Spend Your Spring in the San Juan Islands

You can visit the San Juan Islands, Washington’s own island paradise, all year long! Keep reading for what exciting adventures await for you this spring!

(Photo Credit: Jim Maya)

Restaurants, Lodging, Shops

A Tasting Room for The Orcas Project
Doe Bay Wine Company is remodeling and refocusing to provide a dedicated area in Eastsound for wine tasting and educational wine experiences. With themes like Food & Wine Pairing, Wine 101 and Boutique Producers of the Northwest, this promises to be one of the most engaging evening activities in the islands. The Orcas Project are small-production, limited release wines made in collaboration between acclaimed winemakers and vineyards in the Pacific Northwest, featuring labels designed by Orcas Island artists. These are ‘get it while you can’ wines. https://www.doebaywinecompany.com/

(Photo Credit: Doe Bay Wine Company)

More Delicious Views from Friday Harbor House
The only thing that could make the views from Friday Harbor House better is more space to enjoy them. Construction on an expanded, upgraded outdoor deck at the restaurant at Friday Harbor House is on schedule to be completed by May, just in time for summer! The deck features comfortable seating, a fire pit, and an outdoor kitchen. With over twice as much available outdoor dining space at the restaurant, there will be plenty of room to revel in Friday Harbor House’s stunning San Juan Channel vistas and feast on Chef Jason Aldous’ delectable Northwest fare. https://www.fridayharborhouse.com/

(Photo Credit: Barbara Marrett)

ADA/Drive-up Comes to Lopez Farm Cottages & Camping
Three new year-round campsites have been added to the camping menu at Lopez Farm Cottages and Camping. The sites have their own sweet little camp building with a hot water shower, sink and flush toilet. The building exterior has a covered kitchen (microwave, coffee maker, and sink) picnic table, wood-burning fire ring and barbecue. All are designed to meet all the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Farm Cottage owners offer a 50% site discount for wheelchair-bound campers to encourage handicapped guests to enjoy an easy camping experience. Morning coffee is complimentary. Sites are suitable for cars, pickup trucks with camper shells and camper vans. No trailers or RVs due to space constraints. http://lopezfarmcottages.com/

(Photo Credit: Lopez Farm Cottages & Tent Camping)

Revamp at Roche Harbor Resort & Spa
The Roche Harbor Village is becoming more village-like every year with the recent addition of new upscale homes for rent by the resort. An organic market garden will soon supply the resort’s three restaurants with fresh, local vegetables, berries, and flowers. The historic Hotel de Haro enjoyed major renovation of the Presidential Suite (where President Theodore Roosevelt is rumored to have stayed) and Sunset Suite this winter. The majority of the hotel rooms have been refurbished and the historic miners’ cabins, condos, and McMillin Suites have all been refreshed recently as well. In April, the lovely new Courtyard Suite overlooking the Pavilion Courtyard will open. Trent Huntsman is McMillin’s Dining Room new sous chef, bringing years of experience in kitchens across the country. The new menu will provide a balance of classic dishes and iconic Northwest staples. https://www.rocheharbor.com/

(Photo Credit: Roche Harbor Resort)

Another Feather in Coho’s Cap
Join Coho Restaurant’s new executive chef, Tim Payne, for Kitchen Boot Camp! No planks, push-ups or powerlifting required, just the opportunity to have fun while learning the basics of cooking. Chef Tim will offer three classes on Sunday afternoons in spring—take one or all three. These small, intimate hands-on interactive sessions will demystify the hows and answer the all-important whys. On alternate Sundays in the spring, there will be pop-up dinners in the Garden Cafe at the Harrison House Suites, that will provide a remarkable Friday Harbor dining experience that you’ll talk about for years. Place yourself in the capable hands of Chef Tim for a four-course farm-to-table dinner. https://www.cohorestaurant.com/

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Forrer)

Sunday Brunch at Ursa Minor this Summer and on Mother’s Day
Expect a classic spread with a creative Ursa Minor twist. The preset menu possibilities may include crepes, yogurt, eggs, cured meats and pickles. Offering a creative agrarian northwest cuisine, Ursa Minor is a destination that is uniquely Lopez. Come enjoy an experience that reflects the idyllic island setting. Chef Nick Coffey works closely with local farmers, fishermen and foragers to offer a constantly evolving menu of inventive small plates, complimented by a unique list of natural wines. http://www.ursaminorlopez.com

(Photo Credit: Trevor Eiler)

‘Thyme’ for Goats
Since 1996, Island Thyme™ has been creating botanically-based skin and body care products in small batches from their farm and apothecary studio on Orcas Island. Essential oils, wild-crafted herbs, distillate waters and natural emollients like shea butter and jojoba oil are just a few of the muses that guide their original recipes. Now a small herd of goats has arrived at the farm. Goats’ milk soap will be a silky addition to the line this spring. https://www.islandthyme.com/

(Photo Credit: Shannon Borg)

Grand Openings

Time to be Juanderers™
Juanderers™ is a small design studio in Olga, Washington that fashions the allure of a big lifestyle brand. Starting this spring, these stylish island goods are exclusively available online. Weary travelers and loyal locals can rejoice in the convenience of scoring the perfect souvenir, or a bit of homegrown apparel, whenever and wherever they’d like. They’ve tirelessly toiled over their designs and have handpicked their apparel and merchandise. Plus, they’ve worked really hard to craft a fun and comprehensive online shopping experience. Most important: they’re on the Islands, for the Islands. They’ll split a dollar of every shirt that they sell three ways to help all islanders: whales, wildlife, and humans. https://juanderers.com/

(Photo Credit: Juanderers)

Tours, Concierge & Wedding Services

Salish Sea Tour Company
Salish Sea Tour Company will debut on Orcas Island this May. Featuring brand new, 12-person, custom Mercedes high-top vans with local tour guide/drivers. The morning tour will focus on the Island’s scenic beauty and artists. The afternoon tour will focus on the local food and beverage scene. Each tour will highlight four to five fascinating local businesses and sites. Several times a week, an early morning photo and coffee tour will take guests from Rosario Resort & Marina up to Mount Constitution to sip coffee, eat pastries and explore the view. From learning how to shuck oysters to picking out vegetables at farm stands, each tour will focus on the highlights but also the people and ideas behind them. https://www.salishseatourco.net/

(Photo Credit: Salish Sea Tour Co.)

The Isla Vida Group
The Isla Vida Group is a local travel and concierge company that specializes in enhancing your San Juan Islands travel experience. It is their goal to take the time to get to understand your style of travel, and then customize your itinerary to suit your tastes. Making your trip exceptional is about taking care of the details. Whether you’re a solo outdoor enthusiast, a couple seeking a romantic getaway, or on your way to wedding activities, a family vacation, business retreats and more, The Isla Vida Group is your go-to resource for stress-free travel planning.  http://theislavidagroup.com/

Founders Taryn Hall and Sarah Shaefer (Photo Credit: The Isla Vida Group)

Orcas Island Tours & Islands Weddings and Events
Didier Gincig has created a new tour business on Orcas Island for travelers visiting for a dream vacation, a wedding, a special event, or a family trip, the Orcas Island Tours.  A long-time islander-turned-local-guide will share the best places on the island, whether it’s in nature, in town, or even a tour of the breweries and best drinking spots. They will also help with logistics for couples who are coming to the Islands to be married. Islands Weddings and Events will coordinate a wedding venue, caterer, wedding cake, flowers, DJ, photographer, videographer, officiating services, and even help with lodging, transportation, and all that is needed for a successful wedding for all the visiting guests.
https://orcasislandtours.com/
https://islandsweddingsandevents.com/

(Photo Credit: Island Weddings and Events)

New Events, Exhibits, and Activities

Imogen Cunningham featured in 2018 Women’s Exhibit Series at SJIMA
On display at the San Juan Island Museum of Art from February 17 – May 7, 2018, are three exhibits belonging to Part I of the Museum’s 2018 theme The Female Gaze: Woman as Visionary and Creator. Through My Lens, in the north gallery, focuses on Cunningham’s “female gaze,” offering a look at the diversity of men of her time. It spans a seven-decade career and offers a contemporary perspective on the native Northwest artist’s life. Substrate: Underlying Currents in the Nichols gallery, features the work of three Orcas Island women artists. Their work in paper, wax, ceramics, and ink explores the intricate often hidden complexities of nature. Masricani is in the atrium, the work of Egyptian-American sculptor Yasmine Kasem addresses the perception of identity through trans-cultural eyes. https://sjima.org/

Conversations with Gee’s Bend at SJIMA
On display at San Juan Islands Museum of Art from May 25th – September 3, 2018, Part II of the Museum’s 2018 theme The Female Gaze. Fifteen years ago an astounding exhibit of quilts made by women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama toured the country. These women, descendants of West African slaves, inspired artists across the country to speak through their work. Exhibiting artists in this show work in conventional and unconventional materials across a variety of media, some traditional, some unconventional. What they all have in common is a particular aesthetic, a direct response to the amazing Gee’s Bend quilts, where artists inspire artists.  https://sjima.org/conversations-with-gees-bend/

(Photo Credit: San Juan Islands Museum of Art)

Field of Blues
The Orcas Center Summer Concert Series takes music lovers outdoors. What could be better than the landscape of Orcas Island combined with a concert of your favorite music? “Field of Blues,” in partnership with Mt. Baker Farm, is a new summer outdoor music series that celebrates a variety of musical genres that will attract music lovers across all demographics. https://orcascenter.org/upcoming-events/

(Photo Credit: Orcas Center)

Turn Island Wildlife Refuge Kayak Tour
Just five minutes from Friday Harbor, the Turn Island Wildlife Refuge Kayak Tour is a new half-day guided kayak trip offers a fantastic few hours of paddling, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Spend the morning exploring the secret bays and paddling the protected waters of Griffin Bay and Turn Island National Wildlife Refuge. Deep forest, quiet beaches, mountain views and plenty of wildlife highlight this half-day adventure. San Juan Kayak Expeditions has been sea kayaking here since 1980, and it shows in their knowledge of the “secret places” to go! This trip is reminiscent of sea kayaking in days past. https://www.sanjuankayak.com/

(Photo Credit: San Juan Kayak Expeditions)

Awards and Anniversaries

Good Food Award for Girl Meets Dirt
Girl Meets Dirt on Orcas Island is well known for its archipelago preserves with heirloom varietal fruits and fresh herbs. Now their new line of shrubs is gaining recognition, with the Ruby Spiced Apple Shrub winning a 2018 Good Food Award. Tart Everest crabapples are juiced and accessorized with star anise, cinnamon and black pepper for a warm spice especially suited for warm days and cold, dark rum. https://www.girlmeetsdirt.com/

(Photo Credit: Girl Meets Dirt)

James Beard for Blackinton
Orcas Island Chef Jay Blackinton, who daringly split his locavore haven Hogstone’s Wood Oven into two restaurants last year with the advent of Aelder, is once again a semifinalist for the 2018 James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year. Aelder’s focus is on a seasonal tasting menu while Hogstone’s is an outdoor venue focused on pizza, salad, and more rustic fare.  http://www.hogstone.com/aelder

(Photo Credit: Hogstone)

West Beach Resort turns 80
West Beach Resort
, a rustic getaway on the west side of Orcas Island, celebrates 80 years as a destination resort with a rebuilt marina and brand-new playground.
http://www.westbeachresort.com/

(Photo Credit: Monica Bennett)

Kirk House Honored by TripAdvisor
Kirk House Bed and Breakfast
in Friday Harbor has been recognized in the B&Bs and Inns category of the 2018 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards for Hotels, ranking #20 out of 25 in the United States. The 1907 Craftsman style house exudes turn-of-the-century charm and is surrounded by lovely gardens with serene seating areas. http://www.kirkhouse.net/

(Photo Credit: The Kirk House B & B)

New Owners as Vic’s Drive Inn turns 60
Cheeseburgers and milkshakes, a classic American combination popular since the days of poodle skirts and sock hops, are go-to menu items at Vic’s Drive Inn in Friday Harbor. Vic’s has been proudly serving the San Juan Islands since 1958. While the beloved Drive Inn (that isn’t a drive-up) has been spruced up, it hasn’t lost its 50’s charm. It’s where the locals go for an affordable meal and a great burger!
https://www.visitsanjuans.com/members/vics-drive-inn

(Photo Credit: Vic’s Drive Inn)

Wolf Hollow Celebrates 35 Years of Wildlife Rehab
Since it was founded in 1982, Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehab Center on San Juan Island has provided care for over 16,000 injured and orphaned wild animals, with the aim of releasing them back into the wild. Hummingbirds, swallows, woodpeckers, eagles, owls, herons, snakes, raccoons, deer and seals are just a few of the more than 200 species of wildlife that have been cared for at Wolf Hollow. http://wolfhollowwildlife.org/

(Photo Credit: Wolf Hollow Wildlife Refuge)

Lime Kiln Lighthouse turns 100 in 2019
Likely the most photographed object in the San Juan Islands, the photogenic Lime Kiln Lighthouse will celebrate its centennial with special events, tours, and exhibits. Located at Lime Kiln Point State Park on the west side of San Juan Island, AKA Whale Watch Park, it’s one of the best areas in the world to see orca whales from shore.
https://www.sanjuanjournal.com/life/lime-kiln-lighthouse-turns-100

(Photo Credit: Mark Gardner)

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