Located on the south end of Whidbey Island, the seemingly sleepy town of Langley is actually full of life. It is the small town that some romanticize about, where everyone knows everyone and everything you need is only a few steps away. Overlooking the Saratoga Passage, Langley can be enjoyed during any time of the year, regardless of the weather. The community here is a strong one. In February, many shopkeepers take part in the city-wide Murder Mystery Weekend. The “Welcome the Whales Festival” is held in April, the Whidbey Island Area Fair in July and the “Djangofest NW Music Festival” (celebrating the gypsy jazz style of Django Reinhardt) occurs in September.
Langley is a very artistic town with numerous art galleries, local authors and musicians. Art walks happen the first Saturday of each month and are a great way to meet the featured artists face to face.
Despite its size, there is much to do in Langley. It’s a wonderful place for hikers, bikers and kayak-ers. The waterfront town features numerous shops and eateries. Just outside of downtown you’ll find award-winning wineries, an amazing bakery and farm-to-table restaurant unlike no other. No big chains here – not a single Starbucks in sight. The city is also home to many bed-and-breakfast and small motels offering a more personal touch.
Whidbey Island Kayaking Company
Address: 5781 Bayview Rd., Langley, WA 98260
“We strive to help people nurture their nature, create meaningful memories for themselves and loved ones, and learn about Whidbey’s unique identity by offering safe, fun, and active ways to experience Whidbey Island through outdoor engagement and experiential learning,” say the owners of Whidbey Island Kayaking Company. They offer a variety of kayaking tours, showing guests the beauty and wildlife of the island and the waters of Salish Sea. No experience is necessary for any of their tours, and they provide everything you’ll need for a fun and safe journey. The “loop adventures” are the shorter trips that are geared to teach and encourage newbies the basics and have them wanting more. They also offer two “point to point” trips (meaning you start at one location and end at another) and take longer to complete for those with a little more stamina. During the summer, you can sign up for a “Nighttime Bioluminescence tour. “Penn Cove Birdwatching” tours are available in the spring and fall.
Bayview Farm & Garden
Address: 2780 Marshview Ave., Langley, WA 98260
Ranked as one of the top 100 independent garden centers in the United States, Bayview Garden is a beautiful nursery and botanical garden in one. If you don’t have a green thumb but can appreciate those who do and the plants that they grow, you’ll enjoy walking through the grounds and arbor. While there, shop for gifts and visit the Flower House Café. The café serves breakfast and lunch featuring locally-sourced foods. Wine, beer and kombucha are also on the menu. Need just a little pick-me-up? Espresso beverages are also available, along with an assortment of freshly-baked pastries.
Callahan’s Firehouse Studio & Gallery
Address: 179 2nd St., Langley, WA 98260
Callahan Campbell McVay has been playing with fire – blowing glass – since he was 14 years old. After many years of training, he opened his own home studio in 2000. In a few years, he was outgrowing his space and began to look for a new home for his art. When the city’s old fire station building went up for sale, it was as if the planets had aligned. Today, the building is home to Callahan’s Firehouse Studio and Gallery. It’s a unique glassblowing studio where guests can chat with professional glassblowers as they practice their trade. The space is also a gallery featuring a large inventory of vases, bowls, yard art, wall platters, tumblers, wishing stones and more. Definitely worth a stop.
Langley Whale Center
Address: 105 Anthes, Langley, WA 98260
If you’re a whale enthusiast, then you’ll definitely want to visit Orca Network’s Langley Whale Center to learn more about the orcas, gray whales, humpbacks and other marine animals who visit the Salish Sea. Open Thursday-Monday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., the Center features a number of exhibits and information about our friends of the sea. Highlights include a sightings map that is updated daily, an old telephone booth which has been transformed into an ocean listening booth, various mammal skeletons, a kids’ room and of course, a gift shop.
