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…

Families Travel! Corene goes to Orcas Island

Luckily, Seattle-area foodie blogger Corene Caley (foodiepatootie.com), husband Calvin and daughter Arden (age 5 ½) always knows where to eat when arriving on Orcas Island.

The happy family

Caley is more than qualified to dish on Orcas’s culinary delights. “We go to Orcas two or three times in the summer and about every other month in the fall/winter/spring. I’m sure that will change now that Arden is starting elementary but hopefully we’ll fit it in.”

Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands, is located about two hours northwest of Seattle via Anacortes, Washington and the Washington State Ferry system.

Why does your family frequently visit the San Juan Islands?

I was lucky enough to marry a great guy. His family just happens to have a place on the North Shore. Lucky me.  His father built the house himself in the 60’s. We get up there often and have watched the island become a true foodie family destination over the past 10 years.  “Farm to Table” is an understatement – It’s incredible!

Can you tell us about your favorite, kid-friendly Orcas Island restaurants?

Roses Bakery and Roses Bakery Cafe, Eastsound (382 Prune Alley, Eastsound, 360-376-4292) Local produce is the star for breakfast and lunch.  Food is excellent, but our favorite is the bakery attached to the cafe. The bread rivals any I’ve eaten worldwide. Our favorites are the Hearth loaf (available daily, can be sliced for you) and the Tortano (a very large circle of the most delicious bread you’ll ever have) which is only available on Saturdays and sells out quickly. The cold case is filled with a nice selection of cured meats, cheeses and (when available) beautiful house-made pâté.  House made pies, pie dough and meat pies available in the freezer case. Roses is always busy and deserves all the praise it receives from locals and visitors alike.

Allium in Eastsound – We had the pleasure of dining at this 3 month-old restaurant a couple weeks ago. Owner and chef Lisa Nakamura took over the space once occupied by Christina Orchid, who is an island and foodie legend.  Lisa’s resume includes the Herbfarm and French Laundry so needless to say we were excited. The staff was very accommodating to our 5 year old (who of course used her princess manners the whole time).  Beautiful views and even better food.  Favorites were Roasted Vegetables with Caramelized Onion and Herb Dip, Chilled Roasted Baby Beet Soup
Fresh Dill, Toasted Hazelnuts and our chicken and halibut “bigger plates” were excellent.

The Madrona Bar & Grill, Eastsound. This restaurant is another newcomer to the island.  Kids allowed!  We were wowed by the casual fare here.  Fish and chips, best burger I’ve had in a long time and our daughter wolfed down her pasta with pesto cream and perfectly cooked prawns.  Delicious.

Orcas Island kid-friendly restaurant

An Orcas Island restaurant

Vern’s Bayside, Eastsound. Vern’s is a local institution on Orcas.  Big portions, big view and sassy service.  Mostly Americana and Bar fare – but the real treat is breakfast.  The Crab Omelet is embarrassingly full of fresh Dungeness. Plenty to split.  Crab Benedict is also delish.  Definitely kid-friendly – when we walked in the owner gave our daughter a logoed flying disc and made sure we knew they were “the only restaurant in Eastsound to offer a kids menu!”.  Not sure on that one.

The Orcas Hotel, Orcas Ferry dock.  This is the place that makes going home a little easier.  We arrive at the Ferry dock early (which you need to do anyway) and head straight to the hotel for breakfast.  There is a full service dining room but we like order at the counter cafe which is serving up a great breakfast sandwich.  We are not talking low fat here…it’s a freshly baked croissant stacked with always perfectly scrambled egg, sharp cheddar and your choice of bacon or giant sausage patty.  Served with a nice selection of fresh fruit.  Hot chocolate, coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice.  Should we get that homemade cinnamon roll too?  Sure, throw it in – we’re still on vacation right?

What does your family like to do on Orcas Island?

Orcas Island Farmers Market (Saturday, Village Green, Eastsound). FOOD FOOD FOOD!  Local artists, jewelry makers, farmers and FOOD. Locally made grilled Italian sausage, ribs, vegetarian goodies, cupcakes… seriously good food abounds.

