BringFido's Guide to the San Juan Islands

Posted by Billy Francis

The San Juan Islands are a pet-friendly archipelago located in Washington State on the border between the U.S. and Canada. San Juan County contains 172 islands and reefs in total, but there are three main islands that can be accessed by ferry: San Juan Island, Orcas Island, and Lopez Island. Visitors to these incredible destinations can expect stunning Pacific Northwest landscapes, one of the best orca whale watching spots in the world, and spirited seaside towns. Dogs are welcome to join their owners on the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, where they can disembark and begin their island adventures.

Things to Do

Stop and smell the lavender! Photo by Melissa Halliburton

From soaring in seaplanes to meandering on mopeds and hiking up mountains, there’s so much to see and do in the San Juan Islands with your best friend for company.

Peak Purple with your Pooch

Pelindaba Lavender Farm in Friday Harbor guarantees a sweet-smelling day for Fido. This pet-friendly lavender farm invites you and your pooch to walk the fields and pick stems in the cutting garden. While you're on the property, be sure to check out the lavender pet products in the gift shop, visit the Demonstration Garden and Essential Oil Distillery, and buy your own lavender plants to bring home at the nursery. Peak lavender season is from the beginning of July through the end of August.

Get a Bird’s-Eye View

Your furry copilot can take to the skies with Friday Harbor Seaplanes. Skip the ferry and soar on daily scheduled flights from South Lake Washington in Renton to Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. The 50-minute scenic flight takes off to views of the Seattle skyline and touches down among the luscious greenery of the beautiful archipelago. Shuttle services from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are available. Passengers are welcome to fly from May through early October.

“Shotgun!”Photo by

Coast Along the Coast

If you’re planning an island day trip with your best friend, there’s no better way to get around than in a Scootcoupe from Susie's Mopeds. Dogs of all sizes can ride shotgun by your side in the front seat of these compact cars fitted with moped engines, and lap dogs can even join two human passengers in the car. Scoot across the entire island on San Juan Islands Scenic Byway. This 48-mile loop is divided into three segments: the 30 miles along the Washington State Ferries route, a driving tour around San Juan Island, and a drive on Orcas Island.

The Pig War and More

Land disputes on San Juan Island between the U.S. and Great Britain started in 1859 and lasted 13 years. This tense period is known as The Pig War because the only casualty was a pig. Learn more about the archipelago’s interesting history at San Juan Island National Historical Park. Hike the dog-friendly trails around the army camps, pick Himalayan blackberries, and enjoy observing whales, seals, porpoises, and otters in the company of your furry friend.

Little legs, big dreams. Photo by @ziggy_barksdale

Tour Two State Parks

Lime Kiln Point State Park is one of the best dog-friendly state parks on the West Coast. Also known as “Whale Watch Park,” it’s one of the top places in the world to view orcas. From May through September, Fido can join you at one of the picnic tables along the sea cliffs while you search the waters for pods of gray, humpback, and minke whales, as well as porpoises. Leashed dogs are also allowed to explore along the craggy shoreline and hike to breathtaking views above an old limestone quarry. Stop by the two-story restored lime kiln and the still-functioning 1919 vintage lighthouse. For more natural beauty, make your way to Moran State Park on Orcas Island and hike to the top of Mount Constitution on the park’s loop trail.

Best friends in bronze. Photo by

Meet the Founder and His Dog

The latest addition to Friday Harbor’s public art collection is a bronze statue of town founder Edward D. Warbass and his beloved canine companion, Bob. This whimsical creation from northwest artist Gareth Curtis celebrates the town’s love of dogs and can be found at the entrance to Sunshine Alley. Snap a memorable picture of your pooch sitting next to Bob.

Go Off-Leash on Orcas Island

Located in Buck Park on Orcas Island, Orcas Off-Leash Area (OOLA) is the place to be for canines who love to run free. This upgrade on the island’s original dog park is much larger and is separated into sections for small and large pups. The large green space is equipped with benches positioned under shady trees, fire hydrant-style water pumps, stone drinking bowls, and rain protection in both areas.

Places to Stay

"You can't beat island life." Photo by

Sweeping seascapes, creature comforts, and even a pampered pet package can be found at pet-friendly lodgings in the San Juan Islands.

Room at the Inn

Located just one minute from the statue of Edward D. Warbass, Tucker House Inn welcomes pets in select suites and cottages. Sign up for the inn’s “Pampered Pet Package,” which includes a homemade “pupcake” upon arrival, a bacon and egg breakfast bowl in the morning, a mini gift bag of homemade dog biscuits to take home, and a handmade tea tree oil doggy bath bar.

Barn Life

Book a pet-friendly farm stay at the Cottage-in-the-Barn on Dragonfly Farm. You can paddle with your pooch in the pond, stroll around the gorgeous gardens and beyond to the bluff to get a glimpse of West Sound, and introduce Fido to the farm’s animal residents. This comfortable barn on a 25-acre farm in Eastsound has amenities like hardwood floors and a roaring fireplace.

