I love to discover new places. Most of the places I’ve visited in the last few years I read about in the novels I read. If I liked the way the setting sounds I’ll do some research first to see if the place is real. Sometimes the place is fictional. But if it’s a real place, I will find out what it would be like to visit even for a weekend getaway.
I feel like traveling is in my blood. When I was a young child living with my grandfather, I spent the summer holidays while living in Jamaica, with my aunt in another parish.
I loved school but traveling to Spanish Town was the highlight of my school year. Then at 15, I shoved on my first plane ride to the UK. I’ve had wanderlust ever since.
Despite the pandemic and lockdown, I couldn’t stay still. 2020 marked so many milestones for me. It’s the year I finally decided that more was required of me than grinding away at a 9-5.
I also was reeling from the death of my sister who had taken early retirement at the age of 60 only to die at 61 years old never even getting to collect her first pension check.
So it all clicked into place when I was laid off from my job. I decided it was as good a time as any to do some slow travel. Airports are not my favorite place. Too much confusion and too many people. So Amtrak is my transportation of choice. I remember many years ago riding the train from Manchester to the South of England. I may have taken more than one train. I don’t fully remember. What I do remember was how enjoyable the experience was as we zipped along the beautiful English countryside.
Also, my former boss is an avid Amtrak traveler and I gained a love for that mode of transportation because of him.
So I decided that slow traveling across the US was a good way to start my journey. I will write about my experiences traveling on Amtrak in a separate post. In this post, I will write about 7 cities on the West Coast of both the USA and Canada that you may want to sneak off to for a weekend getaway.
You will note that these seven cities are located on or near water. As a Piscean, I adore gazing on or walking in large bodies of water despite the fact that I cannot swim.
So when you want to retreat from the chaos of your life, maybe you too can visit and come to love these amazing places as well. Because they certainly make for a quick weekend getaway not too far from home.
How to get to Friday Harbor
After spending the night in downtown Seattle, I took a Lyft to Anacortes where I boarded the Washington State Ferry to Friday Harbor.
Bring your camera if your phone doesn’t take good pictures because you don’t want to miss the breathtaking landscape as the ferry navigates the Salish Sea
If you’re traveling with your vehicle you can drive onto the ferry.
About Friday Harbor
population: 2,747 (2021)
recommended: Downrigger restaurant | Trumpeter inn | island community church
favorite thing: sitting on the dock watching the ferry
With its natural beauty, rich history, and welcoming people, Friday Harbor is an amazing place that draws people from all walks of life. As part of the San Juan Islands, Friday Harbor is ideal for outdoorsy, food-loving adventurers.
So if you love adventures, this is the place for you, due to its scenic sea vistas and thick forests. Whether you’re paddling a kayak along the rocky shoreline or taking a walk through the woods, you’ll be captivated by the natural surroundings of Friday Harbor.
But Friday Harbor is more than a pretty face. The town’s unique stores, art galleries, and restaurants showcase the island’s culture and history. The San Juan Island History Museum has more island history.
But the town has a few surprises as well. Did you know that San Juan Island has several friendly alpacas? Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm allows petting and feeding. Or you can play with the alpacas kept at the Trumpeter Inn.
Also don’t miss Pelindaba Lavender Farm to stroll through lavender fields and buy lavender-themed gifts.
If you can’t make individual trips you can always see the island by taking a tour on the Jolly Trolley.
Friday Harbor awaits discovery. Its spectacular natural beauty, rich history, and distinctive local experiences will leave a lasting impact. So don’t wait to read a book. Visit Friday Harbor for the best weekend getaway!
One of the thrills of travel for me is sampling the local cuisine.
the trumpeter inn
Perfect weekend getaway accommodation
A comfortable home away from home.
Accommodation: I stayed at the Trumpeter Inn, a bed and breakfast run by a lovely couple. The wife is famous for her breakfast and even published a cookbook with her breakfast recipes. Most of the ingredients are grown on the couple’s 7-acre property.
They also raise alpacas which are a must-see even if you don’t stay at the Trumpeter.
When you visit, spend some time at breakfast with the innkeepers. You’ll learn some interesting things about Friday Harbor and about alpacas!
Of course, quite a few other accommodations exist on the island but I wanted to point out my personal experience with The Trumpeter Inn.
“A Nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.”
Where to eat
My favorite restaurant: Whatever you do, don’t miss a meal at Downriggers. At the very least buy a drink or dessert and sit on the patio overlooking the harbor. It was my favorite place to eat because they had a lot of variety, pleasant staff, and a view to die for.
Other places to eat like Cousin Vinnie’s NY Pizza and The Hungry Clam will even out your choices of foods when you’ve gone through Donrigger’s menu. Because you will want to try everything.
ride the jolley trolley!
If you want to see the San Juan Islands take a tour on the Jolly Trolley. You’re sure to enjoy the delightful tour, chatting with the knowledgeable driver, and listening to local banter. It’s amazing what you can learn about a place just by listening to the locals!
