10 Ways to Add Romance to Your Winter Getaway to the San Juan Islands
Quiet beaches, tranquil forests and fireside dining make the San Juans an easy way to decaffeinate and reconnect with nature
1. Go storm-watching along rocky shorelines
Each island - Lopez, Orcas and San Juan - have some of the most beautiful beaches in the northwest - and some of them are amazing places to watch big waves and feel the salt spray on your face. In the San Juan Island National Historical Park, South Beach's two-mile long strand scattered with old-growth driftwood is a favorite of storm-watchers who love to watch the waves roll in. At Lime Kiln Point State Park, the rocky waterfront sends huge waves spraying high along the shoreline, with a historic lighthouse flashing a warning to passing ships since 1919, with electricity operating the light since 1962. On Orcas, sit on the cliffs above Point Doughty State Park or Obstruction Pass State Park to see the waves crash on the beach.
2. Hike and bike a quiet forest
Only in winter, you can mountain bike in Moran State Park. In the summer, the trails are reserved for hikers, but in winter, the park is silent and tranquil, and you can ride the wide, soft pathways and steep, windy trails among old-growth cedar and Douglas fir. Hiking is great here, too, and you may have the four-mile trail around peaceful Mountain Lake to yourself. On Lopez, hike the rocky outcroppings of Chadwick Hill, the open prairie of Iceberg Point or the pebbled beaches of Spencer Spit State Park. On San Juan Island, the newly opened Mount Grant has both trails and a road to the top to see stunning views of the San Juan Islands.
Give a gift of local flavor
The shelves of island shops and farmers markets are stuffed with products made with love by local producers. Delicious preserves made from heritage orchard-grown fruit by Girl Meets Dirt, such as Pear Balsamic or Italian Prune with Anise Hyssop Spoon Preserves; or Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam from Red Rabbit
4. Indulge in chocolate and espresso treats
Chocolate and coffee are two passions many islanders share, and you can find them in many forms. At Kathryn Taylor Chocolates on Orcas Island, chocolatier Susan Aspinall creates rich, delicately flavored (and award-winning) truffles using island-grown herbs and fruits. Try Ginger Plum with Italian Prune Plums from Emily's Orchard in West Sound, or Rosemary Caramel with rosemary from Red Wing Farm in Crow Valley. Their drinking chocolate - especially when infused with Mexican spices - is a truly special treat. Brown Bear Bakery in Eastsound features their popular chocolate muffin, full of, yes, chocolate chips - not to mention,
5. Discover the allure of island history
Drizzly days are perfect for stepping back in time to
6. Browse galleries and shops for inspiration
On islands full of artists, you are bound to find a hundred "perfect gifts". Take time to browse, and you'll
7. Love the local liquid arts
With an agricultural past as rich in fruit production as the San Juan Islands has, it is surprising there aren't more wineries, cideries
8. Savor Island-Grown foods
After a long day of hiking, biking, shopping or browsing art galleries, museums or bookstores, a gourmet dinner or glass of wine is on the menu. Each island has their own collection of great dining options, where you can grab a burger, enjoy a bowl of steamed clams or fish and chips, or tuck into a steak. Check out dining
9. Luxuriate in a couples massage
Many beautiful spas in the San Juans offer a relaxing respite from your day-to-day stress, where you can get a mani-pedi, healing stones treatment, nourishing body wraps, facials - and for a couple's getaway, a massage for two. On Orcas, A Massage by the Sea in the heart of Eastsound has a lovely suite for romantic couples or duet massages. Rosario Resort & Spa offers couples massages in the historic rooms of the Moran Mansion, overlooking the water. At Roche Harbor Resort's Afterglow Spa on San Juan Island, sink into a eucalyptus bath for two followed by a side-by-side massage.
10. Sleep in a cozy hideaway
In winter, your room choices go up, and their rates go down. The larger hotels lower their rates, and although some small bed and breakfast inns may be closed for a month, you can usually find the perfect room for a pleasant price. There's nothing like staying in a hotel room - whether charming or luxurious - for a break from daily stresses. Sleep in in the morning, and you're ready for an active day walking on the beach, hiking the woods, visiting local galleries, bookstores or quaint shops, enjoying a long lunch or dinner. And after all this, enjoy a bubble bath and a glass of local wine by the fire before floating into bed.
Find the perfect place to stay during your romantic island escape!