15 Best Things to Do in Friday Harbor, WA
Friday Harbor, known as the gateway to San Juan Island, is a charming seaport town with plenty of history.
Recognized as a prime commercial center that is steps away from ferry landings and docks, Friday Harbor makes for a great vacation spot for you, your family, and even your dog.
Only an hour away from Anacortes by ferry, you'll find your itinerary filled with the variety of sites and activities that the town has to offer.
Whether you're looking to explore the culture, go shopping, or even explore nature, Friday Harbor has plenty of vacation options.
Without further ado, here are the 15 best things to do in Friday Harbor, WA:
Do Some Whale Watching at Lime Kiln State Park
Lime Kiln Point State Park, also referred to as Whale Watch Park, is the best place to visit for any whale lover.
Featuring a rocky bluff that is 15 minutes away from the ferry terminal by car and located to the west side of the island, Lime Kiln State Park allows you to catch a glimpse of humpback, orcas, and minke whales.
The best time you will want to visit the park for whale watching would be between May and September.
For additional activities at the park, check out the Interpretive Center.
There are a variety of exhibits found at the center, including resident and transient whale pods, plus a display of the lime kiln industry that was once in the area.
If you are interested in other activities in the park, you can enjoy lovely hiking trails through old Douglas Firs and Madronas and even do some bird watching.
Get a Fill of Alpacas at the Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm and Country Store
Do you love alpacas? Then consider seeing the largest herd of alpacas on San Juan Island at the Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm and Country Store.
The Krystal Acres is an alpaca farm that is 80-acres large, owned by Kris and Albert Olso, and located on the west side of the island.
When visiting the farm, you can enjoy a simple stroll or schedule a guided tour as far as a week in advance.
You can also get your share of souvenirs at the Country Store, where you’ll find a large selection of alpaca-wool sweaters, coats, and cuddly toys.
If that isn’t enough, you can also find all sorts of accessories like hats, scarves, socks, and slippers.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an alpaca farm if there wasn’t any alpaca yarn you could purchase.
Take a Hike to American Camp
Enjoy a combination of nature and history by visiting American Camp at the south end of the San Juan island.
It is one of two parks preserved by the San Juan Island National Historical Park and where the peaceful 12-year joint U.S./British occupation from July 1859 through November 1874 occurred.
You'll find that there is plenty to explore in the remnants of the location ranging from acres of prairie grass and cliffs to crops of beaches and coves.
While exploring, you may also have the chance to see a variety of animals, including foxes, bunnies, deer, and every seabird you know.
Of course, there is also the chance to see different sea creatures such as the Orca whale and otters and seals.
When it comes to activities you can take on the location, the rangers offer nature and history walks on weekends from June to August.
Some of the things you can see on the camp include the remains of the former camp and two officers’ quarters, the parade ground, and the laundress quarters.
There are even the remains of an earthen lookout known as the Redoubt.
Learn Something New at the Whale Museum
If you have an interest in animals or like museums, consider visiting The Whale Museum.
Located near the downtown waterfront and three blocks away from the ferry landing, The Whale Museum strives to protect the wild whales in the Salish Sea ecosystem with education and research programs.
Some of the things you can enjoy in the museum include viewing fun and educational exhibits about whales, free videos, and a well-stocked gift shop that features marine-themed merchandise.
Out of the different displays that you can find at the museum, you'll want to check out the whale skeletons.
Take Photos at Cattle Point Lighthouse
Take the scenic route from the American Camp to the far southern tip of San Juan Island, and you'll find the beautiful location of the Cattle Point Lighthouse.
Once you arrive at the location, you'll find a fantastic saltwater scene with a 34-feet tall octagonal lighthouse posing brilliantly on the island's edge.
The lighthouse is part of the San Juan Islands National Monument and got erected in 1935.
For parking, you can find a few spaces alongside the road leading to the lighthouse.
By that road, you'll find a trail leading through grassy dunes and to the rocky shoreline.
From there, you can get beautiful vantage points of the lighthouse to fill your camera.
More than beautiful scenery to photograph, you may also get the chance to catch different species of birds that like to circle about the area.
Admire Exhibitions at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art
The San Juan Islands Museum of Art (SJIMA) is a great place to go if you want to find a variety of artworks.
SJIMA aims to connect people with art that inspires, challenges, and enlightens them, and their exhibitions show just that.
Every few months or seasons, you can find rotating exhibitions of various types of beautiful visual art gathered from around the world.
These include paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, and more.
To find the museum, you will want to head to Spring Street, which is less than a half-mile from the ferry terminal.
Take a Ride Around on a Moped
Is nature walks or kayaking not your thing?
Then consider driving around on a moped as your next option for exploration.
Friday Harbor provides all kinds of sights to enjoy ranging from bountiful farms to scenic parks with an open ocean view.
One reliable business you can rent a moped from on Friday Harbor would be Susie's Mopeds.
It's been a tradition to rent a moped, scoot coupe, or car and explore the island since 1986.
If you are unsure of your desired trail, you can consult with the professional and friendly staff to help plan your island adventure.
Susie's Mopeds have an hourly and daily rate and are located four minutes from the ferry landing.
You can also consider other modes of transportation when touring the island, such as bikes if you'd like.
Travel North to English Camp
The second historical camp you will want to explore and has even more sights is the English Camp.
It is where that the British Royal Marines made their home during what was known as "The Pig War."
