Our Adventures in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, WA: Beautiful Views, Whimsical Art, and Delicious Vegan Food

Hi all! So I was planning on posting a new update on my Seattle Rock’n’Roll marathon training this week, but last weekend Rob and I discovered a new little gem here in the Pacific Northwest – a city of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island that happened to be quite vegan-friendly – so today I decided to share our adventures from last Saturday instead of a marathon update.

As you may know, we live on Whidbey Island that’s located just to the north of Seattle. If you look on the map, you’ll see that there’s a whole constellation of islands to the north and a little to the west from us called San Juan Islands. We heard that things were beautiful over there, which makes San Juans a popular vacation destination in the summer – so popular that you have to make hotel/bed-and-breakfast/camping reservations half a year in advance. Last summer that stopped us from going there for a visit, but a couple weeks ago we got a genius idea to go there just for the day and come back in the evening, so no hotel reservations were needed. That’s what we did last Saturday.

How do regular people here in the Pacific Northwest get around between all those islands? On a ferry! To go to San Juan Island where Friday Harbor is located, we took a 9:30 am ferry from Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. The trip was very picturesque despite an overcast morning, and in about an hour we arrived in Friday Harbor:

Friday Harbor ferry landing

The ferry landing is conveniently located in the heart of Friday Harbor, so we walked off the ferry and went on to explore the place without the need to drive anywhere.

As a popular vacation destination, Friday Harbor boasts having lots of art and souvenir stores, restaurants, and of course coffee shops – the latter are a big staple here in the Pacific Northwest. We walked into a couple stores that featured masterpieces of various local artists working with wood, glass, fabric, etc. One of the stores had a lovely garden of succulents that grew from every possible object they could fit into – children’s old toy cars, cut-up footballs, shoes, and even telephone receivers!

Garden of succulents in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA

Of course, there were a few regular flower pots too 🙂 To our surprise, we found a koi pond in the back of that garden. I’ve never seen an actual koi pond before, so I was fascinated by watching the beautiful fish interact with each other and even get involved into some fights!

Koi Pond in Friday Harbor, SAn Juan Island, WA

Too bad the pond looked a bit crowded with fish – I can only hope they aren’t living in too much of a discomfort there 🙁

After walking around a bit more and strolling through a local farmers’ market, we realized that the lunch time was upon us. Thankfully, we did our research earlier and found a lovely all-vegan restaurant located right in the middle of everything – Mike’s Café and Wine Bar. A vegan restaurant on a faraway island in the Salish Sea? Looks like being vegan is getting easier and easier these days…

Mike's Cafe and Wine Bar in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA

The restaurant looked like it was either newly remodeled or recently opened – either way, I was glad to see a vegan place that was clearly thriving. The menu offered a number of interesting dishes, from Asian veggie stir-frys to sandwiches and pizza. Rob selected Szechwan Sizzle – a stir-fry of mixed vegetables, mushrooms (including the fancy morel kind) and plant-based meat chunks – and I went for a veggie pizza.

Vegan lunch at Mike's Cafe in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA

As it often happens to me when eating out, I ended up with way more food than I could eat at once, so a box of pizza leftovers went on to be carried all over Friday Harbor with us for the rest of the afternoon. That pizza made a great snack on the way back home later that evening! Here’s a closer look at Rob’s delicious Szechwan Sizzle:

Vegan Szechwan Sizzle from Mike's Cafe in Friday Harbor, WA

Don’t you just love the vibrant colors of all these vegetables? And yes, that’s a veggie ‘meat’ in there – it does look a lot like ‘that other type of meat’.

After lunch we went on to explore the beautiful marina nearby. Rob is in the boat building business, so whenever we happen to pass through an area with lots of boats, we (almost) always have to go check it out. The Friday Harbor marina was definitely spectacular:

Friday Harbor marina and ferry landing

Apparently, there’s a seal who loves to hang around a seafood shop located right on the docks because tourists love buying small fish and feeding it to her. She was truly gorgeous and surprisingly gentle when reaching for the food, careful not to bite the feeder’s fingers off along with her treat.

