By Cassandra VanKeuren Special to the Herald
COUPEVILLE — In the category of local family day trips, Whidbey’s Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve is a fantastic trip for late summer and early fall. The Mukilteo ferry lines have shortened and the weather is still great. There are parks, beaches and good food all within 30 miles of the Clinton ferry terminal.
One of my family’s favorite stops in Ebey’s Landing is Fort Casey. There is an old fort that the kids can explore (you’ll want to bring a flashlight for tromping through dark rooms). There’s also a long beach for agate hunting and a picturesque lighthouse. Fort Casey State Park does require a Discover Pass if you go.
In nearby Coupeville, you’ll find galleries, inns, the historical society and plenty of family dining options.
One of my favorite places to eat is Mosquito Fleet Chili.
Mosquito Fleet has outdoor dining overlooking Penn Cove. It’s open for breakfast and lunch and the staff makes all the yummy food on-site.
The last time my husband and our son were there we dined outside. While we waited for our food, we were able to watch the tide come in and the boats on the water.
I wanted chili, but because we showed up 30 minutes before closing time they were out. This happens a lot, but I don’t mind because that means their food is super-fresh.
Instead of chili, my husband and I ordered the mussel chowder ($7.50) and my son chose the tomato and basil soup ($7).
Our cups arrived with a large slice of green-olive bread.
The chowder was exceptional, hearty and full of savory flavor. The mussels were very tender and the broth had a light touch of curry. Quite satisfying.
The bread was toasted on one side, slathered with butter and the perfect texture for sopping up what was left in my cup.
My son’s soup was just the thing for a 9-year-old kid. It was sweet in a “good” way, and the basil was not overpowering. Somewhat reminiscent of another popular tomato soup we all know, but so, so much better tasting.
Mosquito Fleet also offers sandwiches, pies, pecan rolls and brownies.
The prices are moderate but for me, the handcrafted nature of their food is well worth it. Mosquito Fleet Chili is a must while you’re exploring Coupeville.
After you have gotten your belly full of chili or chowder, stroll down Coupeville’s wooden sidewalks and check out the boat dock. There is a small store front and inside a little coffee shop, a gift shop and a large skeleton of a whale hanging from the ceiling.
Some other things to do in Ebey’s Landing include bird watching, biking and touring historic sites. One of my family’s favorite pastimes is geocaching and there are most certainly plenty of caches in Ebey’s Landing. Download a tour guide of the different historic sites at www.nps.gov/ebla/index.htm.
Whatever you choose to do in Ebey’s Landing, you and your family will be guaranteed an adventure, along with some good food.
Mosquito Fleet Chili
12 Front St., Coupeville; 360-678-2900
Specialty: Chili and chowder.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday and Saturday.