidalgo Island, and is known for its ferry terminal to the San Juans and Victoria, British Columbia – but this is a fantastic town in it’s own right! Commercial Avenue offers a lively collection of boutiques, eateries, and galleries; Cap Sante Park is perfect for enjoying serene views of Fidalgo Bay; the comings and goings at the marina provide hours of entertainment; and the Tommy Thompson Trail runs for miles along the bay, giving you paved access to the heart of the area’s scenery.
If your pup is looking for a romp, the Ace of Hearts Rotary Park at 38th Street and H Avenue has an off-leash area complete with drinking water, a rinse station, and a separate area for smaller dogs.
The best views on Fidalgo are found atop Mount Erie, at the center of the island. The panoramic scenes stretch from the North Cascades to Mount Rainier and around to the Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula.
There are several parking areas, including one at the top – but if you’re up for a challenge, leave your car at the bottom and climb the thousand feet to the summit. Leashed pets are welcome on on the trails!
Deception Pass is Washington’s most visited state park for a reason – covering more than 4,000 acres, it offers 14 miles of saltwater shoreline and 6 miles of freshwater shoreline on three lakes. The park straddles Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, connecting the two with its famous high bridge.
Pets are welcome to explore all 38 miles of hiking trails throughout the park with you. In addition, you can camp, fish, kayak, bike, birdwatch, and watch the sunset on the beach with your furry travel companion.
Deception Pass State Park Pet Policy: Pets must be on a leash no more than eight feet long at all times, and are not permitted on designated swimming beaches. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
A one-day pass to use the state park costs $10, and the parking areas at Deception Pass have self-registration stations. If you’re planing to visit several parks during your stay, purchasing an annual pass for $30 may be more economical. Or, plan your trip on one of Washington’s Discover Pass Free days!
Making your way south from Deception Point, the next stop we recommend is Ebey’s Landing. From the parking area on Cemetery Road (across from Sunnyside Cemetery) you can admire the expanse before you. And what at first appears to be just lovely overlook, soon reveals itself as a magnificent hike.
We were excited to meet up with good friends, Alex and Ellen, who also travel full-time in their motorhome. They hopped on the ferry from Port Townsend to hang out with us for the day, and the weather was perfect for our hike.
Following Ebey’s Prairie trail from the parking area, it’s about three quarters of a mile to the “You are here” star on the map. From there you have a couple of options – we chose the Bluff Trail, and were not disappointed. Even Ty was smiling!
The dirt trail goes out along the edge of the cliff and comes back on the beach. Just as we were heading back to the car the fog rolled in and completely filled the valley!
Continuing south a few miles, you’ll enter the quaint village of Coupeville. The second oldest town in the state, this was once the enter of the island’s booming fishing industry, and it still home to Penn Cove Shellfish – one of the oldest commercial mussel farms in America. Needless to say, if you’re looking for fresh seafood lunch, the restaurants in Coupeville will not disappoint.
There are also a number of historic buildings, shops to explore, and a pier with a small museum. If you happen to be visiting in March, try not to miss the annual mussel chowder competition!
Fort Casey was originally a U.S. Army base that opened in 1897 and was decommissioned after World War II. With the old battlements and artillery bunkers still in place, it’s a intriguing park to explore. The highlight, however, is Admiralty Head Lighthouse, which was built in 1903, decommissioned in 1922, and used for a time as a training facility for the Army’s K-9 dog program.
Now the lighthouse is an interpretive center with exhibits telling the history of the area, including local Native American tribes, the building of the Red Bluff Lighthouse, and the construction of Fort Casey.
The community of Greenbank revolves around this 151-acre former loganberry farm. Now the buildings house a café, wine and cheese store, and art galleries.
Thanks to timely advice from a Facebook friend, we knew to partake at Whidbey Pies and, truly, it’s not to be missed! Dogs are welcome at the outdoor picnic tables.
Though Ty and Buster were more impressed with the off-leash trails! After moseying through the public gardens and getting a few pictures by the pond, they burned off a little energy out in the fields.
Note that pets must be on leash near the buildings. The off-leash area begins past the red and white flags. Please pick up after your dogs to protect other pets and wildlife that share this space.
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