The San Juan Islands sit in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and receive less rain than Seattle 65 miles to the south. Explore 172 islands, which up the archipelago highlighted by Fidelgo, San Juan, Orcas, Shaw and Lopez. Expect ample outdoor activities, art galleries, museums, festivals and scenic drives on this exciting island adventure. The islands are home to the largest concentration of bald eagles in the lower 48 states, three pods of orca and harbor seals. Explore the tallest peak, Mount Constitution on Orca Island, or just bask in the sun on a weekend getaway to the sunny San Juan Islands.

Getting There

To get to the San Juan Islands from Seattle, take I-5 north to Burlington/exit 230. On Highway 20, go west to Anacortes on Fidelgo Island.  Follow the signs to the San Juan Ferry. The ferry travels between the islands.

The San Juan Islands are famous for beautiful sunsets.  Photo by Karen Ulvestad

Photo Credit: Karen Ulvestad

Orcas Hotel
18 Orcas Hill Road
Orcas, WA 98280
(800) 672-2792 or (360) 376-4300

Price: $89 to $218 per night

The Orcas Hotel is located one block from the ferry docks. Built in 1904, it has been updated to incorporate Victorian history and modern amenities. The hotel offers 12 guest rooms, two restaurants and a fantastic view of the water. Each room is decorated in a different theme, and some have private bathrooms or decks. The Orcas Hotel Cafe and Bakery serves a delicious breakfast and lunch as well as espresso drinks to help you kick off the day. Octavia’s Bistro is a fantastic place for a dinner chock full of delicious Northwest cuisine, especially seafood dishes, with beautiful views of the harbor.

Related: Guide To The San Juan Islands

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Tucker House Inn Bed & Breakfast
260 B Street
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
(360) 378-2783 or (800) 965-0123

Price: $109 to $325 per night

The Tucker House Inn Bed & Breakfast, a green-certified hotel, sits near the ferry docks. It has been restored, keeping the historical charm and architecture while adding modern amenities. The inn offers six guest rooms, two suites and three cottages. Each has its own private bath. Breakfast is made from island ingredients and products from the Inn’s Garden Café. Guests may uses the complimentary bicycles and kayaks throughout their stay as an added bonus here. The inn’s restaurant, Coho, offers delicious selections for dinner following the Pacific Northwestern theme with a Mediterranean twist.

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The Doctor’s Office Cafe
85 Front S
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
(360) 378-8865

The Doctor’s Office Café is located near the ferry dock, and is a great place to stop for coffee or food. The café uses only the best coffee beans, roasted fresh on the island by the San Juan Roasting Company. Each drink is hand crafted by experience baristas. Fresh scones, pastries and cinnamon rolls are baked in their kitchen daily. Breakfast is served all day, and it offers homemade soup, sandwiches and ice cream daily. Its menu includes items for vegan and gluten-free customers. Enjoy free WiFi, a library and relaxing atmosphere at this perfect sea-side café.

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Hot Ice Studios
Point Lawrence Road
Olga, WA 98279
(360) 376-4549

Hot Ice Studios is located on Orcas Island, in the town of Olga. This studio specializes in porcelain pots, glazed with minerals that form crystals during the firing process. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, like a snow flake or ice crystal. Artist Joe Symons hand crafts each piece.  Symons applies the ideas of placing positive intention into each piece into his firing process on the pottery based on the studies of Japanese scientist Emoto. He also makes pieces for individuals, and will use their own meditations or intentions. The process is takes a lot of patience, and he is one of the few potters in the world that uses this process.

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San Juan Island Whale & Wildlife Tours
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
(360) 298-0012

Price: $89 adults/$79 children ages 12 and under/free infants (plus tax)

San Juan Island Whale & Wildlife Tours’ guides are successful in finding orca roughly 90 percent of the time during the summer. Each outing lasts 3 to 3.5 hours, and participants should arrive 15 minutes before departure. Tours take place on the 30-foot Natsilane (pronounced not-sa-law-nee), which was named after the Tlingit Legend of Natsilane. Passengers may see harbor seals, Steller sea lions, bald eagles and other sea birds in addition to minke, gray or humpback whales.

Related: San Juan Cruises

Karen Ulvestad is a mother and professional writer/photographer, who lives in the greater Seattle area. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in English Composition. Her background is in fitness, travel, photography and writing. She continually researches locations to visit, and/or entertainment opportunities for family outings and/or photo shoots. Her work can be found at