B & B Overlooking Blind Bay and the Orcas Island Ferry Landing
Friday Harbor and its many restaurants and shops may be across the water from Washington’s Orcas Island, but Piper Foreman, the events and marketing manager at Orcas Hotel, still refers to it as "within walking distance." This makes sense when you consider that you can walk right out of the hotel's café and onto a waiting ferry, landing in the middle of downtown Friday Harbor 45 minutes later. The ferry system connects the largest San Juan Islands and shuttles walk-on passengers back and forth throughout the day at no cost.
Back at the hotel, set in an expansive Victorian home since 1904, a classic English garden with fragrant flowers and arbors of wisteria surrounds an outdoor seating area. In warmer months, you'll find this space filled with guests and ferry passengers noshing on homemade pastries such as croissants, cinnamon rolls, danishes, and fresh-brewed espresso from the Hotel Café and Bakery. For a larger meal, head inside to Octavia's Bistro, known for its northwestern cuisine prepared with a hint of Hawaiian and Asian flair.
The guest rooms are individually decorated, but warm quilts and antique furnishings are common. In the Killebrew Lake room, which has a private bath and a jacuzzi tub, french doors open onto a sun deck. At the top of the house is the Blind Bay room, Ashley's personal favorite; its sloped walls evoke a castle tower. Some rooms feature TVs and private baths; consult the guest room details to find a room that suits your needs.
On Friday nights, the onsite pub hosts a live music night, where locals and guests mingle while listening to jazz and classic rock. The pub serves a variety of regional wines as well as the local Spy Hop gin, made in Friday Harbor.
Orcas Island: Rural San Juan Island Off the Northwest Coast of Washington
In the straits north of Seattle and south of Vancouver lies the San Juan Island chain, a hilly archipelago composed of close to 100 tiny islands. Orcas Island is the largest of them all at 57 square miles and is connected to the mainland by the Washington State Ferries system. At the heart of the island is the 5,000-acre Moran State Park and Mount Constitution, which showcases 360-degree views from Canada to Seattle. Hikers can traverse the 30 miles of lakes, trails, and waterfalls surrounding the mountain. Small hamlets dot the island; just a 15-minute drive from the hotel is East Sound, know for its artist studios and cafés.
Waits for ferry rides with a car can be long; consider leaving your car on the mainland and renting one at the agency just beside the hotel. Or hop aboard the 45-minute ferry ride to Friday Harbor, where there's an abundance of restaurants and shops that stock jewelry and handcrafts by local artists, all located right beside the ferry landing. On the water itself, the hotel can schedule whale-watching and sea-kayaking excursions, and back on land, will arrange spa and massage services.