Chocolate Flower Farm
Address: 5040 Saratoga Rd., Langley, WA 98260
Before you get too excited – no, they don’t grow chocolate here. However, this splendid specialty plant nursery grows dark-colored plants that smell like chocolate. The most popular plant is the Chocolate Cosmos. They sell viable seeds so that you can plant a little chocolate in your yard too. You’ll also find a selection of chocolate-themed products that they make on the farm, including chocolate candles, chocolate-infused bath and body products, raspberry-and-chocolate jam, chocolate mint tea and chocolate garden seed kits. The Farmstore is open every day from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Address: 5574 Bayview Rd., Langley, WA 98260
“We look forward to feeding you!” says Chef Vincent Nattress, owner of the Orchard Kitchen. Set in the middle of farmland, Vincent has been featured on the pages of Food & Wine magazine, ZAGAT, USA Today and many others. Dining at Orchard Kitchen is not cheap, but it will be the highlight of your trip, as this restaurant is like no other on the island. There is no set menu – it literally changes every day. And unlike other restaurants, no menu is published and you cannot choose what you will eat. Chef Vincent describes the experience as more like a dinner party, where the host plans the night’s menu for his guests’ enjoyment. You may share a table with strangers but leave as friends. It goes without saying that the food served here is incredible, but it is not for everybody. Menus often contain dairy, gluten, beef, poultry, fish and shellfish. They do not offer vegan, dairy or gluten-free options, nor do they provide a children’s menu. Orchard Kitchen is a small restaurant with room to serve about 40 guests at a time. Dinner is served Thursday-Saturday and reservations are required.
Seabiscuit Bakery and Café
Address: 3228 Lake Leo Way, Langley, WA 98260
You would never know that this bakery exists as it is hidden a ways from the main road, but finding it is well worth the trouble. Trust us. This bakery will become your new favorite. It is by far the best on Whidbey Island. It’s a great place to start your journey before you head into town. Lines are not uncommon in the bakery, but don’t fret, they move quickly. There is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy your breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack. So many pastries, breads and cookies to choose from, including gluten-free options. We recommend the chocolate croissant, bear claw and pain Suisse. All pair well with espresso beverages made with coffee beans from the adjoining Mukilteo Coffee Roasters. You’ll also find a selection of breakfast items, sandwiches, soups and salads. Everything here is made from scratch every day. During the summer months, take advantage of Seabiscuit’s “Cocktail & Crumb” and “Summer Pizza Night” events held with live music.
Address: 200 ½ 1st St., Langley, WA 98260
Consider Prima Bistro a French-inspired fusion of Northwest cuisine that changes with the seasons. Chef Zachary Harris chooses to use as much locally-sourced food products as possible. Open for lunch ad dinner, small plate choices include the Farmer’s Plate (charcuterie, artisanal cheeses, house pickles, grapes and whole-grain mustard) and beef tartare (hand-chopped to order with shallots and capers). Entrées choices include wild boar ragout, pan-roasted Washington free-range chicken, trout grenobloise and seasonal risotto. Even the bistro burger is elevated (with watercress, red wine onions, aioli, Beecher’s white cheddar). Prima also offers a kids’ menu, gluten-free and vegetarian options. When the weather is nice, you can’t beat seating on the outdoor deck.
Spyhop Public House
This pub makes dining easy. The menu is short and to the point. All “fresh-squeezed drinks” are nine bucks with inventive names like the Island Sipper and Tail Slapper. “Pub Grub” appetizers include chicken wings (tossed in spicy buffalo, sriracha maple or barbecue sauce), crispy fried pickles and mozzarella sticks. They offer a Cobb salad (with a grilled chicken breast, avocado, bacon and blue cheese crumbles) and a Caesar salad (which can be elevated with blackened chicken). All of their 1/3 pound burgers are hand-formed or can be swapped out with a portabello mushroom, grilled chicken breast or a chipotle black bean patty.
