It may be a long way from Puerto Rico, but Washington State’s version of San Juan has its own charms (minus the tropical temperatures). Comprising 172 islands off Washington State’s northwest boundary, San Juan County offers locavore restaurants, plentiful indoor and outdoor activities, and charming hotels in one incredible escape.
The Washington State Ferry system delivers travelers to two shining stars in the inky waters: the horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island, and the undulating San Juan Island. Head here to relax and rejuvenate during a weekend getaway, where you’ll browse pottery galleries, walk through an outdoor art collection, visit a whale museum, encounter spectacular nature and eat fine island food. Who says you need 90-degree days and Caribbean water to experience true rejuvenation?
1.The ferry drops off passengers at Friday Harbor, the islands’ largest village. Unwind from the week with a glass of Washington syrah and bite at Downriggers, which overlooks the ferry terminal and marina. After your pre-dinner snack, stroll this quintessential Washington harbor town, featuring compact, walkable streets filled with boutiques and cafes.
2.For dinner, slip into the Backdoor Kitchen for a meal of free-range chicken or organic, Oregon steak. This restaurant focuses on regional ingredients, gently prepared and served in the bright dining room or on the outdoor patio, shaded by umbrellas.
3.Several old-fashioned evening options may entertain, including a flick at the Palace Theater, or the bowling pins at Paradise Lanes. Or head to the Rumor Mill for live music and more than 20 beers on tap.
1.Pick up a carb-friendly breakfast at Cafe Demeter, the town’s artisanal bakery. Sip a double-shot latte and slowly savor a flaky cinnamon roll or chocolate croissant in the cozy café, which bakes everything on-site.
2.Come on in, the water’s fine. In Friday Harbor, you can rent electric boats or Hobie pedal kayaks from Friday Harbor Marine Center and explore life-filled inlets around the calm harbor—or just enjoy the peace of the water as it laps the boat.
3.And what lives in those waters? After your boat rental, return to Friday Harbor to learn more about the graceful denizens of the local Salish Sea at The Whale Museum. Here, a whale skeleton hangs in the air while you eavesdrop on whale conversations in the “whale telephone booth”…
Read more: Lora Shinn, Fodors