10 Fun Things to Do in Friday Harbor
Stroll the docks, streets and shops of the charming, historic Town of Friday Harbor—Gateway to the San Juan Islands
A charming seaport just steps from the ferry landing and docks, historic Friday Harbor has plenty to keep you busy for a day or a week—from small, waterview cafes to gourmet restaurants, galleries and museums, boutiques and spas, a community theater and a two-screen movie theater—all within one square mile.
1. Find Treasures on Spring Street
Friday Harbor has a wide range of shops to browse, from boutiques and bookstores to galleries and gift shops, where you can find jewelry, fine art, books, locally made women’s clothing and gifts. The main shopping district is centered on Spring Street from the waterfront up to Argyle Street, including the cross streets Front, First, Second, and Nichols. Explore great shops in Friday Harbor.
2. Indulge in Delicious Friday Harbor Food & Drink
Friday Harbor is full of great places to eat, from fish & chips on the waterfront to succulent halibut at a quaint restaurant. Savor the flavors of locally harvested oysters, reef-net caught salmon, locally raised meats, fresh Island Grown vegetables, fruits, cheeses and more. Enjoy a glass of locally made wine, beer, cider and spirits with a great meal, or a tasty cocktail with a water view.
3. Experience Community at Brickworks Plaza
Restored in 2013, the Brickworks—taking its name from its original, historic role—is now a center for cultural life in Friday Harbor, with a large hall and outdoor plaza for concerts and community gatherings. On Saturdays, don’t miss the San Juan Island Farmers’ Market where you can find the freshest local ingredients, meet the farmers, eat delicious baked goods and other foods cooked on-site, and listen to great music.
4. Discover Friday Harbor’s Creative Side
The new SJIMA offers quarterly exhibitions of fine visual art from around the world. A beautiful front atrium shows fascinating art installations, and galleries in the main building show paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture and more, from a diverse collection of artists such as William Morris, Ansel Adams and Ai Weiwei. The museum’s mission is to connect people with art that inspires, challenges, and enlightens.
Explore Friday Harbor’s public art, including the stainless steel “Fluke” by Micajah Bienvenue, just behind the ferry lanes, and murals on the outside of The Whale Museum, and on a wall in Sunken Park near the ferry landing. Browse art galleries, or watch a performance at the San Juan Community Theatre. In the summer, Music in the Park and Music on the Lawn draw dynamic on and off-island musicians. Check our calendar of events for more information.
5. Walk through History
On the grounds of the former 445-acre James King farm, the San Juan Historical Museum consists of eight buildings, four from the original farm: the 1894 farmhouse, carriage house, root cellar and milk house. The original San Juan County Jail, a barn, a log cabin, and resource center round out the remaining structures. Stroll the grounds, enjoy a picnic and step back in time. New exhibits include a Museum of Industry, displaying the logging, farming and fishing history of San Juan Island. If you are up for an interesting walk, pick up a Historic Friday Harbor on Foot Guide at the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce.
6. Find Underwater Wonders at The Whale Museum
Housed in an 1892 Odd Fellows Hall, The Whale Museum has promoted stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research since 1979. You can see a young orca skeleton, watch amazing videos of orcas at play, and find treasures in the museum gift shop. Upstairs, visit the Gallery of Whales and learn about how you can “Adopt an Orca” to support the 80-plus Southern Resident orca whales that call these Northwest waters home.
7. Explore the Waterfront
Wander the docks in Friday Harbor and look at the boats, from the two-masted schooner Spike Africa to visiting mega-yachts. Watch local marine life up close at the Spring St. Landing mini-aquarium, the 400-gallon mini-aquarium at Spring St. Landing, housing a fascinating collection of local sea flora and fauna.
Enjoy the waterfront walk down to the Port of Friday Harbor, appreciating the “Portals of Welcome” Coast Salish house posts in Jack Fairweather Park, and the many visiting boats from around the world. The piece is titled “Interaction” and was created by Coast Salish artist Susan Point, a member of the Musqueam Tribe, as a symbol of welcome and an acknowledgment of the Native presence in the San Juan Islands.
From the docks you may catch a glimpse of Popeye, a female harbor seal that has been a frequent visitor to Friday Harbor since 1995. In 2005, the Port commissioned her sculpture, which sits near the main marina dock entrance. Enjoy “Music at the Port” in the summertime. You can also buy fresh seafood at Friday Harbor Seafood on the main dock.
8. Outdoor Adventure Hub
Friday Harbor is a hub for exploring the natural beauty of the islands. Go on a guided kayaking tour or rent kayaks on your own, rent a boat, rent a bike, or rent a moped. Grab a map at these locations and start exploring the San Juan Islands Scenic Byway and the waterways of the islands.
9. Take a Whale & Wildlife Watching Tour
Start your whale watching tour from the waterfront, and you will also have a chance to see eagles, sea lions and harbor seals, all while cruising the stunning shorelines of the islands. Orca whales often hunt for their favorite foods in the waters on the west side of San Juan Island, just a 20-minute boat ride from Friday Harbor. You may also see minke whales, Dall’s porpoise, and the occasional humpback whale.
10. Friday Harbor Film Festival & Seasonal Events
The Friday Harbor Film Festival in early November focuses exclusively on documentary films that “entertain – inspire – enlighten” us about the people, cultures, and environment that make up the area known as the Pacific Rim. Films are shown at five venues throughout downtown Friday Harbor, just blocks from the ferry, close to restaurants, pubs, and lodgings, making it a walkable, fun, fall getaway.
For everything you want to know about Friday Harbor and San Juan Island, this is the place to start. The Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center office on First Street has a great selection of maps, brochures, and information about accommodations, restaurants, activities, attractions and upcoming events.
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