Things to do & places to visit in San Juan Islands, Washington, United States
Start your Pacific Northwest vacation in style, with a seaplane or ferry ride to the San Juan Islands from Seattle. It’s the ultimate way to take in the beauty of this region that Mother Nature has so abundantly blessed. You have a choice of three alluring islands – Lopez, the most rural, a mix of rolling farmland and beaches; Orcas, the largest of the San Juan Islands and replete with verdant mountains and placid lakes; and San Juan Island, where vibrant Friday Harbor welcomes ferry and seaplane guests and offers an array of charming accommodations and gourmet eateries. Whether it’s whale-watching and sea kayaking, touring an art gallery or browsing a local farmers’ market, the San Juan Islands offer pleasing diversions for every age and interest. For the best chance to view orca whales and other sea life, plan your trip between April and September – a number of tour operators are available throughout the islands. Rev up your energy level with biking tours through rolling meadows and farmland, go birding on San Juan Island, hike the region’s modest mountains – offering outstanding vistas from the top – or go charter fishing for the day. Other favorites include hiking to Lime Kiln Lighthouse on San Juan Island, taking a scenic flight over the area, attending an outdoor summer concert in the park and horseback riding.
San Juan Islands island group in Washington, United States. Timezone: America/Los_Angeles, current date and time: Saturday, December 09, 2023, 7:52.
Top things to do (22)
- Historic Walking Areas
- Art Museums
- Geologic Formations
- State Parks
- National Parks
- Monuments & Statues
- Art Galleries
- Hiking Trails
- Military Bases & Facilities
- Equestrian Trails
- Speciality Museums
- Points of Interest & Landmarks
- Nature & Wildlife Areas
Top places to visit (29 attractions)
- 5.0 Moran State Park (593 reviews)
Mt. Constitution drive is spectacular
I’ve hiked and driven up Mt. Constitution. There aren’t views along the hike so I’d recommend driving up at sunset, with a beverage or picnic. It’s breathtaking. Otherwise, kayak on Mountain Lake for a beautiful afternoon. See more..
- 5.0 Orcas Island Pottery (351 reviews)
Wow! Just Wow!
Points of Interest & Landmarks
We were looking for a gift for a friend for a very special birthday. While traveling on Orcas, we decided to stop here. Getting there is part of the adventure, as you have to drive down a remote drive through the woods. The location is stunning. There is a gorgeous garden, a treehouse, and swings. Pottery is displayed in locations all around the property. The pottery is absolutely gorgeous, and we had a hard time choosing a gift because we liked everything. Know that this place is a bit pricey, but you are paying for quality. The staff were lovely. This place is well worth the stop. See more..
- 5.0 Shark Reef Sanctuary (112 reviews)
I would give it 10 stars if TripAdvisor would allow it
Nature & Wildlife Areas
We were moving from one San Juan island to the next when we finally landed on Lopez. It being too early to check into our hotel, we headed south towards Shark Reef. And we're glad we did! While it is a relatively short, simple hike, in just its short space we got to experience the woodlands and then Lopez' spectacular coastline. We meandered south to the end of the trail, where we overlooked to seals braying in the distance. We sat there. And sat there. And sat there. The side was coming in strong. We could see mountains in the far distance. And we sat there. No hurrying. No other people. No distractions. Just seeping in the peaceful, eternal beauty. The highlight of Lopez Island. See more..
- 5.0 Amaro Farm & Flat Hat Distilling (79 reviews)
Little Girl’s Dream Come True
Temporarily closed - Closed until Apr 1, 2023 Spent 1-2 hours Farms
Farm. Sheep. Ducks. Tours and petting. Store with meat, produce, wool and sheep related gifts. Farm dinners in a gorgeous 1800's barn. Coming soon - distillery and farm stays. CLOSED FOR THE SEASON! OPENING APRIL 1, 2023! See more..
- 5.0 Sucia Island State Park (79 reviews)
Sucia secret hints!
