A Family Resort Giveaway for San Juan Island!

This may be my best giveaway yet!

When a friend or family member says they want to get away and escape the everyday – but not take a flight necessarily, or head abroad – I recommend Roche Harbor Resort. The resort is a gem set amongst the San Juan Islands, about 30 minutes from Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island. Take a ferry (or a floatplane, if you must) and you’re far away from school, work or other worries.

Cascadia Kids is hosting a giveaway for a two-night stay at Roche Harbor Resort. You and your family will enjoy staying at one of the property’s 800 sq. ft. Historic Company Town Cottages – near the pool and playground.

Company Town Cottage

Company Town Cottages at Roche Harbor Resort

These cottages go for between $199-339 a night, and are worth every penny. You get a two-bedroom cottage all to yourself (and the kids), along with a fully equipped kitchen for cooking your farm-fresh purchases. A BBQ and picnic table offers outdoor dining as well.

Kitchen in a Company Town Cottage

While at Roche Harbor, you can enjoy the resort’s family activities, like a scavenger hunt (with an ice-cream prize), a historic walking tour, hiking or whale watching. I can certainly vouch for the Roche Harbor doughnuts served up at Lime Kiln Café as a total kid-pleaser.

Boats parked in Roche Harbor

As I wrote in my book, Northwest Kid Trips: Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, I love the resort’s grand historic feel (the signature “Hotel De Haro” was constructed back in 1886 as part of a company town) and waterside setting. But there’s also plenty of modernity to be found – just visit the 19-acre sculpture park.

If you win the prize, you can reach Roche Harbor by taking a Washington State Ferry, the Clipper (passenger ferry to Friday Harbor; May-Sept only, includes whale-watching) or by Kenmore Air’s seaplane. Transportation is not included in this giveaway; the ferry is the cheapest option.

To Enter: Leave a comment on this blog, below, describing what you’d like to do on San Juan Island with your kids.

Bonus Entry: Tweet “San Juan Island giveaway to @rocheharbor on @cascadiakids. #Contest” PLEASE RETURN and post a note that you’ve tweeted, in case I somehow miss your Twitter entry.

Extra Bonus Entry: Sign up for the Cascadiakids.com e-mail newsletter. PLEASE RETURN and post a note that you’ve subscribed, in case I miss your new subscription entry.

Want another chance at winning an incredible prize? Check out Passports with Purpose. PWP raises money for a good cause (tax deductible!) while giving away amazing prizes (like a hotel stays in the Caribbean!).


This contest begins today, December 8, 2010, and ends at 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time on Tuesday, December 15, 2010. On or about December 16, 2010, the winner will be selected at random from all eligible entries received on this page’s comments, using Random.org. The winner will be notified by e-mail on or around December 16. Please ensure that you have entered the correct e-mail address in your entry. Your e-mail will not be sold or displayed.

If no response is received from the first-drawn winner within one week (7 days), the first winner will forfeit the prize and another entrant will be selected at random using Random.org. The value of the two-night hotel stay is ( $850.00) and the Roche Harbor Resort has provided a gift certificate for the giveaway.

The prize is valid for a two-night stay in a Company Town Cottage at Roche Harbor Resort. The room must be redeemed by December 30, 2011, but is not valid in July, August and certain high-occupancy weekends. Other restrictions may apply. Please reserve your room as soon as possible.

The prize information must be presented when making reservations. There is no cash value. There are no substitutions. The prize is not transferable. Guests are responsible for transportation to San Juan Island. The winner is solely responsible for any national, state, provincial or city taxes incurred. Sweepstakes void where prohibited by law. Entrants must be age 18 and over and residing in the U.S or Canada.

If a resident of Canada is selected as a winner, they will be required to correctly answer, without assistance of any kind, whether mechanical or otherwise, a timed, mathematical skill-testing question (3*6)+(12/2)-8 to be administered by Lora Shinn by e-mail before the awarding of the prize.

By participating in the “Roche Harbor Resort” giveaway, you release and agree to hold harmless CascadiaKids.com subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any liability whatsoever for any claims, costs, injuries, losses, or damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the getaway or acceptance, possession, or use of any prize (including, without limitation, claims, costs, injuries and losses related to personal injuries, death, damage to or destruction of property, rights of publicity or privacy, whether intentional or unintentional), whether under a theory of contract, tort (including negligence), warranty or other theory.

