Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Oak Harbor, WA

  • Published 2023/03/12

Oak Harbor City is named after its majestic Garry Oak trees that grace its skyline.

Incorporated in 1915, the city’s rich history date back to the 1850s.

Oak Harbor is the largest incorporated city on Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington.

This coastal city offers a wide variety of indoor and outdoor recreation activities.

Its charming and historic downtown alone features several points of interest.

Oak Harbor’s unique tourist attractions and strategic location make it an enticing travel destination in the state.

To make many incredible memories while in the city, try these best things to do in Oak Harbor, Washington:

Enjoy Nature’s Beauty at Deception Pass State Park

Deception pass bridge at Deception Pass State Park

Velimir Zeland /

Your Oak Harbor or Whidbey Island trip won’t be complete without a visit to the famous Deception Pass State Park.

This state park encompasses over 3,854 acres of ancient forest with 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline, 33,900 feet of freshwater shoreline on the three lakes, and over 38 miles of trails.

Walk over the iconic Deception Pass Bridge that connects Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island and enjoy the gorgeous views of the San Juan Islands and sunsets.

Kayaking at Deception Pass State Park

Maksym Ukrainets /

Likewise, the park offers a myriad of outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, biking, picnicking, swimming, camping, fishing, boating, wildlife viewing, and more.

Pack your outdoor essentials and enjoy the best things to do within this spectacular park with your family and friends.

Easily accessible by following State Route 20, Deception Pass State Park is a 13-minute drive from downtown Oak Harbor.

Picnic table at Deception Pass State Park

Sarah Quintans /

Step Back in Time at the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum

The Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum is a must-see for history buffs, aviation enthusiasts, and kids alike.

Located in the city’s downtown area, the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum features exciting attractions that educate and entertain visitors.

Learn about the fascinating naval aviation history through various interactive exhibits, military artifacts, and two flight simulators, which you can operate.

The PBY-5A Catalina, one of the first aircraft to fly from the Seaplane Base at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island during World War II, is one of the main attractions.

There’s also a gift shop inside the museum where you can purchase merchandise, including books, clothing, and more.

The Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum is located on SE Pioneer Way.

Catch a Show at the Whidbey Playhouse

If you’re interested in local theater talent, check out the Whidbey Playhouse.

This volunteer-run non-profit organization has been serving the Whidbey Island community since 1966.

It hosts a variety of shows, including musicals, dramas, melodramas, comedies, mysteries, youth productions, and more throughout the year.

During its regular season, the Whidbey Playhouse produces five shows, including plays and musicals.

Moreover, it offers a full youth theater program with workshops and summer productions.

For exceptional theatrical experiences, head to SE Midway Boulevard, where the playhouse is located.

Play a Round of Golf at Whidbey Golf Club

Nestled amidst a quiet lake is Whidbey Golf Club.

Established in 1961, Whidbey Golf Club features a challenging 18-hole course suitable for players of all skill levels.

Besides its driving range and practice facilities, the semi-private family-oriented club boasts first-class dining opportunities at its restaurant.

Moreover, it hosts special events, like weddings, holiday parties, and business meetings, and offers stay-and-play packages for guests.

With its natural beauty, exciting year-round play, gourmet cuisine, and professional service, Whidbey Golf Club is an excellent destination to check out on your trip.

Strike Some Pins at Oak Bowl

If you’re looking for family fun and entertainment in the city, you can head to Oak Bowl on Southeast Midway Boulevard.

This indoor amusement facility sports a variety of games that kids and adults will enjoy.

Unleash your bowling skills and join the bowling leagues with your buddies.

There are plenty of bumper bowling lanes for kids to have fun.

Catch a cool glow bowling with the lights and music turned up, plus special effects lighting, making it look like a nightclub.

Otherwise, you can play in the arcade room packed with the best and latest video games.

Afterward, grab a fresh hot pizza or burgers from Mario’s Pizza, which you can find within Oak Bowl.

Oak Bowl also offers venues for events like children’s birthday parties, fundraising, and company events.

Have a Fun Picnic with Your Loved Ones at Windjammer Park

Seagulls at Windjammer Park

DmHall /

One of the best places where you can enjoy the outdoors is Windjammer Park, a major community park in Oak Harbor.

