THE TINY TOWN: Coupeville, Washington
THE TINY TOWN: Coupeville, Washington
When we think of a typical small town, our minds some times take us to the fictional town of Mayberry USA from the old Andy Griffin Show. Which according to the opening scene of a season 8 episode, there’s a sign posted at the railroad station reading, population 5,360. Coupeville certainly is well below that with a population just over 1,900. And unlike many of the tiny towns we’ve visited, Coupeville continues to slowly grow.
Coupeville is the second oldest town in Washington. By the way, Steilacoom is the oldest town in Washington, with a population over 6,000. Coupeville sits on Whidbey Island, tucked away in the Penn Cove. Of course when I think of the island life, I’m thinking of a blue sky over shallow turquoise waters on sandy white beaches like the resorts out in the Indian Ocean. But this is the Pacific North West. And the island life north of Seattle is so much different. But there is one thing that’s the same. And that’s the peacefulness you get just being there.
Whidbey Island itself is a photographer’s dream come true but rain or shine. Which you can see here, thanks to one of my best friends Katie Boer, who provided the spectacular photos in this article. And surprisingly (at least to me) it only averages 131 days of rain a year.
Coupeville (In my head I always want to call it Coupleville) looks like your typical small coastal New England town you’d find in a movie like, Message in a Bottle.
In fact, Hollywood has brought their cameras to Coupeville, filming such movies like the 1998 Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Aidan Quinn classic, Practical Magic.
Snow Falling on Cedars (1999) with Ethan Hawke, Max Von Sydow, and Sam Shepard.
And who can forget the 1989 film starring, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito called, War of the Roses.
Although not filmed in town, I do want to note that the movie, The Ring was shot on Whidbey Island.
Coupeville was occupied by three Lower Skagit tribal villages with a great place to fish, with salmon and more famously clams. In fact today, Coupeville is known for some great mussels and hosts the annual Penn Cove Musselfest. But you can imagine why the villages settled here. And why Europeans and those heading west decided to visit and build upon the town and the surrounding areas.
The town of Coupeville was named for pioneer, Captain Thomas Coupe, who first stepped foot on the island in the 1850’s. The activation of Fort Casey in 1901 spurred efforts for Coupeville incorporation in April 1910. During the Great Depression, Whidbey Island utilized government funds for building projects such as Deception Pass Bridge in 1935.
Downtown Coupeville is such a beautiful quaint town with great shops and restaurants like Toby’s. Although a few are actually closed during the weekdays during off season. One place on Front Street in particular you have to visit for a couple of reasons. Kapaw’s Iskreme (pronounced ice cream), which not only has some fantastic ice cream flavors served with it’s own homemade waffle cones, but apparently the building is the home of the original location of the very first Seattle’s Best Coffee. It opened in 1969 by brothers, Jim and Dave Stewart. And actually it was originally called, The Wet Whisker. But after winning the title of Seattle’s Best Coffee in 1991, they decided to call their coffee shop, Seattle’s Best Coffee, which has branched out all over the west coast and you can even buy their K-Cup Pods in grocery stores all over the United States.
The great thing about Coupeville is that they’re soooooo much to explore, like the surrounding small towns, hiking trails, kayaking, camping, history museums! I could go on. And I can see why the tiny town of Coupeville is slowly growing in population. It is one of those places where I found myself asking, do I just vacation here for a few days or move here forever.