August is a great month to discover Mukilteo

The Seattle car rental agent can't believe we're planning tostay in Mukilteo instead of using the ferry service there to pushon to popular Whidbey Island. "But nobody goes to Mukilteo," hesays. And on a sultry summer day, it appears he's right. The waitfor the ferry to Whidbey Island is three hours, but the road into Mukilteo is wide open.

While cranky kids in car seats are still being held hostage bythe carload, we're at the Silver Cloud Inn (718 Front St.; 800/311-1461), relaxing in a lobby thatseems to be floating on the Puget Sound and taking in views offerry boats, the pier, and bobbing sea lions.

From here it's just one block to Old Town Mukilteo's 96-year-oldlighthouse, which features an original lens of French crystal, asstunning as a Lalique vase. From the lighthouse, it's possible towalk along the sound for miles in solitude. For more company and ajolt of java, we head to Whidbey's Cafe (619 Fourth St.; 425/348-4825), where we enjoy a view of thesound and whimsical, hand-carved sculptures (including a superherobursting through the ceiling).

The annual lighthouse festival is held August 16-18, and whileit's a small-town affair, the fireworks display over Puget Sound isspectacular enough to put Mukilteo on the map of the most doubtingcar rental agent. Festival information: (425) 355-2514.

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