Orcas Island Pottery. Drive up the country lane, look for the “Faint not…” sign and you’re there. The island pottery and views are lovely but our favorite is the recently added tree house.  Total delight.  Plus they are open every day except Christmas and Easter and encourage picnicking and general lingering.  What’s not to like?

Black Dog Farm, just up the road from our place on the North Shore (short drive or longer walk from Eastsound).  Open Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus they do the Saturday Farmers Market in Eastsound. Produce, meats, eggs and flowers. Family owned by very nice folks.

Howe Art Sculpture Park (items for sale), just outside of Eastsound. You can see a few of the kinetic sculptures from the road but make the trip up the winding hill to this magical sculpture park.  Everyone in our family loves the moving sculpture – truly a special place.

Orcas Island structure

A wood ball at Howe Sculpture Park

What does your daughter like to do on Orcas Island? Any child-friendly favorite activities?

She loves to play on the beach, visit the farms, walk to the “point,” which is a rocky outcrop along Orcas’ North Shore, S’mores, collect shells, visit Howe Art sculpture park, eat Roses Bread, catch crab, take walks in the woods, hike to Cascade Falls (this is a VERY easy hike for kids…it’s more like a walk and it’s only a few minutes for big payoff)

Hiking in Moran State Park

A kid-friendly hike on Orcas Island

We’ve also been to the Funhouse, a very cool kids play and learning space with drop in learning/play. It’s surprisingly fantastic for something on an island. There was a craft ‘yurt’ with tons of supplies which she loved. I would compare it to a more interactive version of the Seattle Children’s Museum – on Orcas Island!

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.

Families Travel! Sharlet Goes to Orcas Island

In February 2010, Sharlet and her son Liam (9) went to Orcas Island with friend Marci and her three children: Issak (8), Sydney (5) and Will (6 months) Orcas Island is part of Washington State’s gorgeous San Juan Islands, a ferry ride and drive from either Seattle or Victoria, BC. The San Juan Islands usually show up on a Top 10 Islands list every year in a travel publication or site, and are a don’t-miss experience if you’re visiting Seattle.  The three islands (Lopez, Orcas and San Juan) each offer various kid-friendly options, but Orcas is a nice pick if you want a balance between stuff to do and a secluded retreat.

a baby on the beach at orcas island washington state

Baby Will in a beachside Bumbo

Q: Did you find a child-friendly hotel on Orcas Island?

Sharlet: We had a great family get-away at the West Beach Resort. Definitely a great place for kids to roam the beach and play; very family friendly at a reasonable cost.

We stayed in a beach-front cabin, two-bedroom arrangement.  We liked that it was casual, so we didn’t have to worry about the kids tracking sand in. We just opened the door and swept it back out.  The cabin had a small kitchenette that we were able to prep all our own  meals in.  It wasn’t fancy, but it was clean, comfortable and reasonably priced.  We also liked that each cabin had a wood burning stove inside (good on chilly days) a picnic table on the porch, and a fire pit & outdoor chairs right in front by the beach.

Q: What kinds of things did you do with kids on Orcas Island?

The resort helped to connect us to Outer Island Expeditions, and had a fantastic half-day boat tour north of Orcas. We saw porpoises, seals, sea lions, lots of herons, bald eagles and other bird life. Captain Beau was fantastic with our children. He was patient with their busy-ness and tendency to interrupt when he was talking — which is typical of young kids — but it’s not so typical of tour guides to be patient with them!

Apparently his mother was a school teacher, and Captain Beau seems to have picked up some of her skills!  The highlight was a trip to Suscia Island, where he took us to a fossil beach with fossils approximately 65 million years old; which is hard to even wrap the brain around.  It was fascinating for all of us, and like finding buried treasure for our children!

(Lora’s note: Recent census data says Suscia Island’s permanent population is four.)

Q: What else did you do on Orcas Island with kids?

