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What's New & Cool

Summer 2021

After a long and gray two years, Shakespeare Under the Stars returns to the Islands with Much Ado About Nothing. Island Stage Left’s founder Helen Machin-Smith says, “We are determined to give the Islands a show that is worth the long, dark wait. Sunshine, humor, and love reign eternal in Shakespeare’s romantic comedy. We are setting the story in the English countryside during the summer of 1919, as the world is emerging from war and (of course) a global pandemic. It is an era of suffragettes and whisky-drinking aristocrats, offset by the hilariously confused (yet accidentally effective!) local constabulary.” For more information, contact Helen Machin-Smith or visit 

After a COVID interruption, the pioneering work of Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher brings the dazzling diversity of African ceremonies, heritage and culture to the San Juan Islands Museum of Art. They record a disappearing culture before it is too late. Bringing the personal connections and meaningful under- standing for which they are renown, the women capture the broad cultural diversity of the sacred rituals of birth, death, courtship, leadership, healing and more.  The landmark exhibition transports us to a world of connections between individual and community, body and soul, land and people. The photographs cover 15 years of pioneering work that brings us the dazzling diversity of African ceremonies, rituals & culture. For more information: Diane Martindale or 

New owners, new food items, and a big new attitude are transforming food services at San Juan Island’s Lime Kiln Point State Park. The Blow Hole, Snacks with a Porpoise might be in the same place but has a new look and feel. Owners Paul Rudd and Vickie Edwards rebranded and reopened the park’s snack shop, and they hope the name reflects the campy, casual vibe they want people to enjoy. The Blow Hole will also be serious about protecting the environment. “Our porpoise—yep, pun intended—is to limit single-use plastics. We’ll serve drinks in more environmentally friendly, recyclable containers,” Rudd says. “We want to be part of the solution by limiting our pollution.” launched in 2018, providing brand-new rental vehicles in the San Juan Islands. Since then, the team has learned first-hand about the need for a reliable daily public transportation service on Orcas Island. is a vital option for tourists without ferry reservations, although islanders are the primary beneficiaries of the new service. The company offers 50% discounts to Orcas residents and seasonal staff on all fares: one-way trips, same-day roundtrips, and all-day passes. “Whether traveling on Kenmore Air from Seattle or walking on the ferry, the shuttle’s day pass finally allows visitors to enjoy an Orcas Island day trip, almost impossible in years past due to the limited transportation options,” says Christopher Peacock, General Manager of Rosario Resort & Spa. For more information: 

Orcas Island entrepreneurs Cole Sisson and Shea Sasan are opening the doors to their new wine bar and cafe in the heart of Eastsound. The concept is modeled after some of their favorite spaces in Europe, where one can enjoy a full range of experiences throughout the day. There will be something for everyone starting with espresso and toasts in the morning, moving to lunch bowls and paninis in the afternoon, and transitioning to a wine bar with a comprehensive cheese and charcuterie program at night. The space will be a cultural hub featuring winemaker dinners, guest chefs, cooking classes, and room for wedding parties, family gatherings, and reunions. Cole and Shea are excited to use their combined experiences to present an expression of their deep roots to this island and devotion to the community. Roots is a culmination of their friendship, journey, and return home. Contact: Cole Sisson

When Greg Lewis and Anna Stevens bought San Juan Island favorite Susie’s Mopeds in 2020, they weren’t going to let the pandemic get in the way of their dreams of how to shape the business. Right now, the mopeds are primarily gas-powered but they have plans to transition the fleet to electric. They love the idea of cleaner operations – less noise and less pollution. This year, they invested in four electric mopeds and some new electric bicycles. They’ve been adding solar panels to their repair shop building, which will generate the power they need to charge up their growing fleet of electric vehicles and bikes. “It’s exciting to have this full circle energy production to power our business,” says Greg. “From the solar array to the electric mopeds—it just makes sense—this is the future.” For more information: or  

