San Juan Island Washington: Plan your vacation with details about San Juan Island, attractions, hotels, restaurants, info, history, and photos.
San Juan Island, population 6,894, is the second-largest, but the island with the highest population in the San Juan Islands Washington archipelago. The town of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island WA holds the county seat for San Juan County as well as one third of the island’s population. Friday Harbor is the only incorporated town of the islands.
There is plenty to do within walking distance, if you arrive in Friday Harbor by ferry. Personal boats are welcome at the marina and personal aircraft are welcome at Friday Harbor airport. Friday Harbor marina and Friday Harbor airport are both US Customs Ports of Entry; Canadians welcome! (Proper travel documents necessary.)
Unless you have come via ferry in your own vehicle, there are several additional options you can take advantage of in order to get around and see the sights:
Rent a Car: Contact local dealership M&W Auto if you would like to rent a car in Friday Harbor for a few hours or several days. You can also add a folding bike, lock and helmet to your car rental to aid in exploring the island. (https://www.sanjuanauto.com/car-rental-friday-harbor-san-juan-island)
Susie’s Mopeds rents all kinds of fun vehicles for cruising around the island, including mopeds, electric bikes, and “scoot coupes.” Try something new to enhance your adventure on San Juan Island Washingon! http://www.susiesmopeds.com
San Juan Transit offers a limited fixed-route service between Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor, as well as guided tours around the island. http://sanjuantransit.com/
San Juan Taxi and Tours is "Friday Harbor's only 24/7 taxi service." Additionally, you can charter an island tour for small or larger groups.
San Juan Island is a part of the San Juan Islands of Washington State, which also include these main islands:
A side trip to the San Juans while you're visiting the Olympic Peninsula is very doable. Plus, if shopping and whale watching are important to you, consider a visit to San Juan Island.
Port Angeles WA is 108 miles (174 km) from San Juan Island. Getting there will most likely require two ferries, one ferrying you from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island, and one ferrying you from Anacortes to San Juan Island. The estimated transit time is approximately 4 and a half hours, depending on ferry wait times.
The San Juan Islands local tourism website may also be helpful to you.
So much stuff to do on San Juan Island!
There's beautiful nature through which to stroll, bike, kayak, or hike. History comes to life in San Juan's two historical parks. Or, take a zip line adventure day trip for a different perspective on life. There's fine art galleries and local fiber arts by multiple artists and the local alpaca farm. There's a summertime Farmer's Market that is worth a visit.
See San Juan Islands Vacation for descriptions and links to most of the attractions on all the main islands in the San Juan archipelago.
Keep reading for details on museums, theatre, and the many fine arts and other shopping opportunities on San Juan Island!
The Whale Museum
This museum may be small but it contains a wealth of information about the whales that make San Juan Island Washington so popular. From educational movies to recordings of whale vocalizations, get ready to be impressed by these majestic mammals of the sea! Appropriate for all ages. The interactive exhibits will captivate your attention and you’re sure to leave with a better understanding of how humans are impacting whale communities. Maybe you’ll choose to adopt an orca while you’re there!
San Juan Islands Museum of Art
540 Spring St, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250
Winter Hours (Oct 1 – Apr 30): Fri-Mon 11-5p
Summer Hours (May 1 – Sep 30): Thur-Mon 11a-6p
Admission: Adults $10; 18 and under are free.
San Juan Historical Society & Museum
425 Price St, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250-9809
Hours: Jul-Sep Tue-Sat 10a-2p, seasonally (Oct-May, open by appointment, June Thur-Sat). San Juan Historical Museum communicates the stories of the people of San Juan Island.
Island Stage Left
Island Stage Left is a well-received, non profit theatre company in Friday Harbor that stages high quality theatre productions. See details at their website.
270 Spring St, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250-7254
Hours: Every day, 10a - 5p
Island Studios is filled with a variety of fine arts and crafts made by local artists. Beautiful, unique, whimsical. Find a special keepsake to remember your time at San Juan Island.
315 Argyle Ave, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250
Hours: Mon, Thurs, Fri 10a-5:50p, Sat 10a-4p
Features a rotating collection of fine art from the best artists of the Pacific Northwest.
Arctic Raven Gallery
130 1st St S, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250-8324
Native American themed arts and hand-made artisanal crafts. They bring to the public native art from the source, including the local Pacific Northwest tribes such as Makah, Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Salish, and Kwaguilth, and from as far away as the Inuit, Inupiak, and Yup’ik natives of the far north. “We ship to anywhere in the world.”
Harbor Song Art Gallery
180 1st St S, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250-8324
Art pieces by Tom and Mary Garrels.
Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm and Country Store
3501 W Valley Road, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250-9759
Hours: 10a-5p every day April – October; 11a-4p daily Nov – March.
