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San Juan Island During Winter

January 26, 2016

This year my family from Arizona came up to visit for New Year's Eve. As they are desert dwellers, they love anything that has to do with water and trees.

san juan island

I wanted to find a weekend trip we could drive to and I found a deal for the Roche Harbor Resort on Living Social. We drove up from Olympia, WA and surprised them! They still didn't know where we were going when we drove through Anacortes which was really fun.

Insider tip: always reserve your ferry in advance! This makes life much less stressful.

washington state ferry san juan islands


Per the Living Social deal, we stayed in one of the historic cottages for families right on Roche Harbor.

Roche harbor resort historic cottage family style

The cottage had a beautiful view of the harbor and pool.

roche harbor restort historic cottage

The cottage had two bedrooms, one with a single queen bed and the other with two double beds. It had one bathroom with a heater and a kitchen stocked with dishes and plates.

What I liked:

  • Affordability - with the living social deal, I paid under $300 for two nights at the cottage. It held 6 adults and one child (granted, we brought one air mattress for my brother to sleep on).
  • Space - the cottage itself was quite large with a full kitchen that made it easy to make our own dinner one night.
  • Resort - the resort has its own grocery store that has a surprisingly varied stock of food and household supplies. They gear the inventory towards families who rent the cottages. They also had delicious and local Lopez Island ice cream in stock.
  • View - the views are why people come here, I think!
  • Pets - we paid a $25/night fee to have our schnauzer stay with us.

What I didn't like:

  • Decor - the decor was outdated and the carpet seemed old. The cottages had been renovated with an obvious addition but it didn't seem to flow very well.
  • No TV - I know, we were in one of the most visually appealing places in the world, but still. It got dark around 4:30 and it would have been nice to have plugged in our Apple TV and watched a movie together.
  • Price - I don't think that I would have paid $600+ for a two night stay had I not had the Living Social Deal.

Roche Harbor Resort Friday Harbor San Juan Islands

The grocery store is beyond charming.

Roche Harbor Resort Friday Harbor San Juan Islands


When we first arrived on Island, we needed to find a sit down restaurant that would seat 6 and a high chair. We ate at Haley's Sports Bar and Grill. They seated us quickly and had friendly customer service but we all didn't find the food very good for the higher prices.

The next morning we ate at Cynthia's, a new restaurant owned by a local mom. The staff was friendly but due to their limited space, we had to wait about 25 minutes to find a table. We walked over to Serendipity's Used Books and browsed for a while before the hostess at Cynthia's texted us that our table was ready. The coffee was good and plentiful and the food was fresh, unique and handmade. Definitely worth the wait!


The first night, my dad offered to watch my daughter Adair so my husband and brothers and I could go see a movie.

Roche Harbor Resort Friday Harbor San Juan Islands movie theater start wars force awakens

We saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens at The Palace Theater at Friday Harbor. The movie theater was really charming with a nice display of movie history. The theater itself was large but with an older screen and older seats. The staff was friendly and the concessions stand had hot, fresh popcorn. If you are used to new mega theaters, this isn't one of them. It is charming and enjoyable as an island theater though.

The next day we toured the English Camp and American Camp from the 19th century Pig War. I definitely recommend touring these attractions! It's free, beautiful and interesting. The American camp has a free video you can watch at the park ranger station. At the American camp, be sure to walk down the trail to the water front. The walk is short and you will enjoy this delectable view.


My Arizona family really enjoyed seeing a natural northwest beach. In the fall and winter months, the two camps rarely have anyone else there so it feels like you're on your own secluded island.

I really want to recommend A Place to Play for Kids. It's a locally owned active, creative and social play space for Kids, located in downtown Friday Harbor, Washington. We took Adair here and she LOVED it. It's very affordable at $7.50 per child for 1 hour of play time and an all day pass is $15.

The activities had a local feel with fishing- and water-themed play rooms. San Juan Island can be more of an adult spot so taking Adair here really gave her a place to run around and play indoors while others in our group shopped downtown.

Overall, San Juan Island is a great place to take out of towners! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments or contact me and I'd be happy to share!

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