Top 10 Quiet Season Activities

There is always a reason to visit Friday Harbor and San Juan Island. It offers spectacular beauty any time of year. Because Friday Harbor is our county seat, it is more likely to be bustling during the quiet season. Here are ten reasons to visit... okay, we have 12 here as well!

San Juan Vineyards

1. Wine tasting

San Juan Vineyards

Just outside Friday Harbor is San Juan Vineyards, a family-owned winery that offers Chardonnay, Estate-Grown Siegerrebe, Madeleine Estate-Grown Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine, Riesling, “Afterglow“, Merlot, Cabernet-Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mona Vino (the last one is affectionately named after the island’s only resident camel). Tour the winery, participate in tasting, and join their wine club. Or purchase a bottle of Washington state produced wine at one of our many casual and elegant restaurants on the island.

Harrison House Suites Bed & Breakfast

2. Culinary Exploration

Harrison House Suites Bed & Breakfast

During the summer months, you have so many great restaurants to choose from you might wish to sample appetizers at one, entrees at another and dessert at yet another!  Or just plan to spend enough days on the island to indulge in each of the delicious fares.  Pacific Northwest cuisine, oriental dishes, and a variety of deli’s exist to delight your palette.

Waterworks Gallery

3. Museum & Gallery Tours

Waterworks Gallery San Juan Island

If you love art and learning, you will stay busy on San Juan Island. Visit the San Juan Island Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden for a truly unique experience. At the Whale Museum, you will find much more than a static display of whales, it is an organization committed to the preservation of orcas, the stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea environment.

Lavender- HomePage_resized

4. Visit the Lavender Shop

Pelindaba Lavender is open year round in down town Friday Harbor.  The shop contains  essential oils, handcrafted personal products, and much more.

Coho Restaurant, Friday Harbor

5. Enjoy Dinner at Coho Restaurant

Coho Restaurant, Friday HarborOpen year round, this Island Jewel offers fresh from the Island cuisine.

Historic Friday Harbor

6. Learning about Local History

Historic Friday Harbor

A trip to San Juan Islands is not complete without learning about the infamous Pig War, a little known conflict between the USA and Great Britain that started over a pig’s death in 1859 and was not settled until 1872. Visit American Camp and English Camp for an interesting view into the politics of the time.  Friday Harbor is steeped with history as well.

San Juan Islands Washington

7. Kiss

San Juan Islands Washington

Yes, you can do that anywhere!  But a true romantic knows that the right kiss at the right time at a spectacular place can be a memory of a lifetime.  Friday Harbor has some places that are so famous for kissing they ended up in a book about the Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest!


8. Cuddle up in Front of a Fire

Whether you are with your sweetheart or a novel you have been longing to read, Friday Harbor ’s cool summer evenings and winter rainy days give you the perfect excuse to turn off the cell phone, shut down the email, and build a cozy fire in your suite at the inn.  Lose yourself for hours wrapped in a warm blanket, gazing into the fire or into that special someone’s eyes.

San Juan Island Community Theater

9. Enjoy Local Music/Plays/Festivals

San Juan Island Community TheaterFriday Harbor people love music, food and culture.  We have two thriving theater companies, and we use any excuse or holiday to have a parade and eat!  Check with your innkeeper a couple of weeks before your trip about which plays and festivals will be happening when you are on the island.

Luxurious Amenities

10. Relax in a Hot Tub

Luxurious Amenities

Relax those muscles and especially that brain as you ease into island time while soaking in the hot tub. A glass of wine, a fantastic sunset, and the world is yours again.

San Juan Island Catering Washington

11. Enjoy Precious Family Time

San Juan Island Catering Washington

Get away from the routines, the soccer practice, the piano lessons and the minivan for a few days!  Bicycle around the island, go to a small town play, stroll along the docks and admire the big boats.  Reconnect with your family in a laid back atmosphere.

San Juan Island Birding

12. Bird Watching

San Juan Island Birding

Looking to add that Rhinoceros Auket to your birding life list?  Or perhaps you would like to stand on a shore and watch bald eagles dip and turn in the sky above you?  San Juan Island is home to many species, from finches to shorebirds.  Bring your binoculars!

A familiar face at the sculpture park!

Reflecting on a Family Visit


Judy's arrival to the island!

Judy’s arrival to the island!

Here at the inns, we love getting our family and friends involved and showing them around our beautiful island. A few weeks ago, you read about Chef Molly’s mom Judy helping her daughter in the kitchen with the winter jams. Judy has actually visited two other times since Molly has been with us. 

“I love my mom; she’s my best friend, and I love it when she’s here because I get to see her,” Molly told me with a smile.

Judy lives in central California at the moment.

“I’m constantly trying to get her to move here, only half in jest,” said Molly.

I talked with Judy about her most recent trip, at the new year, which she was all too happy to reflect on with me. She was a champ at finding the best things to do here in the off season, and made me tired just hearing about all of her adventures! To kick things off, she went to a cheese and wine pairing event featuring Northwest wines, in the backyard patio at  San Juan Island Cheese. Then, she and Molly dropped into the San Juan Community Theatre’s costume shop, and Judy was blown away by it!

“For a community so small in population, San Juan Island has an amazing taste for the arts!” she said. Judy found the shop to be clean organized, and fun, and the girls were able to find a great costume for Molly’s pirate ship catering event in short order.

Judy's view from the top of Mt. Young

Judy’s view from the top of Mt. Young

She visited the alpaca ranch and the lavender farm, always essential parts of a weekend on San Juan Island! She also took an invigorating hike up to the top of Mt. Young, the highest point on the island, on New Year’s Day with Molly’s aunt Stephanie, a former member of our team. She checked out the Saturday farmer’s market and caught a community movie in Sunken Park. Finally, she went to see a live broadcast of the the Metropolitan Opera in HD – the first time she’s ever been to the opera – and called it “another shining example of the arts scene on the island.”

Judy has now welcomed 2013 and 2014 on San Juan Island and is hoping to do the same for the next few New Years! She thinks it was a great time to visit – “No crowds, cold but clear weather, beautiful holiday decorations and cheer; just a time to relax and regroup after the bustle of Christmas,” she said.

A familiar face at the sculpture park!

A familiar face at the sculpture park!

One of her highlights was a visit to the sculpture park, just after a good rain. She was a return visitor to the park, and loved how the rain provided a sparkle and character to some of the art that made her see them in a whole new light!

To top it all off, Judy had something nice to say about a bunch of the shops in town.

“Among my favorite discoveries in Friday Harbor are the koi at Island Studios,” she said. “I love this shop for window shopping and the gifts I find, but also to visit the beautiful koi in the back yard.  Visiting Funk N’ Junk is like visiting a museum — even if I don’t purchase anything, it is an interesting tour. I always find something to take home at Girlfriends — such a friendly, fun consignment shop. Living in a wine region in California, I always like to try local wines when I travel. The folks at King’s Market are super-helpful in guiding me to great Washington winery choices.”

Wow, thanks so much to Judy for her glowing recommendations of the best off-season things to do, and the great photos as well! We look forward to hosting you on many more visits. If you want to have a trip like Judy’s (who wouldn’t!), give us a call and make a reservation today. We’re excited to share the end of winter here on the island with you!





Went to the sculpture park on two trips; they change what they have a lot; I’ve seen different things every time; it’s neat to do during every season because it always looks different; like right after it rains, water on the sculptures gives them life



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235 C Street Friday Harbor WA 98250 | 360.378.2783 or 800.965.0123 © Harrison House Suites | Photography: Michael Bertrand Photographer & Others