Family Vacations in Washington

Family Vacations in Washington: San Juan Islands

You can learn more about the orcas that populate the waters near the San Juan Islands with a visit to the Whale Museum, located near historic Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

North of Seattle in Puget Sound sits the San Juan Archipelago, a collection of 172 named islands and another several hundred rocky island outcroppings that appear at low tide. Although about 40 of these idyllic islands are inhabited, most people living here reside on the four that have ferry service: San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw. Many families take bicycles aboard the ferry to explore the islands at a leisurely pace.

The islands' sheltered waters are home to harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters, dolphins, and orcas. Whale watching is a popular pastime, particularly around Friday Harbor on San Juan Island (the largest island of the group). This area is home to three resident pods of orcas and was the backdrop for the Free Willy movie series. Take a whale-watching boat tour or head to Lime Kiln Point State Park to play in the sand and watch orcas feed just 30 feet from shore.

On the next page, learn how you can see fanciful and complex kites from around the world at the Washington State International Kite Festival.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Seattle City Guide: Discover Seattle, a city that's synonymous with Starbucks, the Space Needle, and rainy weather.
  • Washington State Guide: Learn about the natural beauty you'll find in the state of Washington, including the Columbia River and Mount Rainier.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.