What do you do when you want all the experiences of camping, but you’re
getting too old not up for sleeping on the ground? Why, you go glamping (glamorous camping), of course. This clever word has been coined by some of the various resorts that offer a blend of both worlds, and I decided to try out this fairly new way of experiencing the great outdoors when I visited Washington State.
What is Glamping?
What does glamping involve, exactly? I suppose it’d vary by where you’re staying, but at Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes in Friday Harbor, WA, it’s really like any other tent—except that it’s much bigger and has furniture, including a bed, couch, dresser, end tables, and small dining room table. Starting at 225 square feet, this isn’t your typical tent, which is why they’re more appropriately labeled at Lakedale as canvas cabins. They also provide plenty of camping essentials, among other things we didn’t even think of—like a flashlight (total lifesaver), an ice cooler, and barbecuing utensils.
The inside is great, but the outside is even better—a nice outdoor dining set up, chairs, and your own personal fire pit with plenty of firewood. Being Floridians, we had a bit of an issue starting a fire, but one of Lakedale staff members was happy to help us out.
Most of the canvas cabins seem to offer great views of their lakes, but there are some that faced the parking lot, so I’d avoid those. Our canvas cabin had a lake view that was partially obstructed by trees, so we had a lot of privacy.
The canvas cabins vary in size, and they even offer options with a small bathroom area. Depending on how long you’re staying and how many people you’re with, you may want to spring for upgraded accommodations.
Glamping guests can also begin their day with free breakfast in the mess tent, and they end their day with heated water bottles that are delivered directly to their tents.
The resort itself totally reminded me of Camp Crystal Lake from Friday the 13th—I know that sounds like a negative, but I don’t mean it that way at all. It’s really picturesque and beautiful, yet does have a bit of a spooky vibe—especially at night. I’ve gone camping in a lot of places, and this might easily be one of the prettiest places I’ve visited. It really is the perfect summer getaway for a couple, friends, or a family. Activities include paddle boating, kayaking, and tie dying shirts. It was too cold when I went, but the three lakes on their property are freshwater and are ideal for swimming.
Another great thing about this place is that they have pretty much every lodging option available aside from glamping. If you want the true camping experience, they also offer traditional campsites, or you can bring your RV. If you’re not up for sleeping outdoors, then stay in one of their beautiful log cabins or the luxurious lake house. Alternatively, you can stay in their lodge for more conventional hotel room-style lodging.
The General Store
Located in the middle of it all is a convenient little store that offers pretty much anything you could possibly need for a fun night of camping, including extra firewood, the essentials for s’mores, and alcohol – not to mention, little chemical packets that can change your campfire into some outrageous colors. My only gripe is that the store closed a bit early, so be sure to get what you need before it gets dark, or bring your own s’mores kit so that you’re already prepared.
The resort is located in the lovely San Juan Islands in Friday Harbor. The only way to access these islands is by seaplane or a one-hour ferry from Anacortes. Even if you only have one night to spare while you’re in Washington (that’s all I had), I highly recommend making the trip. It’s well worth it. I can’t speak for the seaplane journey, but the ferry ride was quite scenic. It’s also really easy to get to the resort from the Friday Harbor ferry terminal and took just 10 minutes.
I would love to return one day. If you plan on staying more than three nights, I’d recommend staying in one of their log cabins, but perhaps just trying out one (two, tops) nights in one of their canvas cabins.
Essential Travel Information
Getting there: You’ll initially fly to Seattle, and then you can take a seaplane to the San Juan Islands. Alternatively, you can drive to Anacortes and then take a ferry. This option takes a few extra hours, but it’s a lot cheaper. Plus, the drive and ferry ride are both very scenic. We rented a car through Hertz and were able to bring the car on the ferry with us, which is super convenient.
There are a lot of options when choosing an airline, and depending on where you’re flying from, you may be able to fly direct. Virgin Atlantic Airways and Hawaiian Airlines are just some good options. You can also look up airfare on FlightHub.com to compare flights from the airport of your choice.
Hotel information: Official Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes website
CityPASS: If you’ll be hanging out in Seattle at all, I highly recommend the Seattle CityPASS. For one low price, you can see a lot of the area’s top attractions. Learn more about the Seattle CityPASS and purchase one on their website.