Just a dreamer chasing dreams and making memories. We just returned from a weekend trip to San Juan Island. It’s a small island surrounded by views like these with Orca lookouts below! Such a potent island of Pacific Northwest landscapes and wildlife. We feel so lucky to live only a 90 min drive then the most scenic 1 hour ferry ride away from this beautiful place.
The ferry arrives at Friday Harbor at the center of the action with lots of curiosity stores, restaurants and beautiful views. Most of the stores are along the main street, which was surprisingly steep. Keep that in mind if you have children or people in your group who has a hard time walking! But most of the breathtaking sights are outside of Friday Harbor and a short drive away. We took our van on the ferry, but there are tour vans to hire as well.
We decided to go on this trip spontaneously, so the best hotel, “Friday Harbor House” was already booked. They recommended we stay at the Earthbox Inn & Spa which is at the top of the main street. It was big room with high ceilings, nothing special, but it was NOT crummy and a short walk down to the Friday Harbor. Our kids did enjoy swimming in their indoor heated pool.
If you are there during the weekend, the Saturday market is the place to be. Lots of great food, flowers, live music, trinkets, and my favorite was the 3 large Paella pans cooking up and smelling oh so good! It is a great place start your day before sight seeing.
Drive Around the Island
The San Juan island is surrounded by the most beautiful views. However, sadly of those views are already taken by private residences with no access. But there are a handful of lookouts worth a short drive. My favorite was Cattle Point Lighthouse and beach. This was to the south point of the island and only a 15 minute drive from Friday Harbor. The views were stunning especially if you arrive early when the water is still and no one is around. Also it is easily accessible from the parking lot.
We imagined what it’s like living here. Waking up & drinking coffee at the beach while looking for Orcas. It’s so quiet that the sound of the birds seem like they are in slow motion and the water still untouched by boats. Watching the wild red foxes play and the deer eat nearby. Having a boat and sailing to another island for dinner and sailing back at sunset. That’s the life!!
Another must see is the Lime Kiln Lighthouse. It is on the Western side of the island and it is also a famous Orca Lookout!
Besides the amazing views and great food, there are lots for the kids to do. The whale museum in Friday Harbor was interesting and our kids still talk about the Orcas and the whale bones they got to touch. And seeing the Orcas swimming in the wild would have been amazing to see but we visited a little after the season in early July. The best time to go whale watching in this area is during the winter months (December to February) and also the spring months of (March to May). Many people see the Ocras from the ferry too, so keep a look out with your binoculars and camera ready!
Also, we visited the San Juan Sculpture park which was a 15 minute drive away. To me it was nothing to rave about, but the kids loved it! It is a huge field filled with different art sculptures…for sale. There is little shade so sunscreen and insect repellent is a must if you visit this place. A short drive from the Sculpture Park was the Alpaca Farm where you can pet the Alpacas (they look similar to Llamas) and buy items made from their fur.
How to Get to Friday Harbor at San Juan Island
We recommend taking the Anacortes ferry as it is much shorter than the one from Seattle and it has the most beautiful route passing all the San Juan islands such as Orcas Island, Decatur Island, Lopez Island and ending at Friday Harbor at San Juan. It is very important to reserve your space as it tends too book up well before the departure date. If it is booked, do not worry! They release 30% of the spaces at 7am 2 days before the sailing date. I booked ours that way without a problem. Another recommendation is to look at the schedule and make sure that your ferry goes directly to Friday Harbor. This ferry ride is 1 hour long. Most ferries will go to ALL of the islands and will take hours longer to arrive to the destination.
Here is a link to the Washington State Ferries schedule and reservations: https://www.wsdot.com/ferries/schedule/scheduledetailbyroute.aspx?route=ana-sj
Also, see our Deception Pass & Bowman Bay review. It is a perfect side trip when visiting the San Juan Islands: