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Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
If you sometimes long for a time when life was simpler, more tranquil, and slower paced, you’ll be enchanted by Friday Harbor’s ambience—a charming, walkable seaport built on a hill leading up from the harbor ... small, friendly stores and restaurants ... a refreshing absence of fast-food chains ... a place where you’re likely to recognize your smiling grocery store clerk onstage at the community theater or in the band that plays Sundays at the Port, and where three cars at a stop sign is a traffic jam. But most of the coffee shops offer wireless, a number of restaurants boast world-class chefs, the Palace Theater shows first-run movies, and Smart cars have replaced horse-drawn buggies.
Arts & Music
From paintings and photographs to sculptures, fiber art and pottery, Friday Harbor is alive with art—and artists. The new Islands Museum of Art (IMA) shows world-class artists in a contemporary setting. You’ll see murals and tile mosaics by islanders on buildings and walls (check out the hardware store), and a stroll through the galleries, gift shops, and boutiques will give you a taste of the extraordinary variety of artwork created on this small island. San Juan Community Theatre and Island Stage Left put on a plethora of performing arts featuring multi-talented islanders.
In the summer, enjoy free live music at the Port on Fridays and Sundays, “Music on the Lawn” behind the San Juan Island Historical Museum on Wednesday evenings, and "Shakespeare Under the Stars" during July and August. Several restaurants feature live music, and many summer weekends offer a delightful range of island musicians performing at festivals, fairs and shows.
What’s your pleasure? Seafood, local farm fresh, Thai, Tex-Mex, vegetarian/health food, Italian, Chinese, pub fare, or good ol’ American diner food? Fine dining? Casual? Count on your palate being pleased and your taste buds titillated in Friday Harbor’s variety of restaurants, coffee shops and cafes, all within easy walking distance. And check out the farmers market at Brickworks Plaza. Many of the town’s eateries are on or overlook the water, so you can enjoy your meal and the view at the same time.
Want to settle into a cozy B&B? A modern motor inn? An elegant, small hotel? A water-view suite for a week? You’ll find a warm welcome in Friday Harbor at a variety of lodgings.
History & Culture
Check out The Whale Museum to find out about the local orca pods (every whale has a name) and local marine mammals (great gift shop), the San Juan Historical Museum (the town celebrated its centennial in 2009). Learn more about the fascinating history of the Friday Harbor waterfront, and how Friday Harbor got its name. Take a self-guided walking tour of historic Friday Harbor, which includes turn-of-the-century buildings, street names, churches—and even trees. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Friday Harbor one of its Dozen Distinctive Destinations in 2008.
In town you can also book whale/wildlife tours and sailboat or kayak excursions. Rent bicycles, mopeds, or three-wheeled scootcars, or catch a San Juan Transit bus with stops around the island along the San Juan Islands Scenic Byway route.