CascadiaKids.com or the administrator is not liable for technical error, omissions or Internet inaccessibility.

I did not accept money, services or gratuities in exchange for this giveaway. I requested the giveaway prize, because I like the hotel and think it’s a good match for CascadiaKids readers.

Good luck!

13 Things to Do on San Juan Island with Kids

Visitors flock to San Juan Island — in Washington State’s Puget Sound — in summer. Yes, it’s lovely to go when the days are long and nights are warm, but we treasure our winter daytrips and weekend getaways to the mellow island. Remember, those hotel stays are less expensive, you (probably) won’t need reservations at a restaurant and the kids get a little more attention from the locals.

What to do, where to sleep and where to dine while on San Juan Island? Here’s a quick rundown of my favorites, mostly centered around the sleepy little burg of Friday Harbor. It’s a quaint, walkable town. Want more? Read my book, Northwest Kid Trips: Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver to get a more complete picture and additional kid-friendly ideas.

1. Watch a movie: At the simple, low-key Palace Theater, if there’s a family-friendly movie playing (the tiny theater only has room for one flick).

2. Go bowling: At Paradise Lanes, where family-style bowling is available, along with a video game or two. Try your hand at a strike — open bowling all weekend.

3. Eat a waterside dinner: Downriggers serves up platters of fresh, local seafood. Kids will love watching over the boats arriving and departing from Friday Harbor’s pier; there’s a kids menu to keep them happy, too.

4. Color while at the table: Order Let’s Discover the San Juan Islands: A Children’s Activity Book for Ages 6-11 before you go to keep little hands busy during the dinner wait.

5. Munch a lavender cookie: Pelindaba Lavender‘s Friday Harbor shop sells a variety of herbally scented sweets and salves, but the lavender-chocolate-chip cookies are a family favorite.

6. Curl up with a cozy cup of soup: At Cafe Demeter, served alongside the signature olive oil ciabatta. It’s an informal spot to pick up lunch — perfect with kids.

7. Snuggle with a childhood classic: Head to Griffin Bay Bookstore, where you can browse the children’s department for the perfect Pooh or Potter.

8. Pick out a puzzle, a puppet or a plaything: Among the cluster of shops in Friday Harbor, seek out Osito’s (120 S 1st St), an adorable children’s shop crammed full of imported toys and cute clothing.

9. Go nose to nose with a whale: At the San Juan Whale Museum, where orca skeletons swoop overhead and whale calls echo from a phone booth.

10. Hike with the little ones: Yes, even if the weather is a bit rainy, you’ll enjoy Lime Kiln Point State Park’s trail, which weaves through Madrona trees and sports spectacular vistas to the west (squint, and you may even spot Vancouver Island).

11. Learn a little (piggish) history: In 1849, the U.S. and the U.K. almost went to war. Over a pig. Right here, in Washington State. Learn more about this odd bit of history and help your kids become Junior Rangers at The American Camp. A tip: Print out the workbook ahead of time and read up before your trip on the ferry ride over.

12. Ride a watery roadway: Take a Washington State Ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, whether you wish to travel passenger only or with your car.

13. Catch some zzzs: At Friday Harbor’s Earthbox Motel (go for the suite-style room, complete with kitchen). Or head for the island’s northern tip, to Roche Harbor Resort, where your family can explore the nearby art park from a true home base (check out those cottages!).

If this catches your interest, check in again on Wednesday. We’re going to be having a giveaway…

San Juan Island: Cheap camps and free tours

The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor (on San Juan Island) is offering two great family activities this summer. But if you want to take advantage of either one, you’d better act fast! San Juan Island offers a truly spectacular family getaway — picture pastoral countryside and artisan farms alongside regular family-fun attractions like a movie theater, great food, toy stores and a bowling alley. Here are the details on the activities (and read my Whale Museum review here):

Pod Nods at the Whale Museum, San Juan Island, Washington State

If your kids are between the ages of 6-10 and you’d like a fun (yet separate) escape for the whole family, try sending the kids off to the Whale Museum’s Pod Nod. Pod Nods are pajama-party sleepovers – during which kids learn about whales, the environment, try out science labs and get a flashlight tour of the Whale Museum. Pod Nods start at 6:30 p.m. and end at 8:30 a.m., and include a bedtime snack and light breakfast.

