San Juan Islands
40 Spring St., Friday Harbor
Everyone comes to the San Juans for the gorgeous landscape, and there’s probably no better way to see it than by bike, which is fast enough to cover serious ground, but slow enough to take in the drama of it all. Terratrek handles the bookings and/or campsites (depending on your trip) and provides kayaks at key moments, so you can also explore the marine environment up close.
45 Hawthorne Ln., Friday Harbor
The cool thing about Pelindaba (besides, um, that it’s a lavender farm) is that the owners are outspoken community members, advocating for organic, responsible cultivation of the San Juan Islands. When you visit, you can walk through the fields before picking up some soap or lavender oil, which is all made on-site—there’s lavender lemonade for the kiddos, too.
1 Front St., Friday Harbor
Tops’l is right next door to the local docks, so the chefs visit them daily to pick up the freshest seafood around. In addition to the classic crab, salmon, and cod, they’re expert at handling some of the area’s more unusual catches, like uni and sea cucumbers.
The Place Restaurant & Bar
1 Spring St., Friday Harbor
This charming restaurant is positioned right along the harbor, so ask for a window table and enjoy the view of the water and surrounding islands while you eat. The menu is packed with local, organic produce and sustainably harvested seafood from the harbor.
Girl Meets Dirt
208 Enchanted Forest Rd., Eastsound
Girl Meets Dirt’s traditional preserves are a beautiful homage to Orcas Island’s unique history of orcharding. Founder Audra Lawlor moved to her “farmette” after leaving a Wall Street job in the downturn, and hasn’t looked back since. You can pick up her preserves (all made with island fruits) at gourmet shops around the country, but she reserves the small-batch specialty stuff for the island. The shop is open weekdays from 9am-5pm, but you can also call ahead to arrange a tasting—the jams make great souvenirs, and she also sells a gorgeous little selection of home goods like hammered copper pots and wooden serving boards, which are also made locally.
Griffin Bay Bookstore
155 Spring St., Friday Harbor
Nestled into adorable Friday Harbor and identified by a gold-lettered sign, Griffin Bay Books is every bit the small town bookstore. There’s a cute coffee shop inside, and it’s a great place to hide out if there’s unpredictable weather.
Friday Harbor House
130 W. St., Friday Harbor
Accommodations in the San Juans are notoriously rustic, but if camping’s not your jam, book a room here. Friday Harbor House has simply outfitted rooms that center around the gorgeous view of the bay that you’ll have right off the porch. They also have a lovely little restaurant and easy walking access to this quaint fishing town.
Leanto operates several campsites on Orcas Island, each one outfitted with a canvas lean-to plus a real mattress, bed, and picnic table, with wool blankets and checkered tablecloths that look straight out of Moonrise Kingdom. The result? All of the good parts of camping (remote landscape, crackling fire, fresh air, family bonding) without any of the tiresome planning and packing.
San Juan Islands
By taking a no-nonsense scientific approach to relationships, Drs. John and Julie Gottman are able to identify what works and what doesn't so that couples can create true intimacy, strong friendship, manage conflict, and support a shared vision for their future. During the Art and Science of Love weekend workshops that happen all around the country, attendees are introduced to the nine elements of healthy coupledom, which the Gottman's call the Sound Relationship House. It reads like a road map to happily ever after if you're willing to do the work. They also offer intensive workshops at their own home in the San Juan Islands—we've heard that couples arrive on the brink of divorce, and leave more in love than ever.
Four Winds Westward Ho
286 Four Winds Rd., Orcas Island
One of the most gorgeous camps we've ever seen, Four Winds Westward Ho is nestled among the San Juan Islands in the northwest corner of Washington State. This camp's roots date back to 1927, which means there are plenty of enduring traditions. All campers wear a uniform and gather regularly in front of the main lodge's fire to sing songs, play music, and swap stories. Not surprisingly, water sports are big here. Four Winds owns its own sixty-two-foot yawl, The Carlyn, which takes campers on day and overnight sails. Land activities include archery, basketball, pickleball, woodcarving, poetry, and gardening. For girls and boys, ages seven to eighteen, for four weeks; there's also a junior session, which is a one-week trial.