San Juan Islands, Washington

Old Dec 30th, 2019, 01:21 PM
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San Juan Islands, Washington

I am seeking suggestions on San Juan Islands getaway in July of 2020 for a family of four (13 and 4 year olds in tow). We have been to all the islands, but never for a long time. I am looking for a place to stay for 4-5 days, any island is up for consideration. We've stayed at Doe Bay in the past. I am hoping to see other parts. Where would you recommend staying? Budget is wide open right now.
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Old Jan 5th, 2020, 09:23 AM
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Hearing no response, I am shifting my focus to Cannon Beach, oregon.
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Old Jan 5th, 2020, 10:44 AM
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No reponse on Fodor's is no reason to change your plans Although I do like the Oregon coast.

Tune in over on Trip Advisor to the Washington state forum (the Destination Forums part of their website, not the Reviews section) there's talk about visiting the San Juans islands there frequently.
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Old Jan 5th, 2020, 11:00 AM
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Cannon Beach is vastly different from the San Juans, just in case you did not know. So it just depends on what you are looking for as to which would be a better location for a family trip. Cannon Beach has been a family favorite of ours since I was a little kid. July will be busy, and places will already be booked, so if you decide on CB I would get on that asap. With 4-5 days, I would rent a house or at least something with a kitchen.

We almost always stay at the Surfsand Resort, which is a hit with families as they have lots of activities, but also is the only resort on the OR coast with seasonal cabana service. So Adirondack chairs/umbrellas, beach toys etc for your use.

We have also stayed at the Blue Gull Inn which is an older motel that has been redone and their 2 bedroom cottage (plus a Murphy bed, so sleeps 6) is really nice. It has a full kitchen as well, with a big dining table, so perfect for a family and less than a block to the water. I have stayed there for a girls trip and we loved it.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 06:42 AM
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I guess my question applies to both destinations: What sorts of activities do you want to undertake?

Being on an island is obviously likely to make for a different experience than staying on the mainland. If you've been to all the (I assume major) islands than you know the lay of the land more or less - San Juan is the busiest, Orcas has a fair amount of geographic diversity, Lopez is the most laid-back (and bike-friendly)... but they're islands, and travel between them is a bit of a nuisance in the summer. Cannon Beach (or really, the whole coastal strip between Long Beach WA and, I suppose, Tillamook) has considerable variety, plus you can travel up the Columbia or explore the Willapa Bay area on the way or even as day trips from a coastal base. But if you want to hang out near the beach, it's great.

But I'll throw out another couple of ideas, just for the halibut. You're PNW locals, so you're probably already familiar with these places, but nothing ventured...

1. BC Gulf Islands. Using BC ferries from Tsawwassen, you have access to the southern Gulf islands between the mainland and Vancouver Island. I'd especially look at Salt Spring Island, which has a terrific range of features and activities, similar to the San Juans but different, if you get my meaning. https://www.hellobc.com/places-to-go/gulf-islands/


2. BC Sunshine Coast. This isn't a well known area to US visitors, but it's terrific - just across Howe Sound from the Horseshoe Bay BC ferry terminal, the Sunshine Coast extends for 100 miles or so, with several very picturesque little towns and tons of activities. Believe it or not, the water is even warm enough to swim (for some) -




3. Columbia Gorge and Cannon Beach

(Note I'm a broken record on the Gorge and Hood River area for family vacations, so fair warning.) You could do a combination of the Gorge/Mount Hood and the coast, a couple of nights in each, following a route something like this: https://goo.gl/maps/6kLVewhJG8H3Jwbd9 . You'd have warm and sunny weather in the Gorge and around Hood River most likely, visit Herman the Sturgeon at the Bonneville hatchery, see the waterfalls along the Gorge walls while they're in full flow, then out to the coast. This is more of a "moving" holiday than one where you stay put, so therefore maybe not to your liking, but (to me) the range of activities in both areas would be superb given your family's makeup. Just a thought, anyway.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 08:59 AM
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I think my first choice might be Whidbey because it has the advantage of being able to drive across from the northern end and explore Bellingham and the north cascades. During the summer, ferry boats can be hard to get on and off of so this would make it easier IMO.

You could also consider Bainbridge Island closer to Seattle because that would have the advantage of just doing a walk on and off to visit all the Seattle places of interest.

Last edited by jpie; Jan 6th, 2020 at 09:45 AM.
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Old Jan 8th, 2020, 11:21 AM
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Thank you for your responses. I live in a famine of time, so a lot of times my ideas are half-baked. I am just planning a summer vacation and debating pros and cons of various destinations. Your insights are incredibly helpful in narrowing down my choices. I've been to San Juan Islands and to Cannon Beach. I live in Seattle so Whidbey is not far enough.
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Old Jan 8th, 2020, 01:20 PM
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What about something totally different and heading to Stehekin? It feels like an island since it is isolated, but there are plenty of things to stay occupied or you can just relax. If you rent a cabin, there are some that include the use of a vehicle so you don't need to rely on the shuttles. Just a thought since it is a bit further from Seattle so would still feel like a getaway. We did this with our adult kids last summer and had a wonderful time.
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Old Jan 9th, 2020, 03:01 PM
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@Gardyloo, I love BC Coast and Sunshine coast suggestions. I have a soft spot for Canada. I've been meaning and wanting to explore Vancouver Island for the last 20 years. Thanks!
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