GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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Spending time on the San Juans is all about connecting with the sea. A trip here requires a bit more travel, planning, and expense, but visitors nevertheless flock here to spot migrating whales, go kayaking, chill out in endearingly informal inns, and dine on creative, surprisingly urbane cuisine. The most popular boating activities include whale-watching, but each island has its share of parks, bluffs, and coastline to explore.
The San Juan Islands are part of the same archipelago as the Gulf Islands of British Columbia—they're actually closer to Victoria, BC, than they are to Seattle. The closest Washington cities to them are Anacortes and Bellingham, about 90 minutes north of Seattle.