A tour of these Puget Sound isles might be the country's most authentic foodie road (and ferry) trip.
Treat yourself to an eat-your-way-through-the-islands adventure in Washington's beautiful San Juan Islands. Here the locavore lifestyle, a philosophy devoted to locally grown ingredients, is alive and thriving. In fact, this cluster of glacially carved green isles has always been ahead of the curve, thanks to the island isolation factor, greenhouse-like climate, and abundant farmland.
When vivid splashes of violet start to appear in the rolling hills, you know you're approaching Pelindaba Lavender Farm. A tour of owner Steven Robins' shop is almost a three-credit course in lavender history and its culinary, medicinal, and household uses. You'll walk out nibbling lavender-infused chocolate (and probably toting some all-purpose cleaner, too). 45 Hawthorne Lane, Friday Harbor, WA, 360/378-4248; pelindabalavender.com.
Travel to the north end of the island and you'll find Hawk and Suzy Pingree concocting a potent brew in their barn. The retired journalism professors moved here from Wisconsin seven years ago and met professional cider maker Richard Anderson, who taught them how to make apple cider (sourced from their apple orchard). Now they also use their skills to make gin and brandy at the San Juan Islands Distillery. Sample the Apple Eau de Vie and the lavender gin, the latter a crisp, liquid jolt of the aromatic herb you'll also find at Steven Robins' shop. 12 Anderson Lane, 360/378-2606; sanjuanislanddistillery.com.
Doe Bay Café
After a short ferry hop to Orcas Island, drive northeast to Doe Bay Resort and Retreat. At the sprawling, campy spot, simple cabins, yurts, and domes tuck into the woods around the resort's waterside general store and Doe Bay Café, where the menu is almost completely organic. The poached duck egg, sourced from Orcas, is cooked perfectly and paired with greens and creamy grits. 107 Doe Bay Road, Olga, WA, 360/376-2291; debayo.com/cafe/cafe.html.
The Market Chef
Pick up sandwiches at The Market Chef in Friday Harbor and head to the island's southern tip to American Camp—a former army base overlooking Griffin Bay. Here, easy walking trails weave through golden meadows of waist-high grass on the way to the shore. 225 A Street, Friday Harbor, WA; 360/378-4546
Toni Hermansen, the owner of Buck Bay Shellfish on Orcas Island, feeds her patrons oysters and clams from the bay on the south side of the island. Her sole mission on Earth seems to be to feed people the oysters and clams she cultivates and harvests from her own front yard. And it's a fitting addition to a Pacific Northwest locavore tour: an oyster snack plucked out of the sea, shared under the sun—straight from the source. 117 EJ Young Rd., Olga, WA; 360/376-5280.
Camp in Style
"Glamp" in a rustic canvas tent, à la fancy African safaris. The lodge staff totes dinner to your site's grill, where you cook up your own harvest feast of wild salmon fillets, corn, and veggie kebabs under the stars. The Lakedale Resort campground includes cozy canvas-wall tents, lodge rooms, and log cabins. Rates start at $32 (campsites), $149 (lodge rooms), $179 (canvas tents), and $249 (log cabins); 360/378-2350 or lakedale.com.
Staying in the San Juans
Island Inn at 123 West, San Juan Island
The seven penthouses have kitchens, living rooms, and baths with steam showers. Steep outdoor stairs from the front door lead to a private rooftop terrace overlooking the harbor. Choose from the new set of 350- and 490-square-foot "Sweets," the 920- to 1,495-square-foot penthouses, and 195- to 350-square-foot studio rooms. Rates start at $199; 360/378-4400 or 123west.com.
Rosario Resort and Spa, Orcas Island
Completed in 1909, the grand old mansion is now a restaurant, spa, and museum of sorts overlooking Cascade Bay. But for the best room in the house, reserve the 1913 Roundhouse Suite overlooking the water. Rates start at $89; 360/376-2222 or rosarioresort.com.
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