Friday Harbor Off The Beaten Path

  • View from Viewpoint
    View from Viewpoint
    by glabah
  • Carriage House as Seen from Main Museum
    Carriage House as Seen from Main Museum
    by glabah
  • Concerts on the Lawn are Found with Signs
    Concerts on the Lawn are Found with...
    by glabah

Best Rated Off The Beaten Path in Friday Harbor

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    Pelindaba Lavendar Farms

    by paulscuba Updated Jul 10, 2003

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    This is a very fragrant lavendar farm. They have many lavendar products and some plants that can be purchased. We were visiting a little early in the season so they didn't have tours running. The farm tours don't start until approx. the 2nd week of July and not sure when they stop running them. If you are going later in August you can always check with them.

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    See the incredible view from the top of Mt. Young

    by Elli99fh Written Feb 25, 2003

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    The hike to the top of Mt. Young is really enjoyable, and not too many tourist know about it. I think it takes about half an hour to hike up the trail, and the view from the top is incredible. You can see Vancouver Island across the strait, the Olympic peninsula to the south and lots of water and islands all around. You can also see Roche Harbor and Wescott Bay right below you. If you like hiking you can go down the other side of the mountain into the Roche Harbor resevoir lands and there are lots of trails to explore.
    Take Roche Harbor Road to West Valley Rd. Near British Camp there is a metal gate on your left hand side. Park on the side of the road and hike up the trail. (If you hike down the trail you end up at British Camp.) I don't think it is marked, but in the summer time there are usually several vehicles parked there. Have fun!

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    Watch the sunset.

    by Toughluck Updated Nov 4, 2006

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    We thought we were being original. We had visited the Lime Kiln Lighthouse earlier and realized that it looked west across Haro Straits. On the horizon was Vancouver Island. This would be a great place to watch the sunset. So we came back neare to sunset. In the summer, that can be as late as 10:00 PM.

    Well, we showed up and there were some cars in the parking lot. Actually, more than when we had been here earlier in the day. The short walk out to the bluffs brought us to a gathering. Now I say gathering, because we 'expected' to be along. Instead, there must have been 20-30 others waiting for the sun to go down. Everyone was polite, talk was in quiet murmurs. Slowly, people spread out along the trail from the overlook to the lighthouse and suddenly, it was as if we were there alone, just the 5 in our group.

    It was wonderful. Over the next 40 minutes the sky changed colors in a light display unlike any I've seen elsewhere.

    Early Sunset Nearly done for the night
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    A Whale of a Tail: "Fluke" by Micajah Bienvenu

    by glabah Written Apr 3, 2015

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    On January 10th, 2013 a new sculpture was installed at 1st and A Streets in Friday Harbor. Created by Friday Harbor sculptor Micajah Bienvenu, this is a more artistic reminder of the largest of creatures commonly found around San Juan Island than the cheap plush toys or other goofy tourist objects.

    A small bench is also located at the sculpture, and if you happen to be waiting in the ferry queue for a long time this might be one place to sit and enjoy the weather, should it be a nice day. There are a number of small restaurants near here, including Market Chef, Hungry Clam, Doctor's Office Café, and several others.

    The sculpture is located in a very small plaza at the south side of the intersection of A, First, Harrison and E streets. This is also the top of the hill end of the ferry terminal queue lanes.

    Bench with
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  • Mt. Young. This is just across...

    by nwpassages Written Oct 4, 2002

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    Mt. Young. This is just across the road from British Camp. A short 10 minute hike up the hill will bring you to spectacular views of Roche Harbor, the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island and the San Juans. Absolutely breathtaking.

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    Historical Museum: Friday Harbor Antique Jail

    by glabah Updated Jul 19, 2013

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    The old jail is part of the San Juan Historical Museum, which I have covered in a Friday Harbor Things to Do Tip, Please see my overall San Juan Island Historical Museum tip at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/230a64/
    for a bit more about this complex of buildings and links to related tips.

    In an amazing bit of history, the original hand written bid for constructing this jail in 1894 still exists, and a copy of it is on display inside the jail. The building remained in use as a jail into the 1970s, and probably would be in use today as the island jail if it hadn't been condemned by the local health authorities as being the worst and most outdated jail in the state.

    The jail was then moved to the grounds of the San Juan Historical Society and has become part of the museum.

