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Most of the action is centered on the islands of Whidbey and Camano, and just across the Sound in Port Townsend, Wash.
Whidbey Island was once a key military defense site and today you'll find museums and forts documenting this legacy. Fort Casey is positioned at the entrance of Puget Sound and is open to the public. Visitors can climb on the ladders to inspect the guns, and walk along bluff-side bunkers and through the dark tunnels that seem to carry the echoing voices of the past. The 467-acre Fort Casey State Park also includes the Admiralty Head Lighthouse, sweeping views and camping amenities. For park details go to www.parks.wa.gov.
The Island County Historical Society Museum is another good place to experience area history. See historic photographs, maps, pioneer diaries, and historic items bringing to life a very different time on the islands. On June 26, the museum will hold their first ever Barn Rally. This fun and informative event feature various driving routes exploring Whidbey Island. A donation of $20 per car helps toward saving Island County's historic structures, artifacts and documents. The festivities start at the museum, located at 908 NW Alexander St. Coupeville, WA 98239. For registration or general museum information, call (360) 678-3310 or go to www.islandhistory.org.
Vintage home and garden decor by Debbie Burton, Ormolulu, Bellingham, WA, a dealer at the Langley Antique Show. ormolulu.blogspot.com
When it comes to shopping, start at the 36th Annual Langley Antique Show, on Memorial Weekend, May 29-30, 2010. Thirty area dealers will present furniture, primitives, textiles, garden plants and decor, plus food concessions. The show will be held at the Island County Fairgrounds, 819 Camano Ave., Langley, WA. Show hours are Saturday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. For information go to www.mutinybayantiques.com.
Also in Langley are numerous art galleries, antiques store, specialty shops and music venues. A celebration of all the city offers will occur on July 10-12, 2010 at the 2010 Choochokam Festival of the Arts. For details on this event go to www.choochokamarts.org.
Charming and simple, the Coupeville Historic District stands out as one of Washington's oldest and most endearing towns. Cafes, antique shops and Victorian homes sit nestled along the waterfront, as they have been for decades.
Oak Harbor is another place to find great shopping and entertainment. There are art walks, antiques and jewelry, boutique clothing and specialty shops.
Clinton, Greenbank and Freeland are other notable towns to visit along the way.
Furniture and accessories at
The climate of Island County is generally milder and less rainy than many parts of Washington State. This makes it the perfect place for growing grapes and other plants, and also for raising unique animals. Numerous vineyards and wineries dot the islands. There are many farms open to the public and farmer's markets are frequent events in many cities.
There are plenty of historic places to stay on the islands. One stand out is the Ann Starrett Mansion, an elaborate Victorian in Port Townsend. Built by George Starrett for his wife Ann in 1889, the mansion is now internationally known for its architecture, frescoed ceilings, and free-hung three-tiered staircase which leads to a rare solar calendar at the ceiling of the octagonal tower. The history of the house is said to have included a role in the transporting of bootlegged liquor during Prohibition. The mansion has 11 rooms furnished with period pieces available for guests. For details and reservations visit www.starrettmansion.com.
Numerous beaches, state parks and preserves offer outdoor activities including scuba diving, kayaking, whale watching, birding, hiking and biking.
For a close up look at marine life, visit the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. The Center maintains two exhibits that invite visitors to touch, explore and learn about the areas coastal environment. On the pier, the Marine Exhibit has touch pools and aquaria featuring marine fish and invertebrates from the waters of Port Townsend Bay and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Natural History Exhibit is a place to learn about the Northern Puget Sound shoreline: its dramatic geologic history and the birds and mammals that visit on the bluffs and beaches. The Port Townsend Marine Science Center is located in Fort Worden State Park, 532 Battery Way Port Townsend, WA 98368. For information call (800) 566-3932.
For more information on all the islands have to offer go to www.whidbeycamanoislands.com.