What to do in San Juan Islands

Old Feb 25th, 2012, 02:51 PM
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What to do in San Juan Islands

Taking a short trip to the San Juan Islands for a few days in August and need some suggestions on what to do while we are there. We LOVE wine and were wanting to know if there are any great wineries that we should visit. Also would love some great restaurant tips and some unique shopping places (pottery, clothes, home goods etc.). We will have a car so getting anywhere is not a problem. : )

Thank you so much in advance for any tips!
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Old Feb 25th, 2012, 06:06 PM
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Haven't checked lately - but don't think there are too many wineries in the San Juan islands, or that many different restaurants/places to shop. However, on the ferry ride from Victoria back to Seattle, we did see a great pod of Killer whales.
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Old Feb 25th, 2012, 06:07 PM
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Actually - my bad. Just googled and there are a few wineries there. see: http://www.sanjuanweb.com/
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Old Feb 25th, 2012, 09:22 PM
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Rent sea kayaks and explore the shoreline. You'll likely see curious sea lions. Pull in on sandy beaches for leg stretches. Of course, go with a guide if inexperienced. And if experienced, remember to ask about currents (more important that tides).
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Old Feb 26th, 2012, 10:32 AM
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The San Juan Islands have 2 estate wineries - one on San Juan Island and the other on Lopez Island. Chris Primus, the winemaker at San Juan Vineywards on San Juan Islands is making some fabulous award-winning wines. His two estate wines are Madeline Angevine and Siegerrebe. He brings in fruit from Eastern Washington to round out the offerings with Merlot, Cab, Cab Franc and a Bordeaux-style blend. Besides wine tasting, there is whale watching and kayaking. San Juan ISland has two national park sites, a state park, a lavender farm and sculpture park. The national and state parks boast fabulous hiking. If you run out of things to do on San Juan Island, day triping to the other islands is a great option.

In terms of dining, Coho Restaurant in Friday Harbor, the historic downtown of San Juan Island offers fresh from the farm Pacific northwest cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. Their wine list, 290 bottles and growing features small boutique wineries and library wines chosen to pair with the food offerings.

Let me know if you have any questions regarding your upcoming trip. I have been living on the Island for 8 years and run the Harrison House and Tucker House. We assist thousands of guests each summer with the details of planning their trip to this special place.
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Old Feb 26th, 2012, 11:01 AM
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We really loved spending time at Orcas Island Pottery. The location is so beautiful, has great views and the artists are interesting. Lots of history there. http://www.orcasislandpottery.com/

Drive to the top of Mt. Constitution for an outstanding view of the archipelago. So lovely.
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Old Feb 27th, 2012, 06:08 PM
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Don't forget the San Juan Island National Historical Park for both its incredible scenery and wonderful history. And the largest state park in Washington, Moran St Pk, is on Orcas Is and offers some of the best views on the west coast from Mt Constitution. The sea kayaking is world-class thanks to the abundant wildlife - its the best place in the entire US to see orca whales from a kayak! Try http://www.sea-quest-kayak.com/ for more info on that.
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Old Feb 27th, 2012, 06:54 PM
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With all due respect to Chris Primus, "fabulous" is relative, and a matter of taste. San Juan Vineyards is a fun stop though; just don't expect Napa Valley. So is Island Wine Co., near the ferry dock, which carries a nice selection of mostly Pacific Northwest wines.

Can't agree more with the recs for sea kayaking; simply outstanding. But if you're more a landlubber, there's a chance you might spot whales from Lime Kiln Park, which also has an informative, if tiny, interpretive center. Another thing my wife always enjoys is a visit to the small shop at Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm. Best have an EMT at hand though, in case your husband happens to see the price tags.
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Old Feb 28th, 2012, 01:46 PM
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As far as restaurants, Orcas has several good ones: Allium, Ship Bay Oyster House, Rose's Bistro and Madrona Grill, just off the top of my head. The cafe at the former West Sound Store(I think it has a new name now) is also good; I haven't been to the Olga Cafe in years, but it used to be good. Eastsound on Orcas has a lot of little boutique type shops...it's a very small town, but I've always found it fun to putter around in. I would pick either San Juan Island or Orcas to stay if you want to get the highest restaurant density.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2012, 06:45 AM
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You've picked a great place to visit during your summer trip. I'll admit, I'm particular to Orcas Island (my home), but all the islands (Lopez, Orcas, San Juan) have attractions. Wineries aren't a huge attraction in the islands, but San Juan & Lopez do have places to visit. The natural beauty of the islands and outdoor activities lead the way. Moran State Park on Orcas is truly a gem - lakes, hikes & great views.

I'm the Executive Director for the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce (http://www.orcasislandchamber.com) and my office would be happy to help you plan a trip the Orcas, or provide additional information about the islands. Have a great trip, Lance
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Old May 17th, 2012, 04:27 PM
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bookmarking for a summer trip...
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Old Jul 5th, 2012, 08:48 AM
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Just back from there and I concur; one winery on San Juan Island with a tasting room in downtown Friday Harbor as well as the one at the winery. Great Shiraz. Lots more wineries on Whidbey if you are heading back down to Seattle.

As for restaurant recs: Cask and Schooner and The Bluff get the most votes for San Juan Island (both in Friday Harbor). The Mansion Restaurant at Rosario Resort (on Orcas) is worth a visit to see the place (try to get there at 4pm for the organ concert) and the food was great.

Orcas Island Pottery (on Orcas) was fabulous; way way off the beaten path and worth the drive for it's top of the world location. And the pottery was varied and lovely.
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