You will get to see many Friday Harbor attractions such as alpacas and the lavender farm. Don’t miss the stunning views of the Pacific which separates the USA from British Columbia, Canada.
You can buy tickets right on the trolley or visit them online to learn more.
attend church with the locals
I also visited Island Community Church with the owners of The Trumpeter Inn. Church attendees were very friendly and made me feel welcome. Attending the service added a deeper richness to my experience on Friday Harbor. It’s one of the ways I learn to connect with the local communities I visit.
go whale watching
Hop aboard Maya’s Legacy whale-watching tour for an exciting journey on the glistening waters of the Salish Sea. They promise to offer “memorable with a passionate crew” which I’m sure will provide you with an experience you’ll treasure always. So be sure to take lots of pics and videos to share with your friends and family.
I met a woman who worked at the pizza shop in Friday Harbor who was from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Coincidentally, I lived in Bensonhurst at the time. Small world right? Always be nice to people.
Friday Harbor, Washington— a community that embraces the natural beauty and lively spirit of the San Juan Islands.
#2 Bellingham, WA
recommended: coachman inn | PIta pit
favorite thing: hanging out at the amtrak station in Fairhaven
Bellingham is a city in Washington state known for its scenic beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, and vibrant arts scene. The city is located on Bellingham Bay, which is a part of Puget Sound, with the Cascade Mountains to the east and the San Juan Islands to the west. It’s also about 20 miles from the Canadian border.
Downtown Bellingham is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes, as well as the Bellingham Art Museum and the Mount Baker Theatre. The city’s extensive parks and trails system offers residents and visitors alike a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
My favorite part of Bellingham is Fairhaven Village where I enjoyed sitting on the boardwalk watching the ferry meander across Puget Sound. Fairhaven is one of those cool towns where you feel a sense of pride when you walk the streets. For me a similar to the one I get when I walk through Nyack, NY, or Provincetown, MA.
Accommodation: The Coachman Inn. The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to the Coachman Inn. At first, I was reluctant to book this inn when I first saw it on Booking.com. But the price was right for my budget.
I was pleasantly surprised that the rooms were clean and there was no smell of stale cigars as I’ve experienced in other low-budget hotels.
The lily white towels were fresh smelling and soft. And management seemed to pay close attention to the needs of its guests. A comprehensive breakfast is included and comes with vegetarian options.
You will also meet lots of Canadians if you participate in the free breakfast served each morning.
Noteworthy: You can catch the Amtrak bus from Bellingham to Seattle King Street Amtrak station or Greyhound to Vancouver Pacific Station.
#3 Point Roberts, WA
population: 1,100 (2020)
recommended: Carla’s Place on Airbnb
favorite thing: walking along the many winding roads banded by thick forest
When I first heard about Point Roberts I was intrigued. What is it like living in a place that didn’t seem to belong anywhere?
Point Roberts, WA is a small exclave town located in the southwest corner of Canada’s province of British Columbia. The town is part of Whatcom County, Washington State but is not connected by land to the US and is only accessible by land through Canada. To get to Point Roberts from Seattle by land you have to cross the border into Canada in Blaine most likely at the Peace Bridge and then cross back into the US at Boundary Bay.
During the pandemic, life was tough for the residents of Point Roberts. I experienced a little bit of their frustration and isolation when I visited them in the Spring of 2021.
You can get to Point Roberts with a 2-hour ferry ride from Fairhaven, WA. But this service is not always operational so check with Bellingham Ferry to see if it’s running.
If you want to travel any other way you have to cross the border into Canada at Boundary, then cross back into the United States at Blaine, WA crossing (Peace Bridge).
Point Roberts was part of Canada at one time and then became part of British Columbia as part of the Oregon Treaty. However, because of its location south of the 49th parallel, it was not included when British Columbia joined the confederation in 1871.
My time in Point Roberts was spent wandering around the many roads bracketed by thick forest. This is my favorite way to discover a place. Just wandering around saying hello to people and stopping to talk if they’re interested.
Accommodation: I stayed at an Airbnb that reminded me of a writer’s retreat. The studio was located on the 2nd floor but there really wasn’t a first floor. It was strange and cool at the same time.
The owner of my Airbnb gave me a ride to the border because no taxi or ride share was available during the pandemic.
Fun fact: Many drivers stopped to offer me a ride as a walked along the streets. I love to walk and of course, people just thought I needed a ride. But it was a very nice feeling that the residents cared enough to ask.
Hi, I’m J. Rosemarie
LOVER OF JESUS. MAMA.
EXPERT AT TIME MANAGEMENT.
YOUR NEW BUSINESS SIDEKICK.
Come back often for my trips to Cape Cod, Mexico, and Victoria to name a few. Also don’t miss my adventures on Amtrak as I travel across the USA.