Northwest Ferry Adventure Guide
Author: Henry Yarsinske, Jr. | Photographer: Jake Campbell
New York City has the subway, London has the double-decker bus, and Seattle NorthCountry has the ferry. For over 65 years, ferries have been used to shuttle people from the island counties to the mainland.
But these giant boats aren’t just for the work crowd. Some of the best adventures start at ferry terminals and the towns around them. Come with us on two public boat trips that showcases Seattle NorthCountry beauty.
Ferry 101 - What to Know Before You Ride
- Ferry waits can be incredibly long during the work week, especially during rush hour. Washington State Ferries have cameras on their website, which is extremely helpful as you’re planning your trip en route to Mukilteo.
- Walking on is the cheapest way to experience the ferry. Walk on prices for both the the Mukilteo - Clinton and Edmonds - Kingston rides are just $8.35 for a round-trip adult ticket.
- Driving? The price for a one-way ticket for Mukilteo - Clinton starts at $18.70 for car and driver (and an additional $8.75 per passenger), while Edmonds - Kingston will cost $14.70. You can pay either at the gate (which is what we did for walking on) or online via Wave2Go.
- Some ferry regulars choose to stay in their cars, but we decided to head above-deck to take in the view during our rides and found out that you can get a beer on the ferry. Seriously. Pair that beer with a sausage, or maybe some Beecher’s Mac n Cheese — a Seattle NorthCountry staple.
Mukilteo - Clinton Ferry
Our journey started around noon. We decided to stay at the Silver Cloud Inn (718 Front St, Mukilteo, (425) 423-8600) on the Mukilteo waterfront to be away from the bustle of the city, but be close enough to take in the Future of Flight Boeing Factory tour 8415 Paine Field Blvd, (800) 464-1476), the Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum (3407 109th St SW, Everett, WA 98204, (877) 342-3404) or a quick trip to downtown Everett.
For a quick bite to eat, you can’t beat Ivar’s (710 Front St, Mukilteo, (425) 742-6180) the legendary Seattle-based fish and chips spot that’s been in business for over 80 years. And since both the walk-up and the more upscale Ivar’s at Mukilteo Landing are next door to our hotel room, eating there was a no-brainer.
We ordered two salmon chowder bread bowls and tucked in. After savoring both the chowder and the vessel it comes in (no dishes to clean!), we hopped into the car to get in the ferry queue. The ride was a quick one — just 20 minutes — and soon we were in the village of Clinton on the southern end of Whidbey Island.
Driving out of Clinton, we headed to Langley, which is just ten minutes away. Langley is home to quaint shops and little cafes. It’s the perfect spot to take in the island life. We sampled coffee from Useless Bay Coffee Co. and browsed the art galleries. We ended our time in Langley with dinner at the French-inspired Prima Bistro and watched the sunset from the ferry as it lumbered across the Salish sea. By 9pm., we were back in our hotel room, ready to refresh for tomorrow’s adventure.
Edmonds - Kingston
Speaking of tomorrow’s adventure, it was time for our trip to Kingston by way of the Edmonds ferry terminal. The city of Edmonds is a 30 minute ride from our hotel and is filled with local shops and tasty spots to eat. We decided to get breakfast in Edmonds before walking on to the ferry. Parking downtown, we ordered a delicious meal at the Rusty Pelican Cafe (107 5th Ave N, Edmonds, (425) 582-8250) and walked five minutes to the terminal.
In a half hour, we were deboarding in Kingston, another sleepy port town across the Salish Sea. We grabbed ice cream at the Mora Iced Creamery. Once we were done perusing downtown, we sat under a tree at Mike Wallace Park and enjoyed views of the water until it was time to go.