It’s incredibly easy to fall in love with Whidbey Island, if only as a favorite low-key weekend destination. Between the rugged beaches, award-winning wineries and breweries (plus a fantastic distillery) and undeniably charming small towns, it’s easy to see why so many are enamored with Whidbey. One town in particular, Coupeville, was so captivating that it won over the producers of a cult classic known as Practical Magic.
The more time you spend in Coupeville, the more you’ll understand why the historic seaport setting was so perfect for a movie about witches and magic. There’s an ethereal energy here that goes beyond its historic charms (this is, of course, the second oldest town in Washington, with Steilacoom being the first). Spend a weekend in this area and you’ll be smitten, especially if you go in the fall.
Once known as the Coupeville Cash Store, Salty Vons Waterfront Inn is a fully renovated (and we do mean fully) historic building that makes an absolutely ideal place to stay. The all-suite inn sits on the shores of Penn Cove on the Salish Sea, so the views of the water, Mount Baker and the wharf are unbeatable. The suites vary in size, but they all have full modern kitchens and all the comforts of home. The suites at Salty Von’s are so comfortable and cozy, you won’t want to leave. But when you inevitably do go out and explore, you’ll find that you’re right in the heart of Front Street and right on top of Sea Bre’s Yarn and the Greenbank Cidery Tasting Room.
For a town with less than 2,000 residents, there’s a surprisingly large number of ways to fill your days in Coupeville. Whether you’re into nature, art, reading, shopping or festivals, you won’t be bored here.
The Price Sculpture Forest is a must-see for art and nature lovers. It’s easily accessible, free to enjoy and it’s open daily from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., or sunset. Set in a forest full of century-old trees and rhododendrons, the trails all have beautiful and unique sculptures waiting around every corner. You can even enjoy a self-guided tour from your smartphone.
Speaking of self-guided tours, the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce has put together an easy walking Practical Magic tour, which offers a map with detailed explanations of every building and site used in movie scenes. You’ll love it if you love the movie, of course, but either way, it’s an interesting ode to such a cool piece of local history.
Make sure to save a little time in your schedule and money in the budget for some shopping. Coupeville is home to a great selection of spots like Aqua Gifts, Kingfisher Bookstore, The Crow’s Roost and Madrona Blossom, just to name a few. The shops here are also quite unique, with names like A Touch of Dutch and Far From Normal.
Finally, stretch your legs and take in the views from Ebey’s Landing. This national historic reserve sits on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound, offering a long stretch of rocky beach for those who want to walk along the water. This is an iconic part of Whidbey Island that is loved by locals and visitors alike.
Washington’s witchiest town definitely has more of a laidback vibe than a party atmosphere, but there are definitely a few great spots to imbibe. Vail Wine Shop and Tasting Room is located right on Front Street, and it’s a perfect place to enjoy a glass of vino on the patio (weather permitting). There are a lot of hard-to-find wines available here, and if you’re in a rush, you can always grab a bottle or two to enjoy in your suite at Salty Vons.
A top-notch tap list of local and international brews awaits you at Toby’s Tavern, which also offers cider, wine and even a signature ale, Toby’s Parrot. The tavern sits in an old mercantile building that dates back to 1890, on the shores of Penn Cove. And speaking of Penn Cove, mussels here are second to none.
If small plates and craft cocktails are more your style, check out Overboard Whiskey, owned and operated by locals Lees and Rose. Penn Cove Brewing Company also has a taproom on Main Street in Coupeville, where you can often enjoy live music over a pint.
Visiting a coastal town often means a stellar selection of seafood is available, and Coupeville is no exception. Front Street Grill is a popular spot for waterfront dining, serving lunch and dinner daily. You’ll find plenty of burgers, steaks and pasta on the menu, but you won’t regret starting your meal with a cup of delicious Chef’s Chowder.
The Oystercatcher is an iconic Coupeville spot, and for good reason. This elevated eatery serves cuisine sourced almost entirely from fresh local ingredients, so the menu rotates regularly. If you’re in town for a romantic getaway, this will be your favorite date night spot.
Sometimes, nothing but some good old-fashioned Italian food will do. Ciao Food and Wine sits right on Main Street, just a few blocks from the waterfront. Whether you’re craving an epic charcuterie board, a classic pizza or a plate of pasta, this place delivers — and they’ll have the wine pairing to match. Even better, the first floor of CIao is an Italian market, so you can pick out some pasta and sauce to-go if you’d rather have dinner at “home.”
Whidbey Island, and especially Coupeville, is perfect for a fall getaway. The island community hosts an abundance of seasonal events, festivals and activities for guests of all ages to enjoy. For more information and a calendar of events, visit whidbeycamanoislands.com.