Orcas Island, nicknamed “the gem of the San Juans”, had everything we needed for a relaxing weekend—a lovely downtown to shop and eat, a stunning shoreline, beautiful lakes, and walking, hiking, and biking trails. There are plenty of lodging options: you can camp, stay in a cabin, yurt, at a resort, or book an airbnb. Once on the island, you can take the ferry to visit the other islands for free, including San Juan Island (Friday Harbor), Lopez Island, and Shaw Island.
// GETTING THERE //
It’s about a 3.5 hour commute from Seattle: 1.5 hour drive up to Anacortes (it can be more depending on traffic), arriving 45-60 minutes before the ferry to assure your spot, and the 1 hour ferry ride. Make sure to make a reservation for the ferry.
// EAT + DRINK //
Brown Bear Baking
In the heart of downtown (Eastsound), it’s easy to spot Brown Bear Baking because of the line (it moves pretty quick) and the delicious aroma of baked goodness. The pastries are handcrafted in an open kitchen and you can watch the bakers in action while you decide what you’re going to order. Service is friendly and they are also dog-friendly. We grabbed a flaky, buttery croissant with quality ham and melted cheese, fresh from the oven. The chocolate croissants and the quiche are also must-orders.
Island Hoppin’ Brewery
They feature beers inspired by the Pacific Northwest, with seven available on tap and in taster flights. Island Hoppin’ Brewery is family friendly with a ping-pong table, foosball, board games, and a wide collection of vinyl. The Imperial Red and IPA are our favourites.
Hogstone’s Wood Oven
Using local ingredients, Hogstone’s is doing things deliciously. Even the simple margherita pizza is fantastic with fresh cow cheese, tomatoes, and herbs. The crust is just right—crispy around the edges, soft towards the middle, and not too thick. They are open Thursday through Monday 5:30 until close.
// BROWSE //
Saturday Farmers Market
From now through the end of September, the market is open every Saturday from 10-3. All items sold in the market are grown or crafted by Orcas Island farmers and artisans. The market includes produce, much of it organic, crafts, art, jewelry, clothing, pottery, food and drink vendors, and some of Orcas Island’s service organizations (historical museum, master gardeners). Our recommendation is to get the tacos.
The Nest is an adorable store with plants and eclectic garden and home décor items. Darvill’s Bookstore has a wide assortment of books, toys, cards, and other fun things to look at. Crow Valley Pottery is a family-owned studio that focuses on earthenware, stoneware, handmade tiles and tile mosaics. Kathryn Taylor Chocolates combines fresh local goods from small, organic farms on the island to create exceptional chocolates that are also beautifully decorated by hand.
// HIKE //
It’s a 6.7 mile hike up and if it’s a clear day, it’s a gorgeous view. Even on a foggy day, like the day we went, it was still breathtaking. It’s family-friendly and ends at the top with a unique stone tower and sweeping views of Mountain Lake and the emerald islands.
You will need a Discover Pass. More information about the hike here.
Cascade Lake in Moran State Park
It’s a beautiful lake and you can also rent canoes, paddle boards, row boats, paddle boats, and kayaks Thursday through Sunday 10-6. There are over 30 hiking trails here are that are scenic, leisurely, and challenging. There’s also a cute little stand, The Sugar Shack where they sell Lopez Island Creamery Ice Cream that is worth trying!
Find more information about visiting the islands at Visit San Juans.