Spacious Rooms at Historic Seaside Resort
In 1886, lawyer John McMillin took over a small log trading post on the northern end of San Juan Island. Within just a few years, he transformed the post into the West Coast's main producer of builders lime. 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.
Near the resort’s network of gardens and cobblestone walkways, you'll find the spacious McMillin suites, tucked into a historic home on a bluff overlooking the harbor. Each features a king-size bed, claw-foot bathtub, and heated bathroom floors. Quarryman Hall rooms are situated in a boutique hotel near the center of the village.
One of three restaurants onsite, the waterfront McMillin's Dining Room faces the 337-slip marina, which provides direct entry to Canada 15 miles to the north. Chefs draw from regional farms and fresh local fish to craft a menu of Pacific Northwest cuisine, including steaks from 45-day-aged wagyu beef and flame-seared halibut. At the Lime Kiln Cafe, locals and visitors alike stop by in the morning for casual breakfast fare and pastries.
Friday Harbor, Washington: Charming Island Town with Whale Watching
Friday Harbor is the largest and most bustling city in the San Juan Islands—an archipelago on the northwestern edge of mainland Washington. Restaurants, boutiques, and cafés line the town’s main street, which slopes up from the harbor and over a small hill. Many of the wood-framed shops and galleries were constructed in the early 20th century. At a number of local establishments, you can browse old photos to imagine island life before organized ferry services and cyborg fishermen. The San Juan Historical Museum, housed in an 1894 farmhouse, features exhibits that re-create the experiences of walking through a root cellar, a milk house, a carriage house, and other historical buildings.
From late spring to early fall, visitors flock to the island to ogle pods of orca whales passing through the area. For an up-close view, hop aboard a sea kayak or a cruise ship. You can even spot whales near the old lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point State Park, which sits about 10 miles south of Roche Harbor Resort. Keep an eye out for eagles and seals, too, as you navigate nature trails cutting through the park’s 36 acres.