A step back in time on the friendly isle

Lopez Island

Lopez Island’s tranquility, rural farmscapes and quiet bays put visitors at ease. Sometimes called the friendly isle or Slow-pez, it’s the smallest of the big-three San Juan Islands and feels more like a step back in time than the others.

At its heart is Lopez Village, a cluster of businesses including cafes with strong coffee and fresh baked treats, restaurants with simple, wholesome food, an inn, a gallery and a small grocery store for picnic supplies. On summer Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Lopez Island Farmers Market offers a taste of the island. Sample goat cheese, albacore, sockeye salmon, chipotle sauce and other local delicacies once the market opens for the season on May 21.

While the village is a treat, Lopez’s real charm is its lack of urban amenities. Most visitors make for the island’s more secluded destinations to sleep under the stars or to indulge in a rustic bed-and-breakfast experience. From the village, scenic roads lead to wineries, farms, galleries, dramatic vistas and parks.

Eight county parks and one state park ring the island. Odlin County Park is an ideal spot to comb the beach or stroll through seaside forests of Douglas fir and madrone trees. The park also offers picnicking and 30 campsites, which you’ll want to reserve as early as possible. Don’t miss Spencer Spit State Park, a 138-acre park on a tranquil sandy beach ideal for crabbing, clamming and beachcombing. Not all the beaches on Lopez are sandy – Shark Reef Sanctuary, a rocky headland facing a channel on the island’s remote southeast corner, gives visitors a raw look at the power of tidal currents.

Lopez Island’s lack of traffic and gentle terrain make it an ideal venue for bicycle touring. Didn’t bring a bike? Check out Lopez Bicycle Works, the oldest bike shop in the San Juan Islands. They offer quality rentals and repair services. Several outfitters also rent kayaks by the day or hour and deliver to the ferry terminal for walk-on passengers.

A summer highlight on Lopez Island is the community’s Fourth of July Celebration and Old-Fashioned Parade. Revelry ranges from a community-funded fireworks display over Fisherman’s Bay to a hamburger barbecue.

Though Lopez is a destination for all kinds of events and activities, its best resource is its ability to put visitors at ease. So rather than pack your itinerary, schedule some time just to savor Slow-pez.

For more information, visit lopezisland.com.

Suggested Itinerary

This weekend, it’s about rest and relaxation in the Northern boarder town of Blaine. To see Blaine in all its glory, begin the trip early by heading to Semiahmoo Park, which sits on a 1.25 mile spit with spectacular views of the mountains and wildlife. The park has .75 miles of paved road – great for biking – and .75 miles of beach, which is splendid for exploring.

Birdwatchers can expect to see a variety of species such as cormorants, herons, loons, eagles, and more, but seals and whales also make appearances from time to time.

Have a bite at Chada Thai for an excellent lunch and enjoy views overlooking Blaine Harbor at every table. At 4 p.m., it’s check-in time at the Semiahmoo Resort, but until then, go play a round of golf at the Semiahmoo Golf & County Club. Golf might not be for everyone, so  schedule a private Pilates session at Whole Pilates to connect mind and body or dig into some art and mediation at Soul Space Studio.

After some afternoon activities, check in at Semiahmoo Resort and relax in your room, walk around the beaches or enjoy a drink at Packer Kitchen & Bar before dinner. For dinner, The Vault Wine Bar & Event Space, located in downtown Blaine, is a great spot for a romantic dinner with excellent wine.

Back at the resort, enjoy the evening by building a campfire on the beach in one of the fire pits the resort offers, go for an evening swim in the indoor pool, or relax and watch a movie at the resort’s Discovery Theatre. In the morning, wake up to breakfast at the Seaview Café located at the resort. To invigorate the body, the resort offers a variety of fitness classes free to their guests. If relaxation is what you’re after, there are also a variety of spa treatments, including couples massage.

Head into town to the Rawganique Organic Hemp & Cotton Lifestyle Store & Café for a little shopping, a treat or a smoothie.

From there, take a relaxing walk to Peach Arch State Park, but don’t walk too far for this park is in both the U.S. and Canada. If you are visiting between May and October, enjoy the International Sculpture exhibition at Peace Arch Park.

Finally, with a deep cleansing breath and a final look at Drayton Harbor head on home rested and fulfilled.

Check out these other communities:

San Juan Island

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Orcas Island

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