Off-Season Beach Bargains
San Juan Island, Washington
What It's Like: Even Heathcliff and Cathy would agree: dramatically gray and misty days are even more romantic when watched from a window seat in a cozy hotel room. If a beach stroll is on the agenda, bring a waterproof jacket; temperatures are in the low forties.
What to Do: Rent a bike or drive to Lime Kiln State Park and the Lime Kiln lighthouse, the last in the state to receive electricity. In high season, visitors to the islands stand elbow-to-elbow at ferry railings to view the rugged landscape—Douglas firs teetering on rocky bluffs, bald eagles tracing circles overhead—but take the foggy half-hour ride from Friday Harbor to Orcas Island in winter, and you'll be able to hear the otters slip into the water along the shore in the stillness.
Where to Stay and Dine: Snag a room with a view, a fireplace, and a jetted tub at the Friday Harbor House, a 23-room boutique hotel just uphill from the water (off-season doubles from $119). Have a burger and local beer at the San Juan Brewing Co. and the Front Street Alehouse (1 Front Street; 360/378-2337; www.sanjuanbrewing.com), or sample Asian flavors at Thai Kitchen (140 First Street; 360/378-1917).