Sucia is one of the jewels of the San Juan Islands...but you already knew that. Sucia can only be reached by boat...but you already knew that. Fossil Bay has a dock but is crowded. Echo Bay is exposed, but has some nice but crowded campsites. The best campsite is #26 on the SW side of Shallow Bay, accessible by boat or walking from Fossil Bay. It is clean, has a private toilet, gets morning sun, and is virtually always empty because no one knows about it. Shallow Bay is my favorite anchorage because of the beauty, access to China Caves, and moorage possibilities. Its also not that shallow, so don't worry about bringing in a big, deep draft, boat. My other favorite cove is Ewing. Approach from the NW and watch for a propeller eating rock, that's noted in Wagoner's. See more..
- 5.0 Orcas Island Trail Rides (18 reviews)
Saturday: 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM Equestrian Trails
Highly recommend! Nice horses, great guide and beautiful scenery. We spent 10 days in Washington/Oregon. My husband, not a horse person, said this was one of the highlights of the trip! See more..
- 4.5 The Whale Museum (773 reviews)
Entertaining and Educational
Saturday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM Spent 1-2 hours Speciality Museums
Thank you for your interest in learning about The Whale Museum. The Whale Museum is completely reopened! We are open 10:00 am - 4:00 pm every day. Thank you for your support. https://whalemuseum.org/ See more..
- 4.5 Pelindaba Lavender Farm (593 reviews)
Dry flowers the end of August visit
Saturday: 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM Farms
Pelindaba Lavender Farm, spread over 25 beautiful acres with lake and Olympic Mountain views, has become one of the San Juans' most popular visitor destinations. More than 200 lavender-based, botanical, culinary, personal care, therapeutic, household & pet care products are handcrafted and sold on-site. See more..
- 4.5 English Camp (456 reviews)
Worth checking out
Points of Interest & Landmarks
My husband and I dropped by the English Camp not knowing what we would find. First we took a wonderful hike up the historic Young Hill which provided beautiful views of San Juan Island and the waters surrounding it. Then we walked the grounds of the camp and eventually made our way into the visitors center where one of the park historians sang a song he had created to explain the Pig War. He showed us pictures of the maple tree that stands majestically in the center of the camp - it is currently 300 years old and was a mere 100 years old when the camp was built. Needless to say, we really enjoyed our visit. See more..
- 4.5 Lime Kiln Point State Park Interpretive Center (363 reviews)
Scenic light house and whales...
Spent 1-2 hours Points of Interest & Landmarks • Parks
Visit the Interpretive Center while you are at Lime Kiln Point State Park. Come learn about the orca whales that frequent our shores, the historic lime kilns & lighthouse that are in Lime Kiln Point State Park. The Interpretive Center staffed by Friends of Lime Kiln Society (FOLKS) volunteers and all donations support the Center and other FOLKS programs & projects in Lime Kiln Point State Park. There is also a small gift shop in the Interpretive Center. See more..
- 4.5 Cattle Point (259 reviews)
Rocky promontory on San Juan Island that offers a dramatic view of the whales and wildlife of Puget Sound. See more..
- 4.5 San Juan Islands Sculpture Park (195 reviews)
Outdoor Art Gallery!
Saturday: 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM Nature & Wildlife Areas • Parks • Art Museums
This park is a MUST SEE on the island! There are dozens of sculptures made from many different mediums strategically placed throughout this large, beautiful nature park. Even if you aren't an art enthusiast, just pick a trail to follow and you will find picturesque scenery everywhere. There is no entry fee, just a suggested donation of $5 per person. See more..
- 4.5 American Camp (186 reviews)
Spent 1-2 hours Points of Interest & Landmarks • Historic Walking Areas • Battlefields • Military Bases & Facilities
Not much to see compared to the English Camp. This camp only has 2 buildings and a laundress quarters, none of which you can enter. There is a new visitor center but it was closed on the day we visited (Tues). The best part was the views of the water as you walk along the many trails. Beautiful, breathtaking scenery. We saw two bald eagles perched on some rocks. See more..
