Family Vacation: Orcas Island

Road Trip
This summer, we took a few weeks off and drove up to Orcas Island, Washington, where we rented a cozy cottage located just above a beach in Eastsound. We started in southern Marin and meandered north, stopping in some of the most beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest, including Crater Lake, OR and Ashland, OR.

First stop, Running Y Ranch Resort in Klamath Falls, Oregon. This rustic-chic lodge is set amongst some of the most beautiful rolling hills and trees. Kids loved the indoor pool and game room and we loved the outdoor seating at their restaurant. Breakfast on the patio is a must, for the food and the view!

What to order: breakfast burrito, Marionberry Sour before dinner

Make time for: Crater Lake. The national park is about a 30 minutes away and worth the drive just to see the Instagram-perfect setting. Breathtaking.

Next stop, Ashland, Oregon, famous for its Shakespeare Festival. For a spacious two room suite for a family of four, stay at the Ashland Hills Hotel. With a modern bohemian vibe and amenities like an outdoor pool and delicious Luna Bar, this downtown hotel was the perfect place for an overnight stay.

Things to know: You can get a good bottle of wine from the Luna Bar or just a glass to go! Kids will enjoy the photobooth while their food is being prepared. Going off campus for breakfast? For waffle lovers in the family, stop by Waffle Barn. For the creamiest lattes, visit small-batch Case Coffee Roasters, less than two miles from the Ashland Hills Hotel. And don’t worry, they’re open errday.

Our final stop, before catching the ferry, was at Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington. Just look at the pictures on the website and you’ll understand why kids are crazy for this place. It’s like a mini-Disney indoor water park. From the “six-story funnel of fun” to the tsunami-motion pool, no one was bored. My only complaint was our room. Dark (even with the lights on), gritty, and full of carpet stains, the themed Wolf Den Suite left much to be desired. A friend, who has been to Great Wolf a few times, reminded me that “you go for the park not the room.” My recommendation: stay one night only.

What you should do: Drive about 20 minutes north to Olympia and get breakfast at New Moon Cooperative Cafe. Good food, good people and good music. Put your name on the list and be patient. It’s worth the wait.

Almost there: Anacortes Ferry Terminal to Orcas Island!
Tip: Ferry tickets are released two weeks prior as well as two days before desired departure date. You can purchase them at

Where to Eat and Drink

Hogstone’s Wood Oven | Aelder
On our first night, Martin and I took the kids to Hogstone’s Wood Oven. An indoor and outdoor space where chef Jay Blackinton serves mouthwatering wood-fired pizza and carefully curated small dishes with bold flavors, such as grilled kale seasoned with smelt, radish and goat cheese and bull and broccoli with native clams and nasturtium. The choice of ingredients, presentation, and flavors reminded us of Bay Area favorites; Lazy Bear’s multi-course dinners and Manka’s whimsy. There’s a small dining room inside with about nine tables and a large picnic-style area outside.


We got take-out pizza from Hogstone’s a week later and were told that the restaurant was changing their format. Hogstone’s indoor seating would become Aedler and move to a ticketed tasting menu, while keeping their outdoor restaurant more casual serving their wonderfully savory pizzas and vegetable dishes.

What to order: goat cheese pizza, anything on tasting menu


Hogstone’s Wood Oven and Aedler
460 Main Street
Eastsound, WA 98245
(360) 376-4647

Rose’s Bakery Cafe
Farm-to-table cafe open for breakfast and lunch. Fresh ingredients heighten the flavors of their American dishes. Put your name on a list, and walk next door to the bakery/shop for picnic-ready wine, cheese, and crusty bread.

What to order: poached eggs and greens, any of their thin crust pizzas, mussels!

Rose’s Bakery Cafe
382 Prune Alley
Eastsound, WA 98245
(360) 376-4292

The Kitchen
For lunch, Audrey, and I found The Kitchen after being ignored at the nearby Island Skillet (will never go back). Glad we stumbled on this gem! The Kitchen became our go-to for always-delicious food made with incredibly fresh ingredients. These Asian-inspired small dishes were taste sensations. Sometimes we’d go twice per day. Note that the service, while very friendly, can be slow. When they say your lunch order will take 30 minutes, count on it taking that much time.

What to order: BBQ Pork Hum Bao (on busy days, they sometimes sell out by dinner so order extras at lunchtime and save for later), chicken potstickers, Szechwan Pork (my personal favorite), homemade root beer

The Kitchen
249 Prune Alley
Eastsound, WA 98245
(360) 376-6958

The Barnacle
For the best craft cocktails in town, go to The Barnacle. With their western saloon-inspired interior, you feel like you’re in another era. With a bar and about a dozen small tables, this craft bar and bistro serves savory small plates and some yummy drinks. If you’re waiting for your order at The Kitchen, you should have enough time to enjoy a libation at the bar.

What to order: Vesper Twist: made with Spy Hop Gin, Monopolowa Vodka, Cocchi Americano, and Orange Blossom infusion. Most of their spirits are made in the San Juan Islands so you’re in for a special treat.

The Barnacle
249 Prune Alley
Eastsound, WA 98245
(360) 622-2675
No website (so old school)

More from Downtown Eastsound
Brown Bear Baking for the best lattes, pain au chocolat, pain aux jambon, and pain aux raisins (just about everything). Stock the kitchen with local and organic goodness from Orcas Food Co-op. Having a picnic? This is your go-to for snacks, drinks, and sandwiches (which they will heat up if you ask). For bigger grocery runs, try Island Market. Take home one of their cool amber jugs after filling it with kombucha-on-tap. We display ours in the kitchen. For a boost of namaste, go to Orcas Mandala for yoga. The prettiest downtown shop, Nest (pictured), has amazing floral arrangements as well a decorative objects for the home. For a mix of boho-chic and modern clothing and shoes, stop by Tres Fabu (just behind The Kitchen). And on Saturday, don’t miss the Farmers Market from 10:00am – 3:00pm.

Outdoor Activities
Moran State Park
From hiking (lots of trails) and fishing to canoeing and paddle boarding, you’ll find all the best outdoor activities here! Cascade Lake was our go-to for fishing (Fresh Water Sunfish, Blue Gill and Largemouth Bass). All water activity rentals have been run by the same family for years and all the employees love working there. The place has a good vibe all around. There’s a small beach area with a cafe that serves locally-made ice cream as well as a few lunch items. Mountain Lake, which is a short hike away, is another good option for swimming. Hang out for the day or just in the late afternoon when temperatures were at their highest during our July visit.

Whale Watching
When on Orcas… While there are many whale watching tours, I liked the packages at Orcas Island Eclipse Charters. And I liked that it’s a small family-run operation. The boat was spacious and clean equipped with a small snack stand. We loved touring around and learning about the San Juan Islands but best of all, we saw many Orcas!

Girl Meets Dirt
Step into the Girl Meets Dirt kitchen for the most delicious preserves tasting! Not your usual flavors, think Shiro Plum with Mint and Rhubarb Lavender – yummy with triple cream. A few jars found their way into our pantry.

After two weeks, we all wanted to stay longer. I guess there’s always next year. xo

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