This Victorian-era port village on Whidbey Island is frozen in time—by order of Congress. Part of the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, the hamlet comprises more than 50 preserved buildings. Pad along the creaky wooden sidewalks and study the oldest house in town—indeed, one of the oldest houses in the state—the home of Captain Thomas Coupe, built in 1854. Or spy the Sedge Building, 1871, whose owner, a mortician, is rumored to have found the grim reaper’s visits to the island so infrequent that he tossed his embalming gear and opened a furniture shop instead. Too bad for the undertaker that the Oystercatcher restaurant’s chocolate and caramel gateau (so delicious you’ll want thirds!) had yet to hit the isle. But before flirting with death by cake, be sure to gobble some Penn Cove mussels, the restaurant’s specialty, and the bounty upon which Coupeville’s early fortunes—and all those awesomely preserved buildings—were built.
Snoqualmie Falls, the 268-foot waterfall so stunning it practically brings highway traffic to a halt, may be the money shot, but the real payoff in this onetime sawmill town resides on Railroad Avenue, a mile away. That’s where you’ll find Isadora’s Cafe—a local crafts purveyor, cafe, and gossip hub all rolled into one. Across the street sits the former train depot (built in 1890) turned train treasury, the Northwest Railway Museum. The steam engines on display are fun to look at, but for the whole Casey Jones experience opt for the museum’s four-mile rail ride to the town of North Bend and back. The view out the train window will look familiar. David Lynch filmed his creepy Twin Peaks TV series in the area, which included, of course, that cascading money shot.
Waitsburg looks like the set of a 1950s movie about rural life—red barns, lush barley fields, farmers in overalls steering John Deeres along Highway 12. But the village 20 miles north of Walla Walla is no act. Wheat still reigns in this community, as it has for the past century. It’s just that out-of-towners—particularly of the foodie persuasion—have tweaked the small-town script. Five years ago a trio of Seattle restaurateurs opened the Cajun-inspired Whoopemup Hollow Café. Across the street another Seattle expat set up a high-end cocktail bar, Jimgermanbar. Vintners followed with tasting rooms. The blend of agrarian culture and fine dining has attracted second-home buyers from the city—and hotels and art galleries are on the way—yet Waitsburg, for now, has dodged the dreaded G-word. It’s not gentrified when tractors still roll down the main street.