Growing up in Seattle, I have a few vague memories of visiting Orcas Island when I was young. And again in college (one of my friends even had her bachelorette party there!). But it was more recently that my love affair with Orcas officially started. One of the San Juan Islands, Orcas is located just north of Seattle, and requires a ferry boat ride to get there. When my husband and I started dating, he took me there for my birthday on a little getaway, and we both decided right then and there that someday we'd love to have our own home on the island.
Since then, we've spent many seasons exploring Orcas, so it's about time that I actually shared our favorite spots on the island with you all! And we got the perfect excuse to head up there for a weekend getaway when we partnered with HomeAway on a recent stay!
This was our first trip to the islands since adopting little Gracie back in September of last year. We were so excited to bring her along and I was so happy to find an option on HomeAway that allowed pets! I'm pretty sure she was more excited than we were to roam around the island. She trotted through town like she owned the place, took a seven mile hike with us up to Mt. Constitution, and thoroughly explored the beaches.
The day we arrived was insanely sunny. I honestly didn't think we'd get such good weather out there, but we completely lucked out! From the ferry we headed over to Eastsound which is the most charming town on Orcas. There, you are greeted by the historic Outlook Inn which also houses one of our favorite dining spots: New Leaf Cafe. Not only do we love it for the menu, but the view is pretty amazing too...
Our HomeAway house was just a few minutes from town, which made it the perfect location. Up a little hill and into the trees we were tucked away from it all, but so close at the same time!
Leading up to our visit, the owner Tina was incredibly helpful. I don't think I've ever had such an attentive host! She was full of information, from the wifi password right down to where to park our car, so not a moment felt uncomfortable or confusing. The home was just as is looked online: modern, simple, clean, and stocked! The kitchen had everything we needed and then some. But the best part was the view!
No matter where you are hanging out in the main rooms, you're able to look out over the island and water view. Just the type of place we'd love to own someday, but how great is it to able to experience this for a weekend? It was instantly relaxing, and we made ourselves right at home. Gracie even found a perfect spot for her crate!
After we settled in, we set off into town to visit our old favorites and some new shops that I discovered too! We were actually close enough to walk right into town, which was a major bonus.
Here's our guide for the best places to visit in Eastsound on Orcas Island...
For the best pastries and coffee, we love Brown Bear, and so does everyone else! Don't expect the place to be this empty on a weekend morning. It's worth the wait though and there is plenty more seating outside! Or take a little walk with your coffee down to the water for breakfast with a view. If you're looking for something a little more healthy, head over to Wild Island for fresh juices, bowls and delicious bagels!
Around the corner in a cute little community of cottages hides one of my favorite stops on Orcas, Olga's. It's one of the original shops on the island that has evolved over the years, and is the cutest clothing and accessories boutique. It also happens to have some fantastic little friends around it including the Doe Bay Wine Co. which you can see peeking around the corner here, Printshop Northwest, and the best little ice cream spot in town, Clever Cow Creamery!
A couple scoops of Raspberry Almond Bourbon for me please!!
I was so happy to find a couple new shops had popped up since I last visited. The first one I stumbled on was Material Wit. Jewelry designer Jessie Morrow has been selling her pieces on the island (and beyond!) for some time now, but this new storefront is just gorgeous, and she's added home goods too!
How sweet is this hanging flower garland that she created? It fills those big white walls so perfectly.
Jessie was nice enough to then point me in the direction of the most adorable children's store, Tiger Lily which makes me want babies. Or at least for more of my friends to have babies.
Now, the town is small, so it won't take too long to explore, and there are plenty of other little shops and stops too. My recommended itinerary is to get up early for breakfast and get outdoors like we did on Saturday. There are plenty of hiking trails to enjoy on the island, and in the nicer months, the beaches are great for lounging, kayaking and paddle boarding.
Then, after you've exhausted yourself, head home to clean up before heading back into town for happy hour at my favorite bar. And I mean FAVORITE. I have mega dreams of owning a girly version of this place. Meet The Barnacle.
It's basically an old backyard shack converted into an awesome bar. I'm working on recreating the cocktail I enjoyed because it would be a perfect summer sipper.
Of course, the best part of being in a house for a weekend is that you can truly make it yours, whatever that means to you.
For us, it meant quiet lazy mornings with no noisy neighbors (always the worst part of staying in a hotel, right?), snuggling with our pup in bed in the morning, and enjoying the best takeout pizza from Hogstone while watching some NCAA March Madness on the TV. And, let me tell you, it's a lot easier to feel less guilty about being inside on a beautiful day watching basketball when you get to enjoy the view at the same time.
I can't wait to go back!