The dining scene plays a huge role in protecting and promoting the pristine natural beauty of the San Juan Islands, accessible via ferry out of Anacortes. The food is all about local, seasonal, and sustainable produce, and I quickly discovered that farm-to-table restaurants dominate the islands’ culinary landscape.
I recommend getting hands-on, whether it's with stops at farmers markets (seasonal Saturdays in Friday Harbor) or shellfish farms (Westcott Bay Shellfish). If you’re looking to fill your stomach with some of the freshest seafood, organic herbs, and fine wines, this is how I’d spend my time eating around the San Juan Islands in three days.
Expect showers; and bring plenty of layers to wrap up warm.
If you only have time for one thing, make it the Orcas Project wine tasting room.
Day one, begin with delicious baked goods and fresh coffee from Bakery San Juan in Friday Harbor. You'll be ready to get on the water and head out into the San Juan and Gulf islands to search for orca, humpback, gray, and minke whales. Led by naturalist guides and captains, this tour embarks from Eastsound, and you can add fishing and kayaking depending on your favorite water activity.
Later, learn about the Orcas Project, a collaboration between winemakers in the Pacific Northwest and local artists in Eastsound. Wine flights are paired with cheese boards at the venue that's been featured in Seattle Magazine and the New York Times.
Leave the islands via ferry and drive to Bellingham to hit the mountain trails around Galbraith. The forest air will leave you feeling invigorated as you ride through many miles of singletrack, with views of Bellingham Bay, Chuckanut Mountains, and Canadian mountains. The Chuckanut Bay Distillery Tour in Bellingham is fitting after a hard day of riding.
Or, stay on the island and have a hearty lunch at Rocky Bay Cafe in Friday Harbor or Brown Bear Baking in Eastsound. From Eastsound, get on board a beautifully restored 1935 John Alden motor yacht and spend the afternoon relaxing in the tranquility of the San Juan waters. Enjoy light refreshments while the captain regales you with myths and tales of the high seas.
On day three make it a mission to taste the best culinary delights the islands have to offer. On Orcas Island, try Island Skillet, Doe Bay Cafe, and Hogstone's Wood Oven. On San Juan, there's Duck Soup, Madrona Bar & Grill, and Mike's Cafe and Wine Bar. Rent a bike to cover as much ground as possible. Friday Harbor Espresso and Salty Fox Cafe are great pit stops for treats and brews as you tour.
In the evening, get one last glimpse of the beautiful natural scenery with a sunset canopy climb on Lopez Island. Afterwards, rappel back down under the moonlight.