10 Greatest Escapes in America

Get away without going far away. These amazing destinations are fun, beautiful, and just a few hours from home.

By Charles Runnette


San Juan Islands, WashingtonThe Emerald Isles
San Juan Islands, Washington

This Puget Sound and Gulf of Georgia archipelago—midway between Seattle and Vancouver Island—is a verdant, well-preserved vacationer's paradise for families and adventurers alike. From kayaking on the placid waters off San Juan Island to biking the circuit around Lopez Island (the flattest of the bunch) to climbing 2,409-foot Mount Constitution on Orcas Island, these lush isles offer a long list of activities for the outward bound. And for lazy days, there's the fragrant Lavender Fields Day Spa on San Juan Island; Orcas Island Pottery, with its beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces; excellent guided birding tours; and a wide choice of whale-watching trips.

A centrally located place to stay during your archipelago-hopping adventure is the 82-acre Lakedale Resort on San Juan Island. Convenient to both bustling Friday Harbor (where the ferries arrive) and quaint Roche Harbor, this kid-friendly property offers spacious rooms in the main lodge, waterfront log cabins, and campgrounds. Rooms, $169 to $209 per night, double occupancy; log cabins, $229 to $279; lakedale.com. For information about the islands, see guidetosanjuans.com.