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A rainy January weekend at Roche Harbor Resort, San Juan Island

Roche Harbor view on San Juan Island.
A view of Roche Harbor from one of the McMillin Suites at the Roche Harbor Resort.

You're probably thinking we're a bit crazy to think of spending a very wet weekend in January on San Juan Island. We actually had two very good reasons, first of all we were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and secondly we had bought a Living Social deal for Roche Harbor Resort that was about to expire.

We took the 1:25pm ferry from Anacortes and arrived at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island an hour later. The ferry crossing was very scenic passing among several other islands, through narrow channels and quiet bays on route to Friday Harbor. Friday Harbor is the biggest and most developed town in the islands and is home to numerous tourist shops, restaurants and various accommodations. The drive to Roche Harbor from Friday Harbor took about 20 minutes.

Situated at the north end of San Juan Island, Roche Harbor is steeped in history and makes a fascinating getaway. At the center of the Roche Harbor Resort is the historic Hotel de Haro, which was built in 1886 by John McMillin and looks out over the cobblestoned waterfront and a marina crammed with yachts.

The hotel's famous guests have included Teddy Roosevelt who visited his friend John McMillin in 1906 and stayed in Room 2A, now known as the Presidential Suite.

The following brief history is taken from the Roche Harbor website:

The story of Roche Harbor began more than 200 years ago, in 1787, when Captain de Haro and his crew became the first Europeans to actually sail among the forested San Juan Islands.

In 1886, John McMillin transformed a sleepy Hudson Bay camp into a full-fledged lime works and company town with a population bigger than Friday Harbor (800+ residents).

Seven decades later, the Tarte Family restored buildings to function and cleared the way for Roche Harbor’s metamorphosis into a boatel and resort.

Since then, the resort has returned to its community-centered roots with the reestablishment of neighborhoods and a village center.

We stayed in the luxurious McMillin Suites. These four suites occupy the historic home of former Roche Harbor owner, Paul McMillin. Perched on a bluff overlooking the harbor, our elegantly decorated suite was comfortable, cozy and warm with a fireplace in the sitting area and heated floors in the large bathroom. The wrap around deck offered magnificent harbor views.

We ate breakfast and dinner at McMillin’s Dining Room. The waterfront dining area has a view of the marina and was the only restaurant open this time of year. The service was friendly and the food was good plus it was a very short walk from our suite.

Despite the constant rain we managed to do a little walking and sight seeing. There's a lot to see and do around the island but most of the activities require somewhat decent weather.

The lovely little Chapel of Our Lady of Good Voyage is the only privately owned Catholic chapel in the United States and it sits on a bluff next to the McMillin Suites. We were awakened Sunday morning to a carillon of bells. I was teary eyed listening to the bells that reminded me of growing up in England, moments later I burst into laughter when a bell version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” followed by “Yesterday” and several other popular songs followed. It felt like we were in Disneyland, looking out over the perfect little town with the church bells playing popular songs.....only in America!

 

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