San Juan Islands Scenic Byway
The San Juan Islands Scenic Byway includes a marine highway and driving tours on both Orcas and San Juan Islands. For centuries, this was a historic canoe route once traveled by the Coast Salish people. Today, Washington State Ferries (also a designated state scenic byway) ply these waters laden with locals and visitors traveling by car, by bike or on foot.
CLICK TO EXPLORE ON MAP to find more things to do, places to stay and eat along this route.
In the shadow of Cap Sante headland, Anacortes is the perfect basecamp for exploring Fidalgo Island, the Skagit Valley, Whidbey Island and the San Juan Islands. The quaint downtown features entertaining murals depicting historical figures from the region. Amazing, fresh seafood is on every menu! Walk the Tommy Thompson parkway along the water’s edge, or drive through scenic Washington Park and see views of the Puget Sound islands and beyond. In a previous life, Anacortes was a home to more than a dozen canneries, and was considered the “Salmon Canning Capital of the World.” The trash receptacles throughout downtown are decorated with colorful canning labels.Read More
2. Orcas Village
The Orcas Island ferry lands at Orcas Village, a tiny hamlet with a few shops, a post office, a historic hotel and a grocery store. Although generally quiet, "the Landing" as it is known by locals is a meeting place for travelers and commuters. Octavia's Bistro is named after the Orcas Hotel's first owner and renown cook; it is a place where guests can enjoy jazz and a glass of local wine.Read More
3. Eastsound Village
A fifteen-minute drive from the ferry lies the historic village of Eastsound, Orcas Island’s downtown. Nestled above Fishing Bay, this walkable village bustles with life—a visitor’s dream of galleries, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and a history museum. After spending a day whale watching, or hiking up Mt. Constitution or Turtleback Mountain, you can enjoy happy hour or dinner at a local restaurant, and enjoy a concert or play in the evening.
4. Moran State Park
Pass through the welcome arch at Moran State Park on Orcas Island. The vast, varied terrain of this park includes 38 miles of hiking trails, 5 lakes and a natural preserve area. Hike, cycle or drive to the summit of Mount Constitution for expansive views of the San Juan Islands or go searching for waterfalls along many of the trails.Read More
5. Mount Constitution
If you want the challenge of a steep hike and the reward of breathtaking views, grab your hiking boots and a packed lunch and head to Mount Constitution in Moran State Park, the highest point in the San Juan Islands—2,409 feet. It’s not a hike to be rushed, however, as there is a lot to appreciate on the way up. Hike from the cool shade of old-growth forest to sunshine and wildflowers in alpine meadows.Read More
6. Friday Harbor
If you want to escape to a slower pace, you’ll be enchanted by Friday Harbor—a charming, historic, walkable seaport just steps from the ferry landing, with small, friendly shops and restaurants, and a refreshing absence of fast-food chains.Read More
7. The Whale Museum
The Whale Museum, located in beautiful Friday Harbor, Washington, opened to the public in 1979 as the first museum in the country devoted to a species living in the wild. Today, our museum continues to promote stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research. Help support the Southern Resident orcas by making a donation, adopting an orca, or becoming a member of The Whale Museum. Or, simply pay us a visit! Our Gallery of Whales is a great way for individuals, students and families to receive a personal introduction to the whales of the Pacific Northwest.Read More
8. Roche Harbor
Whether you stay at the historic Hotel de Haro, visit from your boat in one of the marina’s 377 slips or anchor out, or spend an afternoon exploring the tiny village and its environs, Roche Harbor and its setting will capture your heart.Read More
9. English Camp
Spend a little time on San Juan Island and you’re almost certain to hear about "The Pig War," which in 1859 led to a 12-year joint British/U.S. occupation of the island while the two nations argued over who owned the San Juans. The Royal Marines lived at English Camp, at the north end of the island, and a few buildings, a formal garden, and a cemetery remain from their time here.Read More
10. Lime Kiln State Park
Also known as Whale Watch Park, Lime Kiln Point State Park is a 36-acre day-use park with an iconic lighthouse set on the west side of San Juan Island. The park is considered one of the best places in the world to view whales from land.Read More
11. American Camp
At the south end of the island lie the prairie and forest of American Camp, home to U.S. soldiers during the U.S./British occupation in the mid-1800s. The visitor center offers a good selection of books and guides to island history and wildlife, and ranger-led nature and history walks take place on weekends from June through August.Read More