Address: 221 2nd St., Langley, WA 98260
Mona Newbauer’s gourmet chocolate shop is jam-packed with sweet goodness. From buttery caramels covered in milk or dark chocolate to creamy dark peppermint fudge, this is a chocolate connoisseur’s dream shop. The front display case features about 45 different truffles, cordials, caramels and more. Chomp into a mixed nut chocolate bar or go crazy with a white lemon lavender bar. Prefer to crunch? Mona has a selection of mixed nut brittles and chocolate-covered honeycomb. You’ll also find snack-size treat bags of chocolate-covered Oreos and s’mores too for on the road!
The Star Store
Talk about your one-stop shopping. The Star Store is actually three stores in one. The market is great source if you’re staying overnight and have a kitchen to cook in. Here you’ll find selections of fresh produce, local goods, natural beef and chicken, wild seafood, micro-brews, spirits, fine wines, chocolates and more. Or, just pick up some “gourmet-to-go” items. Another section of the Star Store is a mercantile of sorts offering an eclectic collection of apparel items, gifts, housewares, kitchen gadgets, cards, toys, etc. And then there is the “basics” with natural beauty care, lotions, candles, books…you name it – you’ll find it here.
Artisan Crafted Home
Address: 211 1st St., Langley, WA 98260
This is one of the most beautiful shops in town offering a large array of contemporary furnishings and home décor all created by artisans found from all over the world. There is some really nice stuff in here and the best part, if you can’t decide to purchase an item or not, you can browse their online store after you get home. Here you’ll find designer lighting, playful furniture, kitchenware and even the kitchen sink. Literally. Plenty of bowls, platters, dinnerware, glassware, vanities, chairs, bookcases, dressers, garden art, tools, mirrors, candles…you get the idea.
Address: 221 2nd St., Langley, WA 98260
There are many art galleries in town, but Artworks Gallery is a little different. It’s fun and playful. It offers an eclectic mix of different local artists who choose to work in a variety of art forms including acrylic, oil and water color paintings, photography, fiber arts, ink drawings, encaustics, jewelry, glass work, garden art, pottery and mixed media. They are open every day except Tuesdays and they are also closed on Wednesdays during the winter.
Address: 212 1st St., Langley, WA 98260
Myken’s is a “sophisticated” gift shop for dogs, cats and their owners providing a wide array of designer products. Dress your dog up to the nines with a new sweater or rain gear (even boots!). Surprise your cat with a new catnip-filled bedding. Or bring home a new toy for both of them. You’ll also find gourmet treats, paw print kits and even gifts for humans including stuffed animals, socks, picture frames, gifts, cards and more.
Spoiled Dog Winery
Address: 5881 Maxwelton Rd., Langley, WA 98260
Located smack dab in the middle of a picturesque farm setting, Spoiled Dog Winery’s name was actually inspired by the owners’ actual spoiled dogs. Growing grapes on the island is no easy task, but Jack and Karen Krug have been doing just that since 2003 and later joined by son Jake and his wife Lindsay in 2015. The award-winning winery ferments their grapes in French oak barrels, providing a wine they describe as one that is “soft, round and has a supple texture.” The winery is open on weekend afternoons. Come on out for a tasting flight under one of four gazebos (heated for cooler days, providing shade for the rest of them). Wine is available for purchase and they even offer “Spoiled Dog on Tap” – a green way to deliver wine packaged in a refillable bottle. It’s cheaper too! No reservations required and dogs are welcome (naturally) to enjoy a walk through the vineyard.
Whidbey Island Distillery
Address: 3466 Craw Rd., Langley, WA 98260
In September of 2011, Bev and Steve Heising, owners of the Whidbey Island Distillery, sold their first bottle of Loganberry Liqueur. Since then, the distillery has grown to become known for producing some of thefinest spirits in the world. In fact, their bragging rights include their Blackberry Liqueur, which holds a 98 rating by the Beverage Testing Institute. It is the highest rated spirit of any kind produced in North America.The distillery also produces a raspberry and boysenberry liqueur and their own Bunker Rye Whiskey. The family-friendly venue is open every day in the afternoon, offering complimentary tours and tastings. Buy their spirits and when you get home you can try making their signature recipes for Love Potion #9, Blackberry Bunker Old Fashion and The Rusty Iron Cocktail.