We recently returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest. I have to say it is one of the most spectacular places to visit in the summer. The temperature was in the 70s each day. We were surrounded by beautiful green foliage and sparkling blue water. Our dream is to have a summer house there when we retire.
One of our favorite memories from when we were newlyweds was our trip to Friday Harbor. Friday Harbor is the only incorporated city on the San Juan Islands, a group of islands northwest of Seattle. We visited one weekend probably ten years ago and have great memories of staying at a quaint little bed and breakfast and exploring the island on a scoot coupe. We wanted to share the beauty of the island with our family, so we took our two oldest children, both my brothers and their wives, and my niece and nephew as a day outing during our recent family reunion.
Map source: https://www.visitsanjuans.com/about-the-islands
It takes effort and planning to get to Friday Harbor since it is an island and you can’t just drive over. You can either take the ferry or a commercial flight. My husband is a pilot and flew us in a small rental plane the first time but this past trip we took the ferry. The ferry only goes over three or four times a day, so make sure to check out the ferry schedule before going. If you plan on taking a car, I highly recommend making a reservation to ensure you get a spot. Also, you must be 30 minutes early or you lose your reservation. I talked with someone who said he was four minutes late once and he still lost his reservation. It also is important to note that the ferries don’t always stay on schedule. Our ferry was over an hour late and we missed our connecting ferry home as a result. Give yourself plenty of travel time to get to and back from the islands.
The ferries are very comfortable and have tables to sit around and eat or play games. There is a snack bar on board with great hot chocolate and my kids liked the hot dogs. I always had a few games in my backpack for the kids to play such as Spot It, Old Maid, Go Fish, UNO, and a deck of cards. I even brought some sticker books. My daughter enjoyed this one.
Once you get to Friday Harbor (or whichever island you decide to visit), it is time to enjoy the beauty and slower pace of the island! One activity that we have done twice now that we absolutely love is driving around and exploring the island in a scoot coupe.
These little cars are a blast to drive. They drive right on the road and are a fun way to take in all the views. There are many stops to see. There are two lighthouses, a lavender field (the largest in the US we were told), beaches, Roche Harbor (the other town on the island), alpaca farm, and even a camel you can stop to see. Of course, in the towns there is shopping and great seafood. Whale watching is also a popular activity. When we were there the last spotting had been the evening before. Our kids were too young this trip, but my husband has kayaked in the San Juans and it is spectacular. There are guided tours that take you out around the island.
There is a gift shop here with all things lavender – even lavender ice cream!
Lime Kiln State Park and Lighthouse (great spot to whale watch)
Roche Harbor has a public swimming pool (only heated outdoor pool on the islands), sculpture park, kayaking, hiking, and restaurants.
Ferry Ride Home
We haven’t explored the other islands, but would love to on our next trip. Want more info? Visit the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau.