Escape the hustle and bustle with a relaxing getaway and discover that there are a plethora of fun things to do this winter in the San Juan Islands.
Winter is known as the ‘slow season’ in the San Juan Islands. And while the potential for a winter storm may leave you hesitant to visit, this quaint region still has their welcome mat rolled out. In fact, winter can be one of the best times to plan your San Juan Islands getaway.
During the winter, you’ll have the hiking trails mostly to yourself. Shop owners have the freedom to linger and talk. Indulge in a spa date. Savor local wines. And, spend time outdoors without worrying about freezing temperatures — the San Juans have an average daily temp of 46-48 degrees December through January!
11 Unique Things to do in the San Juan Islands this Winter
Take a Winter Hike
One of the beauties of winter is how quiet and serene the local parks tend to be. It’s the perfect time to stroll at your own pace through the wind-swept grasslands on San Juan Island’s South Beach Hiking Trail. Visit Cascade Falls on Orcas Island to see how the water roars thanks to the late-season drizzle. Or explore one of these fabulous San Juan Island day hikes.
Throughout the San Juan Islands you’ll notice the rocky beaches are strewn with massive old-growth forest driftwood. Locals and visitors will often use these logs to construct rudimentary beach huts or makeshift chairs. The wood is also a reminder of the dramatic storms that crash onto the shores, as the waves bring the massive pieces from the ocean’s depth. A winter storm is a stunning sight to behold — especially if you select a hotel or resort with a waterfront view!
Want to give your feet a rest? Consider a trail ride on a beautiful horse through the quiet forests. Horseshu Ranch offers riding lessons and scenic forest trail rides, providing the perfect winter activity.
Wine Tasting at Doe Bay Wine Co.
In the heart of Eastsound, Orcas Island native, Cole Sisson and his wife Stephanie run Doe Bay Wine Co. The quaint wine shop offers an exquisite collection of carefully curated wine. The couple also frequently offers wine tastings — a guided exploration of their favorite picks that day.
Explore the Whale Museum
Founded in 1967 to study the region's beloved Southern Resident orcas, The Whale Museum is located in downtown Friday Harbor. It overlooks the marina, capitalizing on the view with a porthole window and binoculars. While visiting, you’ll also be able to learn about many of the other local inhabitants like seals and grey whales.
Free Organ Concerts at Rosario Resort
Rosario Resort’s historic Moran Mansion is beautiful in its own right. But it’s made even more so by the 1913 Aeolian pipe organ and 1900 Steinway grand piano. Saturdays during the winter discover the musical prowess of these two beautiful instruments during a free concert. Concerts are led by accomplished musician, author, and Rosario historian, Christian Peacock. They include both musical performances and a historic narrative.
Take a Bike Ride Around Lopez
Lopez Island is fondly known as ‘Slowpez,’ thanks to its leisurely pace — even by island standards. For bikers, the gently rolling topography and stunning water-front roads offer the ideal place for a ride.
Try and Escape from the Orcas Island Escape Room
This brilliant Harry Potter-inspired attraction is a fun and interactive 60-minute test of your wits. Participants enter the escape room in groups of four and use their problem-solving skills to answer riddles and find clues that will help them unlock their own escape!
San Juan Islands Museum of Art
The San Juan Islands Museum of Art (SJIMA) features rotating exhibitions in its three galleries. The theme of the exhibitions can range widely — allowing you to immerse yourself within regional and world-wide art that inspires you to think beyond yourself.
Enjoy a Steaming Bowl of Ramen
Tucked in a non-descript section of Lopez Village, the tiny Japanese eatery Setsunai is dishing up hearty bowls of ramen year-round. It’s not the kind of hearty goodness you would expect to find in a region where seafood rules, but the made-to-order bowls are out of this world.
Karaoke at the Lower Tavern
Want your island getaway to include some lively fun? Make sure to stop by Orcas Island’s The Lower Tavern on Friday nights where locals and visitors gather for a lively round of karaoke.
MORE FUN THINGS TO DO IN THE SAN JUANS
While dinner out and a dozen roses are nice, a quiet getaway is the ultimate in perfection. And, there's no better place to cuddle up with your someone special than in the San Juans!
In a variety of delectable flavors and sizes, Brown Bear Baking on Orcas Island serves pastries worthy of praise.
Love solving puzzles and riddles? Test your wits at Elusion — Orcas Island's escape room, where you'll have to solve your way to freedom.
There’s more to Rosario Resort than its picturesque setting. Moran Mansion is home to both a 1913 Aeolian pipe organ and a 1900 Steinway grand piano, where free public concerts are regularly offered.