Monday, June 20, 2016

Vacation Recap: San Juan Islands with Kids

Every year, we go on a vacation with our in-laws (Matt's mom, dad, and two brothers). This year we decided to go to the San Juan Islands off of Seattle. 

What a trip! 

We left Austin early on a Saturday morning, arrived in Seattle later that morning, met up with friends for lunch at a great restaurant, and then drove to catch the ferry at Anacortes. From there we took the ferry into Friday Harbor. 

It's a stunning part of the country. It seriously soothes my soul in ways that not all landscapes do (I'm not a huge fan of the desert or even the shrubby landscape that we have around Central Texas). 

Calm water + blue skies + refreshing air + tall green tress + mountains = Pure Happiness

We were there before the summer rush, so it was a very sleepy and calm town. So quaint! 

We talked with some locals on the ferry ride over and learned about Popeye the seal. She lives in the harbor by the seafood store. You can buy fish to feed her. What an amazing experience! 

We also rented kayaks to take around Roche Harbor. 

We hiked at American Park. 

We visited an alpaca farm. 

We took a day trip to Victoria, Canada. 

We went whale watching and spotted orcas! Seriously! 

My mother-and-law got massages at Afterglow Spa, and I highly, highly recommend Adam, the massage therapist. It was seriously the best massage of my entire life! 

On our way back, we spent the night in Seattle. We found a house on AirBnB that was close to the airport. 

A good time was had by all. Now we need a vacation from our vacation! 

P.S. If you want more live-action updates, feel free to follow me on Instagram @saracotner!

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Shawn said...

How long was your trip? I'd like to plan something like this and I was wondering how much time I probably need to really be able to enjoy it. Thanks!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Shawn! We were there from Saturday to Saturday. It felt perfect. Normally, our vacations are from Monday to Friday, and those feel good, too. Have fun!

Michelle said...

Just re-visiting your post on SJI for ideas... think we'll spend a couple days here this summer with my 2-year old (in addition to traveling from Seattle to Portland).

Was the car necessary on the island? Wondering if we need to get a rental or not. How many days did you spend there total?

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Michelle! It's so beautiful there! So calming. I think a car is necessary, although I guess it depends on where you stay. We stayed kind of far into the island, so we used the car every day to get to one of the ports. There were two main ones, and we went to them for different reasons. One port had whale-watching; the other port had kayaking. One port had Popeye the seal; the other had donuts. Also, the beach with the wood was in a different place (it's in a state park, I think). And then there's the alpaca farm, which I highly recommend! We rented a car in Seattle and then took it on the ferry with us. It's expensive, but makes everything more convenient. Have a great time! It's truly spectacular there!

Michelle said...


Thanks for your response! This is really helpful--I will look at car rental options! Also, what do you think about kayaking with a 2.5 year old? I think Tate was just 3 when you went? I wasn't sure about the safety or if we would have to bring our own life vest for the little guy?

Michelle said...

I thought of another question since you said you spent Saturday to Saturday there... What's the minimum # of days that it would be good to spend there? Initally, I had only planned on going to the Portland area, then got talked into Seattle. So I bought (Southwest) tickets into Seattle on Thursday and out from Portland 9 days later on Saturday. I recall you've also been to Portland, so wondering how you'd break out those days to which areas? If we didn't get a rental car, I heard the Amtrak was decent between Seattle and Portland (and tickets started at only $25/person). But I'll look into rental car options since it sounds like that's recommended for SJI.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hey, Michelle!

I usually decide how long to spend in an area by planning out what we are going to do each day. We found a lot more things to do in Seattle, so we stayed there longer than Portland. How long you should stay in SJI depends on what you want to do there. I definitely recommend feeding Popeye the Seal, kayaking, whale watching, and going to the alpaca farm. And, if you can squeeze it in, you should totally get a massage from Adam at the spa in Roche Harbour. It was the best massage of my life!

Michelle said...

Thanks, that helps! All those things in SJI sound amazing. I'm not sure what to do in Seattle (the only thing on my list so far is Pike's Place Market)... In Portland, drink local coffee, beer, and maybe those Voodoo Donuts. I'd also love to go to Hood River and Oregon wine country. Ah! Maybe I should have made it a 2 week vacation?.. =/

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