Whether you’re a Washington State resident or visiting Seattle and want to explore the greater PNW region, one of the easiest—and enjoyable—ways to visit Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands is with the passenger-only ferry service via Clipper Vacations.
Passengers on the San Juan Clipper may relax in comfort with window seating for an incredible marine life and seaside view, or head to the top deck to enjoy the breeze as you sail through the Salish Sea. Either way you’re in for a delightful experience. On board, grab a coffee or light meal from The Clipper Café and settle in to watch marine wildlife from the comfort of your seat. During my recent excursion, I spotted several seals, eagles and waterfowl, otters, and—if you watch close enough—you may notice the familiar spout of whales. Definitely keep your camera ready.
The cruise is relaxing and informative as crew members point out wildlife and geographical highlights, note cultural history, and share tips for enjoying Friday Harbor once you dock. The cruise through Deception Pass is remarkable and your crew will slow to a crawl to share interesting insights into architecture, point out eagles lurking in the trees, and allow passengers to snap photographs.
When you arrive at Friday Harbor, the Clipper docks at a perfect downtown location. Pedestrians have easy access for a leisurely exploration of this upbeat seaside town. You’ll notice an assortment of dining establishments, shops, tour buses, and more. If you opt for an overnight stay, there is a wide assortment of accommodations along the water or more inland. In the heart of the waterfront area, try pet-friendly Island Inn. If, like me, you opted for a single day trip, there’s plenty to explore on foot. One local attraction to include in your visit is the Whale Museum, just around the corner from the dock and waterfront. Here you’ll have opportunity to explore whale biology and local history and culture, and there are plenty of interactive educational opportunities to keep youngsters interested and engaged.
Throughout downtown, visitors can peruse local shops and artist markets including. I loved discovering Island Thyme bath goodies and treats. Whether you seek local artisan goods or souvenirs of your visit, you’ll find it all within reach. If you have an adventurous spirit, consider visiting town on September 23 for the Bike-N-Brew event. Or, pop into San Juan Island Brewing Company for a pint after a leisurely stroll. If you’re visiting Friday Harbor in August, take in Wings & Wheels to experience the thrill of vintage and experimental aircraft and motorcycles, complete with fly-bys, exhibits, demonstrations, and more.
When hunger strikes, savor a selection of local flavors from the rooftop patio at Friday’s Crabhouse. I highly recommend the fish tacos. For a caffeine jolt, head next door to Salty Fox Coffee for a midday pick-me-up. Clipper Vacations day-trippers like myself have more than enough time to sample local tastes around town while also taking in culture and sightseeing.