Orcas, Art & History – How to Make the Most out of Your San Juan Island Vacation

1)        How long to stay?

At least two nights, any less and you are likely to feel rushed.  Stay a little while and experience the isle’s slower pace. A week is ideal. Keep in mind, San Juan Island will always be here and you will definitely want to come back. It has happened to all of us! Consider coming midweek to take advantage of lodging specials.

2)        Don’t over-plan!

The best part about a San Juan Island Getaway is to just … be. Allow yourself to meander the streets of the adorable coastal town of Friday Harbor, lined with restaurants, cute boutiques, shops and galleries. Stay at the beach for the sunset. Ask the front desk at your hotel about special happenings or events, like free live music in the park. Leave room for spontaneity and feel really free!

3)        Whales & Wildlife

San Juan Island is best known for its exceptional wildlife. Here you’ll find a nesting Bald Eagle couple for every mile of shoreline, plus over 200 migratory seabirds to observe. The best place for birding are the dunes by Cattle Point Lighthouse in American Camp National Historic Park. Watch killer whales, humpbacks, sea lions, seals and more on a guided Whale & Wildlife Tour with San Juan Safaris. Spend some time at Lime Kiln State Park, also known as the Whale Watch Park, one of the best places to observe Orcas from land in the world, complete with whale watching platforms, an interpretive center in an historic lighthouse and a hydrophone to let you hear the whales sing.

4)        Art

There are seven galleries and four museums in walking distance to the ferry dock in Friday Harbor. You say that’s not enough? There is more: San Juan Island’s Sculpture Park on the north end of the isle, displays over 150 sculptures along five trails leading through woods, along the shore and around a natural lake. Visit the buzzling historic resort of Roche Harbor, featuring an entire street lined with artist’s booths in the Summer. Join us for the Annual Lavender Festival at the stunning Pelindaba Lavender Farm on July 20 & 21, 2019, a very good smelling mini arts fair with live music, amazing food, kids activities and learn everything you ever wanted to know about Lavender.

5)        History Lives Here

Two absolutely gorgeous National Historic Parks pay testament to San Juan Island’s Pig War, the last war fought on American soil. Enjoy historic re-enactments and demonstrations of life during the 19thcentury on Summer weekends there. Don’t miss the San Juan Historical Museums grounds in Friday Harbor, speckled with historic buildings and home to the free Music in the Park Summer series. 

6)        Food

The San Juan Islands are known as the “Gourmet Archipelago”. Our talented island chefs concoct the most artful, fresh and tasty fare from the healthy island-grown produce and local seafood. Visit the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Friday Harbor for fantastic ready-to-eat food like paella and pizza. Have a romantic dinner at Friday Harbor’s renowned Farm-to-Table -Restaurants like COHO or the Back Door Kitchen or go dessert and cocktail hopping one evening.