8 Reasons to Drive to Camano Island

By Jackie Varriano  |  November 28, 2016
Credit: Camano Island/Whidbey Camano Visitors Center

Now is the time to drive to Camano Island, a nature-filled, artsy retreat that's snuggled up next to Whidbey Island and just an hour's drive from Downtown Seattle — and with no bridges to cross. Fall and winter are off-season for the sleepy 16-mile-long island, which means you won’t have to fight crowds to view the orcas that pass through in the late fall. You'll also enjoy leisurely strolls along the many beaches (including the state parks in Cama Beach and Camano Island) and walk the massive Matzke Sculpture Park pretty much by yourself. Don't miss zipping through the trees at the incredibly fun Canopy Tours NW; it's located on a fifth generation family farm that sells everything from lavender to wine and even sets up a roaring fire complete with hot cocoa when it's cold. You'll also want to explore the island's best eats and drinks, everything from wineries to coffee roasters to pubs to a sneaky little Thai spot hidden inside the local IGA. Here are eight culinary reasons worthy of a weekend drive.

Cama Beach Cafe/Facebook

Cama Beach Cafe
This little cafe is tucked into the lodge at Cama Beach State Park and it's open Friday–Sunday for breakfast and lunch in the winter. Go for Herkimer coffee paired with a freshly baked scone or slab of coffee cake, a killer Reuben or innovative specials like open-faced omelets piled high with Sriracha prawns, spinach and peanut sauce. Take time after your meal to explore the Center for Wooden Boats (or even rent one), and ask a ranger for a tour of the private cabins, built in the 1930s.

1880 SW Camano Drive; 360-387-3266

Camano Island Marketplace/Facebook

Camano Island Marketplace
This bustling spot is the first thing you’ll see when driving onto the island. Stop here for freshly roasted Camano Island Coffee Roasters coffee, French-style pastries (and take-and-bake cookie dough) from Pierre Fauvet Pastry, truffles and other chocolate confections from Pirate’s Chocolate and pulled pork sandwiches, burgers and cuts of meat to go from the butcher case from Del Fox Custom Meats.

848 N. Sunrise BLVD Building C

Camano Island Inn/Facebook

Camano Island Inn
As if the private, in-room hot tubs and spa weren’t enough of a reason to book a stay at the quaint eight-room Camano Island Inn bed and breakfast, new chef Kris Gerlach provides even more incentive. Guests can take advantage of fresh scones, fruit and eggs in the morning while Gerlach prepares lunch and dinner from a seasonal menu that changes weekly. Go for house-ground beef burgers, coffee-rubbed rib-eye, heaps of rich roasted Brussels sprouts and warm delicata squash salads spiked with creamy island-made goat cheese and pomegranate seeds. Keep an eye out for monthly wine dinners as well.

1051 SW Camano Dr; 360-387-0783

Dusty Cellars/Facebook

Dusty Cellars Winery
This tasting room, operated by the husband-and-wife team of Ryan and Dusty Kramer, is only open the first weekend of every month — but it’s worth planning a trip around. Sample Wine Enthusiast-rated and award-winning varieties crafted from Washington-grown fruit including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and a peppery rosé worthy of winter drinking, and be sure to bring your own snacks.

529 Michael Way; 360-387-2729

Jackie Varriano

Jasmin Thai Express
This tiny take-out window is easy to miss, mainly because it’s hidden inside the local IGA, but make time to stop for a taste of fresh, authentic Thai food. There is one small table, but most locals call in for takeaway. Try the Crying Tiger salad, radh nah or classic pad Thai.

370 Camano Drive, 360-926-8688

Rockaway Bar & Grill
You might be hard-pressed to find a table during Sunday football at this rockin’ bar and grill, but every other day of the week you’ll have room to relax with massive burgers, carnitas tacos and bacon jalapeño goonies, which are just like jalapeño poppers but in a crisp wanton wrapper.

326 N. East Camano Drive; 360-926-8920

Pub 282/Facebook

Pub 282
This sleek wood-filled pub boasts a dozen taps and nearly 100 bottles of unique beer and barley wine. The food skews toward pub favorites like nachos and artichoke dip as well as specialty pizzas, sandwiches and burgers.

370 NE Camano Drive; 360-926-8960

Edward Lynne Cellars
Visit this estate vineyard, owned and operated by Bill and Sandy Kintner — also only open on the first weekend of every month. In addition to growing Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and cold-weather varietals like Madeline Angevine and Siegerrebe, the vineyard sources eastern Washington red varietals.

748 Vineyard Lane