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Ferry boats, take me home: Weekend adventuring on Orcas Island

Photo: gemteck1/Flickr


Orcas Island is the biggest island in the San Juans, and it’s the got the activities to show for it. Though it’s a bit of a trek to get there – a 1.5 hour drive plus another hour on the ferry – it’s so worth it for the fun you’ll have once you’re there. The many family-friendly activities on the island, the great food, and the spectacular views of the San Juans make Orcas the perfect getaway for a weekend – or even just an overnight trip.


Hop on the ferry

To get to Orcas, drive north on I-5 to Anacortes and then weave through town to the ferry terminal. Note: this year, you’ll need to reserve a spot on the ferry in advance or risk not making it on. Reservations are broken up into thirds: the first third of spots open up 2 months before a given ferry’s sailing date, the next third 2 weeks before, and the last third 2 days before. Reserve a spot before you leave to cut out the stress. While you wait, grab a coffee at the cash-only stand a few yards up from the ferry landing on the west side of the ferry lines.



Lunch at The Kitchen

The Kitchen is an Eastsound institution, serving up amazing Asian-inspired meals with vegan and vegetarian options that rival their meat-based dishes for tastiness. The restaurant makes a great effort to buy from local producers and use organic products. Their hours change often, so give them a call to check if they’re open before you swing by. 249 Prune Alley, Eastsound, 98245


Pastries at Brown Bear Baking

Pop into Brown Bear for a flaky croissant or a slice of fresh quiche to take with you for a snack – their handmade pastries are out of this world. Main St & N Beach Rd, Eastsound, 98245


Dinner at Doe Bay Cafe

Doe Bay’s views are nothing short of spectacular. Enjoy a meal at the Cafe and soak up the views of the little inlet or gaze out on the Salish Sea. Breakfast and lunch are served til 2 pm daily; dinner starts at 5. Thursdays are open mic and pizza nights from 5 to 10 pm. 107 Doe Bay Rd, Olga, 98279


Hike, swim, and check out local art

If you make it onto Orcas on a sunny day, make sure you get to the top of Mount Constitution. The near-panoramic views of the surrounding islands are nothing short of spectacular. Kids will love climbing the twisted stone tower at the top of the mountain. You can drive up the road to the mountain or take one of a few hiking routes. There’s a nearly level hiking path that’s much friendlier on little feet than the steeper, more intense one.

If you’re looking to cool off, head to Cascade Lake, the lovely public lake nestled at the base of Constitution. There’s paddling, swimming, and wading to be had, depending on your level of activity. The lake is super-calm, so kayaking (or just floating) is blissfully easy.

To get a dose of culture on your trip, head to the sculpture park in Eastsound. Kids will be charmed by local artist Anthony Howe’s immense kinetic sculptures that glisten in the sunshine. 236 Double Hill Rd, Eastsound, 98245



Though you can potentially nab a spot at one of the sweet bed & breakfasts or hotels, Orcas has a handful of great options for camping – you won’t even feel like you’re roughing it.


Moran State Park

Just south of Eastsound, Moran has a number of different camping options for varying group sizes. Check availability online and reserve before you go. Overnight rates range from $12 to $45. 3572 Olga Rd, Olga, 98279


Doe Bay

With its stunning ocean views and a spa area complete with hot tubs and a sauna, Doe Bay is more glamping than camping. In addition to traditional campsites, Doe Bay also offers cabins and yurts. Reserve your spot soon; overnight rates range from around $35 to 50. 107 Doe Bay Road, Olga, WA 98279

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