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San Juan Island
I-5, Exit 260 to Lummi Island Ferry
The pearl of Rosario Strait.
Recently named one of 28 “Best Secret Islands on Earth” by Travel & Leisure, Lummi Island is not a tourist destination in the traditional sense. Lummi offers a relaxing retreat for food enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Quiet, tree-lined country lanes traverse the island making biking or walking the obvious recreational activities, but outdoor and cultural options are varied and a great meal is never far away.
Lummi is also the most accessible of the area’s islands, located just two hours from Seattle and one and a half hours from Vancouver.
Take the Slater Road exit from I-5 and head west. You’ll hang a left at the Silver Reef Casino to get to the island – unless you’re feeling lucky. If so, stop and play the slots, catch a show or enjoy a seafood or steak dinner at the renowned Silver Reef Steak House.
A small county ferry makes the short crossing from the mainland to the island at least once an hour throughout the day. The crossing is cash only, so plan ahead. A car and driver costs $13, with each additional passenger costing $7. Walkers and cyclists pay $7.
Eighteen miles of country roads beckon bikers and walkers. Circumnavigate the island by kayak for a vigorous day trip or camp overnight at the Lummi DNR, a rustic campsite accessible only by water. Or visit one of three preserves protected by the Lummi Island Heritage Trust. The Otto and Curry preserves are both perfect for a casual walk, but the real hidden gem is the Baker preserve, offering a short but vigorous hike up a steep and winding trail with a great payoff – an overlook with breathtaking views of the San Juan Islands.
An essential stop is The Willows Inn, often considered a destination in and of itself. The New York Times called it one of just 10 restaurants in the world worth a plane ride, citing its “obsessive” focus on fresh, local ingredients and Blaine Wetzel, a young chef who previously worked at the world-renowned Noma restaurant in Copenhangen.
If you’re looking for something a bit more casual, The Taproot Cafe on the ground floor of The Willows Inn offers great lunch as well as coffee, and the Beach Store Cafe, one block from the ferry landing, features pub food. It’s a great place to stop for breakfast before you head out on your adventures.
The Lummi Island Farmers Market takes place Saturday mornings through September within walking distance of the ferry landing, and the Lummi Artists Studio Tour, where the island’s artists open their studios to the public, happens on Labor Day.
For more info, visit lummi-island.com.
In the know:
CAST YOUR NETS: Not to be missed are the reefnet fishermen, who practice a method used for centuries by Native American tribes. You can watch them from the road as they haul up their catch.
TAKE A DIFFERENT SORT OF ART WALK: Sculptor Ann Morris opens her Sculpture Woods studio grounds to the public the first Saturday of each month for visitors to take a self-guided tour of the 16 sculptures.
CHAP DATE: Grab a picnic lunch from The Islander grocery store or The Taproot Cafe and head to Church Beach, behind Lummi Island Congregational Church on Legoe Bay Road. This south-view beach is peaceful and pristine.