San Juan Island is one of the most beautiful places on earth (OK, we are a little bit biased). Although we’re famous for our summers, these islands are a paradise in winter, too, with plenty to see and do in our “quiet season”. (And a big thanks to Pacific North Wanderers for their great photos of the Afterglow Vista Trail.) https://www.pnwanderers.com/
Take a walk
If you like to stroll with the crisp, fresh smell of sea air in your lungs, you’ll love exploring San Juan’s parks and pathways in the winter. You can storm watch from the beach or stroll along any of the many island trails, sometimes with a fresh dusting of snow.
For a walk to enjoy the stillness of winter, choose the Afterglow Vista Trail. Only a short half mile, this spot just north of Roche Harbor winds through an abandoned cemetery to the McMillin mausoleum. The McMillin family founded Roche Harbor, and the stone table and columns that mark their remains bears the inscription, “Death breaks the column of any man’s life.” One column is deliberately broken.
If you want to stick a little closer to your Lakedale “home”, our 82 acres of lakes, forests and meadows (with paths throughout) will give you a taste of the outdoors without having to get into your car. Come November and December, keep a lookout for the magnificent white trumpeter swans who are our repeat winter guests.
Take a hike
If you’re looking for a slightly longer walk, Bell Point Loop Trail is an easy 1.8 mile loop where history and natural beauty mingle. You’ll pass through historical English Camp, where the English army was stationed during the famous Pig War of 1860. There are historical markers and history buffs will have a field day here.
Climb to the top
If you feel up for a challenge and the weather permits, hike to the top of Mount Young, the base of which begins along the Bell Point Loop Trail. Mount Young is the highest point on San Juan Island at 650 ft. On the hike, you’ll discover an abandoned English cemetery, grassy meadows and an old-growth forest – and you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view from the top.
Other outdoor winter activity ideas: Try whale watching from shore or observing some of San Juan’s other winter wildlife.
The Great Indoors
Winter is a lovely time to visit a museum—especially when they’re having a major event! The San Juan Islands Museum of the Arts (SJIMA) is a gorgeous glass building that houses the work of artists from the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia across a mixture of mediums, and winter is a great time to visit.
Every winter, SJIMA hosts their annual Registry Show, which combines the multimedia art of 92 area artists. This year the theme is “Spirit Taking Form” and will be on display from December 10 to February 18th. The event is great for casual viewing, but if you haven’t done all your Christmas shopping yet this could be a good opportunity for browsing and buying!
San Juan Community Theater is the perfect place to cuddle up on a stormy night and take in a show. Live performances are regularly hosted here, but we recommend The MET: Live in HD. This series is broadcast in high definition straight from the stage of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Every Saturday this winter, catch classics like La Bohème, Tosca, or Semiramide. It’s a rare opportunity to combine the repertoire of New York City with the ambiance of our own little island!
This event actually takes place at the Orcas Center, but if you want to day trip from San Juan to Orcas Island, this cabaret is a great reason to hop on a ferry!
The annual Enchanted Forest Cabaret is a cherished local tradition and the shows keep both adults and children laughing and in suspense. This year’s performance is Naughty Pirates of Neverland, in which the worlds of Peter Pan and the Pirates of the Caribbean collide. There are seven showings in January, from the 12th -14th, and again the weekend of the 18th – 21st. You’ll be humming show tunes all night!
Other indoor winter activity ideas: Visit a San Juan brewery or distillery or a restaurant in Friday Harbor!
There’s plenty to do both indoors and out this winter in San Juan. Join us, and experience a side of the island that only locals typically see: calm streets, still forests, and empty trails. Check out Lakedale’s fall and winter specials to book a room!