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Aug 17, 2012 09:08 AM

First trip to the Islands for So Cal foodies...Orcas or San Juan?

Our trip will include a night on Lummi for dinner at the Willows Inn. But for two nights preceding that, (a Tuesday and Wednesday) we thought we'd stay at one of the larger islands, about which we know absolutely zero, especially from a food standpoint. Our research indicates some good places to dine on both SJ and Orcas. How easy is it to ferry between these two? Looking for a nice, upscale place to stay (not cabins or cottages) where dining is also featured on premises. Any suggestions?

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  1. Have you made any decisions regarding your trip?

    Looks like we are headed to Seattle unexpectedly, for an extended weekend in September, and we are thinking of spending three nights on Orcas Island.

    So far, we are thinking of hitting Rose's for lunch and to stock our larder if needed, and perhaps Sazio di Notte for dinner, if they have a bar or outside seating.

    We are renting a house, so we may just hit the farmers market Saturday morning and cook for ourselves, mostly. We do like to go out for breakfast though, so any recommendations are welcome.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rabaja

      We chose Orcas after it was recommended by a San Juan Isl. resident in another thread. We had some trouble finding a place to stay, as for some reason all the places we wanted to stay are booked solid on a Tues-Wed in mid-Sept. Go figure. Staying at Rosario. Haven't made any solid decisions on restaurants, other than Rose's, so the suggestions in this thread will be helpful.

    2. We just returned from a trip to the San Juan's. We stayed on Orcas at the Rosario, which was great for kids. Their food was nothing to write home about. Rose's Bakery and Cafe' was fantastic. I could eat there everyday... Chimayo was delicious for lunch. We ordered the salad which was reallly good, with pepitas, black beans, rice, veg, guac, and beautiful greens. The burritos looked fantastic. One place we stopped for a early evening app and drink and I so wish we had been hungry enough for dinner was Doe Bay. It's out of the way, but the menu was absolutely beautiful... pescetarian (sp) and vegetarian. It's a little hippie resort, not fancy, but the restaurant was nice. We had wine, a cheese plate, and the thai coconut tomato soup with yogurt, basil, and cilantro garnish. Soooo good! I like Orcas way better than San Juan. Not as touristy, incredibly beautiful, and I can't wait to go back. Happy travels!

      1. We like the pizza at Portafino Pizza on Orcas. The fine dining restaurants change so frequently that we just stopped trying. Don't miss the drive to Moran State Park and up to Mt. Constitution. On San Juan Island we always eat at Downriggers but this year I tried Market Chef and it was very good, I'll be back there for sure. Don't miss Lime Kiln State Park if you want to see the orcas playing.

        You can check the ferry schedules at Washington State Ferries web site. You have to plan ahead but we never have an issue island hopping while we stay on SJI every summer. We lease a house on the west side to be where we can see the whales. It's listed at but there are plenty of nice places to stay in Friday Harbor. We stayed on Orcas once but the room was very outdated, thought I was back in the disco era - lol.

        There's a lot more to do on SJI than on Orcas Island, it's all a matter of personal preference. We've stayed on Lopez too but always return to the west side of San Juan Island. When the road curves and Haro Strait comes into your view, you will understand why.

        This is the schedule through 9/22. It changes after that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: texasredtop

          Thank you for both the dining and tourist advice. Very helpful.