It’s amazing what a boat ride to an island can do for the psyche. After a 20-minute ferry trip to long, thin Whidbey Island, suddenly the world is all green grass, rolling farmland, Puget Sound views, and one perfect town at the edge of it all.
One hour north of Seattle, Langley has New England charm and a skip in its step, possibly due to the extra sunshine it receives behind the Olympic Peninsula’s rain shadow.
Despite the island’s easy access, Langley (population 1,072) has maintained its small-town calm and local character. Architect Ross Chapin says they make it work with a “smaller is smarter” attitude, particularly when it comes to housing.
So far, home prices have not ballooned into the astronomical second-home stratosphere, and they also have held relatively steady in the bad market.
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Your View Is:
Mount Baker’s snowy volcanic cap on the northeast horizon and whales cruising the narrow strait.
3 of 7Photographer Michael Hanson
Your Main Street Has:
A small grid of streets leading to the Useless Bay Coffee Co., Prima Bistro for Northwest seafood and nightlife, MUSEO Gallery for local artists, Moonraker Books, and Big Sister and Cottage (women’s clothing stores owned by sisters).
4 of 7Photographer Michael Hanson
Your Best Beach Is:
Double Bluff Beach, located about 10 minutes from downtown. Watch boats pass in Ship’s Canal on their way to Seattle, and poke around the driftwood logs that dot the sand.
5 of 7Photographer Michael Hanson
On the Weekend You Might:
Take the Keystone ferry to Port Townsend for the Wooden Boat Festival, hop another ferry to Orcas Island to hike Mount Constitution and get a margarita at Bilbo’s Festivo, or drive to Mount Baker for skiing.
6 of 7Photographer Michael Hanson
Your Neighbors Are:
Mostly professionals in their late 40s to early 60s. They sail in Puget Sound, kayak around the San Juan Islands, meet at the farmers’ market, practice yoga and Pilates, and walk their dogs on the beach.
7 of 7Photographer Michael Hanson
Stay a week: Every room at The Inn at Langley has a 180-degree view of the water. Rates start at $285; 360/ 221-3033 or innatlangley.com.
Stay a month: Renovated barn in town, two bedrooms, two baths. Weekly rates start at $1,100; vrbo.com/101588.