Spring And Summer


There’s a reason Orcas Island is home to some of the most iconic youth summer camps in the country. Summers on Orcas are unlike any where else. Looking for a bit fewer folks but the same outstanding weather as the trees and flowers come to life, Spring is an incredible time of year to visit!

Be sure to post your favorite memories with #beautifulorcasisland and tag each of your stops along the way!

Day 1:

Surrounded by the Salish Sea and verdant forest, your morning on Orcas begins with the light quietly finding every corner of the island in its own time. Enjoy a homemade breakfast with your family as you gear up for the day or head out for coffee and treat to fuel your adventure.

Orcas Island was once the breadbasket for Western Washington and that farming tradition is alive and well on the island. Our markets and restaurants share a “local first” philosophy of sourcing ingredients from the many island farms for making dishes that speak to our surroundings. If they aren’t sourcing from a nearby farm, they either forage, grow, or make it from scratch! From fresh baked sweet and savory goods, breakfast quiche, omelets with garden-fresh herbs, and specialty pancakes . . . our locally-owned and operated establishments have something for everyone.

There are plenty of delicious options to satisfy your breakfast cravings, but today you’re headed to Brown Bear Baking, an island institution serving up a handcrafted menu, baked in small batches throughout the day. You’ll find flaky croissants, fresh-brewed Victrola Coffee, savory lunch sandwiches on hearth-baked bread, and French pastries of all varieties.

Just down North Beach Road from Brown Bear, today’s first stop is the Orcas Island Historical Museum where you’ll see what it was like to live on the island in the 1800s. The museum comprises six original homestead cabins that have been carefully restored and arranged for an immersive experience about early settler life on the island right in the heart of Eastsound. In the galleries and exhibit rooms, you’ll find extensive collection of artifacts from early European-American settlers, selection of Native American artifacts including tools, utensils and textiles that have been approved by the Salish Coast tribes to which they once belonged, thousands of photographs of life on Orcas throughout history, and the crown jewel of the museum – an interactive exhibit featuring the intact skull and partial bone remains of a 14,000 year old Bison Antiquus discovered on the island in 2019. And don’t forget to check out materials relating to the police investigation of the infamous “Barefoot Bandit” who sought refuge on Orcas following a bizarre crime spree on the mainland.

Next up, continue your stroll around the quaint village of Eastsound and visit our many shops and galleries while you pick out a place for lunch! Looking for the perfect memento of your trip? As you make your way around the village you’ll find a number of shops that carry one-of-a-kind, island-made goods and souvenir opportunities. Pick up your reusable “But First, Orcas!” shopping bag at a participating retailer or at the Visitor Information Center on North Beach Rd. and double-up on the souvenir opportunity!

Maybe you want to begin your walk at Crow Valley Gallery on Main Street where you’ll see island life through the eyes of local artists and makers? Established in 1959, the gallery features pottery, paintings, sculpture, and jewelry to name a few of the celebrated mediums. Whether you’re looking for a unique hand-crafted Orcas souvenir, or to invest in fine art, there’s something for every art lover.

If your trip includes quiet afternoons on the deck looking out over Fishing Bay, picnicking and relaxing at Cascade Lake, or cozying up around the fire after a full day of adventure, you may want a good book to pass the time. Darvill’s Bookstore is an island treasure and independent bookstore with a carefully curated selection of fiction, non-fiction, classics, and children’s books, plus games, puzzles, and home accessories!

After lunch, it’s time to head out of town for something completely different. And the kids are going to love it! Orcas Moon Alpacas Farm  is a small family farm nestled among bucolic meadows along a quiet country road. The farm offers tours by donation  and features alpacas, one of South America’s lesser-known members of the camelid family, whose fleece was once reserved for royalty, sheep, miniature donkeys, Jersey cows,  and chickens. You can learn all about alpaca husbandry, what it’s like to live on a working farm in the islands, and finish your visit by visiting the cozy farm stand for home-grown fiber products, fine yarns, soft and warm alpaca socks, gorgeous sheep skins, framed farm photos, logo-wear, farm stuffies, and tasty island-grown lamb.

More farm adventure awaits at Lum Farm on the historic 185 acre Coffelt Farm Preserve, which spans Crow Valley, encompassing an expanse of scenic open-space, habitat resources, and productive agricultural land. The Lum family raises a diverse assortment of cattle, pastured lamb, goat, pork and poultry, all USDA certified and harvested on site and much of which you’re likely to find on the menu at your favorite island restaurant.  

The farm’s goat dairy produces a variety of goat cheese, including feta, chevre, tomme and gouda and the farm is currently the only WSDA Certified Dairy in Washington state that offers goat’s milk ice cream. (Pro tip: take some back to your place for a late night treat!)

In the farm stand you’ll find meats, cheese and eggs, seasonal fruits and vegetables, sheepskins and goatskins, wool products and more. Nearly all products available have been grown, tended and harvested on the farm.

