Here’s AI’s guide to a three-day vacation on Whidbey

You’ll still need a local’s help for now

By Emily Gilbert

Special to the News-Times

Artificial intelligence is disrupting everything from the accounting industry to how zookeepers keep track of their orangutans. While the idea that AI is coming for our jobs could be intimidating (and this writer would be lying if she wasn’t at least slightly concerned) it is possible to work with our future overlords.

Here is popular AI bot ChatGPT’s recommended itinerary for a three-day summer vacation on Whidbey Island.

Note: ChatGPT generated this itinerary on the second try. The first try deemed Coupeville part of North Whidbey, Langley as part of Central Whidbey, and Greenbank and Clinton the sole towns of South Whidbey.

Human Input: Plan a three-day summer vacation to Whidbey Island, Washington, making sure to visit towns in North Whidbey (which includes North Whidbey and Oak Harbor), Central Whidbey (which includes Coupeville) and South Whidbey (which includes Greenbank, Freeland, Langley and Clinton). Please include places to stay, restaurants to visit, activities to do with kids, outdoor activities, and dog-friendly areas.

ChatGPT’s three-day Whidbey Island vacation itinerary, cleaned up to :

Day 1: North Whidbey and Oak Harbor

* Stay at the Best Western Plus Oak Harbor Hotel & Conference Center, a dog-friendly hotel with an outdoor pool and hot tub.

* Visit Deception Pass State Park, which is located between North Whidbey and Fidalgo Island. The park features beautiful beaches, hiking trails and scenic views of Deception Pass Bridge.

* For lunch, stop by Flyers Restaurant and Brewery, a family-friendly establishment that serves delicious burgers, sandwiches and craft beer.

* In the afternoon, head to Windjammer Park, a beachfront park with a playground, picnic areas and a boat launch.

* For dinner, try the seafood dishes at Seabolt’s Smokehouse, a local favorite.

* End the day with a stroll through downtown Oak Harbor, where you’ll find charming shops and galleries.

The AI bot missed the mark on recommending the Oak Table Cafe – it doesn’t exist in Oak Harbor – but the other recommendations are spot-on. The descriptions feel generic, but they are accurate.

Day 2: Central Whidbey and Coupeville

* Stay at the Coupeville Inn, a dog-friendly hotel located in the heart of historic Coupeville.

* Visit Fort Casey State Park, which features historic military structures, a lighthouse and beautiful views of the Puget Sound.

* In the afternoon, explore Coupeville’s historic waterfront district, which features charming shops, galleries and restaurants.

* Visit the Island County Historical Society Museum, which offers exhibits about Whidbey Island’s rich history.

* For dinner, try the Italian cuisine at Ciao, a popular restaurant with a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Again, the AI bot’s plan outlines a nice day in Coupeville. Its suggestions to stay at the Coupeville Inn would put a visitor within walking distance to plenty of restaurants on Front Street and shops to peruse afterward. It did, however, recommend two restaurants that are now closed, which aren’t included in the list above.

Day 3: South Whidbey, Greenbank, Freeland, Langley and Clinton

* Stay at the Whidbey Island Beach House, a dog-friendly vacation rental that offers stunning waterfront views.

* Start the day with breakfast at Useless Bay Coffee Company, a cozy cafe that serves delicious coffee, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches.

* Visit South Whidbey State Park, which features hiking trails, a sandy beach and beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains.

* For lunch, stop by the Orchard Kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant that offers a unique dining experience.

* In the afternoon, explore Langley, a charming town with art galleries, boutique shops, and restaurants.

* Visit the South Whidbey Commons, a community gathering place that features a cafe, a garden, and a thrift store.

* End the day with a walk along the Clinton Ferry Terminal, where you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

The final day of ChatGPT’s three-day adventure to Whidbey includes a list of local favorites – but makes a couple of mistakes. South Whidbey has many beautiful vacation rentals on sites like Airbnb and Vbro, as well as some local rental outfits. There may be one named “Whidbey Island Beach House”…or the AI picked a name and made one up. It’s too generic to tell. Also, the AI picked a restaurant that was neither on South Whidbey nor still open. Also, as you walk the beach next to the Clinton Ferry Terminal, you’ll be looking at the Cascade Mountains, not the Olympics (which you can see from the Coupeville Ferry Terminal on your way to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula).

All in all, it appears AI can plan a pretty good vacation to Whidbey Island, but it can’t beat a local’s discerning eye – yet.