Fall in the San Juans offers a variety of fun things to do and see. These three Fall Getaway Itinerary Ideas focus on Orcas and San Juan Island. But, they only scratch the surface. Enjoy!
Breakfast – Doe Bay Café on Orcas Island
On the east side of Orcas Island at the edge of Doe Bay, sits the Doe Bay Café. This quaint restaurant is attached to the Bay Resort. It offers a full view of Doe Bay and the Salish Sea. From its own organic garden to its use of locally sourced proteins, the chefs are crafting dishes with the freshest ingredients. Breakfast items might include olive oil poached duck eggs or local sockeye gravlax (a Scandinavian style of dry-cured salmon) with sunny-side up eggs and whipped goat cheese.
Doe Bay Café – 107 Doe Bay Rd., Olga, WA
Explore – Poke around Eastsound on Orcas Island
Visit Eastsound’s collection of galleries and novelty shops. Stop by Darvill’s Bookstore to discover the carefully chosen selection of novels, biographies and more. If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, head to Kathryn Taylor Chocolates where the chocolates are handmade, the ingredients are predominantly local and the flavors vary widely including Douglas Fir and Blood Orange.
Darvill’s Bookstore – 296 Main St., Eastsound
Kathryn Taylor Chocolates – 109 North Beach Rd., Eastsound
Lunch – Mamie’s Café at the Ferry Landing on Orcas Island
Located at the Orcas Island Ferry Landing, Mamie’s Café is tucked within the Boardwalk on the Water. Grab lunch at their open cliff beer garden. It’s perched, just above the water. Or stay inside, where the view is still lovely, but the wind isn’t quite as crisp. Menu favorites include grilled salmon and battered halibut.
Mamie’s Café – 8292 Orcas Hill Rd., Orcas
Explore – Island Hoppin’ Brewery on Orcas Island
Head to the Island Hoppin’ Brewery tasting room where friends and owners Nate Schons, Becca Gray and Jim Parker are crafting small batch beers. Though their offerings change frequently, three constants can always be found including Kolch, a mild brew from Germany. This lower alcohol choice has the all-day drinking appeal of Pabst Blue Ribbon with a taste that should never be compared.
Island Hoppin’ Brewery – 33 Hope Lane, Eastsound
Breakfast – Rocky Bay Café in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island
This mom and pop breakfast joint may not be fancy, but they more than make up for it with friendly service and endless cups of steaming coffee. As the weather turns cooler, snag a seat next to their Amish fireplace. And, be sure to check out the installations from monthly-featured artist displayed. Their work is displayed on the Rocky Bay Café’s walls. Specials change frequently, but might include a bacon and Swiss omelet. Those who are gluten intolerant will also love their gluten free bread.
Rocky Bay Café – 225 Spring Street, Friday Harbor
Explore – Downtown Friday Harbor
Peruse Friday Harbor’s vast collection of art galleries. Check out Serendipity the Used Book Place where a small home has been transformed into a never-ending collection of used treasures. Stop by San Juan Island Cheese, the new island cheese shop where Thursday wine and cheese pairings bring together unique flavors. And, don’t forget to let out your inner kid at the Toy Box where fun is the name of the game.
Serendipity the Used Book Place - 223 A St., Friday Harbor
San Juan Island Cheese – 155 Nichols St., Friday Harbor
The Toy Box - 20 First St., Friday Harbor
Lunch – Market Chef
“Good food is life,” at the Market Chef where weekday lunches feature a variety of fresh salads, soups, and sandwiches. Daily specials have included curried tomato and vegetable soup, rock cod fish tacos, and copper river sockeye salmon sandwiches.
Market Chef – 225 “A” St., Friday Harbor
Explore – Friday Harbor’s History
Visit Friday Harbor’s Town Hall built in 1936. Wander through the San Juan Historical Museum where the island’s past is preserved. And, learn about the San Juan Islands local pods at the Whale Museum.
