On the edge of the US and Canadian border, where the ocean flows freely between the two countries – water locked drops of island oases can be found. With the Olympic Mountains lining the horizon and old-growth forests aplenty, the 250 days of sunshine beckon visitors and delight locals. Friday Harbor, the largest of the San Juan Islands’ towns, is home to some of the finest restaurants, coffee shops, and artists’ studios and galleries. Here, whale watching enthusiasts enjoy the sights of resident and transitory pods; outdoor adventurists explore a variety of parks and trails; and boaters take full advantage of known and lesser known coves, marinas, and shorelines.
5:00 PM – Dinner at Coho Restaurant
Perched on a hill overlooking Friday Harbor, you’ll find the historic Craftsman House, home of Coho Restaurant. In the small, tastefully decorated dining room, Chef Bill Messick dishes up his locally sourced Pacific Northwest cuisine with a touch of Mediterranean flair. The dynamic menu constantly changes with the season to showcase local farmers and daily sea-inspired specials. From salmon and scallops to beef and pork (sourced from the Jones Family Farm on Lopez Island), Chef Messick’s flavors are a bold introduction to the San Juan Islands’ bounty.
In a commitment to sustainability, Coho has partnered with Sweet Earth Farm to develop the first farm-to-table-to-farm composting project in Friday Harbor. Coho also works closely with the Harrison House Suites as they both call the Craftsman house home.
Coho Restaurant – 120 Nichols Street, Friday Harbor
8:00 AM – Breakfast at the Rocky Bay Café
Fill up for the day with a good ol’ mom and pop breakfast at the Rocky Bay Café. From Eggs Benedict to corn beef and hash, these morning starters are packed with warm goodness. Daily specials change regularly, featuring options such as a bacon, garlic, mushroom, and Swiss omelet. During the winter months, stay warm next to the Amish fireplace. And, make sure to check out the monthly-featured artist’s work is displayed on one of the restaurant’s walls.
Rocky Bay Café – 225 Spring Street, Friday Harbor
9:30 – Whale Watching
Pack some snacks and don’t forgot your binoculars. No trip to the San Juan Islands would be complete without a little whale watching. Just a 20-minute drive to the opposite side of San Juan is Lime Kiln Point State Park (also known as Whale Watch Park). It’s one of the best places in the world to catch sight of these magnificent creatures from the shore. You might also see seals, sea lions, otters, the occasional fox, and a variety of birds. To check out the latest whale activity, follow the walking path to the Lime Kiln Lighthouse where current whale reports are posted. Make sure to visit the historic lime kiln adjacent to the park which operated from 1860 – 1920. Also note, the park is located approximately 10-miles from Friday Harbor, transit buses are available during the summer months.
12:00 PM – Lunch at Friday’s Crabhouse
Seafood just tastes better when you eat it with a view and Friday’s Crabhouse has one of the best views of the harbor. Their three open-air decks are pet friendly, as long as you remember your furry friend’s leash. Inside seating is also available for those who need a break from the fresh salt air. While burgers and dogs appear on the menu, it’s their sea inspired dishes which are worth ordering. Enjoy a selection of pan-fried oysters, crab packed salads, fish tacos, and more.
Friday’s Crabhouse – 65 Front Street North, Friday Harbor
1:30 PM – Explore the Town
Friday Harbor is packed with local artists’ galleries and eclectic shops. Snag a coffee to go at The Bean Café, recently voted The Best Coffee Shop 2012 and The Best Latte 2012 in the Journal of The San Juan Islands. Then take to the sidewalks to explore. Love hunting through forgotten treasures? Check out Funk and Junk Antiques. And for a vibrant mix of flowers and novelties, visit Robin’s Nest.
The Bean Café – 150B 1st Street, Friday Harbor
San Juan Hot Shop and Flavor Emporium – 260 Spring Street, Friday Harbor
Funk and Junk Antiques – 85 Nichols Street, Friday Harbor
Robin’s Nest – 270 Spring Street, Friday Harbor
5:00 PM – Cocktails with a View
On top of a bluff overlooking the harbor sits the Friday Harbor House. Tucked within this quaint inn, you’ll find The Restaurant. Unwind in the bar with the sunset and a cocktail. Here you’ll find an interesting selection of infused libations such as Maker’s Mark with maple syrup, pear cider and cardamom bitters.
Friday Harbor House – 130 West Street, Friday Harbor
7:00 PM – Dinner at Vinny’s
The causal elegance of Vinny’s dining room is lit with the romantic glow of candlelight. In a combination of Italian specialties and Pacific Northwest inspiration, this is a meal meant to be savored over good conversation and a glass of well-paired wine. The menu features pasta with a spicy Habanera sauce topped with prawns, grilled steak with a balsamic reduction, and a smoked then grilled pork chop with polenta.
Vinny’s – 165 W Street, Friday Harbor
8:00 AM – Breakfast at The Doctor’s Office Café (now called Salty Fox)
Just above the Ferry Dock and the Friday Harbor Seaplane Base sits The Doctor’s Office Café. Worried you might miss it? Look for the brightly painted Victorian house. Built in 1905, this historic gem comes with up to date perks such as free WiFi and a fresh juice bar. (A complimentary computer is also available for those not toting their own electronic gizmos.) If you’re on the run, consider one of their lattes to go, brewed with their own blend of coffee beans (sourced from around the world and roasted locally).
The Doctor’s Office Café – 85 Front Street North, Friday Harbor