Getting to Whidbey Island is easier than it seems, and those who enjoy scenic drives and ferry rides will find the trip itself a delight, even before discovering all the charming attractions that await visitors. Whidbey’s narrow length stretches from near Mukilteo, north of Seattle, all the way to Deception Pass, where it connects to Fidalgo Island via a bridge. One can drive onto the ferry in Mukilteo, disembark in Clinton, and drive all the way up to Deception Pass in a few hours, enjoying pristine views of Puget Sound and forests all the way. This is a particularly great way to spend a long summer day.
However, when daylight is limited, it’s nice to know you can still enjoy the island and not have to drive a long way back in darkness. That’s why for holiday merrymakers, exploring Langley on the southern end of Whidbey Island is a perfect trek.
This picturesque town makes a point to sparkle brightly in December, and this Saturday, December 3, is an especially festive start to the month. The monthly First Saturday Art Walk in Langley is preceded by the Holly Jolly Parade and Shop ‘n Stroll starting at 11 a.m. Businesses often close on the early side on the islands, but for this occasion participating shops will stay open into the evening. Even if you come another night, I recommend staying until it gets dark so you can fully appreciate the creative decorations and lighting put up by the town and local merchants.
For one-of-a-kind womenswear and accessories, make sure you check out Fair Trade Outfitters (112 Anthes Ave., 360-221-1696) downtown. The selections come from around the world, but exclusively from designers and individual artisans who support fair labor practices and sustainable sourcing.
Design lovers should check out edit. (306 First St. #101, 360-381-0045), the retail and gallery space of designer and artist David Price. The space is aptly named: It offers a beautifully edited selection of home goods in a bright, elegant setting.
Chocoholics and anthophiles alike have to check out the Chocolate Flower Farm (5040 Saratoga Rd., 360-221-2464), not far from the town center. The specialized nursery focuses on dark-colored flowers (hence the name) as well as plants with complementary foliage and blooms and edible flowers, too. Naturally, they also have a range of chocolate products that make great gifts, including their decadent chocolate-raspberry jam and chocolate-scented, hand-poured candles.
If you need a pick-me-up but don’t want to stop shopping, get thee to Kalakala Co. Mercantile (138 Second St., 360-221-0161). It’s a cafe, curio shop, and animation studio rolled into one. The evolving inventory of American-made goods includes chic pottery by N.Y.-based ceramicist Eric Bonnin, beauty products from Seattle’s Herbivore Botanicals, and screen-printed goods by Kalakala founder Drew Christie. Check out regular screenings of Christie’s animations during the art walk and maybe pick up a sweet Animation Kit at the shop for the budding artists/entrepreneurs in your life.