Best Museums in the San Juan Islands

by | Dec 20, 2017 | Blog, Explore San Juan Island

With all the fantastic outdoor activities in the San Juan Islands, our guests are always surprised by the number of great “intellectual” activities we offer too! When that rainy day arrives and you need somewhere new to explore, here are some of our favorite suggestions!

San Juan Island

Stone and wood historical buildingThe San Juan Historical Society and Museum is located on the old King Farm, which was homesteaded in the 1880’s, an easy walk from the ferry. The original farmhouse, and carriage house, along with a pioneer log cabin, barn and other out buildings are on exhibit as well as a great collection of island artifacts and photographs. Special events occur year-round with the favorites being the July 4th Pig War Picnic, the Music on the Lawn Summer Concert series and an Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration.

323 and 405 Price St., Friday Harbor      phone: 360.378.3949

The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor is one of those “don’t miss” island places, even if the kids aren’t with you. The Southern Resident pods of the endangered Orca killer whales live here in our back yard and the Whale Museum is dedicated to their stewardship…the first museum in the country devoted to a species living in the wild. The museum offers courses on becoming a marine Naturalist, has a Whale Hotline for orca sightings, and you can even adopt a whale to support their educational programs!

62 First Street, Friday Harbor     phone: 360.378.4710Orcas and seaweed painted on the side of a two-story building

Being art fans, we love the new San Juan Islands Museum of Art, which showcases art and artists from around the world (think…Ai Weiwei) in an impressive contemporary structure. The museum’s mission is to champion authenticity of expression, place and connections and it succeeds with rotating exhibitions of sculpture, paintings, photography, drawings and more, as well as fun educational series like the Winter Arts Workshops.

540 Spring Street, Friday Harbor    phone: 360.370.5050

Orcas Island

For more island history, Orcas-style, head to the Orcas Island Historical Museum, where you’ll be wowed by six original homestead cabins (along with over 6000 artifacts) that have been reassembled to exhibit scenes of Native American and early settler life on the islands. Each cabin tells the story of a specific aspect of island history through material culture. The museum also operates the Crow Valley School Museum, built in 1888. It is recognized as one of the finest examples of an intact one-room school house in Washington and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (open by appointment only).  181 North Beach Road, Eastsound         phone: 360.376.4849

Man and boy walking towards a log cabin

More for you art lovers! the Lambiel Museum is a quirky collection of art by local artists from 1915 to the present, and includes the largest collection of work by Helen Loggie, one of the San Juan Island’s most celebrated artists, and a large assemblage of grandfather clocks. The museum, located close to Eastsound,  is open every day by appointment and a $20 donation is requested, but for that you get an entertaining two-hour tour by Mr. Lambiel (the collector) himself and a glimpse into a unique island home, plus two architectural follies on site – a Greek Doric Temple and an underground fantastical grotto!

Phone: 360.376.4544 for appointments

Lopez Island

The Lopez Island Historical Society & Museum is in the heart of Lopez Village, and like San Juan and Orcas Island’s historical museums, focuses on telling the story of Lopez island history. Lopez is an agricultural island, so the museum has exhibits on farming, fishing, and island communities. For all you genealogists, it also contains large document and photography archives to research your family history or find vintage images of your island home. The museum also creates fascinating exhibits – “Salmon is King” dove into a history of Lopez island fishing, “Brave, Bold and Beautiful Lopez Women” explored notable island women, and “Carried by Canoe” was a collection of more than 200 bone, stone, and antler Native artifacts.

Rusted antique farm equipment in front of a wood building

Photo thanks to

28 Washburn Pl., Lopez Village     phone: 360.468.2049


Call now: 800-617-2267
4313 Roche Harbor Rd,
Friday Harbor, WA