Quiet and unassuming, Lummi Island isn’t as showy and flashy as some of the other islands in the San Juans, but it has a lot to offer the weekender. The island is named for the nearby Lummi tribe, who called it Skallaham. Today, artists, retirees and young families make up the permanent population, and vacationers swell the ranks in the summer months. In winter, Lummi is a quiet retreat.
From I-5 take Slater Road to Haxton Way. Turn left on Haxton to the ferry dock at Gooseberry Point. Ferries leave at ten past the hour. If planning an evening return, be advised that the ferry stops running after 10 p.m. The ferry ride accommodates cars as well as pedestrians and cyclists. The ride across Bellingham Bay is lovely, particularly at dawn and dusk.
Where to eat
The ferry comes in right near the newly revamped Beach Store Café, the commercial center of Lummi. The café offers breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekends, and lunch and dinner during the week. The Loganita Farm that supplies The Willows Inn also supplies the Beach Store Café, so all the food is very fresh. The café offers both full meals and quick snacks for picnicking. There is also live music every Friday night.
The superstar of fine dining, The Willows Inn, is manned by Chef Blaine Wetzel and his kitchen of culinary elves. Wetzel just won the 2014 James Beard Rising Start Chef of the Year Award for his innovative and amazing Northwest fare. Reserve early — the Willows’ main dining room sells out pretty quickly. Guests of the Inn receive first priority on dinner reservations and seating arrangements.
The Willows Inn also has a more casual café downstairs, The Taproot Café. Locally sourced with full bar service, it’s a nice option if you’re intimidated by the gourmet fare upstairs. It’s open Thursday-Sunday, and offers lunch and dinner. The kitchen at The Taproot will also create picnics for you, which is perfect for your day of art gallery hopping.
If you’re restaurant-wary, there is also a general store for supplying your kitchen or picnic basket.
What to do
Lummi Island is an artists’ paradise, and the locals are more than happy to open their studios and galleries on weekends for your perusal by appointment. The Lummi Island Artists’ Studio Tour on Memorial Day, Labor Day and the 2nd weekend in November includes twenty-three locations and thirty-four artists all around the island. The tour includes the bronze sculptures of Ann Morris, the beautiful organic sculptures of Denise Snyder, the bold and luscious paintings of Ria Harboe, and many, many more. There is no better memento of your wonderful weekend than a beautiful work of art from a local artist.
Lummi Island is a great place to explore by bicycle. Though some of the hills can be challenging, it is undulating, so you get some breaks from the climbs. The views are spectacular and the roads are quiet. Kayaking is also popular on Lummi — Elakah Expeditions offers traditional explorations as well as wild food foraging trips. The Lummi Island Heritage Trust sponsors lots of hikes and treks on the trails they maintain throughout the island.
Where to stay
The Willows Inn is a romantic retreat offering beachside lodge rooms, cottages and guest houses. The views are spectacular year-round, and the cozy living room is a great place to watch winter storms. Lummi Island Beach Haven operates a well-appointed vacation home that is available year-round and offers lots of places to hike, beach-comb and explore. Air BnB also lists several rentals.