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and the San Juan Islands have long been renowned as one of the premier vacation destinations in Washington, offering a diverse landscape ranging from pebbly beaches to mountain meadows and lush valleys. A picturesque seaport town, Friday Harbor invites guests to share in the splendour and isolation of San Juan Island and can only be accessed by sea or by air. This quintessential northwest destination, getting there is half the fun. If you come by ferry, you will be treated to a spectacular ride through a maze of sparkling seas and emerald islands. If you come by air, you`ll be amazed at how the San Juan Islands are embraced by the majestic mountains. Shopping, galleries and restaurants accommodate an array of tastes and preferences and with outdoor adventures, just steps away. Quaint shops and unique art, ranging from jewellery to paintings and sculpture, much of it created by local artists. Westcott Bay Reserve offers a 19 acre Sculpture Garden that allows visitors to stroll and enjoy the many works of talented Islanders. Parks are lovely and the beaches scored higher than any other beaches in the U.S. in a recent national magazine survey. Friday Harbor is located on the eastern side of San Juan Island, the second largest island in the San Juan Islands group.
Spanish explorers named some of the islands and waterways in this area, but the British and Americans were the primary non-native settlers on San Juan Island, providing colorful accounts for the history books. The big story here is about the `Pig War` that was started in 1859, significant in many ways although rooted in what some would consider insignificant circumstances. It all started when a pig owned by Englishman Charles Griffen broke into the tasty garden of American Lyman Cutlar one too many times. Cutlar shot the pig, admitted to shooting the pig, refused a trial by the British, and sought the United States` protection. Since it was unclear at that time exactly where the U.S./Canadian border really was, a 12-year standoff ensued. The English garrison was established on the northwestern side of the island; an American garrison was set up on the southern tip. In 1872, a German arbitrator, Kaiser Wilhelm, settled the debate by establishing the U.S./Canadian boundary and `gave` the San Juan Islands to the United States.
Friday Harbor is the home of The Whale Museum. Perched on the hill above town and overlooking the harbor, this is the first museum in the country dedicated to the interpretation of living whales in the wild. The Whale Museum and the Center for Whale Research have been instrumental pioneers in the research, documentation, awareness, and conservation of Orcas in the Salish Sea. After checking out town and The Whale Museum, take a history tour of the island. Whale Watch Park, English Camp, American Camp, Roche Harbor, a lavender farm, wine tasting, picnicking, and bird watching all await you. The San Juan Islands is a series of ancient mountaintops protruding from the Salish Sea, an inland waterway northwest of Seattle, Washington. There are roughly 170 separate islands, with San Juan Island being nearly the largest. San Juan Island is about as far Northwest as you can get inside the continental United States. The island averages only about half as much yearly rainfall as Seattle. San Juan also sees the sun an average of 247 days a year.
There is so much more to San Juan Island than fantastic weather, though. San Juan Island is an enchanting place where gentle breezes push the smell of sea air across fields of lavender and alfalfa; orca whales splash through sparkling seas just over the bluff from your unbelievably beautiful picnic site; majestic bald eagles soar through unparalleled sunsets and your Jacuzzi suite waits to soothe you after a day spent hiking, whale watching, biking, kayaking, exploring or just relaxing on a nearly deserted beach. The pace of life is different here, and San Juan Island is a place you will return to again and again. Friday Harbor and San Juan Island provide an amazingly effortless get away. Once you`re on San Juan Island, as the ebb and flow of island life leaves you relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated, and find it impossible to leave.