8 Things To Do this Spring in the San Juan Islands

Springtime is a great time to get away to quiet beaches and fresh air, delicious local food, and stunning art. From whale watching to horseback riding, kayaking to gallery browsing, there are plenty of fun things to do on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands before summer arrives.

Know Before You Go

1. Take a Hike with Stunning Views

The San Juan Islands are a hiker's paradise, and each island offers a different experience, from mountain trails to beach walks, passed waterfalls, and mossy boulders. Orcas Island offers Moran State Park and Obstruction Pass State Park, each with stunning views and serene forest trails. Moran's five fresh-water lakes include Cascade Lake, with a sandy beach and designated swimming and play area. Rent a paddle boat if you’re feeling energetic, or cast a fishing line off the dock. On San Juan Island, the National Historical Parks offer driftwood-covered beaches at South Beach and fabulous views from the summit of Mount Young. For a casual trek on Lopez Island, the 1-mile trail loop at Shark Reef Sanctuary leads to stunning panoramic views where you can birdwatch and often spot seals sunbathing on the rocks. 

2. See Majestic Whales & Wildlife in their Natural Habitat

The San Juan Islands are a wonderful place to see all kinds of wildlife from birds to foxes, stellar sea lions to whales. Lime Kiln Point State Park is one of the best places to see orca whales from shore. Tour the lighthouse and listen to the whales from the hydrophone! You can also ride with expert whale and wildlife tour operators to gain a new perspective. Join a larger tour with up to 80 people, or a smaller boat with up to six people, and explore the the waters of the Salish Sea. You'll visit inlets and passages filled with natural beauty, history, and wildlife of all kinds. Whether you find a pod of orca whales or a humpback passing by, a porpoise playing in your wake, or a glimpse of a minke whale, you're sure to find adventure in the islands. Onboard naturalists offer detailed information about the habitats and behavior of animals in this rich ecosystem.

3. Spend an Afternoon Rock Climbing

Step outside of your comfort zone (and out of the rain) and spend an afternoon at Climb San Juan — a climbing gym that's ready to show you the ropes! Open to seasoned climbers and beginners alike, Climb San Juan is located inside San Juan Island Fitness and Aquatics where you'll also find a cafe, pool, hot tub, sauna, and weight room. The perfect activity for families, couples, or adrenaline-seekers, rock climbing at Climb San Juan is a perfect spring activity! 

4. Watch Spring Bloom at the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park

Walk among massive sculptures and discover hidden artistic gems at this 20-acre outdoor art experience. Bring your dog on-leash and wander through more than 125 unique sculptures in a beautifully landscaped setting. Follow the mapped and marked trails down to a view of beautiful Westcott Bay. A great place for a family picnic, the park is open all year round from dawn to dusk.

5. Spend Time with the Arts

Discover the stunning work of local artists and talent in the performing arts community. In Friday Harbor, enjoy the annual Spring Exhibitions at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art and take a walking tour of the multiple art galleries in town, like Waterworks Gallery and Arctic Raven Gallery. If you're on Orcas Island, take a trip to the oldest pottery studio in Washington, Orcas Island Pottery and visit Orcas Island Artworks in Olga. On Lopez Island, check out Skarpari in the village where they make custom knives, display local art, and host monthly First Saturday Art Walks with the Lopez Library. If you love the theater and live music, check out the events calendar at Lopez Center, San Juan Community Theatre, and Orcas Center.

6. Follow the Liquid Arts Trail

When it comes to drinking great locally made beverages, the San Juan Islands are coming of age. New wineries, breweries, and tasting rooms offer local liquid arts-lovers a chance to enjoy classics or find a new favorite. Chat with cidermakers and distillers, all while learning about how these tasty beverages are made with local fruits and botanicals such as mint, Nootka rose and lavender from Pelindaba Lavender Farm. Follow the Local Liquid Arts Itinerary.

7. Visit a Working Lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point State Park

Just a short walk from the parking lot at Lime Kiln Point State Park, a.k.a. Whale Watch Park on San Juan Island’s west side, you can stand on the rocky promontory and see a richly diverse environment, from rocky shoreline to wooded uplands. Orcas, minke whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and river otters cruise the shoreline through kelp beds and eel grass, looking for food. Eagles and seabirds reel overhead. The lighthouse was built in 1919 and still serves as a navigational beacon for ships in the Haro Strait and offers tours during the summer. The park is considered one of the best places in the world to view whales from land, and there are a small seasonal gift shop and interpretive center where you can learn more.

8. Visit History Museums 

Step back in time as you tour historic locations across the islands and history museums. Stop by San Juan Island Historical Museum to see the 19th-century farmhouse filled with fascinating old photos, diaries with fancy script handwriting, vintage hats, and more artifacts of island life. On Orcas Island, you can wander through old pioneer cabins at the Orcas Island Historical Museum that serve as spaces for interpreting specific aspects of island history as told through the life stories and material culture of the Native American and early European-American settlers. Lopez Historical Society and Museum also offers an educational look at island history, the tribes who stewarded these lands, and the history of farming on Lopez.  

Spring Specials & Events

Plan ahead and find lodging deals, activities and seasonal events. 


Start Planning!
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San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau
1-888-468-3701 | (360) 378-9551
P.O. Box 1330, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250
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