San Juan Island getaways are what Seattle summers were made for. Getting away with the kids in tow? Let’s just say it isn’t as easy as it seems. Enter Pebble Cove Farm, a cozy B&B on Orcas Island that caters to kids as much as their parents, so there’s no need to take a vacation from your vacation. Sit back, relax and read on for the inside scoop on this island oasis.
Down on the Farm
Tucked into a cove near Deer Harbor on Orcas Island is where you’ll find Pebble Cove Farm, a four-acre parcel of peace and quiet, and an easy weekend getaway for PNW families. This B&B has been around since 2006, after a two-year conversion from dilapidated barn into posh modern inn, and they’ve been welcoming families since the very beginning.
Owners Mike and Lydia Miller have three boys of their own, so they totally get kid-friendly. They’ve tricked out their B&B with indulgences that have complete kid-appeal, like a rowboat, a private island, even a horse to hang with. Plus, without the grandfather clocks, fragile antiques and frilly fixings of a typical B&B, parents can indulge and relax just as much as the kids do.
A Sweet Suite
The whimsical, rustic décor in the Pebble Cove Farm Family Suite ($175-$275 per night) fits the property’s vibe perfectly, stylish without taking itself too seriously. The suite has two adjoining rooms so there’s plenty of space for your entire crew. Use the pull-out couch in the living room for the munchkins or let them bunk with you in the comfy queen in the bedroom. In the living room is where you’ll find the kitchenette. It’s got everything you need to cook a made-from-scratch breakfast of warm eggs plucked from the hen house that morning mixed with fresh-picked veggies and herbs from the garden. Foraging for delish eats is part of the fun of this DIY-spin on the typical B&B breakfast.
The sitting room table seats four. And you’ll find a slew of kids’ books, and movies everyone can watch tucked into the console drawers, so there’s no need to take up space in the suitcase with these kid-in-tow travel essentials. If you need a bit more room or want more privacy, consider renting out The Cottage ($220-$325 per night). It’s got much of the same with a bit more space and a private balcony.
Take to the Seas
Besides the view, one of the coolest perks of staying at Pebble Cove is taking the rowboat out to Pirate Island. From the moment your minis spy the driftwood fort flying an oversized pirate flag, they’ll be begging to take the trip. Rowing out at low tide is definitely more challenging than when the tide is in, but it’s worth it if your Little loves tide pools. Tons are exposed when the water’s out and they make for some fascinating exploring. Skull Island is another rowable option, just left of Pirate Island. Watch the tides to help make the in-and-out rowing easier if you choose to make this journey. Psst! If your little mates are more the high seas types, the Miller’s have kayaks to rent ($40/2-hours, double; $30/2-hours, single) and a boat tour that can be booked for up to six people ($200/hour). Ahoy, matey!
A Yard of One’s Own
The Millers are all about guests making themselves at home. And there’s no place easier to do it than in the oversized backyard. It’s got everything you need to wear out your wiggle worms and still have them begging to come back and play tomorrow. Play catch, run around or blast off on the playground-grade swing set, this yard is set for limitless play. Best part? There’s a stocked box full of baseballs, soccer balls, pogo sticks and more that get lonely when they’re not getting used. Just behind the swings, you’ll find a cool little playhouse, complete with a ladder and lookout, perfectly proportioned for your sidekick. And the nearby hammock provides a sweet spot for parents to perch while the kids play. You relax. They run. What’s not to love?
Farm to Table Dining
In typical backyard fashion, this one’s got a shared gas grill and a large beachside fire pit just begging for some marshmallow roasting and star gazing on warm summer nights. Both are there for guests to use to grill up an easy dinner or delish lunch. Plan to bring along some grillables (or grab them when you get on island) and then pair them with fresh pickings from the Pebble Cove Farm garden. We’re thinking a crunchy tossed salad and sun-warmed berries should do the trick. It’s an easy way to make a farm-to-table dinner with delicious backdrop to match.
The Wild Life
Since Pebble Cove is a working organic farm, seeing animals wandering the property is all part of the fun. Buddy, the horse, is almost always out in the yard, helping to keep the grass “mowed.” He’s super friendly and draws in kids like a magnet or a new Disney movie. They just can’t get enough of him! The goats and chickens like to roam too. Little farmers can follow them around or head to the animal pen for a wild meet and greet when the mood strikes. Remember to have the kiddos bring their food scraps while they’re at it. Feeding leftovers to the animals is a big part of the sustainable eco-system at Pebble Cove Farm.
Play in the State Park
There are a few places around the island that are worth leaving the farm to check out. On a sunny day one of the most magical views in the state is high atop Mt. Constitution in Moran State Park. From this elevation you can spot Mt. Baker in the Cascades, check out some of the other islands in the Straits and give a friendly wave to our Canadian neighbors, eh. It’s a lookout that’s worth the drive or the hike (there are two that lead to the summit), and the observation tower is a fun climb to make with your sidekick. Be sure to stop at the gift shop and pick up a nature scavenger hunt for your littlest explorers. It’s a fun way for them to be on the lookout in the forest.
Beyond the summit, the park has a few hikes that are just the right speed for the tot lot. You’ll find the trailhead to the Cascade Falls hike near the bottom of Mount Constitution Road. In under 10 minutes you’ll reach Cascade Falls, the first of a few waterfalls in the area. Stay and play here, or keep exploring along these easy trails. Taking a hike around Cascade Lake is another easy one with the Littles. It’s flat and follows the perimeter of the lake, so there’s no getting lost. Pack a picnic to enjoy along the trail or in the day use area. And consider taking a paddleboat out on the lake in the summer. They’re available for rent through Labor Day.
Hit the Town
Getting to downtown Eastsound from Pebble Cove Farm is a pretty straight shot. Its flower-lined streets and peaceful views make it a total stroll-worthy spot on a sunny afternoon. And if it rains (or even if it doesn’t), you can duck into one of the many cute shops that have popped up along the main strip in the last decade or so. The local bookstore, Darvill’s, doubles as a coffee shop, and they’ve got a great collection of books authored by locals. Plus, story time on Fridays for little literati to enjoy. Printshop Northwest is another worthwhile find. They’ve got groovy graphic prints and lots of blank shirts. Pair some up and the whole fam can sport matching island threads around the city.
Where to Dine
Fresh and local is the name of the food game in Eastsound. Restaurants like Rose’s Bakery Café, Mia’s and The Kitchen make finding a great bite easy. It’s a pretty sure bet that no matter where you stop, you won’t be disappointed. And the casual island attitude means having kidlets in tow is never too taboo. As for desserts or sticky gooey breakfast goodies, Brown Bear Baking and Kathryn Taylor Chocolates are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Be Travel Wise
The word is out on the San Juan Islands, so ferry reservations (in either direction) are a must. Book a scenic or express ferry online, or call 511 from your mobile to save a spot. Even with a reservation, plan on arriving at the ferry dock at least 45 minutes before boarding to ensure smooth sailing.
Pebble Cove Farm
3341 Deer Harbor Rd.
Eastsound, Wa 98245
Do you plan to take the kids to Pebble Cove Farm this summer? Have you already been? Tell us about your experience in the Comments below.
— Allison Sutcliffe