As Cooper and I get ready to head off to Japan this month, I thought it would be a great time to share one of our favorite vacations to date! It’s hard to believe our trip to the San Juans was almost two years ago because we still reminisce on this often. We set off for a long weekend of “glamping” at Lakedale Resort in July 2015 and had a fantastic time!
The journey to San Juan Island is not quick or cheap, so I recommend spending at least 3 nights there to take full advantage of your trip. We got an early start, stopping for groceries and headed up north to take the Anacortes – Friday Harbor ferry. In the busy summer months, the ferries do fill up so we made a reservation pretty far in advance. Keep in mind, you do need to arrive at least 30 minutes before your reservation time and fares are upwards of $50 round trip with a vehicle.
After the hour long ferry ride, we spent a bit of time exploring, shopping and grabbing lunch in Friday Harbor before heading to Lakedale. From town, the resort is just a quick ten minute drive up Roche Harbor Road. “Glamping” has been gaining a lot of popularity because you can combine the experience of camping with some of the luxuries of a hotel stay. Lakedale definitely got it right! We had a spacious canvas cabin on the lake, complete with a queen size bed, towels and toiletries, and even a sitting area. Also included in the package was a continental breakfast each morning and “toasty toes” turndown service each night – two fleece covered hot water bottles to help keep your feet warm while you’re falling asleep under the stars! Glamping was definitely the best of both worlds as it allowed us to spend time grilling and roasting marshmallows while also having just enough comforting amenities to really relax and enjoy our vacation time.
Lakedale Resort offers a lot more than just glamping. Their grounds include 3 small lakes, as well as several different lodging options including campsites for tents or RVs, log cabins, a lodge and even an airstream trailer rental. They do have a small general store and a free WiFi area which can come in handy as there is little to no cell phone service at resort. We were very impressed with all of the fun activities Lakedale had to offer. They have tons of events and activities to keep kids busy, and us big kids were plenty occupied also! There are a number of fun games at your disposal, like corn hole and bocce ball but what we took advantage of the most were boat rentals and fishing gear. For anyone that knows Cooper, you know this is right up his alley, so it’s no surprise that we took off and fished at least once a day! We were even able to cast right off the edge of our campsite. Unfortunately we didn’t have much luck finding the trout or wide-mouth bass that they stock the lake with, but it was so peaceful taking the row boats out on Neva Lake in the mornings and evenings.
There are plenty of things to do at the resort for the long weekend, but we wanted to spend some time exploring the rest of the island as well. One way we did that was through a zipline course! Zip San Juan offers a fun, beginner friendly zip line tour, and even picks up at some of the local hotels and resorts, including Lakedale. Another awesome way to explore is spending a few hours at Lime Kiln Point State Park. From this bluff you’ll find beautiful views any day, but it’s also one of the world’s best places for whale watching, especially from May to September. We kept our eyes peeled but had no luck seeing any whales, until we were on our way out of the park and spotted them from the car. We immediately pulled over on the side of the road and watched in awe with the few others lucky enough to stop and catch the Orca pod.
Across the island from Friday Harbor, but only about a 20 minute drive, is gorgeous Roche Harbor. Equipped with just a few shops and restaurants, this quaint resort town is an awesome place to grab lunch and take in the marine air. We ate outside at Madrona Grill and personally I don’t think it gets much better than Dungeness crab Mac & Cheese in the sun with a view of the marina. We also took a quick hike through the local cemetery to Afterglow Vista, formerly known as the McMillin Mausoleum, which was an unexpected but fascinating adventure.
Even in the summer, you never know what weather the Pacific Northwest is going to give you on a camping trip, and fortunately we had clear skies most of the time. The calm weather paired with all of the amenities at Lakedale, and the beauty of the island, definitely made this a weekend trip to remember. We can’t wait to go back soon, but until then we’ll keep daydreaming of our canvas cabin on the lake!