Friday Harbor weekend getaway
Friday Harbor

The largest town in the San Juan Islands, Friday Harbor is far from a bustling metropolis. Here, traffic lights are nonexistent. Horses, bicycles, and tractors share the road with scoot coupes and cars. Sunshine reigns supreme. And rolling farmland sprawls into rocky shores and expansive ocean views. 

The list of what the island has can go on and on. However, it’s more about what the island doesn’t have. It’s devoid of the city hustle and bustle. Here, restaurants focus on locally sourced ingredients and slowly developed flavors. Shop owners linger with visitors, especially during the shoulder season. 

With a plethora of fun things to do in Friday Harbor (and plenty of opportunities to do nothing at all), this is one of the best weekend getaway destinations in the Pacific Northwest! Because while there are plenty of fun things to do in Friday Harbor (many of which are detailed below), sometimes the best way to experience island life is to do nothing and love it!

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sea lion photo by Jess Newley
Sea Lion in the Salish Sea by Jess Newley
This Steller sea lion is just one of the unique wildlife encounters that you can enjoy while visiting the islands. Keep an eye out for large colonies hauled out on rocks and an ear out for their roars often heard throughout the night. Photo by Jess Newley

Breaching killer whales, soaring eagles, swimming sea lions, and stunning shorelines—these are just a few of the sights that people travel to the San Juan Islands every year by foot, boat, or plane to behold. If you’ve been to the islands before, then you know that their moniker as “the hidden gem of Washington State” is true. But did you know that under the water there is a whole system of wondrous natural resources (eelgrass, kelp, forage fish, juvenile salmon, and of course, killer whales, to name a few) that support what we get to experience above the surface?

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Orcas Island by Eduardo Hueck
Orcas Island View by Eduardo Hueck
48(ish) hours sampling the best things to do on the biggest island in the San Juans.

This quaint destination, tucked within Washington’s gourmet archipelago, is loaded with enough baked treats, fresh seafood, and epic views to keep everybody happy. Residents of Orcas Island unite around the core conviction that they live in a beautiful and relatively untouched place. Here, artists thrive, hikes abound, and sea-to-table cuisine reigns supreme.

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Mt. Finlayson
Mt. Finlayson San Juan Island Day Hike

Deep forest lagoons, sweeping grasslands, and an iconic lighthouse make this easy jaunt a favorite for visitors and locals alike. 

At the southern edge of San Juan Island, you’ll find the longest stretch of public beach in the archipelago. The preserved waterfront property is thanks to the Pig War — an 1859 confrontation between the U.S. and Great Britain. While remnants of battle installments and officers’ quarters can be found throughout the island, the ‘war’ was far from gruesome. Just one shot was fired and the only casualty was a hog. 

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Scoot coupe san juan island
Riding a scoot coupe and moped on san juan island
Eat, Explore & Enjoy it All this Summer. Photo by Adam Gilani

Summertime practically begs for a trip to the San Juans Islands. There is something extra special about the islands this time of year. The islands are bursting with gorgeous blossoms, beautiful windswept beaches, glimmers of blue sky, and an abundance of fresh produce. One trip is all you need to feel gratitude for the beautiful place we get to call home. Hop on a seaplane and spend your weekend visiting both new and familiar places, eating delicious food, and being reminded of the intense charm small-town life has to offer.

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Friday Harbor
Friday Harbor on San Juan Island

With its lush landscape and plethora of activities, it can be hard to leave the Emerald City during the summer. Throughout the prized months of sunshine, locals and visitors alike try and soak up every bit of the fun things to do in Seattle. But just at the edge of the US and Canada’s watery border rests a quaint archipelago that beckons those looking for a bit slower-paced adventure.

But exploring a slice of the San Juans doesn’t have to mean giving up a whole weekend. (Though you certainly could and wouldn’t regret it.) Nor does it mean investing several hours in commuting. The San Juans have never been easier to reach, thanks to the new 25-minute scenic flight departing from Paine Field, just outside of Seattle. 

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Hiking on Orcas Island
Young Couple Hiking on Orcas Island

Orcas Island has all of the ingredients for a perfect getaway in the Pacific Northwest. There are miles of hiking trails that traverse a rich topography and offer stunning views. You’ll find a plethora of fresh seafood, farm-to-table cuisine, and locally-crafted libations. 

This isn’t the destination for a fast-paced dance club, though you will find several restaurants and bars host live music nights. But the things to do on Orcas Island abound. Artist studios. Golfing. Farmers markets. Clothing optional soaking tubs. The list goes on and on. These are some of our favorites. 

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San Juan Brewing Company
San Juan Brewing
Photo by San Juan Brewing Company

Built, Brewed & Poured by Locals

Bringing back craft since 2017, San Juan Island Brewing Company is an award-winning brewery set in the beautiful and awe-inspiring San Juan Islands. Based in Friday Harbor, the brewery is known for highly sessionable, true-to-style beers, specializing in old-world ales and lagers that are all unified in being flavor balanced and pairing well with food.

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Lisa Lamoreaux
Lisa Lamoreaux, San Juan Island Fine Artist

Lisa Lamoreaux didn’t plan to become an artist. But in many ways, she just always was.

Her passion for mixing and matching designs began as just a little girl. Obsessed with buying greeting cards, Lisa Lamoreaux spent hours rearranging them on the wall of her bedroom. Tired of the pinholes, her mother turned the entire wall into cork, giving Lisa the freedom to easily create new designs as her collection grew and her vision expanded. 

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San Juan Island at sunset.
San Juan Island Sunset with Family

Tucked within the Salish Sea, the 172 island archipelago known as the San Juan Islands is prized for its stunning views, rich farmland, and incredible seafood. San Juan Island, the second largest island, is the most populated. Spanning roughly 55 square miles, it’s home to several parks that run along the rocky shorelines, including San Juan Island National Historical Park, San Juan County Park, and Lime Kiln Point State Park.

While the San Juans are indeed known for their slow pace and laidback lifestyle, don’t assume the only activities are leisurely bike rides and watching the sea. There are a plethora of fun and exciting things to do on San Juan Island — with something for those of all ages.

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