Visitors to Orcas Island will notice a new addition as they arrive on the ferry this summer—the Orcas Island Marine Interpretive Area. A metal kelp forest climbs the wall, cradling a crab, and makes for a unique selfie spot as well as protection for the wall. Zack Leck, an artisan blacksmith, created the kelp and crab. At its head, a former fueling station has been transformed into a waystation for environmental education and awareness. One side holds an interpretive bulletin board; the other, a vibrant mural telling the story of the Coast Salish Nations and their journeys through the surrounding waters—the very waters the mural faces. Three canoes painted in silhouette carry the original names of three villages on Orcas. Colorful panels, overlooking the sea, explain the delicate ecosystem that surrounds the landing, reminding visitors of their inherent responsibility to protect and preserve this sacred land, this special place.   For more information: Kendra Smith

Getting kids outside to explore parks and other wild places will be a bit easier thanks to the No Child Left Inside grants, announced by Washington Governor Jay Inslee this June. The grants are awarded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission to focus on programs that expand outdoor education and recreation opportunities to under-resourced communities throughout Washington State. San Juan County received just over $150,000 to fund programs like the Nature Conservancy’s Partners to Preserves, Salish Sea Sciences’ Unleashing Students’ Brilliance, and expanding the Youth Conservation Corps through the Conservation District. The Partners to Preserves program works with organizations serving youth to bring their outdoor programs to conservancy preserves like Yellow Island. Youth will participate in science and learn natural and cultural history, art, hiking, and camping. Salish Sea Sciences students, all low-income students of color, will hike, canoe, sail, camp, beachcomb, and have mentorship experiences in the field with experts in marine and environmental sciences, maritime training, conservation, advocacy, and law. The San Juan Islands Conservation District will use this grant to recruit economically and culturally under-resourced youth to the Youth Conservation Corps, create field-focused internships for high school students, and provide an updated curriculum on ecological sciences research.  For more information:  

The new Summit Visitor Center at Moran State Park on Orcas Island will be opening this spring, just in time for Moran’s Centennial Celebration on June 18th. As the name suggests, the new Visitor Center will be on the summit of Mt. Constitution, the highest point in the San Juan Islands. Much of the new center’s wood comes from Moran itself—trees that blew down in a windstorm and were locally milled for use in the park. Inside are interpretive panels telling the story of the natural history of Mt. Constitution, like the only lodgepole pine forest in the Islands and the infamous piebald deer. With nearly a 360° view of the surrounding islands, the Cascade Mountains, and sometimes even the Olympics, Moran is the fourth largest state park in Washington at over 5,000 acres. Celebrating both the centennial and the return to in-person programming, the Friends of Moran has a full slate of Walks and Talks extending into the fall. The programs cover a variety of cultural and natural history topics, such as “How to Be a Citizen Scientist” and the fascinating history of the iconic and Game of Thrones-esque stone tower atop Mt. Constitution. For more information:

The original “Brickworks” building was completed in 1921 as the new home of Friday Harbor Brick and Tile Company (FHB&T Co.) and was constructed featuring its own products: concrete blocks, bricks, and tile. FHB&T would go on to supply concrete building blocks and bricks for many town businesses and buildings in the years to come, including the Town Hall. When block, brick, and tile production ended, several businesses—as well as an upstairs residence—were housed in the building, including Friday Harbor Electric. Today, Brickworks is not only a year-round home for the San Juan Farmers Market but serves as a gathering place for community meetings and special events like weddings and parties. To learn more about the Ag Guild and Brickworks, go to or

Six years after the end of World War II, the State of Washington began operating the country’s largest ferry system. In 2021, Washington State Ferries marks seven decades of service with the unveiling of a commemorative logo that will decorate all 21 vessels in the fleet during the anniversary year. A special anniversary video will also be shown on vessel screens throughout the year.

Contact Us:
San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau
1-888-468-3701 | (360) 378-9551
P.O. Box 1330, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250
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