Things to do this Winter in the San Juan Islands
At the turn of the year, an island getaway helps you clear your head for a new beginning
A winter getaway has its own charms, with stormy days and warm fireside drinks, time to spend with great art and unique performances, a rejuvenating spa visit or relaxing massage.
Winter Hiking, Mountain Biking & Horseback Riding
In winter, the state, county and national parks and forests are quiet and serene. Walking the approximately 3-mile loop around Mountain Lake in Moran State Park, you may not see another hiker. Find the best hikes on Orcas, Lopez and San Juan Islands.
In winter, mountain bikers take to the hills - no mountain biking is allowed in the summer months - so the wide, soft trails and steep, heart-stopping ridges are open to the thrills of biking. Also, there's nothing like a winter trail ride on beautiful horses through quiet forests on San Juan Island.
The rocky and pebbled beaches of the islands, strewn with massive old-growth driftwood, are an incredible place to stroll and hike, especially when a storm is blowing. People build little beach huts out of driftwood logs, and you can sit inside as the wind and waves rise and Nature offers up a dramatic show.
Rejuvenate your Body and Soul
Getting away in the winter can be a great way to reconnect with yourself and take care of your body and soul to get ready for a new year. Create your own retreat by taking a yoga class, scheduling a massage or take a soak in a whirlpool. 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. Then get a relaxing massage at one of the islands many massage studios and spas.
Hours of Happiness, Music & Martinis
Dark winter days call for meeting with friends over food, drink and great conversation. Locals in the San Juan Islands know that after a busy summer is over, local restaurants start up their weekly specials and happy hours that offer small plates, wine, beer and cocktails for a great price. Sometimes, music is on the menu, too. At Cask & Schooner Public House & Restaurant there is a great happy hour menu and you may catch musician Mike Cohen performing traditional sea shanties on his concertina. At The Mansion Lounge at Rosario Resort, you can hang out, have a cocktail and listen to the talented jazz pianist Martin Lund.
The Whale Museum
In Friday Harbor, the Whale Museum is one of the best ways to learn about marine wildlife, especially before you go out on a whale and wildlife watching tour, a few of which run year-round. In the Whale Museum, you can listen to orcas, humpbacks and other types of whales on hydrophone recordings. You can see several fascinating displays of whale skeletons, watch videos, and learn about the behavior of these magnificent sea creatures.
History and Music at Rosario
Truly one of the best free things to do in the San Juan Islands—the Music Concert & Historical Narrative at Rosario Resort is a visual and aural treat. Christopher Peacock, accomplished musician, Rosario general manager and historian, walks guests through the history of the Moran family and the Rosario estate with piano and pipe organ music, film clips, and photographs from the historic Moran Photograph Collection. Highlights include Phantom of the Opera music performed on the Mansion’s 1,972 Aeolian pipe organ, along with the clips from the silent film, and fascinating stories of the Mansion’s most colorful residents.
Spend Time with Great Art
Winter brings one of the best art shows of the year to the San Juan Islands Museum of Art. The annual SJIMA Artists' Registry Show is an exhibition of artworks by 92 Artists' Registry members from San Juan County. Each year the show has a different theme, and features emerging and established local artists expressing the beauty, identity, authenticity and connectedness of the San Juan Islands community.
Every year there is always an impressive diversity of talent, with paintings in oil, acrylic, watercolor, and encaustic, as well as pastels, photography, mixed media, pottery, sculpture, glass, wood, textiles, and jewelry by Artists’ Registry members.
Come On Up!
There are many ways to get to the San Juan Islands, and each option is a unique and beautiful journey.