Kids’ memories of a San Juan Islands vacation will last a lifetime. Think of the islands as nature’s theme park—fun on the water, tide pools and driftwood-strewn beaches for building forts, rocks and agates to collect, trails to explore, craft activities, skate parks, arts centers and nifty historical museums. Whale watching, kayaking, bicycling, hiking and visiting farms are all great family outings, but here are a few other ways local families like to have fun.
Moran State Park’s five fresh-water lakes include Cascade Lake, with special appeal for families—a sandy beach and designated swimming and play area. Rent a paddle boat if you’re feeling energetic, or cast a fishing line off the dock. Visit the salmon hatchery at the lake’s day-use area. Take a little hike and see a waterfall or circle around to hug an old-growth tree, or go horseback riding through the forest. Near Cascade Lake, there are also two pools on Orcas Island; Rosario Resort has an indoor lap pool at the spa, and two outdoor pools, one at the Marina, and one near the Mansion (21-and-over), where you can sit and sip a cocktail by the water.
Orcas Island’s biggest village is the takeoff point for nearby beaches to explore—Crescent Beach, Waterfront Park, or North Beach—and at Eastsound’s Buck Park kids will find a 15,000-square-foot, world-class skate park. The Funhouse Commons provides fun and educational activities and classes for children. The town’s bakeries, good library, and gift shops appeal to kids, and consider taking your lunch to the Village Green and relaxing in the shade of fruit trees.
Orcas hosts a great variety of summer camps for preschoolers to teens, from singing and soccer to sailing and theater. Check listings at orcasfamilyfun.com/special-events.
Once in a Blue Moon Farm
Call ahead to schedule a personalized tour of this working farm—feed chickens, alpacas, llamas, horses, goats and sheep. You can also gather eggs, collect flowers and herbs to take with you, sample fruit and help groom farm animals.
San Juan Island
Add an adrenaline kick to your adventure with the only public zip line experience in the islands. Zip San Juan zips you from platform to platform through the forest canopy, across an otter-inhabited lake, and over protected wetlands. Plan on about three hours, including transport to and from Friday Harbor. Ages 8 and up (minimum weight 60 pounds); under age 17 requires an adult along.
Skate Park & Playground
The San Juan County Fairgrounds has a skate park and a playground on the outskirts of town.
The historic Palace Theatre in downtown Friday Harbor shows first-run movies on its two screens, in summer usually geared toward young audiences—a great way to wind down after a busy day.
There are three pools to cool off in on San Juan Island, one at Earthbox Inn & Spa, one at the San Juan Fitness Club, and an outdoor, seasonal pool at Roche Harbor Resort.
The Family Resource Centre in Lopez Village offers a dynamic range of courses, activities and day camps throughout the year. Families can pick from a broad selection including sailing, kayaking and creative arts. For some quiet time and Internet access, check out Lopez Library. It’s one of the best and brightest libraries in the county, with a fully stocked children’s section. It’s a social center for the Lopez community.
There is a great new skate park on Lopez Island, right near the Village, and a pool at the Lopez Islander Resort - make sure to call the Islander before you go for availability and fees.