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San Juan Islands for Families on a Budget

What to do with kids on Orcas, Lopez, San Juan and more idyllic islands

Lauren Braden

Published on: July 25, 2023

San Juan Islands for Families on a Budget

Orcas Island ferry dock San Juans for families credit Duluoz Cats via Flickr CC
Approaching the Orcas Island ferry dock. Credit: Duluoz Cats/Flickr CC

Family guide to the San Juan Islands

Have you given up on the San Juan Islands because of ferries, crowds and steep overnight lodging rates? Not so fast. If you haven’t visited in a while, let me assure you: Lopez Island has not suddenly transformed into Nantucket.

Our gorgeous San Juans are as laid-back and charming as ever, especially if you know when to go and where to find the best deals.

My budget-conscious family boards a ferry to the San Juans about once a year, a pilgrimage to emerald isles that immerses our son in Northwest nature and gently nudges him to slow down to the pace of “island time.”

Even the one-hour ferry crossing (which you can reserve) is an adventure for kids as you can spot many different types of sea life, from bald eagles to orcas to harbor seals. Once on the islands, pebbly beaches invite our son to indulge in one of his favorite pastimes: skipping rocks. And clear, dark skies are perfect for stargazing.

At the end, find our tips for saving money and skipping the hassle on your jaunt to the kid-friendly San Juan Islands.

First stop: Orcas Island

Image credit: duluoz cats/Flickr CC

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