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By Jimmy Anderson/iStockphoto.com

THE PIG WAR was a dispute over San Juan Islands territory, the only casualty of which was a single swine. The remnants of the war today take the form of the American and English Camps, abandoned in the 1870s and now part of San Juan Island National Historical Park.

The Island County Historical Society Museum (islandhistory.org), in Coupeville, has the largest collection of mammoth artifacts in all of Puget Sound.

Whidbey Island’s Route 525 is the only nationally designated Washington Scenic Byway on an island; one stretch of it is the bridge approximately 180 feet above the violent and swirling waters of Deception Pass.

The summit of Mount Constitution offers 360-degree views of the surrounding islands and the Cascades, as well as a stone observation tower modeled after medieval watchtowers.

Dozens of San Juans– based whale-watching boats (whalewatching.com) catch glimpses of the Puget Sound’s packs of orcas roaming the island byways from spring to autumn.

The 190-acre Jones Island, across from Deer Harbor, is home to a tame herd of black-tailed deer, but no permanent human population. —EMILY DHATT

Read More About The Islands

Meet The San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands are a quintessential getaway for a reason: from orcas and organic farms to mountains and mopeds, they offer a unique adventure for everyone.

5 Side Trips

Don't Miss

Accessible Escapes

About 25 miles north of Seattle, catch the Mukilteo ferry to Whidbey Island for a diverse day trip.

From our Archives

Whale Tales

WHALES GATHER in the cool waters of Washington from roughly April to September. And the 170-odd islands of the San Juans offer prime spotting territory for orca, gray, minke, and humpback.

Island Spice

Savor a slow, dry visit to the San Juan Islands.

Dual Charms

Whidbey and its neighbor Camano woo visitors.

Two If By Sea

I PULL HARD on the paddle, launching the kayak into the cold, clear Salish Seathe coastal waterways surrounding southern Vancouver Island, Puget Sound, and the San Juan Islands. Heading for open water, I inhale the salt air off San Juan Island State Park. Its sandy, protected beach serves as a popular launch site for kayakers.

Island Lore

THE PIG WAR was a dispute over San Juan Islands territory, the only casualty of which was a single swine.

Painted Trails

ABOUT 30 MILES and a ferry ride north of Seattle, on a long, puzzle piece of land, resides whats often known as the Puget Sounds largest artist colony: Whidbey Island.

On the Surface

Waters are so clear I can eye sea stars and huge Dungeness crabs.

Sea Fare

The San Juan Islands are surrounded by deep, cold saltwater: a boon for salmon, crabs, fishermen, and foodies alike.

Idylls in Island County

Small-town friendliness mingles with international acclaim in local art scenes.People dont live here by accident.

Friday Harbor

AN HOUR-LONG BOAT RIDE from Anacortes is all that separates mainland day-trippers from the shores of Friday Harbor, the gateway to San Juan Island.

Ambrosial Atolls

From Whidbey to Orcas Island, isolation and a bounty of seafood make the area a mecca for esoteric wines, palate-cleansing brews, crisp ciders, and herbal spirits.

See Worthy

From the air, the San Juan Islands look like a necklace of gleaming emeralds, a chain of 172 pristine islands strewn across Puget Sound.