This sprawling 28.5-acre waterfront park has numerous amenities that residents and visitors alike can enjoy with their families and friends.

Its open space, picnic areas, beach access, swimming lagoon, and rental facilities make it a perfect spot for family gatherings like picnics, parties, and reunions.

The grounds of Windjammer Park

kallerna, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kids will also enjoy several activities, like flying a kite, frolicking in the playground, and having fun in a splash park in the summer.

You can play basketball or baseball on the courts or fields or walk along the paved beachfront pathways that connect to nearby Flintstone Park.

Windjammer Park is within walking distance of the Oak Harbor Marina and the city’s Main Street corridor on SE Pioneer Way.

Appreciate Art at the Garry Oak Gallery

Opened in 2008, the Garry Oak Gallery is the city’s first major co-op gallery, a beautiful addition to the vibrant Whidbey Island art community.

The gallery showcases talented Whidbey Island artists’ array of new and original artworks in various mediums.

It provides a unique balance of both high-end fine art and affordable artwork.

Visit to find and admire art in wood, stone, bronze, glass, ceramic, fiber, acrylic, jewelry, photography, watercolor, mixed media, and more.

Garry Oak Gallery is on Southeast Pioneer Way near the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum.

Play Your Favorite Sport at Fort Nugent Park

Fort Nugent Park is a 40-acre community park open for everyone who wants to relax and have a peaceful time.

You can play several sports in this park as it has five soccer fields, two football fields, two volleyball courts, and one full basketball court.

At the same time, you can try the 18-hole disc golf course within the park.

If you aren’t into sports, explore the public art display and the walking trails.

Your kids will also have fun in the large playground.

You can easily access Fort Nugent Park on Southwest Fort Nugent Avenue.

Listen to Live Music at the Oak Harbor Music Festival

Do you want to enjoy three days of free live music?

If so, check out the Oak Harbor Music Festival.

The fun festival is held over Labor Day weekend in the historic downtown Oak Harbor.

Locals and tourists of all ages will enjoy all types of musical genres by more than 30 bands throughout the weekend.

There’s much to delight in besides live music, like beer gardens, delicious food, arts and crafts, vendor booths, and sidewalk cafés.

The best thing about this fantastic event is it’s free to attend!

Mark your calendars and attend Oak Harbor Music Festival with your family and friends.

Celebrate Dutch Heritage at Holland Happening

Holland Happening is an annual three-day event celebrating the community’s unique Dutch heritage in downtown Oak Harbor.

It not only honors history but also embraces the city’s diverse community.

Marking its 53rd anniversary in 2022, Holland Happening is Oak Harbor’s biggest springtime festival.

With its slew of events, games, family fun, and free admission, the festival gathers many people from all over the world.

Expect delicious authentic Dutch dishes, arts and crafts, and numerous vendors at the festival.

Explore the lively street fair and watch the traditional Holland Happening Parade, one of the festival’s highlights.

Don’t miss the famous Klompen Canal Race, a must-see wooden shoe race.

It commemorates the hardworking Dutch ancestors who selected such type of shoe because it was affordable, waterproof, and comfortable for long days in the fields.

Explore the Historic Downtown Oak Harbor

Buildings along the Historic Downtown Oak Harbor

Laura Stubbs /

One of the best things to do in every place is to explore the downtown area, and strolling the Historic Downtown Oak Harbor isn’t an exception.

While walking downtown, you’ll find many public artworks spread throughout the city, especially those nestled along Pioneer Way.

Oak Harbor Art Trail features stunning sculptures like Mermaid, Island Spirit, Waiting, and Moon Waves, and beautiful murals like Historic Downtown Oak Harbor Mural and Welcome to Oak Harbor Mural.

If you aren’t into art, a bevy of unique shops are available for window shopping or shopping spree.

Afterward, you may take a break in one of the city’s public spaces, visit one of its lovely parks, or dine at one of the excellent restaurants serving gourmet cuisine.

Enjoy art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, locally made products, sweet treats, delicious dishes, waterfront views, and more in the vibrant Historic Downtown Oak Harbor.

