From experience, I know I couldn’t stay home during Spring Break with my boys. I knew my husband had to work and wouldn’t’ be able to go anywhere with us, so I made it simple, returning to our happy place, Orcas Island.
The drive from Seattle to Anacortes, where you catch the ferry to Orcas is about an hour and 45 minutes. Two years ago, the Washington State Ferry System started taking reservations for the Ferry. This has changed everything. Before the change, there were times that we waited up to 8 hours once waiting for a ferry, as we were the car after cut off for a ferry we had already waited two and a half hours for. Then with a three and four-year-old in the car, this was grueling. Now you can go online and reserve a spot. They will charge your credit card $10 if you are a no show. I am grateful for this change as the ferry ride is one of the best parts of the trip. You can feel your inner cadence slow down as you watch the scenery go by.
For 7 years now, we have rented cottages from Bayside Cottages. They have two large properties, one in the Eastsound, where the downtown area lies, with shops and restaurants and one in Olga on the far side of the island with picturesque views and absolute quiet. There are cottages for every size of family, from the ---which sleeps 2 for a romantic getaway to the Madrona which sleeps ---for a big family get together. We’ve stayed at 4 different cottages over the years to suit our needs but our favorite is always the Wisteria, situated just clocks from the center of the Eastsound village.
All the cottages have kitchens. If we stay at the Wisteria with easy access to restaurants, I usually pick one meal a day which we will eat out and pack food for the others. There is a grocery store on the island but prices can get high. I hit Costco before we leave and plan some easy meals and snacks.
When we vacation, we usually go to a large city and spend hours speeding around looking at art and architecture. Orcas Island is the one place where we just BE. Each of us brings a stack of books (and legos for the boys). We take walks near the cottage or out to -------Lake or-------Point. The Wisteria is set on nearly an acre of land, so this time, I brought a soccer ball and an areobie for the boys to play with in the yard while I sipped wine and read on the porch. There is plenty to venture out to but this is one location I prefer to just sit on my ass and rest.
It is our tradition to hit Madrona Grill for our first meal. The fish and chips are fantastic as are the breath-taking views. Mommy can also get a martini there and I am content.
I’d seen this place on our other trips but it wasn’t open when we would come to check it out. I recently read a review about the chef being a James Beard finalist and knew we had to stop in. Amazing pizza made in the wood oven. This pizza is not your typical fare but unique farm to table pairings. We had a kale and nettles pizza with fresh hen’s egg and one with slow roasted pork which my boys inhaled so I didn’t get any. The service was sweet and kind, especially since I came alone without a reservation and two children in tow.
We always come off-season , so we had not been to this Mexican restaurant yet. This time it was open and felt like a little bit of home to us with its brightly colored décor and sweet, welcoming service. I had the Mijitas Salad which was fresh and light as I snuck bites of my boys, enchiladas ( My son said they were “just like dad makes them!”) and taquitos. We will be back.
I have not found a bakery in Seattle that uses as quality ingredients and takes as much time with their dough as Brown Bear. This place is simply amazing. You will see why it is always busy. My sons always get an Orange Morning Bun dusted with cinnamon and sugar. It’s a little bit of heaven. I have not had a better croissant anywhere. They are exactly how you imagine croissants to be, perfect flavorful flakey layers of gold.
We love taking walks and hikes on our vacation. Girl meets Dirt was a happy find when we noticed a sandwich board offering jam samples. My boys and I agreed that we needed to try some. We walked in and the scent of fresh fruit hit us. We were instantly in love. The workspace is gorgeous and the ladies let us try a million jams. We bought a few jars, went back to the cottage and decided to return and purchase more jars for friends.
Ferry Lunch Home
We always have a picnic lunch on the ferry ride home. This time it was a treat with a few cheeses I picked up, leftover salami, Brown Bear’s Hearth Bread, and tomato jam from Girl In the Dirt. Other passengers were envying our meal. I wish they would have come over for conversation, I would have gladly asked them to join!
Orcas Island is always a great trip but I think my son's entry in the Wisteria Cottage Guest Book says it best.