San Juan Island’s Secret Season – How to Holiday, Island Style!

The holiday season is approaching and with it, the planning, cooking, cleaning, shopping and spending time with extended family. Which, as we all know can be absolutely lovely, but also stressful at times. Are you up for a holiday season with a different pace, less stress and less consumerism? Maybe you and your Sweetie plan on skipping one of the festivities to be alone this year? Maybe you pack up the whole famdamily and spend Christmas on an island? Maybe, instead of fighting traffic and the masses at the mall, this year you do all your holiday shopping in the cute shops and boutiques of adorable and completely walkable Friday Harbor?

Here are your insider tips on how to holiday island-style. And the best part: this time of the year, you hardly ever need hotel or ferry reservations. Be spontaneous and free and sneak away for a weekend!


Consider spending Thanksgiving on San Juan Island this year. This is a great time to visit and get away from it all, have the beaches to yourself, plan a day at the museums and get pampered at the Spa at Earthbox. Know, that only a few restaurants are open on Thanksgiving proper, so plan accordingly. One place you can count on for every holiday is COHO, who puts on amazing Chef’s Dinners for all major holidays (reservations are recommended).


San Juan Island celebrates the Friday Harbor Winter Fest throughout the month of December, with a tree lighting ceremony on December 1, and the old-fashioned Christmas Market on December 8. Stores, galleries and boutiques are open late. December is a lovely time for a weekend family getaway to remember what this time of the year is really about.

Christmas Day is calm and quiet on the isle. Plan ahead, since most shops and restaurants will not be open. A lovely place to be on Christmas Day is South Beach, San Juan Island’s longest beach, where island families gather for bonfires and smores, brisk walks and birdwatching.

New Year’s Eve:

The end of the year is the perfect time for a romantic getaway. Finish the year with a long walk on the beach, watching sea lions, otters, Bald Eagles and maybe even a few Orca Whales, before going bar hopping in a small, former fishing village to ring in the New Year. Check out San Juan Brewing and Herb’s Tavern for live music, excellent food and libations.

On New Year’s Day head to the San Juan Island Sculpture Park and get inspired by over 150 sculptures from national and international artists. Write down your New Year’s resolution and place it in one of the Tibetan Wishing Urns and engrave your name on the Friendship Totem to feel united with the people of this world.