Everything You Need To Know About Friday Harbor

Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands is brimming with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered and, today, this charming island gem is our destination!

Nestled just steps from the ferry landing and docks, this seaport is a treasure trove of experiences. In a compact one-square-mile package, you’ll find a delightful array of small water-view cafes, gourmet restaurants, galleries, museums, boutiques, spas, a lively community theater, and even a two-screen movie theater. Whether you’re here for a day or planning a week-long adventure, Friday Harbor has something for everyone.

In today’s blog, we’re going to take you on a whirlwind tour, where we’ll uncover the best and most exciting things to do in Friday Harbor, tantalize your taste buds with the delectable dining experiences offered at Friday Harbor’s finest restaurants, and satisfy your shopping desires with a delightful spree in Friday Harbor’s shops.

But that’s not all! Our guide goes above and beyond by providing you with the inside scoop on the best San Juan Islands lodging options so that your stay here is nothing short of unforgettable!

About Friday Harbor

Where is it?

Looking for Friday Harbor? You’ll find this charming town nestled right in the heart of San Juan Island, the second largest gem in a stunning chain of 172 islands perched in the northernmost part of the Puget Sound and perfectly positioned between Canada’s beautiful Vancouver Island and the Washington State mainland.

When you explore Friday Harbor, you’ll discover a cozy town that covers 1.23 square miles or 787 acres, of which, interestingly, more than half is beautifully developed, giving Friday Harbor a unique blend of nature and community.


Friday Harbor in WA

Friday Harbor has been the heart and soul of San Juan Island since the 1890s. But what turned this quaint spot into a thriving hub for commerce, culture, and community? Well, a sheltered bay with deep waters, perfect for anchoring your boats and an abundant supply of freshwater was the canvas upon which Friday Harbor was painted as a commercial gem.

Fast forward to 1900 and you’d find a lively seaport with a flourishing commercial center and a charming population of three or four hundred. There were general stores, the renowned Churchill’s Store leading the way, a bank, U.S. Customs, and even a local newspaper to keep everyone informed. 

The town boasted a theater, a livery stable, a milliner, and even a blacksmith, not to mention the three hotels, saloons, and an Odd Fellows Hall. The salmon cannery and creamery added to the town’s buzz, while residential neighborhoods and farms encircled the town.

Despite its early promise, Friday Harbor faced economic challenges over the decades, especially as traditional industries dwindled. In recent times, Friday Harbor has experienced a renaissance, driven by tourism, retirement, real estate, and construction.

Today, Friday Harbor shines as a prosperous and lively community, ready to embrace the future while cherishing its fascinating past. Come visit and be part of the story!

Things To Do in Friday Harbor 

Welcome to the exciting part of our blog where we dive into the heart of Friday Harbor’s charm and adventure! Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a foodie, or an avid adventurer, you’ll find something to pique your interest in this vibrant island town.

Shopping on Spring Street

Friday Harbor is your retail paradise, boasting a treasure chest of shops for you shopaholics out there! From charming boutiques and cozy bookstores to galleries and gift shops you will discover dazzling jewelry, fine art, books, and even locally crafted women’s clothing and gifts.

The Friday Harbor shopping epicenter is Spring Street, stretching from the waterfront up to Argyle Street, including the fun cross streets Front, First, Second, and Nichols so, grab your map and set sail for some retail therapy!

Dining & Drinks

Prepare your taste buds for an unforgettable journey through the culinary wonders of Friday Harbor restaurants which offer a smorgasbord of dining options, from mouthwatering fish & chips by the waterfront to freshly-caught halibut at a quaint restaurant.

Delight in locally harvested oysters, reef-net caught salmon, island-raised meats, and fresh island-grown veggies, fruits, and cheeses. Then, wash it down with locally crafted wine, beer, or cider accompanied by stunning water views.

Explore Brickworks Plaza

Brickworks Plaza, named after its brick factory history, stands today transformed into a vibrant hub of culture and community life in Friday Harbor. With a spacious hall and an outdoor plaza,  this venue hosts everything from rocking concerts to lively community gatherings.

Drop by on Saturdays for the San Juan Island Farmers’ Market, where you can indulge in the freshest local ingredients, meet the farmers, munch on scrumptious baked goods, and groove to awesome tunes!


Our next stop on this adventure takes us to the must-visit museums in Friday Harbor!

San Juan Islands Museum Of Art

Get ready for a wild ride through the artistic cosmos at the new San Juan Islands Museum Of Art which brings you quarterly exhibitions of mind-bending visual art from all corners of the world.

The galleries inside the main building will take you on a whirlwind tour of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and more, featuring an eclectic mix of artists including legends like William Morris, Ansel Adams, and the enigmatic Ai Weiwei.

SJIMA’s mission is simple yet profound: to connect people with art that inspires, challenges, and enlightens.

Plan Your Visit

Ready to experience Friday Harbor for yourself? Browse our entire inventory of vacation rentals on the San Juan Islands and let the adventure begin!

The Whale Museum

Step into the mesmerizing world of the oceans’ gentle giants at The Whale Museum, housed in an 1892 Odd Fellows Hall which, since 1979, has been on a mission to instill a sense of stewardship for whales and the enchanting Salish Sea ecosystem.

You’ll be taken deep into the world of these majestic creatures and you’ll even learn how to “Adopt an Orca” to support the 80-plus Southern Resident orcas who call these Northwest waters their home.

Come on, you just know that this museum promises a whale of a time! 

San Juan Historical Museum

Nestled on the historic 445-acre James King farm, the San Juan Historical Museum is a quirky collection of eight unique buildings, four of which date back to the original farm and will give you a taste of island life from yesteryears.

There’s the 1894 farmhouse, carriage house, root cellar, milk house, and even the original San Juan County Jail! Stroll the enchanting grounds, have a picnic, and immerse yourself in a bygone era.

Book Your San Juan Islands Vacation Rental with Northwest Island Escapes

For over two decades, we, at Northwest Island Escapes, have been extending a warm welcome to visitors to the stunning San Juan Islands. Our mission is simple: make you feel right at home in our island paradise. Island living is our passion and we’re thrilled to share a slice of it with you.

With a wide array of rental properties to explore, your ideal vacation rental on San Juan Island is waiting for you. If you’re a larger group, we offer a fantastic range of 3 to 4-bedroom San Juan Island rentals. We also have a great selection of La Conner rentals and Lopez Island rentals if your vacation takes you elsewhere.

It’s time to transform your dream island vacation into a reality. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the magic of our San Juan Islands vacation rentals!