Slow Down to Island Time
Rejuvenate your life this spring with a getaway to the San Juan Islands
There's a reason people talk about "island time" in the San Juans. The pace of life moves a little bit slower here. When you plan your visit, here are some ways to slow down—and take a little of that island pace home with you.
Reconnect with nature
Strolling wide pebbled beaches and hiking through quiet forests are a must, and each island has its own special places to experience. For instance, in Orcas Island's Moran State Park, you can go mountain biking in the spring until mid-May. In the summer, the trails are reserved for hikers, but for several months until late spring, the park is quiet, and you can ride the wide, soft pathways and steeper trails among old-growth cedar and Douglas fir.
Hiking in the San Juan Islands is great, too, and at many times throughout the year, you may have the four-mile trail around peaceful Mountain Lake to yourself. On Lopez, some favorite hikes are along 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.
Find more about What to Do in the San Juans.
See great art in the great outdoors
As you enter or leave Roche Harbor Resort, make sure to stop at the one of the coolest permanent art exhibits in the Pacific Northwest. At the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park, you can stroll among a fascinating array of more than 125 unique sculptures and discover hidden artistic gems at this 20-acre outdoor art experience. Dogs on-leash are welcome, and its the perfect place for a picnic lunch. Follow the mapped and marked trails down to a view of beautiful Westcott Bay. The park is open all year round from dawn to dusk, with a per-person suggested donation of just $5—children are free.
World-class art in an intimate setting
Spending an afternoon in a beautiful art museum is a chance to relax and let your imagination wander. The San Juan Islands Museum of Art is a small museum in Friday Harbor with an impressive diversity of artistic talent from all over the region and the country, including recent shows by Ai WeiWei, Imogen Cunningham, William Morris and more. There is also an impressive seasonal show of local Artists' Registry members, such as paintings in oil, acrylic, watercolor, and encaustic, as well as pastels, photography, mixed media, pottery, sculpture, glass, wood, textiles, and jewelry. And each island has its own artist's studio tour, so you can see behind the scenes and talk to the artists themselves about their work.
Create your own luxurious spa day
Treat yourself to a spa day of your own design, by taking advantage of the islands' many options for massage, sauna, whirlpool, yoga, and more. Several resorts in the San Juan Islands have ongoing yoga classes all year-round, and there are other small yoga studios where you can find classes as well. After a day of hiking, kayaking or other fun outdoor activities, a relaxing massage is in order—on your own, or a couples massage—at one of the islands many massage studios and spas.
At A Massage by the Sea in Eastsound, a couples massage is an experience for all the senses, using Harmonic Sound Therapies with tuning forks, singing bowls and gongs and aromatic oils. At Rosario Resort, request the massage table in the historic Moran Mansion, with exposed wood beams, beautiful linens, and a view straight out over the water.
Meet the producers
With an agricultural past rich in fruit production, the San Juans has seen a resurgence of craft beverages and other artisan foods, from cider to gins, ales and even bitters, tapping into their rightful heritage as a top-notch region for craft beverages. San Juan Island Distillery is winning awards for their island-foraged botanical-based gins, apple liqueurs and ciders. Lopez Island Vineyard and Winery has been growing and producing organic wine for more than 20 years. San Juan Vineyards has award-winning estate wines to try at their historic school-house tasting room just a few miles from Friday Harbor. Find out more on our Local Liquid Arts itinerary.
Spend some time giving back to the Islands
It's easy to fall in love with the islands, and it is up to all of us—locals and visitors alike—to help conserve and protect the natural places that inspire us. Taking part in a beach cleanup, adopting an endangered orca whale, or learning about the islands in a naturalist training class, or "Know Your Island Walk," is a great way to learn, give back, and make new friends. Each year in April, the islands celebrate Earth Day and National Volunteer Month, with beach cleanups, nature walks, lectures and other events, along with lodging and dining specials.
Life in the Slow Lane
Find the perfect vacation cabin, boutique hotel, or bed & breakfast inn to relax in on your San Juan Islands stay.