I cannot seem to quench my wanderlust for the enchanting Pacific Northwest. After almost five years in this intoxicatingly beautiful region of the country, I’m still more in love than ever. I had the pleasure of visiting one of my very favorite areas recently – the lovely San Juan Islands. A beautiful, misty, collection of islands with jagged coasts and stunning seascapes connected by ferry, this is truly one of the most amazing places I have been. Adorable shops and quaint road side stands, fantastic natural beauty and – yes – amazing food await you on this magical adventure. Here’s your play-by-play for the perfect long weekend in the San Juans:
Stay at the Island Inn at 123 West and enjoy fantastic views of Friday Harbor.
Less than a two hour drive north from Seattle, you’ll start your journey by hopping a ferry from Anacortes. Make sure to check the ferry schedule and make a reservation (a MUST in summer months). Your first stop is Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and the Island Inn is the perfect home base for your time here. It sits overlooking the harbor, directly beside charming Overlook Park. Your private deck or the park next door are perfect for taking in those lovely water views and stunning sunsets.
Hike around American Camp.
Located on the southern end of San Juan Island, trails along beautiful grassy bluffs and rocky cliffs await you at this historical sight that’s a part of the San Juan Island National Historical Park. We spotted a pair of bald eagles when we were hiking along the some seven plus miles of trails! You’ll find a visitors center, historic buildings and an artifacts museum here.
Have dinner at Friday Harbor House
Right next door to the Island Inn 123 is Friday Harbor House, and it’s the perfect place to have dinner and catch the sunset one evening. With panoramic views of Friday Harbor, a seasonal menu and island inspired fresh cocktails, the Friday Harbor House is a favorite of tourists and locals alike.
Explore Lime Kiln Point State Park.
This the state park is about as Instagrammable as it gets with the adorable Lime Kiln Lighthouse and if you get here early enough (or don’t come during peak season), you can even get a photo without a bunch of tourists in it. This is considered one of the best places in the world to whale watch (though I haven’t been lucky enough to see any the two times I’ve been here).
Shop a roadside egg stand.
What’s more fun than shopping a roadside farm stand for fresh eggs that you’ll fry up for breakfast the next day? This is an honor system stand – meaning no one is there working it. You leave your cash in a cash box for the eggs you take which were $6 a dozen.
Do dinner and cocktails at Duck Soup.
A cozy, country restaurant tucked into the woods and overlooking a little pond, Duck Soup is just a fifteen minute drive away from Friday Harbor where you’ll find sophisticated pacific northwest fare and fantastic cocktails. Fresh and as easy on the eyes as they are on the palate, their cocktails are truly impressive from the classics to the seasonal creations, like the lavender gin libation above.
Take the ferry from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island to Lopez Island.
After two days and nights in Friday Harbor, it’s time to check out another island! So grab the interisland ferry from Friday Harbor to Lopez Island. Make sure to check the ferry schedule and arrive early. (You can’t make a reservation for the interisland ferry and it is recommended you arrive 30-45 minutes early to secure a place in line.)
Stay in adorable Lopez Farm Cottages.
Spend at least one night in Lopez Farm Cottages on Lopez Island. They are so cute and in such a serene setting; all are equipped with fireplaces and have access to a hot tub. Cottages Two through Five have a shared hot tub while Cottage One (pictured above) has its own private hot tub. Drink wine (or smoke a joint) and watch the deer play in the pasture as the sun goes down. (Marijuana smokers note – there is a dispensary on San Juan Island, but not Lopez, so you’ll want to make sure to have what you need when you change islands).
Eat a Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookie from Holly B’s (and all the other sweet things).
Celebrating over 40 years of love and butter, Holly B’s has been bringing Lopez Island residents and visitors sensational baked goods for quite some time now. I absolutely could not get enough of this salted caramel cookie. I liked it so much, in fact, that I ate it there with my coffee and then brought another to take with me for later. I was told this is a very popular cookie.
Hike Iceberg Point.
Jagged cliffs and sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains and Peninsula beyond make this a stunning hike (but a moderate, flat one). It is WINDY though y’all so bring your wind breakers/hoodies.
Shop for pottery at Red House Pottery.
You don’t have to be an art lover to appreciate this stop. The Red House Pottery was established in 1990 by local artist Jeffrey Hanks. The red little cabin filled with pottery was another honor system stand. Dozens and dozens of beautiful pots, cups and mismatched plates line the walls here and they have prices on the bottom. A cash box (with cash to make change) sits with a notebook by the door so you can log what you’ve purchased and pay, making change if you need it.
Dine at Ursa Minor.
It lives up to the hype people. Fresh seasonal ingredients, beautifully thoughtful plates and a rustically elegant, sun soaked wooden atmosphere await at Ursa Minor. It takes the dining scene to another level in the San Juan Islands with a menu that is uniquely Lopez and celebrates the island. Dining at Ursa Minor is the culinary highlight of your weekend and a special experience you will treasure long after the meal is over and your bill is paid. Read A Peek at the Culinary Awesomeness Happening at Ursa Minor for a more in depth look at this fantastic restaurant!