Not all of us get the Summer off. For some, Summer is even the busiest time of the year. Luckily paradise is only a ferry ride or short flight away from Seattle, making San Juan Island the perfect spot to get away for a weekend to relax and recharge and create memories, that will last a lifetime.
Here is a sample itinerary for the perfect weekend getaway including San Juan’s main attractions and must-see places:
If you arrive via Washington State Ferry, make sure you have round-trip reservations and allow extra time for heavy weekend traffic. Once on the ferry though, your vacation begins. Let the wind blow through your hair while you are floating through the breathtakingly beautiful Salish Sea, watch for wildlife, have a snack in the galley and breathe.
After landing in the adorable former fishing village of Friday Harbor, check into your hotel, then set out on foot and explore. Friday Harbor’s streets are lined with restaurants, shops, boutiques, street vendors and galleries. Perhaps you will stumble upon live music in the park by the waterfront or an arts market at the Brickworks Plaza on Sunshine Alley. Savor a seafood or steak dinner and fancy cocktail on the deck overlooking the water at Downriggers or a gourmet pizza and a local beer at Van Go’s, before strolling the docks at sunset with an ice cream.
Insider Tip: If you arrive after 9:00pm, grab a late bite of delicious island fare at the Rumor Mill and dance with the locals to free, live music.
Visit San Juan Island’s Farmer’s Market at Brickworks Plaza for some tasty treats, picnic provisions and island-made crafts before heading out to the Pelindaba Lavender Farm.
Pelindaba’s grounds are stunning. Rolling fields of lavender, dotted with impressive art work, and majestic Mt Baker as the backdrop. The farm not only grows certified organic lavender, it also manufactures over 200 products for botanical, culinary, body care, therapeutic, and household use on site and distributes them nationwide. The cute, historic farm store sells, in addition to all the purple goodies, freshly-made lavender lemonade and cookies.
Next, drive along the rugged Westside coast high above the ocean to the Lime Kiln State Park, the best spot to watch whales from land in the world. There you will find a historic lighthouse, a viewing platform and interpretive walks and trails through the woods and along the coast. In the height of Summer you can observe whales swimming by, sometimes two and three times per day. The trail from the parking lot to the lighthouse is wheelchair and stroller accessible. The park with its many tables nestled along the shores, is the perfect spot for a picnic.
Make your way from there to Roche Harbor Resort on the northern end of the isle. Check out San Juan Island’s 20-acre outdoor Sculpture Park at the resort entrance, with over 150 pieces on display. Have the kids create their own art at the Starfish Project. Sign the Friendship Totem to feel connected to people all over the world and meander on five trails through fields, woods, around a lake and along the shore.
In Roche Harbor find San Juan Outfitters on the right side of the marina and join them for a Sunset Kayak Tour, a once-in-a-lifetime treat. See Bald Eagles nest, learn about the local sea-life, have Harbor Seals check you out and maybe even see an Orca from up-close, while working up an appetite.
Have a sunset dinner on the deck of Roche Harbor’s coastal casual Madrona Grill.
Insider Tip: In addition to bringing sunglasses, hat, water, snack bars and your camera on your kayak trip, also bring some gloves, so your hands stay warm and you don’t get blisters.
Have breakfast or brunch at the Cask & Schooner on Friday Harbor’s waterfront. This nautically-themed public house serves local and organic food and makes everything fresh daily and from scratch.
Drive to the south end of the isle and visit Southbeach in American Camp. Southbeach is San Juan Island’s longest beach, offering astonishing views of the Olympic Mountains, Mt Baker and, on very clear days, Mt Rainier, looking like a toy on the horizon. Watch for foxes, bunnies, river otters, eagles, sea lions and seals. Take a long walk, build a driftwood tipi, skip stones, fly a kite and just … be.
Head back to Friday Harbor and put your car in the ferry line. Stroll through the artist booths for last minute gifts, including Joe Crisantis handmade glass-blown studio, and have a fresh seafood lunch at the open-air Crab House, overlooking the harbor and the ferry landing.
Insider Tip: Let your wait staff know which ferry you are planning on taking and ask if there is enough time to eat. Consider getting your lunch to-go and eat on the ferry home.