The said war is what resulted in the 12-year long joint occupation between the U.S. and British on San Juan island.
You can find the camp north of the island, nestled on Garrison Bay, and is accessible via the San Juan Islands Scenic Byway like the American Camp.
In comparison to the other camp though, you'll find English Camp has more preserved barrack buildings and a beautiful formal English garden you can explore.
The camp is currently a day-use camp that includes a visitors’ center and a network of trails.
The trails include long hill hikes and a trail that goes through the woodland and along the bay.
If you manage to visit the camp from June to August, you can see park rangers and volunteers recreate military and civilian life during the early pioneer period.
Dive Into History at the San Juan Museum Historical Society and Museum
For any history fan, the San Juan Museum Historical Society and Museum is an ideal place to go.
More than the museum, which you can find on the former James King farm, you can find an array of historic island buildings.
These include the original farmhouse, the root cellar, a carriage house, the milk house, the first San Juan County jail, and many other pioneer period buildings that have been preserved.
If that isn't enough, you can also look at the collection of historic artifacts, photographs, and documents in the museum.
During the summer season, the museum offers workshops, re-enactments, a 4th of July community picnic, and a concert series.
Admire Art Pieces at the Arctic Raven Gallery
Featuring Native art of Arctic and American Northwest Coast, the Arctic Raven Gallery is a great place to admire unique art pieces.
You can locate the gallery in Puget Sound and get to admire a collection of art pieces ranging from masks to prints and wood carvings that represent local peoples.
Said locals include the Kwaguilth, Coast Salish, and Makah nations.
Not only that, but you can also find pieces from the Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian from further north.
In addition to local people, the gallery also represents a number of recognizable artists, including Susan Point, Robert Davidson, and the Hunt family.
To further pique your interest with the gallery, you’ll find that the gallery shows change often and present works by master carvers in wood, stone, bone, and a variety of other interesting materials.
Stroll Around the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park
Get a chance to explore both nature and art by heading for the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park.
There is plenty to see at the park, with over 150 professional sculptures spread across 20 acres on the island's northside.
If you don't want to wander around, there are five trails winding along meadows, woods, a natural pond, and the Westcott Bay.
The statues are more than still pieces, though; there are also a few interactive art pieces that allow children and adults to make personal expressions.
Watch a Show at Island Stage Left
Experience a free-of-charge performance from quality professionals at the Island Stage Left theater.
The theater's goal is to provide the best theatre for everyone, regardless of what they can pay.
It was established 20 years ago by long-term theatre professionals Helen Machin-Smith and Daniel Mayes and mainly features Shakespearean performances.
Outside of Shakespearean performances, the theater also presents other plays ranging from 'The Lion in Winter' by James Goldman to 'Doubt' by John Patrick Shanley.
If you want to enjoy some contemporary and classic plays, check out the theater from September to May.
Get Close and Personal With Nature By Kayaking
Are you looking to do some activities while also enjoying nature?
Kayaking is one of the top activities that you will want to consider while on Friday Harbor.
There are various ways you can enjoy kayaking in Friday Harbor ranging from tours to expeditions or even just rentals.
If you go to San Juan Outfitters, you have the options of kayak tours for families, beginners, and experienced kayakers searching for Orcas.
Of course, you can also check out other tour services for your convenience, such as Discovery Sea Kayaks, which you can find in the heart of downtown Friday Harbor.
You can also head for Kayak tours that specialize in seeking out whales, like Sea Quest.
The business offers different options and routes, but Sea Quest can accommodate everyone from experts to beginners and customize tours to fit any need.
Walk Around Pelindaba Lavender Farm
For any floral fan, the Pelindaba Lavender Farm is the ideal place to go to in Friday Harbor.
Overlooking Olympic Mountains and a tranquil lake, Pelindaba Lavender Farm has free admission for you to enjoy the bountiful field of flowers.
Featuring 25 acres of lavender plants, the best season to visit the farm see these blossoms bloom is between July and August.
While there, you will want to visit the Gateway Farm Store to browse over 200 lavender products.
Ranging from botanical to culinary and even household products, you’re sure to get your fill of lavender at the farm.
Outside of getting products, you can also explore the fields, cut some lavender, and participate in one of the fun family workshops.
If you really want to see the lavender farm stand out, though, you should visit on the third weekend in July the farm and enjoy the Annual San Juan Island Lavender Festival.
Book Some Time for Tasting Friday Harbor Chocolates
There may be plenty of activities and sights to enjoy at Friday Harbor, but there are also different delights you can enjoy as well.
The Friday Harbor Chocolates is a boutique retail shop found in the heart of the Friday Harbor downtown and feature all kinds of treats.
Only the most luscious chocolates handcrafted by artisan chocolatiers in the San Juan Islands can be found in the boutique.
In addition to their various chocolates, the boutique also provides a selection of different wines and champagnes.
If that isn't enough, you also have the opportunity to sample the various products in the store before finalizing a purchase.
Aside from multiple products you can try and a chance of sampling them, Friday Harbor Chocolates also offers reservations for chocolate pairing parties for groups of 4 to 12 during after business hours.
Friday Harbor offers no shortage of options on the different activities and sights you can enjoy in the town.
While the seaport has a notable whale watching museum and park, there is a wide variety of history, culture, and art that you can explore.
From the beautiful and charming farms to the impactful historical camps and galleries, there is an adventure waiting for you at Friday Harbor.