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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

Topic: san juan islands

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February 5, 2015 at 4:55 PM

One-month anniversary: Reservations are new on San Juan ferry runs

A ferry departs the Anacortes terminal. (photo by Maddie Meyer / The Seattle Times) Contemplating a summer sojourn to the San Juan Islands? Smile. The days of seemingly endless waits for a ferry may be over. A month into Washington State Ferries’ new Save a Spot reservation system for San Juans ferry runs, a recent ferry-system report…

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Comments | More in San Juan Islands, Washington State Ferries | Topics: ferry reservations, San Juan ferry, San Juan ferry reservations

November 27, 2014 at 6:31 AM

San Juans welcome holidays with new art museum (and bright lights)

An artist’s rendering of the new San Juan Islands Museum of Art, opening December 5 in Friday Harbor. Need a pre-Christmas getaway to rest up after a big Thanksgiving family gathering? The San Juan Islands have a full slate of holiday events, with an added cultural bonus: opening of a shiny new art museum in Friday…

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Comments | More in Northwest, Washington state, weekend getaways | Topics: friday harbor holidays, holiday events, san juan islands

July 2, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Stuck waiting for a San Juans ferry? Take a lovely waterfront walk

A sculpture called "Cormorant Drying Her Wings" stands along the boardwalk near the Anacortes ferry terminal (in background).  (Kristin Jackson photo / The Seattle Times)

A sculpture called “Cormorant Drying Her Wings” stands along the trail  near the Anacortes ferry terminal (in background).
(Kristin Jackson photo / The Seattle Times)

Going to the San Juan Islands? You can get stuck in the ferry line, sometimes for hours,  on summer weekends.

I had a couple hours to kill at the Anacortes ferry terminal recently after missing a ferry to Orcas Island. Bored with sitting in the car,  I scrambled down a narrow dirt path to the beach just below the vehicle lanes (Washington State Ferries hasn’t been able to  build a proper trail yet). 

It’s a rocky, nice little beach where families waiting for the ferries play. But what I really enjoyed is a nearby new boardwalk and gravel pathway that meander through

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Comments | More in Ferries, Northwest | Topics: Anacortes ferry terminal, Guemes Channel Trail, san juan islands

May 22, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Getting to the San Juan Islands car-free

 

Hop on  the shuttle bus, which meets the ferries, to get  around San Juan Island or Orcas. (Photo courtesy of San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau.)

Hop on the shuttle bus, which meets the ferries, to get around San Juan Island or Orcas. (Photo courtesy of San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau.)

If you’ve taken a car to the San Juan Islands in summer, you’ve probably sat and fumed in the long ferry line, especially on weekends.

Here are some ways to avoid the crush by going to, and getting around, the bucolic Washington islands car-free for the summer season. (Or for those who need or want to take their cars, vehicle reservations may be on the way, possibly starting in the fall/winter of 2014.)

Take the island bus. Walk on the ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island or Orcas Island, and walk off onto a  shuttle bus, called the “Scenic Byway Explorer”  that meets ferries at the terminals on both islands. The bus shuttles to popular spots on both islands with a hop-on, hop-off service. There are three routes on San Juan Island and one on Orcas Island. Fares range

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Comments | More in Northwest | Topics: Clipper Vacations, ferry reservations, Kenmore Air

April 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM

May is a month of history events in the San Juans — with a new small cruise ship to take you there

Want to take an evening walk to the haunted spots of Friday Harbor? Maybe take a guided tour of Roche Harbor and the founding father’s quirky mausoleum in the fashion of a Greek ruin?

Saloon Best is known today as the Blue Water Bar and Grill. Built about 1874, it is the oldest building in Friday Harbor. (photo courtesy University of Washington Archives)

Saloon Best, known today as the Blue Water Bar and Grill, is among sights on the Historic Downtown Friday Harbor walk. Built about 1874, it is the oldest building in town. (photo courtesy University of Washington Archives)

Free guided walks every weekend in May are among offerings in the San Juan Islands as part of national Preservation Month, designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service to celebrate history and historic places. In the San Juans, they’ve declared it Heritage Month.

Here’s what’s on the calendar:

SAN JUAN ISLAND

  • May 4: Historic Downtown Friday Harbor walk, 10 a.m. from Memorial Park, Front and Spring streets.
  • May 5-11: Bloom Week, concluding with
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Comments | Topics: American Cruise Lines, Friday Harbor, heritage

March 26, 2013 at 4:40 PM

San Juans are flavor-of-month as TripAdvisor jumps on bandwagon

Cattle Point lighthouse is among scenic spots on San Juan Island, named best island in America on TripAdvisor. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

Cattle Point lighthouse is among scenic spots on San Juan Island, named best island in America on TripAdvisor. The lighthouse is also part of a new national monument created this week. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

Better book now if you plan to visit the San Juan Islands this year.

Monday, President Obama granted a long-held wish of many San Juan Islands advocates and created a San Juan Islands National Monument, shining a bright national spotlight on Washington’s favorite archipelago. Now comes another pop in the news cycle, and it’s no weasel: TripAdvisor, everybody’s go-to travel-review website, announced that San Juan Island has gotten the nod from its users as the best island in America.

And it’s a global honor, too: San Juan Island, the home to Friday Harbor, the Pig War, Mona the camel and the reputed world’s best whale-watching park (Lime Kiln Point State Park), is ranked fourth island in the world in the same Travelers’ Choice awards. (Ambergris Cay in Belize, St. John in the Virgin Islands, and Bora Bora were No. 1 through 3, so don’t cry too hard in your beer, all you Friday Harbor Rotarians.)

Here’s what TripAdvisor had to say about San Juan:

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Comments | Topics: Friday Harbor, Mona the camel, san juan island

March 22, 2013 at 5:48 PM

National Monument will protect Cattle Point, Turn Point, other San Juan Islands treasures

Big news if you love the San Juan Islands: Word is that President Obama on Monday will order the creation of a San Juan Islands National Monument, which will give permanent protection to some of the prettiest and most treasured spots in the archipelago — essentially all island sites under the auspices of the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Turn Point light station on Stuart Island will become part of the new national monument. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

Turn Point light station on Stuart Island will become part of the new national monument. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

On ferry-served islands, that includes soul-soothing scenery such as San Juan Island’s Cattle Point lighthouse, a lonely sentry at the windswept edge of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Lopez Island landmark of Chadwick Hill, where I’ve counted dozens of turkey vultures soaring on updrafts above gorgeous little Watmough Bight, a favorite saltwater hidey-hole for boaters with a hermit gene.

Speaking of hermit boaters, other favorite island locales that will be protected forever include

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Comments | Topics: cattle point, chadwick hill, patos island

February 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Have a whale of a Valentine’s Day at Friday Harbor museum

If you love whales so much that Valentine’s Day makes you feel like studying orca mating behavior, maybe you should head for Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands on Thursday. The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor reopens with new exhibits on Valentine’s Day. (photo by Greg Gilbert / Seattle Times files) The popular Whale Museum…

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Comments | Topics: Friday Harbor, orca, san juan islands