Now it’s time to unwind and you don’t have far to go! Just up the road from Lum Farm under the shadow of Turtleback Mountain you’ll find Orcas Island Winery, the perfect spot to relax with a glass of world-class Washington state wine inspired by the very scenic views across the valley upon which you gaze. The winery is a family-friendly and dog-friendly wine garden (say hi to Arthur!) that features its own locally produced and crafted wines as flight experiences, glass pours, or by the bottle. You’ll also find gourmet picnic-style snacks and locally made cheese.

That was a long day, but more fun awaits!

Day 2:

To really maximize your visit to Orcas, you need a day on the open water. Today you’ll set out to connect with life in the islands from a perspective steeped in history – on the Salish Sea. Is your family interested in fishing, whale watching, or just a relaxing day on the boat? There are a number of incredible options from which to choose for your water adventure. 

If marine wildlife is on your agenda, Outer Island Excursions has been operating from their base on Orcas Island for over 25 years. With a fleet of high-speed vessels piloted by experienced captains and knowledgeable naturalist guides, Outer Island Ex tours offer a chance to witness diverse wildlife including Sea Otters, Harbor Seals, Bald Eagles, and more, all while cruising through the dynamic scenery of the San Juan Islands. Classic whale watching tours run from March to November, with Orca only tours running from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 

Back on dry land, why not end the day with a delicious dinner while watching the sunset and looking for harbor seals? The Madrona Bar and Grill overlooks the water from Eastsound on Fishing Bay and has plenty of options for the kids, daily menu specials, and a full bar, plus patio seating.

Day 3:

Spend a day on the links or challenge the family to a round of mini golf? 

Orcas Island Golf Course was built in 1962 on a 54-acre estate that was once a mustard farm and is reminiscent of old Scottish country clubs. Its original design concept took advantage of gentle rolling hills and natural water hazards to make play challenging for amateur and seasoned golfers alike. The original farmhouse dates to the 1890s and has been converted to the clubhouse, which features all the amenities you need for your round. Walk the course or rent a cart and take in the natural beauty of the island while you set a personal best score! 

If the family chooses mini-golf instead, you’re in for a treat! The affordable 18-hole course was recently ranked the best mini-golf course in Washington state and highlights much of what makes the San Juan Islands and Orcas Island special: boats, a spinning propeller, bridges, islands, a ferry, and of course, Orca whales. Don’t forget to fuel up with snacks and cold beverages in the clubhouse.

Day 4:

Moran State Park is the crown jewel of Orcas Island and a must-do for every visitor, boasting 5,579 acres of pristine forest, five freshwater lakes, fantastic waterfalls, and over 30 miles of hiking trails. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely day of paddle boarding or picnicking at one of the lakes, a modest walk to gorgeous Cascade Falls, or a challenging hike to the top of Mount Constitution for stellar views of Rosario Strait, the expansive Northen Cascade Mountain range, including Mt. Baker, and south all the way to Mt. Rainier, the park has you covered.

Cascade Lake is the most accessible recreational area in the park. Situated right on Olga Rd., you’ll find picnic and day use sites, campgrounds, a roped off area for shallow swimming from a gently sloping beach, and a beautiful 2.9 mile lakeshore trail that takes you around the entire lake.

A visit to Cascade Lake is not complete without a stop at the iconic Orcas Adventures, which offers boat, SUP, kayak and inflatable floaty rentals. Orcas Adventures is located on the lake and also has boat and kayak rentals at Mountain Lake a bit further up the park road.

And don’t forget to save room for goodies at the Sugar Shack, and island institution where you’ll find a variety of beverages and snacks, including 12 flavors of local Lopez Island Creamery ice cream (and homemade ice cream sandwiches) plus espresso. You’ll also find souvenirs, beach gear, swimwear, towels and sunscreen. Both Orcas Adventures and Sugar Shack are open on weekends September through May and daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

After your day in the park, explore the east side of the island and head over to another Orcas icon for some of the best seafood you can find anywhere in the islands: Buck Bay Shellfish Farm and Bistro.

Since the early 1940s, Buck Bay Shellfish Farm has been the go-to spot for seafood and shellfish on Orcas Island. Originally, Buck Bay sold clams and oysters that are farmed on the property to this day. Before long, Buck Bay was selling locally sourced crab and fish from local fishermen and in 2020 the operation added a bistro on their waterfront property offering, halibut fish and chips, prawns, salmon, Dungeness crab, oysters, clams, and beer and wine. Buck Bay isn’t just a shellfish farm and fish market, it’s also a traditional farm and features four acres of organic gardens that sources ingredients for the bistro. As with many of the island’s food service establishments, if they don’t grow it, they source it from local providers, prioritizing Orcas farmers above all. You can still buy locally sourced fish at the fish market along with oysters and clams grown right in Buck Bay or organic vegetables from the property. Buck Bay is open seasonally from April to October.

Day 5:

We completely understand. Heading home from such an amazing, rejuvenating trip can be bittersweet. But the good news is you can take a bit of Orcas with you for the way home. Never pass up an opportunity to visit the island institution that is Orcas Village Store while you wait for the ferry. Whether it’s some of the best home baked muffins and scones you’ve ever had or the grab and go lunch options, elevate your ferry ride with that last little bit of deliciousness from the island. One of the many things that will keep you coming back!