A family Vacation to San Juan Island

When T.J. and I first arrived back in Washington after tying the knot we took a quick little trip up to the San Juan Islands which we lovingly referred to as our "mini-moon" (here's that old post).  Now, a little over three years since that first trip, and plus one baby boy, we headed back to the same sweet little spot where we started out our married lives, this time for our first real family vacation. Apparently we only like to visit this island in the Pacific Northwest in the off-season but for us it was just the perfect getaway.

Getting there is a bit more complicated, though less stressful than flying to Hawaii which we considered, but since we could drive there it meant I could bring alllllll the things from home that Tommy might need for a week away. We decided to split our travel time into two legs and left home Monday late afternoon once T.J. got home from work. We'd booked a hotel up in Bellevue, about an hour away from us, for the night. This meant that we could take our time and didn't have to worry about getting through Seattle traffic.

His first time in a hotel was a big hit!
In the morning we grabbed breakfast and then got back in the car to drive the next two hours to Anacortes to meet our ferry. We passed the hour and half ferry ride walking laps around the passenger deck and keeping our eyes peeled for whales.
Once we arrived in Friday Harbor we grabbed a bite for lunch and then stopped by the grocery store to grab a few things so we could make meals in our cabin during the week. That night I made soup and we snuggled in to watch movies and relax before our big day tomorrow.

One of the things the San Juan Islands are known for is whale watching tours. February isn't the ideal time for whale spotting but it was something we didn't do on our previous visit and we knew this was probably our last chance to go out. We booked with Maya's Legacy Tours for our first full day on the island. It's a three hour excursion which caused me a little anxiety since Tommy is on a really great nap schedule and we knew we would be pushing his limits.  But basically we decided what the heck! Either he'd have a melt down or not and you gotta live your life!
And I'm happy to report that Tommy did great!! It was super bumpy and bouncy which he seemed to enjoy mostly and he just sat bundled up in T.J.'s lap taking it all in and staring down all the other passengers on the cruise with us. Sadly we didn't see any orcas but we saw tons of seals and Steller sea lions and so many bald eagles and the sun even came out so I'd say it was a good trip! It was a neat way to see more of the islands and a part of the Pacific Northwest coast that I probably never would have explored otherwise.
The next day we ventured into Roche Harbor for lunch. This is a cute little resort town on the island with beautiful vacation rentals and just a few little boutique shops and restaurants. It is also the site of an old lime kiln that was in use until the 1950s. We had sandwiches and clam chowder at the Lime Kiln Cafe and made plans to come back to the town for dinner the next night.
It started sprinkling while we were out and then Tommy fell asleep in the car so we drove around the island stopping at a few scenic overlooks before heading back to our cabin.
While we tried to get out for a walk or an outing of some sort each day, we spent a good chunk of the time just relaxing in our cabin, reading, playing on the floor with Tommy, watching the Olympics. We also watched a movie pretty much every night after we put the baby down to bed. At home during the week T.J. and I go to bed not too long after Tommy so it was nice to really take advantage of this vacation and enjoy more alone time snuggling on the couch in the evenings. 
On Friday night we went to dinner at McMillan's in Roche Harbor and it was so good I didn't take any pictures. Even though we had the little guy as our third wheel, it felt like a really indulgent date night! We had the best oysters I've had in a while, cracked right before they were served to us,  and then I had yummy pasta with shrimp, scallops and salmon. Best of all we didn't even have to rush through the courses or ask for the check as soon as we sat down like we normally do. Tommy was simply content to sit on his daddy's lap and then in the high chair while we ate and had adult conversation and dreamed about the future. We even got dessert!! It had been a while since we'd ventured out with Tommy to a nicer restaurant but after that success I am feeling totally brave enough to do it more now!

On Saturday, we attempted to check out the old American camp on the Southern part of the island but it was sooooo windy that we quickly hurried back to the car and instead went in to Friday Harbor for lunch. We grabbed fish n' chips at The Bait Shop and then went to browse around our favorite used bookstore, Serendipity Books, that we discovered our first time there. 
That night I made dinner and we got mostly packed up since we were leaving early the next day to head home. It's always hard to head back to reality after having T.J. home during the week. He is such an amazing helper with Tommy and Tommy just loved having extra cuddle time with his daddy whom he doesn't get enough of during busy work days and call nights. And even though most people would probably recommend visiting San Juan Island during the summertime, I love that the island felt like a quiet and cozy retreat, and we never had to worry about parking. I couldn't have asked for a better time than five days away with my two favorite boys. Although... after the past couple days of snow, maybe next February I wouldn't say no to a different sort of island. Something tropical, perhaps.


  1. I can't believe how BIG Tommy is!! It's been awhile since I saw a photo of him and he has grown so much. Little man!! I'm happy that you had a nice week away with your two men! Sounds like a perfect little vacation! Beautiful scenery! Great post!

  2. We keep talking about going to the San Juans, but haven't yet. I need to put this at the top of our travel list!!

  3. Looks like a fun little getaway. Everything is fun with the mancub : ) Cannot wait for your little getaway to the Palmetto State!


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