Illuminated by 250 days of sunshine a year, the San Juan Islands, located between Washington State and Canada’s Vancouver Island, are a pocket of sunshine in Puget Sound. This sleepy destination is a hidden vacation gem with abundant wildlife and a friendly laid-back island vibe dotted across its 172 islands and reefs. While life on the islands may be disconnected from the pressures of everyday life, the San Juan Islands have many vibrant communities where you can enjoy world-class accommodation, delicious food and still be awakened by the sound of orcas singing.
Where to Stay on the Islands
SNUG HARBOR INN & MARINA
Arrive by boat and dock-in at the Snug Harbor Inn & Marina on San Juan Island. Wake up every morning in one of the cabins or suites with views of the waterfront through the expansive glass windows. Breakfast is taken in either your en suite kitchen or at the Inn’s Mitchell Bay Coffee shop, which serves delicious espresso, local pastries and fresh lunch items daily. The Inn also has paddle boards, canoes and bikes available for guests to use.
BIRD ROCK HOTEL
The intimate and cheerful Bird Rock is a boutique hotel located in the San Juan Island’s hub, Friday Harbor. Start the day with their impressive gourmet continental breakfast spread including scones with butter and fresh jam, cereal, yogurt, eggs and more. Leave your car in the driveway and hop on one of their retro-cruiser bikes (available to borrow for guests) and get ready to explore the incredible island. After a heavy day of adventure, snuggle into a room with views of the Harbor or slip into one of the Jacuzzis.
ROSARIO RESORT & SPA
The Rosario Resort was built over a hundred years ago by a Seattle shipbuilder in the historic Arts and Crafts style and is perched near the water’s edge of Cascade Bay. You’ll wake up to arresting views of the Rosario Marina from the Harborside rooms. Want to see even further? Stay in the Hillside rooms with a view for miles on clear days. Several of their suites are pet-friendly in case you’re traveling with a furry companion.
EARTHBOX INN & SPA
The retro chic atmosphere of the Earthbox Inn & Spa is reminiscent of an old motor inn with all the modern conveniences: free in-room WiFi, an indoor pool and sauna and a seasonal coffee and snack shop from which you can enjoy breakfast on their beautiful patio. Again, the Inn encourages guests to hop aboard their single-speed town bikes, strap on a helmet (safety first!) and explore the vibrant town.
Where to Eat on the Islands
With a huge emphasis on local, sustainable, seed-to-table, foraging and innovative, the San Juan Islands are basically a foodie paradise.
THE WILLOWS INN
Lummi Island might be a bit out of the way (and not technically part of the San Juan Islands), but once you’ve tasted the offerings of the Willows Inn menu, the time you spent kayaking over to the island will be well worth it. Chef Blaine Wetzel writes “a story about the land,” with a three-hour tasting menu that changes constantly. Recently we’ve spotted local delicacy geoducks, succulents and cucumber, deer tartare and buckwheat donuts. The restaurant has been featured on the MUNCHIES Guide to Washington as well as routinely topping ‘Best Of’ lists.
TOPS’L SEAFOOD BAR
Chef Kasu San of Tops’l Seafood and Sushi guarantees an incredibly fresh seafood-driven experience in Friday Harbor. With most of their seafood selection locally sourced from the San Juan Islands, expect to try delicacies like roasted garlic crab, baked black cod and all the usual sushi roll suspects.
DUCK SOUP INN
The Duck Soup Inn is a blend of island rustic and fine dining, specializing in seasonal offerings from the bountiful island foraging. Whether it comes from the sea or comes from the woods, the restaurant brings to it an edgy and delicious twist, making it one of the most popular choices for fine dining on the San Juan Islands.
Van Go’s Pizza
Discover the secret garden patio at owner-Chef Daniel Van Hamersfeld’s Van Go’s Pizza. This casual eatery in Friday Harbor serves up some of the best pizza on the San Juan Islands. Take advantage of the proximity of Canada and indulge in the Canadian Bacon pizza or try an Italian classic portabello mushroom and salami variety.
DOE BAY CAFE
Ferry over to Orcas Island for the best brunch on the San Juan Islands. Seed-to-table dining ensures the freshest and most local of ingredients for a delectable foodie experience. Their Huevos Rancheros are renowned for their freshness and spice whilst the seasonal french toast appeals to those with a breakfast sweet tooth. Their dinner menu is equally amazing with twists on Seattle beloved classics like Pho and local oysters.
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