Griffin Bay Gem

Ocean sounds are sure to help you and your pooch switch off and reconnect with nature at this waterfront beach house. Situated on a private beach near Friday Harbor’s downtown, guests can watch otters playing just off the coast, paddle in the waters, or hang out next to the fire pit that has been perfectly positioned to take in the stunning coastal sunsets. Inside, the home is equipped with hardwood floors, offers ocean views from the living room and master bedroom, and has a warming fireplace

“I shall be your canine concierge for the day.” Photo by

Relax at the Spa

Earthbox Inn & Spa is a casual place to hang out with your hound after a day of exploring San Juan Island. Louis, the canine concierge and co-owner, will be happy to give your pooch a rundown of the local doggy hotspots. Louis’ four-legged guests receive use of his spare pet bowls and a pet mat, and he’s even willing to share the occasional treat.

Eastsound Village Getaway

Located on Orcas Island, this modern house is surrounded by epic Pacific Northwest beauty. If you’re planning on bringing your laptop along to work, enjoy views through pine trees on the well-positioned desk while you type. Then, cook a fresh meal for Fido and dine out on the deck. When you’re ready to explore beyond your door, hop on the trail across the road from the property to Cascade Lake in Moran State Park. Your host provides dog towels to clean your pup’s paws after a day on the water.

Embrace the landscape.Photo by Airbnb

Secluded Home Near Roche Harbor

Take a break on two secluded acres at Due West, a modern home just five minutes from Roche Harbor. The large living space has vaulted ceilings and a huge wall of windows that welcome the surroundings inside. From here, see if you can spot the resident barred owl, bald eagles, deer, and foxes at play in the sunny clearing outside. There’s plenty to keep guests busy at home, including a horseshoe pit, cornhole, fire pit, hammock, and more.

Drift Off on Orcas Island

Orcas Hotel, one of the most iconic buildings in the San Juan Islands, has been welcoming travelers since 1904. Share a spacious Victorian room with your best friend and open the French doors to reveal views of the Salish Sea and Orcas Ferry Landing. At mealtime, head down to Orcas Hotel Cafe and sit out on the pet-friendly patio, where you can feast on a menu full of delicious items like fresh sandwiches, burgers, and a variety of specials.

Dog-Friendly Restaurants

“Does anybody have a bottle opener?” Photo by @orcasislandwinery

Food from the land and sea will leave a good taste in your mouth and a great impression on your pooch when you dine out in the San Juan Islands.

Make a Tail-Wagging Toast

Orcas Island Winery is the first and only winery on the island. Committed to crafting premium Washington State wines, they offer tastings of 10 locally produced and crafted wines that vary from reds and whites to rosés and natural sparkling wines. Leashed dogs are welcome to explore the wild and wonderful surroundings of the 16-acre vineyard at the base of Turtleback Mountain.

Sample the Catch of the Day

Step off the ferry in Friday Harbor and head straight to Friday’s Crabhouse. You can’t miss the three-story outdoor dining deck that provides a panoramic view of the harbor and its water traffic. Owned and operated by a lifetime fly fisherman, this seasonal restaurant knows a thing or two about serving great seafood. The mouthwatering menu includes dishes with local Dungeness crab, oysters, steamed clams, mussels, selections of grilled fish, and more.

Wind down at Downriggers.Photo by

Watch the Ferries Go By

Overlooking the water in Friday Harbor, Downriggers provides good food, great views, and refreshing drinks on the dog-friendly patio. This family-owned and operated restaurant serves seafood from local purveyors, including oysters, steamed mussels, smoked salmon, fresh fish, and more. Be sure to book a table outside to enjoy delicious dishes while the sun sets and ferries dock in the distance.

Take Your Maltese to a Microbrewery

Locally sourced, artistically brewed, and community supported, Island Hoppin' Brewery is the first and only microbrewery on Orcas Island. From K-Pod Kolsch to Elwha Rock IPA, there’s a brew to suit all tastes. If you can’t decide on a beer, go for a taster flight of the current rotating selection instead. Hungry hounds can nibble leftovers from your cheese plate or smoked salmon.

Sandwiches in the sunshine on San Juan Island.Photo by

Fresh Food and Fun

Grab a sandwich from the to-go window at Market Chef and enjoy it with your pooch on the pet-friendly patio. Utilizing seasonal ingredients and local produce, this lunch spot attracts locals and visitors alike to fill up with sandwiches like roast beef and rocket, The Victory Garden, and My Sister’s Favorite Sandwich. There’s also a market inside full of hand-selected items, ideal for people staying at an Airbnb to grab essentials for cooking at home.

Grab a Mocha With Your Mutt

Perk yourself up at Medio Cafe with coffee made using fresh beans from their partner, Stereoscope Coffee Company. Then, order a breakfast burrito, chia bowl, or camargo from the breakfast menu. Log into the cafe’s WiFi and catch up on the day’s work before ordering a selection of tasty tacos from the lunch menu. Leashed dogs are welcome on the sunny patio outside.

Vegan Power at Mike’s

Every piece of meat on the menu at Mike's Cafe and Wine Bar is made using plant protein, including Jamaican Jerk Jackfruit and Crabby Tacos, and there’s a variety of other delicious vegan items to choose from. Mike is the winemaker for Northwest Totem Cellars, so you’ll also find a great selection of wine to sample on the menu. Bring your dog along to keep you company while you taste his creations on the patio.

Have you and your pup visited the dog-friendly San Juan Islands? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by BringFido.