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Captain Whidbey Inn

by Megan Hill

The Captain Whidbey Inn, on the east side of Whidbey Island north of Seattle, charms from the moment I pull the car up. Flower-filled gardens curl around the base of the historic timber lodge, whose log cabin construction has stood since 1907.

Inside the lodge, I find a dark wood interior that oozes relaxation. There’s a fire crackling in the stone fireplace and a wrap-around porch overlooking Penn Cove, which cuts a C-shaped gouge into Whidbey Island.

My room is ready, so I head there next. I’m staying in one of the inn’s four cabins, situated a short walk beyond the lodge’s expansive waterfront deck, over which hang strings of lights. My cabin, the Edit Whidbey, has a private porch shaded by massive evergreens and Madrona trees. Stairs leading to the water are a few steps away, and air smells of sea salt.

Inside, the cabin’s white planked walls remind me a bit of New England. The centerpiece of the space is a gorgeous black stone fireplace, surrounded by modern furnishings. In the next room, there’s a king bed facing sliding glass doors that open toward Penn Cove.

It’s hard to decide what to do next: explore the cove at low tide, play lawn games or roast marshmallows over one of the grounds’ many fire pits, or sit on my balcony and drink a glass of locally made wine. I opt first for the beach, which is small but lovely, and comes complete with a scenic dock and kayaks for hotel guests to use. I then walk the grounds, finding a sweet lagoon tucked on the other side of the property next to a newer, two-story wood building of hotel rooms. Fire pits ring the lagoon. Elsewhere, there are still more fire pits, several sitting spots with Adirondack chairs, a vegetable and flower garden with raised beds, and a sauna.

I head to dinner at the lodge’s restaurant, whose low ceilings held by heavy beams evoke another era. The menu is packed with local food, either grown on island farms or pulled from the water nearby. Penn Cove is renowned for its namesake mussels, so that feels like a must-order. My choice is mussels and clams in a ginger-coconut broth. Other highlights included local salmon with lentils, carrots, braised radishes, and preserved lemon, and an asparagus tartine with spring peas, chorizo, and bay shrimp. 

In all, the Captain Whidbey is a beautiful blend of modern and historic, a lovingly preserved piece of history brought into the current era. 

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