- 4.5 Buck Bay Shellfish Farm (152 reviews)
You've got to eat here while you're on Orcas Island
Saturday: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM Farms
Buck Bay Shellfish Farm is a heritage seafood market, oyster & clam farm, and bustling seasonal Bistro. See more..
- 4.5 Westcott Bay Shellfish Co. (96 reviews)
A True Pacific Northwest Gem
Saturday: 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM Farms
Shellfish farm and restaurant, growing oysters, clams and mussels. Open seasonally to the public. From Memorial Day to Labor Day open Wednesdays -Mondays 11-5 (closed Tuesdays). Off-season (September - April), open Saturdays 12-3PM. Reservations for eating at the Tide Tables highly recommended. See more..
- 4.5 Turtleback Mountain (70 reviews)
The hike from the School House museum to the turtlehead lookout took us 2-1/4 hours. It was about 5 miles. Beautiful, well managed trail. Tons of moss and ferns. The whole first mile was an ascending grade. Lovely view from the lookout. See more..
- 4.5 San Juan Island Distillery (67 reviews)
Nice visit! Best gin!
I’m writing this review a year later! We decided to take a walk from Roche Harbor marina to the distillery (a well needed break from a long boat cruise with our teenage kids). We ended up doing a full tasting of ciders, gin and a few specialty liquors. The hosts were patient friendly and informative. I have to say Spy Hop gin is one of my absolute favorites. I hadn’t ever tried it prior to our visit. It’s well worth a stroll (nice walk) if your visiting or grab a bottle at your local store. If you love gin and tonics you will love this gin! See more..
- 4.5 Spencer Spit State Park (65 reviews)
Experience to last a lifetime
Dan was an incredible guide. He encouraged us to go sunset kayaking, which was truly an experience to last a lifetime. There were seals popping their heads out of the water and watching us watch the sunset. We got to see starfish and during the night portion we were fortunate to experience the bioluminescent algae. Really great time. Highly recommend booking with Dan. See more..
- 4.5 Iceberg Point (57 reviews)
Great lunch walk with an incline
Nature & Wildlife Areas • Lookouts • Hiking Trails
The walk to the monument was very beautiful and full of sites. Our picnic spot was a large rock at the USGS marker and very nice. The incline to the marker was easy but we did not venture to C. See more..
- 4.5 Island Studios (50 reviews)
A brilliant way to separate visitors from their money
Sometimes a local gallery really understands what the casual tourist wants. We spend a lot on name artists including Jacob Lawrence, Marvin Oliver and others. However, when you are visiting a place like Friday Harbor, you are looking for approachable art, featuring local artists whose are reflects the area. This places features whales, seascapes plus wildlife inspired art and glass and ceramics. You also don't want to spend thousands. This place fits the bill. Great photographs, nice block prints etc. There is something for everyone. This is what a local gallery should be like. See more..
- 4.5 Island Hoppin' Brewery (48 reviews)
Locals Love It!
Saturday: 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM Breweries
Started from a few carboys in our garage, we (Nate and Becca Schons) are the master brewer and mind behind IHB. With the help of our business partner at the time, Jim Parker, the 3 of us launched the very 1st brewhaus on Orcas Island in Washington State's San Juan Islands. Without losing touch with that original passion we upgraded to over 100bbl fermentation capacity. To this day, you can catch us hoisting grains in the back and passing it by mug to the customers in front. See more..
- 4.5 IMA - San Juan Islands Museum of Art (48 reviews)
A gem in Friday Harbor
IMA (San Juan Islands Museum of Art) A short walk from the ferry, IMA is the first art museum in the San Juan Islands. Along with a revolving repertoire of major exhibits of fine visual arts and workshops, IMA also offers a forum for local artists to display their work as part of its Artists Registry. IMA raises and distributes money to support art in the Friday Harbor elementary and middle schools, and runs the popular free "Family Art Days" program every Saturday in July and August in the orchard beside the museum. IMA is a registered 501 C 3 nonprofit organization and depends on donations, memberships, fundraising and a cadre of experienced, capable and dedicated volunteers. See more..
