GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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This part of Washington has a mild, maritime climate. Winter temperatures average in the low 40s, while summer temps hover in the mid 70s. July and August are by far the most popular months to visit these tourism-dependent islands—they can get busy during this time, with resorts, boating tours, and ferries often at capacity. To beat the crowds and avoid the worst of the wet weather, visit in late spring or early fall—September and early October can be fair and stunningly gorgeous, as can May and early June. Hotel rates are generally lower everywhere during these shoulder seasons—and even lower once the winter drizzle starts.
Orcas, Lopez, and San Juan islands are extremely popular in high season; securing hotel reservations in advance is essential. Car lines for the ferries during this time can be very long. If you're traveling light, consider walking or biking on. Lot parking at Anacortes is $10 per day and $40 per week in summer and half that October–April.
August: The Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival (866/492–0003 www.oicmf.org) comprises more than two weeks of "classical music with a view." These concerts are immensely popular with chamber-music fans around the Pacific Northwest.
October: Artstock (360/378–6550 www.artstocksanjuanisland.com) is a weekend-long festival of open-studio and gallery art tours and receptions taking place in Friday Harbor during the first weekend of the month.