80 acre farm hosting 70 alpacas in a bucolic setting amongst pastures and massive oaks. The Country Store features alpaca-related goods such as sweaters, coats, caps, and toys.
Pelindaba Lavender Friday Harbor
150 First St, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Hours: Every day 9:30a-5p
Friday Harbor Chocolates
255 Spring St, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Summer Hours: 11a-6p every day
Winter Hours: 11a-5p Thurs-Tues
Island Wine Company
2 Cannery Landing, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Hours: Every day 10-5pm
San Juan Island Farmers Market
Located in the Brickworks, 150 Nichols St, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
“Quaint, lots of character.” 50 vendors of all sorts, from food to arts and crafts, to services and local community organizations. “The market exists to provide an outlet for agricultural products that are grown, harvested, or processed in San Juan County.”
So many opportunities to browse highly unique shops, and so little time! For even more shopping possibilities, consult the San Juan Island Tourism Website, which will also provide more choices in restaurants and lodging (below) than we can here.
Hungry? Check out some of these popular dining spots on San Juan Island Washington.
Backdoor Kitchen & Catering
400 A St. Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250
Hours: Wed-Sun: 5p-9p; Mon 11:30a-2:30p; Tue closed
Vegetarian friendly with gluten-free options. This restaurant with its warm, welcoming atmosphere, is tucked out of the way. Offers outdoor seating if you choose.
McMillin’s Dining Room
248 Reuben Memorial Dr., Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250
Hours: Temporarily closed until May 8, 2020
Located in Roche Harbor at the Roche Harbor Resort. Enjoy generous portions of fresh seafood and local ingredients with a great view!
225 A St., Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Market Chef Facebook Page
Hours: Monday-Friday 10a-4p; closed Sat and Sun
In their words: "Everything is fresh, everything is from scratch. Locally grown, seasonal ingredients." I absolutely loved their fish and veggies, enjoyed in their outdoor patio just a stone's throw from the ferry.
San Juan Bistro
155 Nichols St, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250-9548
Hours: Tues-Sat 11a-3p, closed Sun-Mon
Sandwiches and salads, and plenty of cheese.
Rocky Bay Cafe
225 Spring St, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250-7254
Hours: Every day 7a - 2p
Nothing beats a soft pillow at the end of a fun-filled day. Check out these highly rated, popular places to stay in San Juan Island Washington.
Earthbox Inn & Spa
410 Spring St. Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250-7230
Perfect location if you don’t have your own wheels. Walking distance from Friday Harbor, and they provide complementary use of bikes to aid in your island exploration! Pet friendly.
1016 Guard St. Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA 98250-9240
15 minutes away from downtown Friday Harbor, highly-rated customer service.
Free Horse Farm
215 Crow Valley Ln, Friday Harbor WA 98250
Stay in your tent, or in their teepee or farmhouse room.
Sweet Earth Farm
16 Sweet Earth Ln, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Located in the northwest of San Juan Island, where you can "glamp" in style in canvas-sided tents. While you're there, pull a few weeds, learn about regenerative agriculture, or pet the farm animals.
San Juan Island was occupied by Native Americans for thousands of years. Some arrived seasonally for fishing while others, such as the Lummi and other Coast Salish people groups, established year-round villages on the north side of the island.
The island’s name, San Juan Island, is derived from explorer Francisco de Eliza’s sponsor: Juan Vicente de Güemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo. (Yikes, how many names and titles do you have?!?) Eliza’s exploration occurred in 1791 and although American explorer Charles Wilkes later attempted to rename the island Rodgers Island, the Spanish name stuck and became official.
San Juan Island initially attracted British trappers as well as Americans who arrived after unsuccessfully searching for gold in Canada’s Caribou country. Abundant salmon fishing and as well as fur trading eventually led the Hudson’s Bay Company to claim possession of the island in 1845.
They built a salmon-curing station in 1851 and in 1853 the Hudson’s Bay Company built permanent buildings on San Juan Island Washington, establishing a sheep farm called Belle Vue Farm. Many roads on San Juan Island originated with sheep runs, cut by Hudson’s Bay Company workers.
That same year, the United States claimed possession of San Juan Island. After the Pig War boundary dispute of 1859, the island was under joint military occupation until 1872, when the island was ruled to be under American possession. Visit San Juan Island National Historical Park and explore the old English Camp buildings at the north end of the island and the American Camp at the south end.
Whether you're a local who has lived here for years, or you've come as a visitor to our area, we'd love to hear from you! Do you have a great story or an interesting experience while in the San Juans? What was your means of transportation? And what about reviews? Did you take any exceptional photos taken during your travels around the San Juan Islands? Please, share your stories and photos with us!
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