Which means you and your S.O. can go out for a romantic Friday Harbor dinner and cozy up overnight at a bed and breakfast, then pick up the kids for a day of San Juan Island exploration.

The cost? A reasonable $49 per child per night, or $39 for members’ kids.

Remaining dates are July 17, 21, 31 and August 6.

For more information or  to register a child (required) in a Pod Nod, read more at the Whale Museum site, or call The Whale Museum at (360)  378-4710 extension 23 or email cindy AT whalemuseum.org.

Whale Museum wildlife tour on San Juan Island

OK, maybe you’re craving more family togetherness than a sleepaway on the island. The Whale Museum is also providing Saturday land-based tours, led by a trained and certified naturalist. These three-hour tours (better for older kids) whisk you the San Juan Island’s western shores to look for killer whales, learn about other marine life (seals, porpoises, sea lions) and perhaps visit a tidepool or two.

The staff provides snacks and water, you bring your cameras, binoculars, hiking boots and a light jacket, in case it rains.

These tours are FREE, thanks to National Oceans and Atmospheric (NOAA) underwriting.  You must make reservations though (like, right now) before seats are gone for these Saturday afternoon tours.

Contact The Whale Museum at 360 378-4710 ext. 23 or stop in to register. Find more information on this flier from the Whale Museum.

Victoria Clipper with Kids: 8 Tips for Families

Victoria Clipper with Kids

Clipper with Kids

One of my favorite ways to reach Victoria, B.C. from Seattle, Wash., is via Victoria Clipper. The Clipper’s three ships are passenger-only, but each one cruises from downtown Seattle’s piers directly into Victoria’s Inner Harbour. And vice versa, for Seattle-bound Vancouver-Island residents. No cars, no headaches, no hassles!

While the Clipper’s fares can be spendy in summer, prices tend to go down in winter and spring (as low as $50/per person). Kids are often free, year-round. Combining Clipper and hotel via the online packages can save families between 10-30%.

Eight tips for your trip aboard the family-friendly Victoria Clipper:

  1. Check in at least an hour early as requested, perhaps even 15 minutes before official check-in. If you’re traveling with kids in strollers, request pre-boarding. Pre-boarding helps you find the family-friendly seats on the Victoria Clipper.
  2. You’ll need to break down your stroller for storage once on the Victoria Clipper. So make sure your stroller breaks down easily (one-handed, if possible!).
  3. Pre-boarding families can (and should) look for four- or six-seat clusters around tables, which makes both feeding and play easier to pull off. Bring toys that are easily contained and won’t spill all over the ship.
  4. It’s generally a pretty smooth ride, but the Strait of Juan de Fuca can get a little rough in bad weather. Staff will generally let you know in advance. If you or the kids are prone to seasickness (my son often yaks, no matter the transportation option), prepare beforehand. I bring quease-easing lollipops and try to sit toward the front of the Victoria Clipper, looking forward. Or sit near the bathrooms (rear of ship) for quick visits.
  5. Breakfast and meal packs are offered aboard the Clipper. I like to pack my own easy-to-eat breakfasts: sandwiches, juices, fruit. Remember that you’ll need to toss leftover-and-now-contraband fruits and veggies before disembarking in Victoria. Tip: The Clipper Cocoa is a enormous whipped-cream-smothered delight. It’s best right before arrival, unless the kids can handle their caffeine.
  6. At the front of some Clipper vessels, the crew shows kid-friendly films during the voyage. Ask at check-in if your ship will show a movie. If yes, sit near the front of the ship, where the movie plays on small, floor-level screens.
  7. You can get up and walk around during the journey. However, it’s not a good idea to let kids run, play or get too rowdy. The ship can tilt suddenly, catching kids off-balance, and aisle traffic can annoy other passengers.
  8. On-board or during booking, the Clipper offers extras, including tea at the Empress, Butchart Gardens admissions, and other Victoria must-dos. Check beforehand whether their prices save you money by looking up the direct-buy option from the attraction; depending upon the exchange rate, you may save a few dollars by booking through the Clipper.

Do you have any tips for riding the Victoria Clipper?