Spacious Suites and Beautiful Gardens at Historical Seaside Resort
In 1882, 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. In his private home on the island, he eventually welcomed distinguished guests such as President Theodore Roosevelt. That guesthouse—now called the Hotel de Haro—stands as the center building of the Roche Harbor Resort, now a sprawling property with a full-service marina and rooms with panoramic views of the sea. But hints of the harbor's past are scattered throughout the grounds, including defunct limekilns, period artifacts and photos, and a Grecian memorial to McMillin.
Flanking the Hotel de Haro's network of rose gardens, lawns, and cobblestone walkways are the McMillin and Quarryman Hall houses, which feature more modern accommodations. Here, suites come furnished with gas fireplaces and private verandas overlooking the sea. Many rooms also boast noteworthy antiques, such as the claw-foot soaking tub used by John Wayne and the shower caps worn by John Wayne's horses.
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. The chefs here 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 Alaskan halibut. Bartenders at the Fireside Bar shake up signature cocktails and pour glasses of Washington wines, and 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 Friday Harbor's main street, which slopes up from the harbor and over a small hill. The harbor maintains close ties to its roots as a rural port town, evident in its many wood-framed shops and galleries originally constructed in the early 20th century. At many 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 experience 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 the area's packs of orca whales from a number of vantage points. For an up-close view, groups hop aboard sea kayaks or a cruise ship. The whales also swim up to an old lighthouse on the rocky shores of Lime Kiln Point State Park, which resides about 10 miles south of Roche Harbor Resort. Whales aren't the only draw of the park—eagles and seals make their home in the area, and nature trails cut through the park’s 36 acres of firs and cacti.