Eastsound, on the north bend of Orcas Island, is a sort of Nantucket of the west, with a style a bit more Birkenstock than Sperry Top-Sider. As the largest city on the largest island in the archipelago, Eastsound is a good jumping-off point for exploring the San Juans.
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The 5,000-acre Moran State Park has over 30 miles of hiking trails, just minutes away from Eastsound. Start with Mount Constitution Trail, which climbs 2,400 feet above sea level for 360° views of the San Juan Islands, the Cascade Range, the Whistler Mountains, Vancouver, and Victoria (parks.wa.gov
). Hikers also have the 1,578-acre Turtleback Mountain Preserve, recently opened after a stunning $18.5 million fundraising effort by San Juan Preservation Trust; take the South Trailhead, off of Deer Harbor Road, to catch a glimpse from the other side of the island to pastoral Crow Valley (sjpt.org
). Or rent two wheels from Eastsound’s Wildlife Cycles and hit Orcas Island’s well-paved roads. For a longer cycling jaunt, hop on the ferry to explore Lopez or San Juan Islands; the ferry is free for cyclists ($30 for a one-day road-bike rental; wildlifecycles.com
). Paddlers can explore the Puget Sound’s countless bays and inlets with Shearwater Adventure. On a three-hour guided kayak tour, you could even catch a glimpse of the island’s namesake Orca whale. ($60 per person; shearwaterkayaks.com
Rose’s Bakery Café is a casual eatery housed in Eastsound’s old firehouse. They have a stellar wine selection and use fresh, local ingredients for their homemade bread; the olive-rosemary buns are worth the trip alone (360-376-5805).
Turtleback Farm Inn, a 19th-century farmhouse turned cozy B&B, affords views of Crow Valley, Turtle Mountain, and the surrounding fir and maple forests. Breakfast picks include homemade pastries and granola with fresh-picked wild berries (doubles from $100; turtlebackinn.com