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Bring your Children to Friday Harbor

Who’s Afraid of a Little Drizzle?

As the mother of two young children, I can understand why some parents would be leery of taking their youngsters on a vacation to San Juan Island outside of the summer months. A long rainy weekend stuck inside with a gaggle of energetic children doesn’t sound like my idea of a relaxing, good time away from home. Luckily, Friday Harbor is home to many young families with children so there is always something fun to do no matter the weather. Here are my top few choices for ways to spend a cold afternoon.

A Place to Play

kids at the tucker house Located on Spring Street, A Place to Play is less than a block from the ferry landing. This adorable play center is like a children’s museum and a Land of Nod catalog rolled up into one. Geared toward children under ten years of age, the space isn’t huge. However, it’s full of fun little themed play areas mixed with educational toys. A large play structure built to look like a chicken coop and corral complete with small, ride on ponies is in one corner. An almost life size tug boat with fishing poles, nets and a life raft takes up the middle of the space. And a play house kitchen is built underneath a fort filled with foam blocks.

There is also a giant Barbie dollhouse, train table, arts and crafts area, moon sand box, a Lego table and more. At less than ten dollars per child per hour, A Place to Play is worth every penny! Drop off child care is allowed certain days and times for children two to five years, camps for children up to age ten are typically offered during school breaks and once or twice per month they offer “Date night drop off” on a weekend evening.

The San Juan Island Community Theater

Our local playhouse and a non-profit entity offers performance art for adults and youngsters. The SJICT hosts many plays by students at Friday Harbor High School, Middle School and Elementary School. It also hosts local and regional dance performances, musicians, movies, plays and singers. In December, they even host a Frozen Sing-A-Long where you’ll get to belt out all of your favorite Frozen songs in time with the movie. Check out their website to see what events are coming up!

Island Rec’s Scooter

Trike and Skate Night is a great way to tire out the kids before bedtime! This fun event is held inside at the San Juan County Fairgrounds during the Winter months. It takes place every Saturday evening between 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm. On a cold, rainy Saturday evening, you’ll find many local parents huddled around the heater. They’ll have coffee mugs in hand watching their kids pedal and skate until they drop. Scooter and Trike time for the younger children is from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm. Starting at 7:00 pm, the floor is open for the older, more advanced skaters to strap on their roller blades or skates. Fee is $3 per child or $8 per family. Find out more, including other fun, upcoming events for children at

The Beach!

kids at the tucker house Always, always there is the beach! Kids don’t care if it’s drizzly or chilly or too windy for a three course picnic. Put on your rain coats, hats and boots and hit the shore for endless hours of rock throwing, beach combing, fort building and exploring. South Beach is better than Disneyland for entertaining kids (no lines and it’s free!). Driftwood logs of all sizes, perfect for fort building, cover part of this huge beach. Local wild bunnies, deer and foxes live in the area and are often easily spotted. Hiking trails and a huge rock outcropping at one end of the beach makes a perfect jungle gym. There’s also fire pits for roasting hot dogs, picnic tables and outdoor bathrooms at this family friendly beach.
Be sure to dress warmer than you think. The wind can be pretty chilly on this side of the island and the water, in typical Pacific Northwest fashion. If the wind at South Beach is too cold during your visit, just drive a short ways back toward town. Then look for the sign to Fourth of July Beach on the opposite side of the road. This smaller beach is often more protected from the wind.

Stay at the Harrison House Suites

Don’t be afraid of being stuck in a small hotel room on a rainy day with a bunch of rowdy children any longer. The Harrison House Suites is located well within walking distance of almost all of these activities. If all else fails, drop your little darlings off at date night at A Place to Play and enjoy a lovely, fresh dinner at our nearby Coho Restaurant.


Courtney ~ Local Blogger for the San Juan Island Inn Collection

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