Hidden Gem of the Northwest – Weekend Getaway to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

All photos taken by Charles Koh

Tucked away in the Northwest corner of Washington state, you’ll find a precious gem called Friday Harbor, a place that will bring you to a state of peace and serenity like the ocean breeze on a sunny day. The Town of Friday Harbor is on San Juan Island. San Juan Island is one of 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan Country, of them, four have access via ferries including, San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island and Shaw Island. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or just wanting to unplug for the weekend, Friday Harbor allows you to escape and immerse yourself into an environment that will mellow you away.

Here’s a small history lesson about Friday Harbor.  The San Juan Islands are over 100 million years old, and consist of anywhere from 428 to 743 islands depending on the tides.  Of those only 170 have names including the most popular and largest being: Orcas, San Juan, Shaw and Lopez.  Friday Harbor is a relaxing town with small mom and pop restaurants, local groceries, weekend farmers markets, a local vineyard, and outdoor activity rentals to name a few things to do on the island.

Friday Harbor is the perfect weekend getaway to relax and experience great outdoor activities.  
Here is a list of 10 must-do’s when visiting:
1) Zip San Juan 
2) Cattle Point 
3) San Juan Excursions Whale Watching Tours
4) Lime Kiln Point State Park Interpretive Center 
5) San Juan Islands Museum of Art
6) Visit the weekend Farmers Market
7) Hot Shop and Flavor Emporium
8) Visit Roche Harbor and take a look at Sculpture Park
9) Crystal Seas Kayaking
10) TerraTrek Premier Bike & Multi-Sport Vacations

    So, you’re probably wondering… how long does it take to get to Friday Harbor?  Well good thing you asked, it’s only 2.5 hours from Seattle to Friday Harbor.  It will take you about 1.5 hours from downtown Seattle to get to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal, then another hour to get to the island.

    Here are some recent press for the San Juan Islands:
    • Lonely Planet’s list of Top 10 U.S. Destinations for 2013
    • TripAdvisor’s acclaim for San Juan Island as “the best island in America.”
    • TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award for San Juan Island as the fourth-best island in the world (behind Ambergris Cay in Belize, St. John in the Virgin Islands, and Bora Bora).

    Once you get on Friday Harbor, you’ll see a beautiful view of the marina and all the boats either docked or sailing in the water.

    Now that you’re safely on the island, the next question you’re going to ask yourself is, “where the heck am I going to sleep at?” Well lucky for you, the Friday Harbor House is located only two blocks from the Friday Harbor ferry terminal.  
    At Friday Harbor House you’ll enjoy a country-escape like experience without camping in the forest.   The rooms have exquisite panoramic views of the harbor, a large jetted tub, a cozy fireplace and juliette balconies that you can open wide and enjoy the fresh air and views.
    Upon arrival, guests can check in at the “Guest Check-in” office located near the front of the building. 
    If you do arrive late, there is a “After hours check-in” which is super convenient with your key and a letter with information about your reservation. 
    If you have any meetings or want to celebrate a special occasion, you can book this the San Juan room.  
    Now that you’re all checked-in, walk into your room and be amazed with the stunning view of the water.
    The room had a large queen sized bed that was comfortable and faced the gorgeous view of the harbor. 

    Just in case the weather got chilly, you have an option to stay cozy by a fireplace in the room.

    Here’s a view looking out the window of another scheduled ferry coming to Friday Harbor.

    Here’s a full view after opening up the juliette balcony.

    One of the best things about the room is the large jetted tub that will help you unwind.  After soaking in the tub, you can head downstairs and enjoy a delicious dinner freshly prepared by Chef Aaron Rock.

    The Bluff Restaurant • Bar • Terrace at Friday Harbor House is a comfortable, welcoming destination for locals and visitors from all parts of the globe.  Islanders can wind down at the end of the day with a group of friends while hotel guests can enjoy a multi-course island dining experience. All will enjoy taking in the panoramic views of the San Juan Channel, ferry landing and marina.
    Executive Chef Aaron Rock highlights the freshest fare from local waters and farms for a menu of authentic island cuisine and seasonal specialties. The Bluff also features a wine, beer and cocktail list emphasizing value and variety with great wine by-the-glass options, and hand-selected flights.
    Chef Aaron also adds a special touch to his dishes by using fresh ingredients from his on-site herb garden that’s located just behind the front part of the building.  
    For those that are looking to add a more unique culinary experience, you can enjoy a nice “Epicurean Escape” package that will include an authentic island dining experience, including a two-night stay, artisan cheese and charcuterie plate, bottle of wine, and 5-course tasting menu for two.
    You can book the experience here.

    After a good nights sleep, you can take the elevator down to the Bluff where you can enjoy a complimentary breakfast which includes: fresh eggs, toast, delicious homemade jam, cereal, yogurt, fresh fruits and juice. 

    Enjoy a nice meal or for drinks out on the beautiful outdoor area that gives guests an extraordinary view.

    Here’s a picture of a fresh herb garden the chef at the Bluff uses in his dishes. Below are a few of the delicious dishes on the happy hour menu served everyday from 5PM-6PM.

    The Friday Harbor is small so if you have a car, take a nice drive around the island and make stops along the way.  Here’s a Red Fox that was sighted on the side of the road.

    It’s said that whales are sighted daily!  This is a great stop on the island to have a picnic and gaze over the waters for whales.

    Written by Charles Koh

    Founded EatSeattle, and has continued to use his expertise as editor-in-chief to guide the website’s growth over the last five years. Koh’s experience focuses on digital marketing and social media, and has been a part of several companies, some of which he created, specializing in both areas over the course of his career. Koh was previously with Google and Zagat where he helped expand and grow communities worldwide.

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