    On display inside are various key moments in history in law enforcement in Friday Harbor and the San Juan Islands. During the era of prohibition, due to the proximity of Canada, the islands did a pretty brisk trade in alcohol and criminal activity.

    San Juan Islands Jail was In Use into the 1970s Display of Law Enforcement History of Jail Example of Life in the 1894 era San Juan Jail 1894 Bid to Construct the San Juan Islands Jail
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    Historical Museum: Carriage House

    by glabah Written Jul 19, 2013

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    This tip is part of a larger set of tips about the San Juan Island Historical Museum (see my overall San Juan Island Historical Museum tip at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/230a64/
    for a bit more about this complex of buildings and links to related tips).

    Telling the story of life in a historic farm house really isn't enough. The artifacts that show the early history of the community must show more than just household items.

    The carriage house has several sections. One of these sections is, of course, the actual carriage house. Here there are two restored carriages that serve as examples of transportation in the early years of Friday Harbor. To that end there is also a single preserved example of one of Friday Harbor's first streetlights (a very large kerosene lantern designed for mounting on a street post), with a photograph showing how they looked in service originally.

    The main room of the carriage house also shows all the tools that would have been required for maintenance of the carriages as well as other equipment around the farm (see photo 3), with each item labeled with a brief description.

    Outside, there is huge rudder from the clipper ship "America" which sank off San Juan Island in 1914. It gives an up close look at a piece of a ship that is seldom seen above water (see photo 4) and gives some idea of the impressive wood pieces that were once used in these early sailing ships.

    Sort of hidden behind the carriage house is a different section entirely, which preserves some of the early commercial instruments from Friday Harbor history. Examples include the first telephone exchange (see photo 5) and an early accountants desk.

    The carriage house is connected to the farm house by a brick walkway, as seen in the main tip, and therefore even in bad weather you don't have to worry too much about your feet getting muddy. (see photo 2)

    Carriages in the Carriage House Carriage House as Seen from Main Museum Tools of the Trade in the Carriage House Rudder from Clipper Ship Friday Harbor's First Telephone Exchange
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    Historical Museum: Scribner Cabin / Schoolhouse

    by glabah Updated Dec 3, 2015

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    This tip is part of a larger set of tips about the San Juan Island Historical Museum (see my overall San Juan Island Historical Museum tip at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/230a64/
    for a bit more about this complex of buildings and links to related tips).

    Built by San Juan Island pioneer Edward Scribner in 1891, this cabin uses techniques in its construction that are very typical of much earlier structures on the island, and is perhaps the oldest surviving example of this type of construction on San Juan Island. By 1891, most residents on the island had moved to houses employing somewhat more modern house building techniques and almost all almost of this older generation of structures have now been lost. Originally it was the home of the Scribner family (including 9 children) but later the family moved to Friday Harbor and used the more remote cabin as a fishing retreat house. Thus, one of the examples of this older construction remained preserved.

    In 1988, facing possible uncertain future with the development of many areas of the island, it was moved to Friday Harbor and rebuilt on the historical society grounds. Though moved, it is still a wonderful example of early style construction methods used on the island.

    The main room of the structure has been rebuilt into an example of a schoolhouse as it appeared in 1896, complete with surviving antique furnishings that represent the era. Notice that if you look at photo 3 you will see that the attic of the school house served as a residence for the single teacher.

    The other section of the main floor has been arranged as a residence also authentic of island life in the 1890s.

    Log Cabin and Schoolhouse part Historic Museum Arrangement of Classroom in Log Cabin Notice School also Served as Residence
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    Friday Harbor Floating Breakwater

    by glabah Updated Jul 9, 2014

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    Providing a unique way to view Friday Harbor from the water without having to rent a boat or kayak and get out into the water yourself, the floating breakwater constructed for Friday Harbor's marina not only serves as a protection for the boats that are moored here but also as a public floating observation walkway.

    Unfortunately, only two benches are currently places on this walkway. Even so, if they are not already in use they offer a unique perspective on island life, and can offer a unique perspective of the ferry terminal and the marina.

    The main photo shows the breakwater as seen from Spring Street Landing and shows that there are no handrails or benches here. During peak season there are boats that do tie up here from time to time but most of the time the breakwater is free of obstruction. You just have to be careful.

    The view of the breakwater taken from the breakwater shows one of the two benches that do exist on the breakwater at this point.

