This archipelago off the coast of Washington offers ample opportunities for exploring nature — and they serve a pretty fine pizza too.
- Ansel in the House
Water is the theme of a photography show on view through Labor Day at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art in Friday Harbor; it includes work from Ansel Adams, Dorothy Kerper Monnelly and underwater photographer Ernest H. Brooks II.
Titled “Fragile Waters,” it calls attention to this critical resource through 117 black-and-white photographs that capture the grandeur of water in nature.
- Making a Splash
Following years of population stagnation and decline, two of the pods of orcas that call the San Juans home experienced a baby boom this past year, producing nine new calves. The best spot to see the whales and their little ones from shore: Lime Kiln Point State Park, on the west side of San Juan Island.
If you time it right, you can picnic while watching the dorsal fins of the entire brood glide past.
- Farm to Pizza
Naples has nothing on Hogstone’s Wood Oven, a roadhouse style spot in Eastsound, the biggest village on Orcas Island. The dough is thin and crispy; the sauce is tart and tangy. Chef Jay Blackinton sources many of his ingredients from a nearby farm — and he was recently nominated for Rising Star/Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. Pizzas run from $10 to $25. hogstone.com
- The Shape of Things
Allow a few hours to explore the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park, an eclectic installation that spans 20 acres on the north side of San Juan Island near Roche Harbor. The rotating collection includes more than 150 original pieces, mainly by Pacific Northwest sculptors. Along the five marked trails, poetry from a local laureate celebrates the beauty of nature. Suggested donation, $5. sjisculpturepark.com
- Getting Monumental
Dedicated in 2013, the San Juan Islands National Monument encompasses 1,000 acres across the archipelago. The easy 3-mile Iceberg Point trail, on the southwestern tip of Lopez Island, is a great introduction to the park. From rocky cliffs at the halfway point, you can spot the snow-capped Olympic Mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and look for whales. Wildflowers are also plentiful in summer.