Inn overlooking Orcas Island’s Deer Harbor features century-old restaurant and homey lodgings with electric fireplaces
Deer Harbor Inn got its start in 1891 as an apple orchard that attracted Seattle teachers on summer vacation. In the early 20th century, its owners transformed the orchard’s modest cabins into a full-fledged resort, attracting visitors with unparalleled views of Deer Harbor and the Olympic Mountains. You can still find the same down-home hospitality and tranquil scenery here.
Nicknamed the “emerald isle” for its rolling hills covered in douglas firs, Orcas Island is the largest of Washington’s San Juan Islands. Its bays are filled with sea anemones, eel, and sunflower starfish—massive starfish that can have more than 20 arms. Between March and October, you can take whale-watching tours to see native birds, seals, and orca whales.
Take a scenic drive to the island’s artsy Eastsound Village. There’s no official mayor of this hamlet, though cows, sheep, and dogs have all held honorary office here in the past. The village is home to a number of art galleries and casual eateries, as well as a Saturday farmers’ market with live music in the summer.
At Moran State Park, on the east side of the island, you can hike, bike, or ride horseback along 30 miles of wooded trails. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can climb the 2,400-foot Mount Constitution. The highest point in the San Juan Islands, it rewards climbers with postcard-worthy views of the surrounding islands and, on really clear days, Mount Rainier.