- 4.5 Schooners North (44 reviews)
Great evening cruise around the islands
We had seen the ship while exploring the waterfront and were glad to find out that they offered cruises around the islands. We booked an evening cruise for our group at their small office in town and really enjoyed sailing. There were about 20 guest on the boat in addition to several crew members. The crew pointed out various sites and wildlife along the way and brought out blankets when the wind turned cool as we sailed back to Friday Harbor. We really enjoyed the views and the experience. See more..
- 4.5 Arctic Raven Gallery (40 reviews)
I loved visiting this gallery which had beautiful native artifacts. It’s easy to find in First Street. Look up for the Arctic Rabin Gallery signage on the left side of the street off Spring Street. I found a beautiful carved owl of walrus tusk for a friend and there were numerous items I’d love to purchase in the future. It’s like a little museum with helpful staff. See more..
- 4.5 Obstruction Pass State Park (38 reviews)
Explore tidepools, peaceful walk away from crowds
Bring your hammock--we did. The walk is under a mile to the beach from the parking lot. As with other state parks, you need a Discover Pass. We checked out one beach with tidepools--crabs, starfish, and barnacles galore. There are informative signs about the rock formations, ice age geology, native peoples, etc along the way--take the time, they add to the enjoyment. When we reached the beach/camp there were about 8 spots you could kayak up to and enjoy for only $12/night. There were primitive toilets, didn't see any water sources so bring your own. We set up the hammock and chilled for a while, watching boats go by...ahhh Orcas is where it's at! See more..
- 4.5 Orcas Island Historical Museum (36 reviews)
Lots of Island History
Mountains • Islands • Parks
The largest of the San Juan islands is also one of the prettiest, with rocky terrain for hiking and dramatic shorelines for kayaking and whale watching. See more..
- 4.5 Orcas Island Artworks (32 reviews)
Beautiful art in a beautifully restored building
Saturday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM Spent 1-2 hours Art Galleries
A treasured Orcas Island destination for visitors and locals alike, the Artworks offers one of the finest selections of local art and crafts in the San Juan Islands. We represent over 45 Orcas Island artists and craftspeople. Established in 1981, our co-op shares its historic building, a renovated strawberry packing plant, with the Catkin Cafe, an all-scratch kitchen offering a menu that changes with the seasons and featuring island-grown produce and house made pastries. Located two miles past Moran State Park in the hamlet of Olga, the Artworks is a short walk from the boat-accessible Olga public dock. See more..
- 4.5 John S. McMillin Memorial Mausoleum (19 reviews)
Easy hike, great reward
Points of Interest & Landmarks • Monuments & Statues
This is a neat pit stop on any San Juan trip. It’s a very easy hike and such a cool memorial. Definitely recommend checking out. Just search “mausoleum parking” in maps when trying to find it, other wise the listed address takes you to a private residential area. See more..
- 4.0 The Farm at Krystal Acres (191 reviews)
who can resist alpacas...
Saturday: 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM Spent < 1 hour Farms
Come see the largest herd of alpacas in the San Juans on this 40-acre working farm on the beautiful West Side. Alpacas grow one of the world's softest, most luxurious fibers, and are also irresistibly cute. Alpaca fiber is the most sustainable, socially responsible, cruelty-free and functional fiber found in today's textile market. The whole family will enjoy a self-guided stroll around the beautiful grounds. Guided educational tours may be scheduled by calling a week in advance. The Country Store offers a wide selection of beautiful alpaca clothing, accessories, and gifts, and is where visitors can feel the amazing softness of alpaca fiber. The farm is easily found, just minutes from Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor Resort. See more..
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