    How to Get Here: Like most of Friday Harbor, this area is best explored on foot. Walk through Fairweather Park between Front Street and the water. Towards the north end of this park you will find an entrance to the docks which also gives a map of the marina and a bit of information about the breakwater (see photo 2). From here you can walk out onto the pier and gain access to the floating breakwater.

    View of Breakwater, No Benches but Good Viewpoint View of Friday Harbor from Floating Breakwater Map of Floating Breakwater at Entrance to Marina View of Ferry Arriving from Floating Breakwater View of Sunset on 6 June 2013 from Breakwater
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  • glabah's Profile Photo

    Story Pole / Totem Pole (Fairweather Park)

    by glabah Written Nov 8, 2013

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    In an acknowledgement of First Nations culture, this story pole was erected in Fairweather Park.

    Calling these totem poles isn't always accurate. A totem pole tells the story of a particular family living in a particular longhouse. Story poles tell a particular legend that isn't associated with a particular family. This pole does a little of both.

    A totem pole would be part of a Coast Salish longhouse, and so the history of the family living there would be there for all to see. While this pole doesn't necessarily tell the story of a particular family, it is designed to be a similar pole to tell a bit of a story of the San Juan Islands.

    The dominating theme of the pole is the responsible interaction of wildlife and human.

    The interlaced hands and paws of the woman and cougar on one pole represent the necessary tolerance of animals and humans for each other in order to assure mutual survival.

    The second pole represents the marine environment that surrounds the San Juan Islands, including the orca whale and salmon. The tale of a whale forms a seat, and according to the interpretive sign it is the artists intention that if someone sits on the seat they would then complete the circle of life represented on the pole.

    The pole was carved by native artists Susan Point in red cedar and dedicated in 2004.

    Signs built into the pole as well as on a nearby separate board give insight into the local Coast Salish culture and the artist's symbols. However, to read those signs you need to visit Friday Harbor. I will not reveal all of her symbols in this writing.

    How to Get Here: The pole is located in Fairweather Park, which is slightly north of the Spring Street landing and ferry terminal. Take the main pathway north through the park from Front Street and you will see the sculpture right beside the trail.

    Fairweather Park Story Pole overlooks Water Marine Ecosystem Pole has Symbolic Seat Intertwining of Nature and Human Life on Pole Crossbeam features Eagle and Other Symbols Signs On, Near Pole give Insight into Coast Salish
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    Public Viewpoint on Warbass Way - Mt Baker

    by glabah Updated Jun 13, 2013

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    There are two important things you need to know about this little viewpoint on Warbass Way: the road is a one-way street so getting to and from here requires a loop in any wheeled vehicle (I walked so it was different for me), and there is no vehicle parking here unless you are a member of the marina that sits below the viewpoint (again, this didn't matter to me as I walked here).

    On many days, other than the marina and the passage between the islands there really isn't too much to see here, though certainly the view from here is a bit more scenic than you find in a typical street-facing park or restaurant. However, there is one exception to this. It may seem an odd location for a viewpoint. Certainly, the area is nice but not necessarily that much more pleasant than what can be seen elsewhere in Friday Harbor. However, if the view looking east is good and clear, especially at sunrise, there is a very good view of Mount Baker from this viewpoint - unlike most other locations elsewhere in Friday Harbor. See photo 4. It is this view that has been preserved by allowing the public to access this platform.

    The only thing that identifies this as a public viewpoint as well as parking for the marina are signs that state "Public Viewing Area" posted on the platform.

    The real purpose of this platform, however, is to serve as a parking area for the elevator to the marina below.

    How to Get Here: The platform is located just slightly northwest of the western intersection of Warbass Way and Harrison Street. It isn't too far of a walk from downtown Friday Harbor, and if you drive there is very limited parking anywhere around the location.

    Public Platform Viewpoint at Marina View from Viewpoint Signs Indicate no Public Parking but Viewpoint Is On a Clear Day, Mount Baker Dominates the View
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    2nd Story Public Viewpoint

    by glabah Written Jul 5, 2013

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    This isn't necessarily an extremely difficult location to find, but it is something that is very easy to walk right past and not know it exists.

    The building known as "Town Square" directly across the street from the marina has a roof top viewing deck. So long as you don't stay past the posted hours you are welcome to view the boat traffic and marina from this location, and it probably has a pretty good sunrise view as well.