We puttered around Orcas just looking at other beaches, but our kids were so happy at West Beach that we spent most of our time there.

orcas island with kids

Beach leaps

The website has a link to some pottery places that we wanted to take in, but we ran out of time. At The Right Place Pottery, next to the resort, kids can make their own stuff on the pottery wheel. We’d like to try it in the future though.

Downtown Orcas is charming and almost everything is in walking distance.

There’s also a children’s art and science museum called The Fun House. We were saving it for a rainy day — which luckily didn’t occur — but it looked enjoyable.

We went to Moran State Park and putzed around, but we didn’t stay in the park.  Although we did see deer that were so tame they walk right up to you- hoping for snacks. A big thrill for the kids!

Q: Did you eat in any family-friendly Orcas Island restaurants?

We cooked meals in our kitchenette at the resort, so no food recommendations.  We did get groceries at the Island Market though, which isn’t big but has a reasonable selection. Not a lot of organics or specialty foods though, so I recommend taking those with.  Although we saw that they have some great summer open-air markets (Orcas Island Farmers Market) later in the year.

We were able to dig clams at the resort- and even though it wasn’t at low tide time, we were able to cook up enough for each kid to try them and say “ewwwww….!”.  They just haven’t developed a taste for shellfish yet! The kids can also fish off the dock there.  We were there at off-season time, so no luck, but they had fun trying.

Q: What was it like to go in the off-season to Orcas Island, to go in winter? Did you find cheaper rates?

February was unusually warm this year, so no extra coats required. Most years, however, I would think you’d want rain gear.  It was quieter in the off-season, and a little less expensive — we got lucky with the weather!  But that wood-burning stove in the cabin would be great on a cold rainy day.

family vacation on orcas island at a resort

An Orcas Island beach walk

Q: Anything else you’d like to add about your family vacation on Orcas Island?

Only that we would definitely go again, and we’re hoping to plan a trip there with multiple families at the same time.

The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Washington State

Recent news of whale shows gone horribly wrong may lead some families to avoid live sea shows. San Juan Island’s The Whale Museum, a respectful facility focused on mammal life in the Puget Sound, offers a solid alternative for inquisitive kids.

Located on Washington State’s Friday Harbor, the 1,200-square-foot Whale Museum offers car-sized whale skeletons suspended in mid-air, seemingly just to wow little ones. Jarred whale brains and a nauseatingly long intestinal worm (jarred!) garner an ew yuck awesome reaction from bigger kids.

Children can listen in on distinctive whistles and blurts in a “whale telephone booth,” and look for orcas in a mock research lab. The children’s room encourages kids to don orca flippers, watch entertaining documentaries, read whale-riffic books or color pictures.

In the gift shop, look for the orca hats. We picked one up last year — since then, it’s been a mainstay of my preschooler’s wardrobe. He loves the compliments when he wears the tail-shaped hat, plus the opportunity to tell strangers the startling fact that orcas and killer whales are two different names for the same animal. Sort of like Mom and Lora: Two names, same animal.

Winter’s best for getting a good hotel rate on the tourist-popular San Juan Island, but summer is excellent for spotting orcas from Lime Kiln State Park (a 20-minute drive away from Friday Harbor), because that’s when the whales frolic in the waters.

Lime Kiln is the first U.S. park dedicated to whale watching, and hosts more than 200,000 visitors a year. Lime Kiln’s decommissioned lighthouse looks out over the Puget Sound, making it a perfect vantage point. Inside the lighthouse, researchers conduct acoustic and behavioral studies on orcas, minke whales and Dall’s porpoises.

Even if you don’t catch a glimpse of a sleek black-and-white shape, kids can count boats as the sun melts into the Salish Sea. And you can let them tell you again that orcas and killer whales are the same animal (don’t forget to act surprised).

Best for: Toddlers who like to dress up like orcas; preschoolers fascinated by whales; big kids who can read the museum’s descriptive posters and signs. In short, everyone.

Where: 62 First St. N., Friday Harbor. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost: $6 adults, $3 for children 5-18.

Friday Harbor Family Vacation