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.
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 town’s ice cream shops, 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.
The Funhouse Commons
If kids need an indoor break, check out The Funhouse Discovery Center in Eastsound for hands-on interactive exhibits about science, sports, geography, music, history and the human body. Plus, find a pitching cage with speed gun, an art studio, a recording studio with musical instruments, a video production room, a climbing wall and computers to surf the net or check email or Facebook. Summer hours: Wed.–Sat., 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.; fall/winter hours: Mon.–Fri., 3:00–5:30 p.m. Take at look online at thefunhouse.org
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.
Right Place Pottery
Orcas is famous for it arts community and there are opportunities to explore this at the Right Place Pottery. Here Trudy Erwin gives pottery classes to adults and children; get the hang of a potters wheel then return later to pick up your crafts.
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.
Orcas Island Trail Rides
Sign up for guided horseback trail rides.
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.
The San Juan County Fair
An easy walk from downtown Friday Harbor, the county fair in mid-August offers youngsters a host of treats, from 4-H exhibits and horse racing to rides, live music, booths, and crafts activities. Traditional elephant ears, hamburgers, and hot dogs, along with local vendors offering locally-produced foods and confections -- Lopez ice cream and homemade pie are favorites.
The Whale Museum
Famed for the orca whales that travel its waters, San Juan Island is the natural host for a lot of whale and marine life research. Among these, The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor has colorful displays, a loop video, and a gift shop full of kid-enticing souvenirs. During summer, The Whale Museum hosts educational, overnight marine adventures called “Pod Nods” which visiting children are welcome to attend.
Skate Park & Playground
The San Juan County Fairgrounds has a skate park and a playground on the outskirts of town.
Paradise Lanes in downtown Friday Harbor offers bowling and arcade games year round.
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.
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.
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 one of Moran State Park. 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. [more...]
The Funhouse is part kid's museum, part youth center that fosters educational play through hands-on learning experiences incorporating science, technology, music and art. Fun and learning encouraged through kid-friendly science exhibits, complete audio and video production studios, a computer lab, a library containing 800 educational films, a pitching cage, an art studio, a climbing wall, and DSL computers to surf the Net or check e-mail. The facility also provides video pods for viewing movies and a gaming area with pool tables. [more...]
The Whale Museum promotes stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research. Visit us in our historic building in downtown Friday Harbor, only three blocks from the ferry landing. See our fun and educational exhibits about whales, watch free videos, and shop in our store, which features marine mammal art and gifts. Guided and unguided tours are available. Events: Marine Naturalist Training in March, Orca Fest in May, Pod Nods in July and August, Sailing on The Adventuress in late summer. [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...]
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...]