Things to do on Orcas Island

Here's a short list of things to consider on Orcas, as seen through a biased local's eyes:

Restaurants:

An all time favorite is Mijitas Mexican Kitchen (nee Bilbo's), a great mexican restaurant, located in Eastsound. Mijitas/Bilbo's has been around for years and has lost not one bit of charm or excellence in its food or atmosphere.

A really good pizza is available at Portofino.

Other great restaurants are The Inn at Ship Bay, just east of Eastsound about a mile on the way to Moran State Park, New Leaf Cafe, "Roses", located on North Beach Road in Eastsound, Cafe Olga in Eastsound and the Doe Bay Cafe at the Doe Bay Resort. There are many more; see the Chamber list cited below.

Excellent asian and local organic quick takeout meals are at the Kitchen, in the heart of Eastsound.

The Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce has complied a comprehensive list of restaurants with hours and phone numbers may guide some evening choices; note that the area code for all these phone numbers is 360.

Things to do and see:

It is obligatory for you to go to the top of Mount Constitution in Moran State Park and check out the view, unless it's pouring. The best times are early in the morning or in the late afternoon, when the haze is minimal.

An almost obligatory activity is to walk around Mountain Lake, half way up to Mt. Constitution. It's four miles (1.5 hrs) of virtually flat, peaceful and lovely trail. You can also walk from the Garden House to the southeast corner of the park where you can connect up with the south and east boundary trails. Ask me for the insider info once you get here.

During the summer, and especially with young children, you can hardly avoid taking advantage of 'the beach', by which everyone means the beach at Cascade Lake in Moran State Park. It's easy to get to, it's free, it's safe, it's a parents-of-young-children place to be.

For those of you interested in real food from a real farm, stop at Coffelt Farm (hours listed on the website); it is a lovely refreshing spot run by those who truly love working with animals, plants and people.

Speaking of food and fun, if you are here on a Saturday in the summer, you owe it to yourselves to check out the Farmers Market.

For kayaking, call Shearwater. Tom and Jeff are friends and they've got some great trips.

For bicycling, call Wild Life Cycles.

For beach walking, not that there's a whole lot of that here, take North Beach Road north out of Eastsound (it's the main drag going north) till you dead end at the beach.

The histerical museum is in Eastsound for those who like reliquary. Saturday mornings finds the museum grounds filled with local farmer's market booths.

A walk to Madrona Point is always very nice. It is reached by driving or walking south out of Eastsound on a road which many would consider the southerly extension of Prune Alley (basically, it's the only paved road going south out of the 'built up' area of Eastsound.) Madrona Point is a park but has not been developed, so while there are no picnic tables, it is a great spot for a picnic.

The Orcas Center has some great performances, usually on Friday or Saturday nights. This is a special place for us, though it may seem pretty standard for those of you from a city where entertainment is available nightly.

If you want a pretty neat thrill, take a biplane flight. This is not for the faint at heart but it is for the couple with at least a little spark left for adventure. Yes it is pricy but you won't regret or forget this trip! This is a bucket list item.

The San Juan Islands Visitors Guide has a reference to a monthly calendar of events.

What are Your favorites?

If you've been to Orcas and have had an experience that you are willing to divulge (and you think that you won't trash anything by offering it), write me. Maybe it was with a local, or a business, or a place, or it was a special time (full moon, low tide, etc.) Stories of special times always welcome. Email to

joesymons AT icloud.com


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