Historical seaside resort with three restaurants, 377-slip marina, and full-service spa
Hotel at a Glance: Roche Harbor Resort
In 1886, lawyer John McMillin took over a small log trading post on the northern end of San Juan Island. At his private home on the island, he welcomed a string of distinguished guests, including President Theodore Roosevelt. That guesthouse now stands as the central building of Roche Harbor Resort, a sprawling property with a full-service marina and panoramic views of the sea. Hints of the past are scattered throughout the grounds, where you’ll find defunct limekilns, old photos, and a grecian memorial to McMillin.
- Caviar facial: one of the skincare services offered at the onsite spa. Afterglow Spa open Thursday–Sunday only.
- 377-slip marina provides direct entry to Canada 15 miles north
- Pacific Northwest cuisine served at The Madrona—one of two onsite restaurants—that specializes in local fish, farm-fresh produce, and wagyu beef steaks. McMillin’s Dining Room will be closed until May 2020.
- Activities: whale-watching, kayaking, hiking, and bocce
Friday Harbor, Washington: Coastal Village and Cultural Hub on San Juan Island
The San Juan Islands are an archipelago off the coast of northwest Washington in the Salish Sea, which divides Washington and Canada. San Juan Island itself is the main hub and home to Friday Harbor—the largest town among the islands. The bustling seaport is filled with quaint shops, galleries, and boathouses, but its real claim to fame is more majestic. Frommer’s notes that San Juan Island is the only place where “you can reliably see orca whales from shore.” Once you’ve spotted them, learn a little more about them at the Whale Museum. Exhibits include the skeleton of a 3-year-old orca and an interactive display on gray whales.
If it’s the people that interest you, journey into San Juan Island’s peculiar past with a trip to San Juan Island National Historical Park. It’s certainly a popular spot to hike trails and pick blackberries, but it’s also the site of a 12-year territorial dispute between Great Britain and the United States in the mid-1800s. Today, you can visit what remains of the former English and American camps—located on opposite sides of the island.