25 Things To Do in the San Juan Islands This Fall (2023)

False Bay. San Juan Islands. Colleen Michaels

Fall in the San Juan Islands is particularly unique. The weather is still sunny (thanks to the 247 average days with sunshine), while the summer crowds have begun to thin. Farm tours and festivals abound (thanks to Savor the San Juans). And, the foliage is bursting with color. In short, there are a plethora of fun things to do in the San Juan Islands this fall. 

Want to skip the long ferry lines and take the fastest, most scenic trip to your island getaway? Book one of our regularly scheduled flights. We offer several different options, including a 50(ish)-minute flight departing from Lake Union or Kenmore. Looking for the fastest trip? Our 25-minute flights departing from Paine Field will get you there in no time, which is a major advantage when you want to Savor the San Juans as much as possible. 

San Juan Island Farm Tours & Festivals

1. San Juan Island Farm Tours

Explore the San Juan Island producers who load farm-to-table dining with flavor. Appropriate outdoor shoes and attire are recommended, as you will be on working farms. Farm tours will be available daily from September 22-24. 

2. Orcas Island Farm Tours

Lum Farm Goats
Image by Lum Farm
Lum Farm Cows
Image by Lum Farm
Lum Farm Cheese Being Made
Image by Lum Farm

The Orcas Island Farm Tour showcases the island’s bounty. Tours will run daily from September 29 – October 1. Local artisans, like Girl Meets Dirt, will also offer complimentary tastings in their shops. 

3. San Juan Oktoberfest

Octoberfest at San Juan Island Brewing Co.

San Juan Island Brewing Co.’s fifth annual Oktoberfest will feature beer specials, a German menu, and live music all day. Face painting and cookies will also be available. And they’ll have their annual Stein holding contest! Don’t miss this fabulous event on September 30!

4. Lopez Island Farm Tour

Watmough Bay Farm Goats. Photo by Derek Eisel.
Watmough Bay Farm Goats. Photo by farmer and singer Derek Eisel.
Watmough Bay Farm Flowers. Photo by Derek Eisel
Watmough Bay Farm Goats. Photo by farmer and singer Derek Eisel.

The quietest of the major islands in the San Juans, Lopez isn’t short on farms. Its annual Lopez Island Farm Tour celebrates the island’s rich agriculture. Tours are available daily, October 6 – 8. 

5. Orcas Island Film Festival

More than 40 incredible films will be shown at the annual Orcas Island Film Festival. Held from October 11 – 15, the collection of new buzz-worthy films will feature both well-known and up-and-coming filmmakers. 

6. Friday Harbor Film Festival 

The exciting annual Friday Harbor Film Festival will be held Oct. 26-29 on San Juan Island. It will feature a host of new documentary films, short films, and a selection of films produced by student filmmakers. Each production will be shown in venues throughout Friday Harbor. 

7. Hop on the Rocks – Orcas Island

November 11, sample beer from more than 25 breweries, cideries, and wineries at Orcas Island’s annual Hops on the Rock. Hosted in downtown Eastsound, various themed events will be held at bars and restaurants throughout the island. 

8. San Juan Island Farmers Market

San Juan Islands Farmers Market

Running April through October, the San Juan Island Farmers Market is housed in the historic Brickworks Events Center. It features a wide array of local farmers, artisans, and food purveyors. Live music is often performed, and lingering for a snack is strongly encouraged. 

9. Lilo Sanchez of Señor Loop at Orcas Island Winery

Lilo Sanchez of Señor Loop’s music has been dubbed Latin alternative rock music. It’s soothing and intriguing with just enough pep — the perfect combination for a leisurely outdoor concert at Orcas Island Winery. 

10. Live Music at San Juan Island Vineyard

Throughout the summer and early fall, San Juan Island Vineyard hosts live music on their vineyard patio. The patio is located just outside the historic schoolhouse tasting room. Grab a drink and listen to some inspiring tunes.

11. Self-Guided Scoot Coupes Tour with Susie’s Mopeds

Pop into Susie’s Mopeds where you can rent a variety of small motorized devices. Our favorite? The two-person Scoot Coupes, which let you ride with a partner! After the safety briefing and quick island tutorial, head off to explore some of the island’s top spots at your own pace. (Susie’s closes for the winter season. Be sure to check the website in advance for current hours.)

Savor the San Juans Dining Specials

12. Madrone Cellars Wine Dinner at Coho Restaurant

Making Dinner at COHO
Photo by Tom Krueger

An exquisite food-and-wine pairing event will span five indulgent courses. 

13. Italian Wine Dinner at Coho Restaurant

Pasta at COHO
Photo by Tom Krueger

This six-course dinner will feature wine pairings and likely include one (or two) of COHO’s epic pasta. 

Fall Activities in the San Juan Islands

14. Whale Watching

Orca killer whale off the coast of Canada
Not every Seattle whale watching tour includes a breaching orca whale. But most include a whale sighting, especially aboard San Juan Safaris.

While September is considered the last peak month of whale watching season, Orcas have been seen in the Salish Sea year-round. In addition to spotting whales, tours often include eagle sightings, seals, porpoises, and more!

