We just returned from an amazing week on Orcas Island, in Washington. It's not all that far from Portland, but a lot of travel time. A drive from Portland to Anacortes, then an hour ferry ride. We didn't miss the ferry in either direction. If you drive on, they fill up fast, so they are easy to miss, which can set you back hours. We stayed over a night north of Seattle to break it up and also stop at the American Girl store.
We stayed in a house about 4 minutes from Moran State park, which was a nature Disneyland. Lakes and hikes, camping and falls, and then more hikes. It was breathtaking. The weather was perfect the whole week, sunny and no rain. Orcas Island is really down to earth. It's a resort town and that's in it's history, but it isn't kitschy or tacky at all. For local people, it's more like Manzanita, not like Seaside.
In town, Eastsound, we found an amazing bookshop, Darville's Bookstore, delicious chocolates, Kathryn Taylor Chocolates and a bakery, Brown Bear Bakery that made me cry a little it was so good. There was a brand new furniture shop (it was open air, and just stunning) with amazing pieces made from local wood— Orcas Workshop. The Orcas Island Historical Museum was excellent, and they had a local vintage quit show up that was very moving, with researched information about the quilters.
We sea kayaked (all 5 of us) at Deer harbor—we loved our Shearwater guides, they were a great company to work with. We saw 3 herons, a harbor seal, and 2 eagles.
I could have posted about 100 more photos. It was such a great place for a family vacation. I think in the summer it gets pretty busy and the ferries can be a nightmare, but off season, like now and fall, it's idyllic. It was so beautiful and calm and relaxing yet exciting I felt like were were in a movie version of a vacation. Like the deer in our from yard eating mushroom was fake. But it wasn't. The girls found sea glass and are planning to make jewelry from it.
This island is so well documented, history wise, it made learning really fun. There are some fabulous old structures still standing, lots of historical photos and books about Orcas, and all the hikes and the state parks had lots of posted information about the local plants, wildlife and habitat, and there's a large amount of history on the construction of Moran State Park which was built during the 1930s.
This last photo documents how weird it gets on roads trips on the way home. Pete ate it, and said it was good.