Log-Cabin Cottages and Century-Old Restaurant Along Deer Harbor
For more than a century, people have stayed at The Deer Harbor Inn for small-town hospitality on Washington’s Orcas Island. The property started in 1891 as an apple orchard that attracted Seattle teachers on summer vacation. In the early 20th century, its owners transformed the orchard’s modest cabins into a full-fledged resort, with home-cooked meals at the onsite restaurant—still in operation today—and unparalleled views of Deer Harbor and the Olympic Mountains. You can still find the same down-home hospitality and tranquil scenery at Deer Harbor Inn, which welcomes those visiting to whale-watch, hike through the forests, or ride horseback to the waterfalls in Moran State Park.
The Log Cabin Lodge feels like an upscale cabin, with a wooden exterior and propane fireplace plus a communal six-person hot tub. The inn’s cottages are scattered throughout 5 wooded acres where you might see rabbits, deer, and bald eagles. You’ll find private, four-person hot tubs on the back decks of the two homey Orchard cottages, which are surrounded by apple trees in a nod to the property’s history as an orchard. The two-bedroom Pond cottage or the three-bedroom Norton’s Harbor View House are the best fits for larger families.
Each morning, wake up with a complimentary breakfast basket. The Deer Harbor Inn Restaurant has been around for nearly a century and serves entrees made with fresh seafood and seasonal produce. The inn also has an onsite spa, located inside a tiny cottage, where you can receive an organic facial or a couples massage.
Orcas Island, Washington: Whale Watching and Hiking near Artsy Hamlets
Nicknamed the “emerald isle” for its rolling hills covered in douglas firs, Orcas Island is the largest of Washington’s San Juan Islands. Its bays are filled with sea anemones, eel, and sunflower starfish—massive starfish that can have more than 20 arms. Between March and October, you can take whale-watching tours to see native birds, seals, and orca whales.
Take a scenic drive to the island’s artsy Eastsound Village. There’s no official mayor of this hamlet, though cows, sheep, and dogs have all held honorary office here in the past. The village is home to a number of art galleries and casual eateries, as well as a Saturday farmers’ market with live music in the summer.
At Moran State Park, on the east side of the island, you can hike, bike, or ride horseback along 30 miles of wooded trails. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can climb the 2,400-foot Mount Constitution. The highest point in the San Juan Islands, it rewards climbers with postcard-worthy views of the surrounding islands and, on really clear days, Mount Rainier.