How to Plan the Perfect Family Reunion on San Juan Island
You love them, your family. You long to get them all together, hold the new baby, see all the kids grow up, lovingly tease your siblings, hug your grandpa. But your house is too small and your husband is allergic to the albeit cute dog that your brother insists on bringing everywhere. Then there is the food issue: grandma is diabetic, your aunt can’t do gluten and your nephew has just become a vegan. Where will they all sleep? How will you keep them entertained?
We’ve got the perfect solution: A family reunion on neutral ground, with lots of space for everybody, fun things to do and plenty of food options. San Juan Island has just what you are looking for and more. Let’s get started:
When to come
If you are not planning your reunion around a special date like a wedding anniversary or birthday, think about coming in the Spring or Fall, when the weather on San Juan Island is gorgeous, but it’s not as crowded and expensive as in the summer.
Where to stay
For small reunions under ten people, consider renting a few rooms at our sister property, the cozy Bird Rock Hotel in the heart of Friday Harbor. This cute, historic hotel serves a yummy, gourmet continental breakfast in the lobby, a great place to touch base in the mornings with everybody. It has a large, sunny patio to meet at, gather and unwind and sturdy beach cruiser bikes to check out for free. The Bird Rock has 15 unique guest rooms, including an ADA accessible room, very moderately priced European style rooms with shared baths and deluxe suites with two-person jetted tubs, fireplaces and water-view.
For larger groups check out the Earthbox Inn & Spa, a cool, retro motor-inn with 72 renovated rooms, an indoor pool, sauna, hot tub and exercise room, and a full service spa. Their comfortable pool patio with seasonal café is a lovely place to gather. Earthbox has group rates available for groups larger than ten rooms, offers dog and family friendly as well as ADA rooms. Their amazing staff helps with restaurants and spa reservations and booking whale watch, kayak or zip line tours.
What to do
Find a balance between group activities and down-time for your family. Schedule a family-friendly whale watch tour for your group, then have everybody dine on their own that evening. Have one adult take all the kids bowling and to the movies, while the other adults visit the Lavender Farm and do a distillery tasting. Make spa appointments and visit the Historical Museum.
Plan a bonfire with S’mores at South Beach. Barbeque a fresh Wild Salmon from the Farmer’s Market. Build a driftwood shelter and watch the wildlife.
Have a sunset picnic at Lime Kiln State Park, overlooking the Salish Sea and the snow-covered Olympic Mountains, while watching for whales.
Take everybody to the San Juan Island Sculpture Park on beautiful Westcott Bay, have the kids make their own art, while the adults place a wish in the Tibetan Wishing Urns. Then have dinner at the nearby Roche Harbor Resort.
Honor your special guest, the birthday boy or the couple with the anniversary by planning an activity they love. Go bird watching for grandma or zip lining for your nephew or visit the place where your brother-in-law proposed.
Where to eat
The cute coastal town of Friday Harbor offers abundant dining options, all in walking distance to the ferry and the hotels. For excellent, fresh seafood with water view, perfect for larger groups, check out Downriggers by the docks. For uncomplicated pub fare, sourced locally and made from scratch, consider the Cask & Schooner. They have rooms to rent to larger groups. Or simply get a bunch of gourmet pizzas from Van Go’s and head to Jackson’s Beach, a mile out of town, for a pizza and beach volleyball party.
Reach out if you need help planning your reunion. We would love to help.