Watch a Movie at Blue Fox Drive-In Theater

Blue Fox Drive-In Theater on N Monroe Landing Road opened in 1959 during the height of drive-in theaters in America.

It is one of the few remaining drive-in movie theaters in Washington.

Here, you can watch the latest movie releases with your loved ones, including your dogs, as long as they are on a leash or in your car.

It also has go-karts, a video game arcade, and a snack bar where you can grab a pizza, hotdogs, cheeseburgers, popcorn, candy, ice cream, and more.

Moreover, you must be 21 or older if you want to grab a drink at its BackLot Tavern, which has 12 rotating taps and various canned and bottle drinks.

Catching a movie and spending a night at the Blue Fox Drive-In Theater is one of the best things to do while in Oak Harbor.

Go Swimming at John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool

Located on Southeast Jerome Street, John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool offers residents and visitors high-quality recreation facilities and programs.

The North Whidbey Pool, Park, and Recreation District manages this swimming pool.

John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool offers lap swimming, open swimming, water aerobics, swimming lessons, and more.

Its main pool has six lanes and measures 25 meters by 44 feet, while its wading pool is 44 feet by 22 feet.

You can also find a hot tub, sauna, locker rooms with showers, and a shower on the pool deck for visitors to rinse off before entering and leaving the pool.

The rates vary, but children aged two and under get free admission.

Take the Garry Oak Tree Tour

Stretch your legs by taking a self-guided walking Garry Oak Tree Tour.

It’s a fantastic way to see many mighty Garry Oaks, after which the beautiful city was named.

You can download the tree tour guide by heading to the Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society‘s website.

Garry Oak is Washington’s only native oak, the population of which severely declined in the last two centuries, making it a unique feature in Oak Harbor’s landscape.

The Society is committed to the stewardship of Garry Oak trees on Whidbey Island through education, outreach, and preservation.

Some spots where you can find the majestic trees include the Oak Bowl Tree, a landmark in front of Oak Bowl, which is estimated to be 230 years old.

Meanwhile, the one in front of the Whidbey Playhouse is estimated to be 235 years old.

Order Pacific Northwest Dishes at Frasers Gourmet Hideaway

For an upscale dining experience, head to Frasers Gourmet Hideaway, located on Southeast Dock Street.

This gourmet restaurant serves Pacific Northwest-inspired dishes using the freshest local ingredients.

Its superb menu features high-quality steaks, seafood, and other dishes you can pair with a tasty wine, handcrafted cocktail, or cold beer.

Its extensive wine list features an excellent selection of Northwest and West Coast wines.

Besides exceptional food and drinks, this spot boasts a warm interior and inviting setting, making your dining experience even more worthwhile.

Whether you are after a romantic meal, family celebration, or business dinner, Frasers Gourmet Hideaway is a destination that’s well worth the visit.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Get Lost in Nature at Joseph Whidbey State Park

Scenic view of Joseph Whidbey State Park

T.Schofield /

Spending a day at Joseph Whidbey State Park guarantees a fun-filled summer vacation with your family or friends.

This 206-acre day-use park has rolling grass fields and picnic areas with picnic tables, grills, and shelters, making it perfect for picnics or family gatherings.

It boasts a beautiful wide beach with stunning views of Lopez Island, Victoria, British Columbia in Canada, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

With magnificent trails, Joseph Whidbey State Park is also an ideal place for hiking and wildlife viewing.

Beach at Joseph Whidbey State Park

T.Schofield /

You’ll also enjoy fun activities like playing, biking, swimming, fishing, and camping.

Stroll along the shoreline, listen to the waves crashing on the shore, and sit and relax while waiting for the breathtaking sunset.

The passing storms with rolling dark clouds and waves crashing on the shore are spectacular sights visitors enjoy watching.

Silhouette of trees at Joseph Whidbey State Park

Diana M Brown /

Final Thoughts

The best things to do in Oak Harbor, Washington, and the city’s beautiful location make it one of the state’s top travel destinations.

Enjoy the alluring parks, impressive artworks, fascinating history, vibrant festivals, and more with your loved ones.

Plan your trip and create wonderful memories that you can always look back on after your worthwhile visit.

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