Feeding seals in Friday Harbor Marina on San Juan Island, WA

It also looked that the seal got too much food because by the time we were done with our tour of the marina and walked past the seafood shop again, she turned around and swam away just as some little girl was about to start feeding her. Sorry little girl, we all need to take a break from eating sometimes…

The afternoon cleared up nicely, which was just perfect for our explorations. We took a look at even more of the local Pacific Northwestern art in a couple of art galleries, checked out a book shop and a kitchen supplies store, and came to a conclusion that we both were in the mood for a sweet snack. Our search for non-dairy ice cream at a couple of local ice cream shops wasn’t successful (they did have sorbet though), so we decided to try a tea + pastry combination at a random coffee shop.

We walked into the Bean Café located right around the corner from the ferry landing. The place had a large showcase of various pastries, but none of them were marked as vegan. I still wanted to try my luck, so I asked the girl at the register if they had any vegan baked goods. The girl seemed new, so she asked her boss who was standing right behind her, and the boss answered negatively. I embraced my fate and ordered just a cup of tea, but while I was talking to the cashier, her boss brought out a box of vegan cookie samples he had received from Alternative Baking Company – a California-based bakery that makes all-vegan cookies for sale all over the country. The guy invited us to pick any cookie we wanted – free of charge! – to enjoy with the tea. Isn’t that an awesome coincidence that he happened to have those samples just as a couple of vegans walked into his coffee shop?!

Peanut Butter Persuasion cookie from Alternative Baking Company

We picked the Peanut Butter Persuasion cookie out of a number of delicious-sounding samples and split it between the two of us. That hit the spot just right.

Soon after that it was time to go home. We were a little sad to be leaving such a beautiful place, but it was nice to finally discover it after we’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for over a year. Plus, it’s only a ferry ride away, so we’ll definitely be back! The way back was even more picturesque because of the clear skies, plus we had our vegan pizza leftovers to snack on 🙂

Boats in Friday Harbor Marina on San Juan Island, WAA boat leaving the Friday Harbor marina

So if you ever find yourself in our neck of the woods, now you know that we’ve got plenty of beautiful places to see – and a lot of them even have vegan food offerings! Next week I’ll be sharing an update about month 4 of my training for Seattle Rock’n’Roll marathon. By then I’ll finally enter the tapering period, which I bet will feel great after the upcoming 20-miler I have to run this weekend. Ugh, bet that’s going to be fun…

Anyway… In case you’re here for the first time, stick around for more awesomeness – you can follow Vegan Runner Eats by subscribing in the top right corner of this post, or by following the blog on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram!

About Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats

Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Being vegan eventually opened her eyes on the issues of animal welfare, environmental protection, human rights and feminism. Alina hopes that her blog will help its readers on their path to making this world a better place.

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8 Responses to Our Adventures in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, WA: Beautiful Views, Whimsical Art, and Delicious Vegan Food

  1. Nate says:

    There is quite a bit of culture here. I’ll have to check this place out sometime.

  2. Heidi says:

    Hi Alina,

    The San Juan Island are wonderful. Another one I think you guys would love is Orcas Island. My hubby and I ran the 25K trail race they hold every year, and it’s beautiful. They have a 50K, should you feel the need ! It’s put on by Rainshadow Running:http://www.rainshadowrunning.com/, they put on fun trail races. Runners world also had a decent write up on the area: http://www.runnersworld.com/trails-to-run/trail-of-the-month-orcas-island-washington

    I hope it’s okay to send you these two links? It’s just that Orcas seems like a place you will enjoy. 🙂

    As always, thanks for sharing your journey!

    • Alina says:

      Hi Heidi! No, I don’t mind the links, thank you for sending them to me! I heard about the 25k on Orcas Island from one of my local Facebook friends who ran it this year (or maybe it was the end of last year). Sounds like an interesting race and a beautiful island!

  3. All the veggie fare looked good, I do love the colour! Thanks for sharing your trip, and have fun with the 20-miler this weekend!
    The Vegan Junction recently posted…5 Things for the EnvironmentMy Profile

  4. Your blog is such a great resource, and the pictures… STUNNING! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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