San Juan Historical Museum - 405 Price St., Friday Harbor
The Whale Museum – 62 First St. N, Friday Harbor
Dinner – Coho in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island
Sometimes restaurants with quaint settings miss the mark when it comes to the food. Coho, is not one. Located in the historic Craftsman House, chef Bill Messick is serving dishes equal to the stunning 1931 home in which he is cooking. His cuisine, Pacific Northwest with a touch of Mediterranean flair, is all about showcasing the local bounty from the San Juan Islands. Salmon, scallops, beef and pork are sourced from the Jones Family Farm on Lopez Island. Cheese comes from the nearby San Juan Island Cheese shop. A selection of local wines is available from San Juan Vineyards. This is an all local, all the time meal that won’t disappoint.
Coho Restaurant – 120 Nichols St., Friday Harbor
Breakfast – Lime Kiln Café in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island
Doughnuts at the Lime Kiln Café might just be the best in the Pacific Northwest. These cake like babies are certainly a far cry from your Krispy Kreme, national chain experience. This mom and pop joint makes theirs fresh daily in a variety of flavors, including cinnamon sugar, chocolate frosting, and maple glaze. Beyond the sugar-fried goodness, they dish up some savory options worth sitting down to enjoy. Sit bay the window for a view of the marina.
Lime Kiln Café – 248 Reuben Memorial Dr., Friday Harbor
Explore – San Juan Vineyard on San Juan Island
Head to the San Juan Vineyard where locally grown grapes are transformed into full-bodied wines. The vineyard’s tasting room, housed in one of the two remaining old schoolhouses in San Juan County, was built in 1895. At this historic setting, you can taste and learn about the island’s wine and its growing climate. Plus, be sure to say hello to Mona the camel who lives across the street. Why is there a camel in the San Juans? Because San Juan Island resident Corina King has a great affection for camels. (She spent three years in Egypt doing documentary work.) Her husband Steve was equally fascinated. So, when Mona needed a home in 2005, the couple purchased her.
San Juan Vineyard - 3136 Roche Harbor Rd., Friday Harbor
Lunch – Friday’s Crabhouse in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island
There’s something about eating seafood by the sea which just makes it taste better. During sunny days, the deck at Friday’s Crabhouse sits directly across the street from the ferry landing. It offers an unobstructed, open air view of the Friday Harbor Marina. On cooler afternoons, the water facing windows provide a warmer spot for enjoying their seafood selection of pan-fried oysters, crab packed salads, fish tacos and more.
Friday’s Crabhouse – 65 Front St., Friday Harbor
Explore – Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island
This 36-acre state park is considered one of the best places in the world to view whales from a land-based facility. Though not scientifically proven, it’s believed this is because the orcas like to herd fish against the cliffs on the west side of San Juan Island where they take a drastic plunge into the sea. The gem of the Lime Kiln State Park is the Lime Kiln Lighthouse. Constructed in 1919, it’s 17-mile beacon still shines today.
Lime Kiln State Park – 1567 Westside Rd., Friday Harbor
Explore some more – San Juan Island Sculpture Park
Located just outside Roche Harbor Resort, this 20-acre outdoor art gallery is home to more than 100 unique sculptures. Founded in 1998, the San Juan Island Sculpture Park introduces new works yearly. Displays are constructed out of a variety of materials including steel, rock and wood.
San Juan Island Sculpture Park – Roche Harbor Road in Roche Harbor
Dinner – McMillins in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island
Ideal for the celebratory dinner, McMillin’s at Roche Harbor has an island formal vibe. Best known for the prime rib – a 40-day-aged, dry rubbed, slow roasted affair sliced to order. Prepare yourself for two or three hours of indulging. Go slow. Order a drink or two. And, try to arrive pre-sunset. Their water facing windows overlooking the marina are the perfect place to watch the sun slip below the horizon.
McMillins - 248 Reuben Memorial Dr., Friday Harbor
Getting Around on the San Juan Islands
While each island offers bike and moped rentals, during the winter months, they aren’t the most enjoyable forms of transportation. These warmer options will help you get from Point A to Point B without being massively exposed to the elements.
On Orcas Island
Orcas Island Taxi – (360) 376 – 8294
New Orcas Taxi Tours, LLC – (360) 298 – 1639 and (360) 376 – 6668
Orcas Island Rental Cars & Vans – (360) 376 – 7433
On Lopez Island
Taxi – (360) 468 – 2905
Getting Between the Islands