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 and nifty museums. The Discovery Channel brought to life.
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.
Watch local marine life up close at the Spring St. Landing Aquarium, a 400-gallon saltwater tank displaying a variety of creatures such as sea cucumbers, tube worms, singing scallops, nudibranchs, sea stars, sea urchins and anemones. This is a great free attraction for kids. [more...]
The SJC Fairground is a multi-use event center with indoor rental facilities, group camping, RV sites and year round activities. The annual Fair in August draws thousands of visitors and is a sweet, small town county fair with an arts festival feel and major fun for the whole family! The 14-acre fairground rental facilities include a 10,000-square-foot exhibit hall for large events; 1,800-square-foot building for receptions, parties, meetings, concerts, etc.; seven RV sites with full hookup and group camping areas. [more...]
Come visit Friday Harbor's newest attraction for kids. Located in the heart of downtown; this happy and colorful indoor space is filled with creative and imaginative play areas, designed for ages 1 to 10. It is the perfect spot for kids to move, build, create, socialize and explore, while parents can relax, catch up with a friend and are always welcome to join in the fun. [more...]
Air-conditioned Paradise Lanes and Games Arcade has eight lanes of bowling, three pool tables, air hockey and arcade video games. We also are the only games arcade for the "under-21" set in the islands. [more...]
The Funhouse Commons, just a few blocks north of the Eastsound Village is a youth focused community center where you will find all sorts of fun activities all summer long including drop in day camps, art and crafts classes, supervised free play - daily, Friday night hangout for teens and much more! [more...]
Cascade Lake is the center of outdoor fun in Moran State Park. Paddle boat rentals, a swimming area, picnic shelters and three campgrounds to choose from give you plenty of relaxation time after hiking, birdwatching or horseback riding. A great place for kids, Cascade Lake has a 3-mile trail around the lake, a wooden bridge and a quiet lagoon for paddling and swimming. Purchase day passes at the park entrance and enter a world of natural beauty. [more...]
Experience the hidden back-country of Orcas Island on horseback. Explore an enchanting old-growth forest as you meander through grassy meadows and climb a mountain trail to the top of Mt. Pickett for a breathtaking view of the San Juan Islands. Orcas Island Trail Rides offers a wide range of authentic guided horseback adventures through old growth forest. Whether you have an hour or half a day, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned rider, we have the perfect adventure for you and your family. Ride through an old growth forest-the best ride in the Northwest. [more...]
Housed in an 1892 Odd Fellows Hall overlooking Friday Harbor, The Whale Museum is the local center for Salish Sea stewardship and research since 1979. Many early notable events took place at the Hall, including the year-long murder trial of Richard Straub, the only person ever executed in San Juan County. The courthouse also hosted the fiery orator, Billy Sunday, a proponent of prohibition; the day after his speech, the county council approved prohibition for San Juan County, previous to national passage of the 21st Amendment. Now you can see a young orca skeleton, watch free videos, and find treasures in the museum gift shop. Upstairs, visit the Gallery of Whales and learn about how you can Adopt an Orca to support the 80 Southern Resident orca whales that call Northwest waters home. [more...]