My Favorite Places to Drink in Friday Harbor

Updated June 2017

One of the cool things about staying at the Earthbox Inn & Spa in Friday Harbor is that you can do anything there is to do in town by foot.  No need to worry about traffic, parking, or who is going to be the designated driver. For a small town of only about 2,500 people living here year round, Friday Harbor has an incredible bar scene and something for every taste. The people from Orcas and Lopez Island even call our quaint town “Sin City”, with a little wink.

Backdoor Kitchen San Juan Island

I like to start off an evening out a little on the fancy (by very casual Friday Harbor’s standards) side. The Back Door Kitchen is just the place for that with its cozy, stylish lounge, looking out to their incredible garden. Back Door’s extensive, international wine list won’t leave even serious wine lovers longing, but I come here for their signature cocktails, often using fresh ingredients like mint, lime and other fruit. I have tried them all and my heart belongs to the No 6, Ketel One Ginger-Lemon “Drop”, made with fresh squeezed lemon and ginger syrup.

Friday Harbor restaurant San Juan Island

When I feel like having a good local brew and a fresh bite to eat, I go to the Cask & Schooner, an uncomplicated, marine-themed public house by the water. Their beers & ciders on tap change seasonally and are all from small, Northwestern breweries. The food is local, fresh & made from scratch. The Chuckanut Pilsener pairs lovely with fresh Jude Cove Oysters.

I’m one of those people, who doesn’t have cable television. But of course I have to watch my Seahawks on Sundays. Haley's Sport Bar and Grill is just the spot. The layout makes for a festive beer hall atmosphere. They have large flat screen TV’s and long tables, which strangers often share.

The Rumor Mill is the closest thing we have to a nightclub. It’s a fun place, with live music almost every night, varying from acoustic Gypsy Jazz to Swing to Rock’n Roll and back.  Often the dance floor is packed, the windows are open and you can hear the music from a block away. They have a trivia night, Karaoke and bands, who hand out music, so you can join in. The Rumor Mill has 23 beers on tap, 35 wines to choose from, a full bar and lovely, locally sourced fair.

I have a secret weakness for dive bars with juke boxes, pool tables and beer signs on the wall, where you don’t know what time of the day it is when you enter. Herb's Tavern, established in 1938, is that place. I love to come here late at night, play a round of pool, chat, and play some pull-tabs. Rumor has it that Sandra Bullock threw a party here when they filmed Practical Magic on the island.

Our nickname “Sin City” notwithstanding, Friday Harbor is an early town. Most restaurants stop serving dinner around 9:00pm. Most bars close around midnight, so we can rise early for another day of island adventures.