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San Juan Island
With flags and flowers, the Peace Arch City welcomes you to America.
Once a gritty border town with racy movie houses and bookstores, Blaine has spent much time and effort to live up to its setting and potential. As it’s the first stop for travelers coming south or the last stop for those going into Canada, townspeople wanted to recreate a city that would make them proud to call home. One visit to the Peace Arch city will show it’s been time well spent.
Peace Portal Drive is one of the main thoroughfares and overlooks the harbor and Semiahmoo Bay. Trees and flower baskets bring life and color to what was once the start of the old U.S. 99 that took travelers from Washington to California. Two waterside plazas have been constructed, one of which features a bronze sculpture of two women and a boy looking out to sea waiting for their fishermen to return home. The other plaza is used for public events, such as open-air movie nights or as a venue for performances during the annual jazz festival. American flags wave gaily from lampposts, signifying the beginning of America to friends from up north.
Marking the border is Peace Arch Provincial Park and Peace Arch State Park. Park employees from either side appear to engage in friendly competition to see which side is the most beautiful and well kept. Flowerbeds, lawns and picnic areas create a pleasant stopping point for cross-border travelers. Look for sculptures throughout the park as part of the annual International Sculpture Exhibit, open until October 1.
Of course, the biggest landmark is the Peace Arch monument itself, planted on the border between Canada and the U.S. Standing 67 feet high, the arch is marked by the words, “Brethren Dwelling Together in Unity” on the Canadian side and “Children of A Common Mother” on the American side.
Blaine Marine Park, immediately to the west of the state park and across the street from Blaine Harbor, is the go-to place for visiting bird watchers. The warm waters act as a magnet for migrating birds. A path winds its way to the pier at the foot of Marine Drive, which sees many a daredevil child making a death-defying plunge into the harbor in summer. Once crab season opens, you’ll see hungry fishers throwing their traps over the side, hoping for a meal of Dungeness crab.
Beginning the Friday of the Memorial Day weekend and running every weekend until Labor Day, the historic Plover ferry runs from Blaine Harbor to the world-famous Semiahmoo Resort, the site of former salmon canneries. The Plover was a workhorse that used to carry cannery workers back and forth to work. Rides are by donation.
Once you arrive on the Semiahmoo side, enjoy a lovely walk along the spit from the Semiahmoo Resort, with its four-star inn, restaurants, bars and championship golf courses, to a small museum that illuminates the area’s fishing history. On the Drayton Harbor side, warm waters and sandy beaches make for a pleasant swim in the afternoon.
For more info, visit blainechamber.com.
Things to do in Blaine:
Double-Dare You: Jump off the Marine Drive pier at low tide.
Get Walking: Grab a brochure from the visitor’s center and take a walking tour of Salishan neighborhood.
Celebrate Independence: Enjoy a small town traditional 4th of July parade and be sure to stay for the fireworks.
Foster International Goodwill: Watch as thousands of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from Canada and the U.S. get together for Hands Across the Border on June 10.
Watch the Sun Set: Head to Marine Park with a picnic dinner and a blanket for two and watch the sun set over Semiahmoo Bay.