Fall is our favorite time to visit Friday Harbor and San Juan Island. My husband and I are having the best time returning to our special places and seeing what has changed and what hasn’t. This year, in addition to our faves, we’ve found quite a few new (or new to us) spots to check out and we have loved visiting them all.
Wine, Wine and more Wine
We have counted four new wine bars (woot!) in Friday Harbor and checked out the two closest to our hotel. Right across the street from the Bird Rock, Madrone Cellars & Ciders has opened their stylish tasting room and large outdoor wine garden. I loved their white wines, especially the Riesling, dry and crisp like in Europe. When you do a tasting here you get $10 off a bottle of wine. What a deal!
Anchors Away, the new rooftop wine bar above the Cask & Schooner, gets my A+ for the best view in Friday Harbor. Anchors serves hard to find, national and international wine and sparkling wine. We tried the Sparkling Wines around the World and learned that Crement, France, lays right next to the Champagne region. Sparkling wines from Crement taste just like the real thing for a fraction of the cost of “real” champagne. So cool!
Fabulous Fall Farms
A new discovery to us was the fabulous Aurora Farms on No2 Schoolhouse Road. The entrance to this 31-acre polyculture farm is marked by owner and artist Lori Ann David’s “Hands of Love”, a stunning mosaic of giant hands. As you enter, you pass by extremely happy free-range pigs frolicking in a forested area until you see the farmhouses, barn and farm stand--all so beautiful. We took ourselves on a little self-guided tour though the gorgeous fields, said “hi” to the baby chicks and the not-so-baby chicks and turkeys and then explored the farm store. They sell, among many other things, uncured Sunday bacon without any nitrates except celery salt. This was the best bacon we have ever had in our lives. We went back on our departure day and got more to take home.
Another farm we've known about for years and make sure that we never miss out on our San Juan Island explorations, is the Pelindaba Lavender Farm and Gatehouse Farm Store. Ever since we first stayed at the Bird Rock Hotel where they offer Pelindaba’s body care products in their guest rooms, I have been hooked on their shampoo. Yes, I could buy it online or in one of their stores closer to my home, but I prefer to visit the farm store once a year and stock up. At the Gatehouse store, Pelindaba often offers unique lavender gifts like local pottery you can’t get anywhere else. I also deeply enjoy picking my own lavender for my winter teas. Makes me feel connected to this beautiful island and this lovely planet.
Favorite Lunch & Dinner
Tina’s Tacos used to be a little, hidden lunch place for the locals, only open midweek. Not anymore. Tina went big and now operates the fun Fifties-style diner on top of the ferry lanes, serving breakfast and lunch. I loved the fish tacos and my Sweetheart was quite overwhelmed by the size of his burrito. This is uncomplicated, authentic Mexican food and it is so good. Do not miss!
Dinner at Downriggers on the outside deck overlooking the waterfront is one of our San Juan Island traditions. Downriggers never disappoints. The food is great, the service wonderful, the view unbeatable. We treated ourselves to Vodka oyster shooters, crab tater tots and the bouillabaisse and had to gently remind ourselves that we were on the outside world and shouldn’t lick the plates.
Until next time, Our Favorite Isle in the Pacific Northwest--so long and thanks for all the fish!