Anyone who has spent holidays in the Pacific Northwest knows it’s a magical place in the wintertime. Sunset views of snow-dusted mountains to the east and west, the familiar smell of wood smoke lingering in the evening, morning coastal fog lightly covering our cherished Elliott Bay. With friends and family in town, the holiday season is the perfect time to get out of town for a quick weekend getaway that is fun, convenient and doesn’t break the bank.

This year, hop aboard the San Juan Clipper for a quick and fun trip from downtown Seattle across the water into the heart of the adorable and picturesque Langley on Whidbey Island. A few steps into town and the abundant supply of quaint shops and ocean views will promptly warm your soul. This December, the town’s two main streets transform into a magical curated winter scene as part of a “Christmas by the Sea” experience, a tradition the city has kept over the years, and one best shared with friends and loved ones.

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11:30 am – Cruise to Langley, Whidbey Island

The engines warm up as you hop aboard the high-speed San Juan Clipper catamaran at Pier 69 in downtown Seattle. The festivities begin right away as holiday tunes fill the air and jaw-dropping scenery glides by on the hour and fifteen-minute trip. Cozy up near a window to soak in wintery views of beautiful Bainbridge Island, then Kingston as you cruise through the Salish Sea toward Whidbey Island’s southern tip. Paired with a cup of delicious hot apple cider, the experience is truly hard to beat.

Hop on the San Juan Clipper from Seattle for Langley for a festive holiday adventure.
Hop on the San Juan Clipper from Seattle for Langley for a festive holiday adventure.

12:45 pm – Main Street Christmas Festivities

After docking in Langley’s sailboat-filled harbor, amble off the San Juan Clipper and stroll five minutes up to Langley’s main street to get the lay of the land. It’s the perfect opportunity for festive selfies or to brush up on the lyrics of your favorite carols ahead of Christmas!

Enjoy breathtaking seaside views on your way into town and along Langley's waterfront trail.
Enjoy breathtaking seaside views on your way into town and along Langley’s waterfront trail.

1:30 pm – Lunch at Spyhop or Brunch at Braeburn

If you’re feeling peckish, the delicious hamburgers (which are named after spots around town) at the cozy pub, Spyhop, are a sure bet for lunch. Or if you are looking for brunch, the delicious eats at the Braeburn can’t be overstated. Skip scouring the menu and savor their stuffed French toast with honey glazed apples, with sweet cinnamon and vanilla notes, it is heaven on a plate. Wash down lunch with a flight of sudsy pints (be sure to sample their Coho Kolsch, which is brewed onsite with fresh local hops) on Double Bluff Brewing’s heated patio.

A delicious pint at Double Bluff, where all brews are made fresh on location.

2:30 pm – First & Second Street Stroll

Following lunch, pop across the street to the Langley Whale Center to discover more about the amazing animals that call our waters home. Get an up-close view of the baleen, barnacles and bones of gray whales, which are often spotted off the shores of Whidbey, as well as a chance to learn more about the region’s beloved Southern Resident orcas.

The Langley Whale Center brims with information on our our endangered Southern Resident orcas and the small, unique population of North Puget Sound gray whales. Photo: Nick Bentley
The Langley Whale Center brims with information on our endangered Southern Resident orcas and the small, unique population of North Puget Sound gray whales. Photo: Nick Bentley

Next, head over to First Street to explore some of Langley’s famous art galleries, jewelers and eclectic shops where you can pick up last-minute holiday gifts. Duck into edit for local housewares, snag tasty truffles and caramels at Sweet Mona’s Chocolates (inside tip: peek into the shop’s window to see the chocolate making process in action) or pick up with affordable and delicate handmade jewelry at the adorable Foamy Wader.

Stunning handcrafted jewelry decks the walls of the Foamy Wader boutique.
Stunning handcrafted jewelry decks the walls of the Foamy Wader boutique.

From there, make your way to Second Street, which is home to the especially unique Callahan’s Firehouse. Inside, watch as expert glassblowers twist and blow one-of-a-kind kitchen wares and artwork. As a last stop of the day, swing by the “Moto Foto Booth” to snap a photo with family and friends alongside friendly elves!

Formerly a fire station, Callahan’s Firehouse Studio & Gallery offers an amazing glass blowing experience. Photo: Nick Bentley
Formerly a fire station, Callahan’s Firehouse Studio & Gallery offers an amazing glass blowing experience. Photo: Nick Bentley

4:45 pm – Cruise Back to Seattle

Meander down the lighted path back to the boat, as you get ready to depart. Settle into your cozy seats and take a load off, before powering up your camera to re-live the day’s highlights. As the San Juan Clipper makes its way around the tip of Discovery Park, the faint twinkling lights of the Seattle slowly come back into view. The Space Needle at one end, the Great Wheel and sports stadiums at the other. If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas city scene, this is it.

At nightfall, the downtown Seattle skyline is absolutely stunning.
At nightfall, the downtown Seattle skyline is absolutely stunning.

6:00 pm – Grab Dinner in Downtown Seattle

After docking at the waterfront, make your way down cobbled streets lined with lighted trees toward Pike Place Market, which puts on a show of its own with additional lighted signs and string lights at its entrance. Come dinnertime, enjoy authentic Italian plates and views of Elliott Bay while trapeze dancers swing overhead at The Pink Door. Or head to the neighboring Pioneer Square nearly every type of cuisine imaginable, from French to Mexican. Burn off dinner while admiring the amazing light display in Occidental Park.

A dazzling array of lights illuminate Pike Place Market. Credit: Sorin Gabu
A dazzling array of lights illuminate Pike Place Market. Credit: Sorin Gabu

There’s no better time to celebrate Christmas spirit in the Northwest than with an escape cherished with family and friends. Experience the holidays in the cozy town of Langley this year and start a new tradition with a Christmas by the sea.

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Feature Photo: Scott Meis 

 

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