15. Tour the Whale Museum

Friday Harbor Whale Museum

Want to learn even more about Orca whales and marine wildlife? Be sure to check out the Whale Museum in downtown Friday Harbor. This unique museum was the first of its kind and is dedicated to protecting the Southern Resident Orcas who frequent the waters around the San Juan Islands. 

16. Raise a Locally Brewed Pint at San Juan Island Brewing Co.

Beer flights at San Juan Island Brewing Co. Photo by Krestrel Bailey
Photo by Krestrel Bailey
San Juan Island Brewing Co. Photo by Krestrel Bailey
Photo by Krestrel Bailey

On the southeast side of downtown Friday Harbor, San Juan Island Brewing Co. has become a community hub. Its large warehouse-style dining room offers a view of the brewing operations, featuring communal tables and an impressive menu. On nice days, the expansive patio and lawn are a great place to savor the sun and lounge. 

17. Soak in the Fall Foliage

Thanks to the lush foliage throughout the San Juan Islands, fall here is a riot of color. One of the best ways to soak it in is by exploring on foot. Discover some of our favorite island hikes!

18. Moran Mansion Museum Tours

Built in 1913, Rosario Resort’s Moran Mansion is a historic slice of grandeur. It features a 1913 Aeolian pipe organ and a 1900 Steinway grand piano. (Free concerts are offered on Saturdays through September 16th.) The mansion is also home to a small museum that pays tribute to the man who built it — shipbuilder and former Seattle mayor Robert Moran. 

19. Visit Lopez Island’s Award-Winning Bakery, Barn Owl Bakery

Recognized by Food & Wine as one of the best bakeries in Washington state, Barn Owl Bakery gets its unique flavor from its wild sourdough culture, which is used to leaven the bread. You can visit their Bakery Farmstand, which is set up near the kitchen and operates from 6 AM until 6 PM. For official hours, please visit their website. 

20. Visit the San Juan Island Museum of Art

San Juan Islands Museum of Art

Though small, the San Juan Islands Museum of Art (SJIMA) attracts renowned artists locally and internationally. The cutting-edge building is stunning, in and of itself, with a massive glass atrium that is flooded with natural light. 

21. Savor the Farmhouse & Wine Garden Experience at Orcas Island Winery

Orcas Island Winery Barn
Orcas Island Winery Wine
Orcas Island Winery Picnic Tables

Established in 2011, Orcas Island Winery is a boutique family vineyard and winery. It’s nestled at the base of Turtleback Mountain. The tasting room is housed in a modern farmhouse. Visitors are also invited to bring a picnic basket and spread out on spacious grasslands surrounding the patio — the ideal way to enjoy the wine garden experience. 

22.  Find a New Favorite Title at Orcas Island’s Oldest Bookstore

Darvill's on Orcas Island

Founded in 1975, Darvill’s Bookstore is located in downtown Eastsound on Orcas Island. It’s nestled beside Fishing Bay, with windows along the southern side of the building, allowing you to shop for a book while enjoying the view. In the back corner of the bookstore, you’ll also find a quaint cafe where you can curl up with your new find and enjoy an exceptional cup of coffee.

23. Sample Wine at San Juan Island Winery

San Juan Vineyard

Just outside of Friday Harbor, you’ll find the San Juan Island Winery tasting room. It’s housed in a historic schoolhouse and is set beside its estate vineyard.

24. Discover Local Artists at Orcas Island’s Former Strawberry Packing Facility

Orcas Island Artworks Gallery
Orcas Island Strawberry Barreling Station

Strawberries were the bedrock of Orcas Island’s agricultural industry in the 1930s. At the height of the island’s strawberry production, the fields spanned 450 acres and produced thousands of strawberry barrels. Remnants of the strawberry industry can be found at the historic Olga Strawberry Barreling Pant, which now serves as the Orcas Island Artworks Gallery. The gallery houses work from dozens of island artists, some of whom can often be found working at the gallery!

25. Tidepooling

From kids to adults, tidepooling is a unique way to explore small ecosystems. Each tidepool is its own treasure trove of creatures, rocks, and colors. Discover some of the best beaches for tidepooling in the San Juan Islands and get expert tips about how to keep you (and the creatures) safe.

Flights from Seattle to the San Juan Islands

There are 10 different ways to get from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. Each is unique. Each requires a varying amount of time. The fastest and (in our humble opinion) the most scenic is flying from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. 

We offer 50(ish)-minute scenic seaplane flights to the San Juan Islands out of our Lake Union and Lake Washington terminals. Wheeled plane flights aboard Kenmore Air Express depart from both Boeing Field and Paine Field, allowing you to reach the San Juans in as little as 25 minutes!

Discover More Fun Things to Do in the San Juan Islands

48 Hours in Friday Harbor

Maggie in Friday Harbor
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.

Pebble Beach on Orcas Island

Pebble Beach on Orcas Island
Despite being the largest island in the San Juans, Orcas is a tad slim on public waterfront. But for those in the know, Pebble Beach offers 150 yards of crescent-shaped magic just waiting to be explored.