10 Reasons to Visit San Juan Island in December

Updated May 2017

We call it “the off season”. Don’t let that fool you. We are a festive bunch and Mother Nature isn’t exactly taking the month off either. Read on for 10 reasons to visit us during joyous, relaxing December.

  1. The Rain-shadow

Nestled in the rain-shadow between the Olympic Mountains and Vancouver Island, San Juan Island, unlike most of the Pacific Northwest, enjoys an average of 250 days of sunshine per year. When the December drizzle gets you down, come on up for some fun and Vitamin D.

  1. Old-fashioned Christmas Celebration

San Juan Historical Museum, just a few blocks from the Earthbox, invites everyone to their Old-fashioned Christmas Celebration in early December. The heritage museum’s structures will be lovingly decorated with the Winter-wonderland train winding through. Santa will appear for a photo opportunity and the Island Chordsmen will sing, while you roast marshmallows over the crackling fire pit and enjoy Ivar’s famous clam chowder.

  1. Festival of Lights

Bundle up and come on down to Memorial Park on the first Friday in December. Every shop, restaurant, museum and theater in town will have their Christmas lights shining. We will then light our village Christmas tree by the water. Island choirs and our community will carol away, while sipping hot coco and cider. Amble up to the Whale Museum for more treats. Shops are open late. This is how we ring in the season. Don’t miss it.

  1. Whale Watching

There have been more Humpback sightings in our waters this Winter than ever before. We are their “down South”. Go on a whale watch tour with Maya's Legacy Whale Watching, one of the few outfitters open year-round. Even if you don’t see Humpbacks or Orcas, the bald eagles, otters, sea birds, seals and sea lions will make for an unforgettable trip.

  1. Holiday Social at English Camp

Join the National Park staff at the English Camp Barracks in mid December, for an old-fashioned Christmas celebration. Bring ornaments or make one at the crafts table for the huge Christmas tree to be erected like it was done in the 1860s during the camp’s heyday. Staff in period costumes will tend the fires and tell stories from the olden days. There will be treats and contra dancing. What are you waiting for?

  1. Pool & Spa Day

On one of the few days we do have rain or snow, just stay in. Leisurely take a swim and a hot tub in our pool house, cleanse in the sauna, then treat yourself to the works at our Spa at Earthbox, with a foot soak with chocolate, an Open Sky Signature Massage and a Tree of Life Organic Facial. We’ll hold your calls.

  1. Museum Day

You could build a vacation around visiting Friday Harbor’s museums alone. The Whale Museum is open from 10am to 4pm daily and is a fantastic natural history museum, complete with Orca skeletons and phone both from which you can hear Orcas sing. As you walk the grounds of the San Juan Historical Museum you can peek through the windows of heritage farmhouses, log cabins and the county jail from a time when life on the island revolved around farming and ocean currents. The museum proper is open by appointment in December.

San Juan Island Museum of the Arts is open Friday through Monday, 11am to 5pm. Located in our former Island Medical Center, the cool architecture alone is worth going. Changing exhibitions in three galleries champion authenticity of expression, place and connections in the heart of the Salish Sea.

  1. Outdoor Art Day

The 20 acres, open year-round San Juan Island Sculpture Park outside of Roche Harbor is, with its more than 100 artists on display, one of the largest sculpture gardens in the Pacific Northwest. Situated on beautiful Westcott Bay in rolling fields around a lake, wandering through cast iron doors going nowhere, along giant wood and metal structures makes you wonder if you, the sculptures, or the scenery are the true art.

  1. Christmas Shopping

Imagine doing your Christmas shopping without ever setting foot in a mall. Friday Harbor shops and galleries are open late throughout December. Delight your loved ones with unique artisan gifts from talented island artists without stress and crowds and worries about parking.

  1. Lighted Boat Parade & Santa’s Arrival

You might have guessed it; Santa comes on a boat to the island children (and children visiting the island). Bundle up the family and come to the waterfront for cider and cookies and the lighted boat parade to help guide Santa to the dock. Moorage for participating boats is free that night.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at the Earthbox Inn & Spa. We can’t wait to spoil and pamper you.