Where can you go for a woodsy trail hike, eat a meal at a seaside restaurant and walk to see the sunset over Puget Sound all within a couple of miles? Mukilteo offers that and more. Mukilteo played a crucial role in the history of Washington’s settlement as the site of the Treaty of Point Eliott. Today, Mukilteo is a small but thriving seaside center for recreation and dining and is the gateway to Whidbey Island via its busy ferry route.
Mukilteo Welcome Sign
Starting with lunch, Mukilteo offers restaurants from chain foods to local establishments. Local businesses, like Ivar’s and Arnie’s, are longtime pillars of the community and have delivered satisfaction for many years. Instead, we chose to hit up a new spot just out of the downtown called Tapped Mukilteo. Opened in 2020, Tapped is the second location for the Mukilteo-based owner Sean Drought (Camano Island being the first) and quickly became a favorite of locals with its extensive assortment of rotating beers on tap and its gastropub-style menu. I enjoyed the BLT recommended by owner Sean who called it the “Most underrated item on the menu.”
After lunch, it was time to walk off our full stomachs. Hikers and trail runners know Mukilteo for the Japanse Gulch, a 147-acre park and trail system set within over 1,000 acres of a drainage basin. We headed instead to the Big Gulch Trail. A lesser-known system to non-locals, the Big Gulch Trail is a 2.6-mile out-and-back trail through a deep rain-forest like environment.
Ceiling Sculpture at Red Cup CafeAfter the Big Gulch Trail, we continued to walk around Mukilteo’s historic waterfront downtown. Highlights of local businesses include stopping for a cup of coffee at the Red Cup Cafe while enjoying their whimsical patio sculptures and treating ourselves to a decadent treat at Mukilteo Chocolate Company. If we had been hungry for more food, all-vegan Sage & Cinder or Sully’s Pizza would both have been on the shortlist.
Continuing our walk down towards the water, we checked out the brand new ferry terminal for the Mukilteo to Clinton route that takes passenger cars, bikers, and walk-on traffic to Whidbey Island. According to WSDOT, “The building honors the tribal history of the land, the site of the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty signing. The passenger building, designed in the form a Coast Salish longhouse, features a large gathering hall with sweeping views of the water and a comfortable place for people to work, relax and stretch their legs while waiting for the ferry.”
WSDOT Ferry at Mukilteo Terminal
The balcony of the new terminal is the perfect place to watch the loading and unloading of cars and passengers on the ferry. The constraint stream of cars was mesmerizing to watch from an overhead view. Parents of young kids could likely spend an entire day on that balcony.
Next, our afternoon meander led us to the Lighthouse Park to check out the 1950’s style lighthouse used during non-COVID times as a setting for wedding pictures and family portraits. The beach at the park is an excellent location to fly your beach kite and has water access for swimmers and boaters. Nearby the beach park is Diamond Knot Brewing Company’s Mukilteo location that serves their specialty brews, pub food, and an ice cream window popular with families while spending the day at the beach.
After our walk, it was time to enjoy a late afternoon drink and take advantage of both the re-opening of restaurants and bars and the first truly sunny day in a while. We sat outside at Cabernets & IPAs to enjoy a beer from their porch view of Puget Sound. Cabernets & IPAs did an excellent job setting up a comfortable, safe, and appropriately socially distanced outdoor seating area, and we enjoyed selecting from their curated list of local taps.