For an island of just 55 square miles, San Juan has more to offer than its size might imply. Its natural beauty is certainly no secret: think lush forests, picturesque parks, and panoramic views of the Salish Sea. But beyond the great outdoors, the island also boasts museums, events, art galleries, and restaurants in spades. 

To make the most of San Juan Island, it’s necessary to immerse yourself in both its ecology and its culture– and the yurt village at Lakedale Resort makes the perfect base for doing just that. Imagine embracing the very best parts of camping, except with the addition of (more than) a few creature comforts.  

Lakedale’s yurts are tucked away amid 82 acres of forest, so you can expect to wake up to the sound of birdsong or spot foxes on an evening stroll to one of three springwater lakes. Despite all that serenity, however, the yurt village is anything but rustic.  

I spent a weekend at Lakedale in June 2022 and, having never set foot in a yurt before, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Imagine my surprise upon arriving and discovering that these accommodations are comparable to standalone suites– right down to the private outdoor hot tub. The term “glamping” doesn’t even begin to cover it. 

I love traditional camping, but let’s face it: No one wants to show up for a concert or dinner reservations after sleeping on the ground. Luckily these yurts offer both a bathroom and a plush king-sized bed, so you can commune with nature without sacrificing a hot shower or a good night’s sleep. But this is just the bare minimum– each 450-square-foot structure comes decked out with a kitchenette, barbecue, dining areas (both inside and on the back deck), and even a Smart TV. 

During my stay, I reveled in everything the Lakedale property has to offer (namely barbecues, hikes, and plenty of waterfront lounging). Even so, I feel like I barely scratched the surface: Guests can enjoy swimming, paddleboarding, complimentary bikes, and more.  

Lakedale also makes an idyllic base camp when exploring the rest of the island, and the bustle of Friday Harbor is easily accessible via car. One of San Juan Island’s most notable restaurants, Duck Soup, is even located just across the street from the resort. As for nature, a myriad of state and national parks– from the grassy expanses of the American Camp to the rugged cliffs at Lime Kiln Point– are also within close reach. 

Even when the weather is less-than-stellar, there’s nothing quite like cozying up in a yurt with a blanket, book, and glass of red wine. I spent a relaxing final evening dozing off to the gentle patter of rain, and when it came time to catch the ferry the next day, I felt more refreshed than I had in months. 

My ideal vacation involves a healthy mix of outdoor recreation and culture– a paddleboard excursion followed by a wine tasting, per se. If that sounds like your kind of fun, consider booking a yurt for your next island getaway. Lakedale Resort has everything you need to get the best of both worlds on San Juan Island, and my only regret was that I didn’t stay a night– or a week– longer. 4313 Roche Harbor Rd., Friday Harbor, 360.378.2350,