    The bad news is that there are two full flights of stairs to climb, and a third half-flight, but once you get to the top of the building it is one of the rare rooftop views of Friday Harbor that doesn't require spending money in a restaurant or bar in order to enjoy the view.

    As seen in photo 2, you will find that there are benches and planters up here on top of the building, for the purpose of enjoying the view while relaxing.

    How to Get Here:

    The Downrigger's Restaurant is probably the best landmark, other than the marina. Cross Front Street. On the other side of the road you will come across a building with a name painted on it called "Town Square" (see photo 4). Also looking at photo 4, you will find that there is a sign that points to the staircase and says there is a public viewing deck up two flights of stairs.

    After climbing a short flight of stairs and then a full flight of stairs, you will get to the first level balcony. This balcony is mostly used for storage of mops and brooms. Go up one more floor, and you will get to the observation deck on the roof of the building.

    View of Friday Harbor Marina from Public Roof Viewing Deck on Roof of Building with Benches Way to Viewing Deck is Well Marked, if Find Signs Entry to Town Square. Note Sign to Viewing Deck.
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    Friday Harbor Art Studio: Famous Scrimshaw Artist

    by glabah Written Jul 13, 2013

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    It should not be surprising at all that Friday Harbor produces and attracts artists that are very good at showing water scenes. Howard Rosenfeld is one such artist, and inside his studio you will find scrimshaw works and paper work depicting mostly water, ship and boat scenes. Block prints and other forms of art are also part of his work. Perhaps his most famous work is the pendant featured in the movie Free Willy II.

    All of the scrimshaw work is done on ivory that is fully documented as being legal for sale in the USA. The web site features some examples that have been sold internationally. One set of scrimshaw works shown there was done for Hawaiian royalty in the late 1970s.

    If you are looking for a unique card to send to someone from Friday Harbor, it may be worth taking a look at one of his unique cards.

    See the gallery web site, below, for some examples of the various art works he has made.

    The name of the studio also indicates one of his other specialties: as one of Friday Harbor's few picture framing shops.

    How to Get Here:

    From ferry staging area, head directly up hill on A Street. At end of A Street road turns onto Web Street. Here at the intersection you will find the Friday Harbor Art Studio.

    Home plus Art Studio on Web Street
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    Viewpoint at Top of Stairs at West Street

    by glabah Written Jul 22, 2013

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    A small public park (as a sign in the park clearly states - see photo 1) sits at the northwest end of West Street. Here you will find a picnic table and several benches overlooking the harbor and marina. If you like watching some spectacular skies, and the weather is slightly cloudy, grab a breakfast item of some sort or other and sit here and watch the sun come up over the hills and islands to the east of here. This is best done in high summer, when the sun comes up further north than any other time.

    Stairs down to Front Street lead past condominiums and private viewpoints, but the stairs also have a few benches on them - to rest or to take in the view as desired.

    Public Park and Viewpoint at End of West Street View of Harbor from West Street Viewpoint Park Benches in West Street Viewpoint Park, Harbor View Ferry departing Friday Harbor, West St. Viewpoint
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    Fairweather Park

    by glabah Updated Jun 12, 2014

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    Hugging the waterline between the harbor and Front Street, and running northwest of where West Street should be if it were to continue all the way to Front Street, this little park provides a relaxing view of the waterfront and the harbor without being quite so near the auto traffic noise that surrounds Spring Street and Front Street.

    The park has a reasonably good sized picnic shelter, benches overlooking the water, and a monument / story pole inspired and carved by local First Nations people. Near the picnic shelter you will also find a statue of Popeye, the harbor seal that has decided Friday Harbor is home.

    A small fountain on the far northwest side of the park provides additional natural obstruction of the city noise, should it be desired or prove necessary. Following a staircase up the hill to a small, open grass area at the top of the waterfall yields an even more off the beaten path area, as this part of the park is seldom visited by tourists.

    Fairweather Park along Waterfront in Downtown Picnic Shelter in Fairweather Park Story Poles from First Nations in Fairweather Park Small Waterfall Fountain with Duck with Sunglasses Top of Fountain and Top Entrance to Park

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Friday Harbor Off The Beaten Path

Reviews and photos of Friday Harbor off the beaten path posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Friday Harbor sightseeing.

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