Destination Semiahmoo

An activity-packed gem on the Canadian border

SemiahmooImagine you were tasked with locating and building a destination resort in the Pacific Northwest. Would you seek a location on the expansive Salish Sea or on a peaceful bay? Would you seek a location that has dramatic mountain sunrises or one that features romantic ocean sunsets? Would you want a property that features a full-service marina or an award-winning Arnold Palmer golf course? How about the decision between 15 minutes from a quaint village with small restaurants and stores or an hour from a bustling, hip, Canadian metropolis?

What if you could find an ideal location that offers all these grand features? Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Washington, a mere three-hour drive from Central Kitsap, includes all of these and much more.

SemiahmooConstructed in 1986 on the site of a former canning company, Semiahmoo is a 196-room resort perfectly located on the end of a milelong spit, delivering an almost 360-degree surrounding of water. This makes for beautiful views everywhere on the property.

The drive from Edmonds to Semiahmoo navigates north on Interstate-5, leaving suburbia behind as the highway pavement settles into the farmland just north of Everett. The route offers plenty of interesting detours to spend your time until the 4 p.m. check-in.

SemiahmooEnroute, Skagit County offers epic bird watching, particularly if you’re traveling between October and April when the lesser snow geese are in town. These amazing birds travel some 3,000 miles in their migration from Wrangel Island, Russia. As many as 100,000 or more of these beautiful geese move in on farmland for the winter, creating what locals call “the snowstorm.”

A great place to start is Fir Island Farms Reserve Unit, 6 miles west of I-5’s exit 221, Lake McMurray. This reserve offers an amazing array of wildlife, including varieties of geese, ducks, hawks and eagles. If you take the time to circle around the island, you’ll see numerous eagle nests high up in the fir trees.

SemiahmooBack on track, 30 miles on is Bellingham, a great stop for lunch, with many options from brewpubs to waterfront dining. Suggestions include Boundary Bay Brew and Bistro, serving excellent pub fare with award-winning beers to enjoy with lunch. If you prefer to sit down with a view, Keenans at the Pier in the Chrysalis Inn has a great view of Bellingham Bay. Executive Chef Ashley Kovacevich has assembled a menu that offers a tasty array of dishes like a Muffaletta Sandwich, blackened fish tacos and grilled wild sockeye salmon.

SemiahmooBreaking up the trip with these stops leaves a brief 40-minute drive to Semiahmoo via the interstate. If you’re looking for further detours on the way there or back, consider a cruise along the famous Chuckanut Drive. This beautiful 10-mile detour winds in and out of forests with stunning views of both Samish and Chuckanut bays. Along the route are viewpoints, beaches and restaurants.

Food stops include the very fun and delicious Samish Oyster and Shellfish Bar. This is a must-visit for shellfish lovers, as it’s operated by Seattle’s Taylor Shellfish Farms and seasonally serves its awesome oysters, clams, mussels, geoducks and Dungeness crab. This is a particularly great spot in nice weather due to its location right down on the water and its patio seating. And as a bonus, it sells all these goodies packaged to take home with you.

SemiahmooOther restaurants on the drive include Chuckanut Manor Seafood and Grill and The Oyster Bar. Additionally, there are numerous hiking trailheads along Chuckanut Drive. It’s a worthy detour.

Getting to the resort from I-5 takes veering through Cottonwood Beach and around Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club, which offers peeks at the stunning golf course. Then, on to the milelong spit that ends at the resort on Tongue Point.

SemiahmooThat mile of narrow road provides a very attractive benefit to visiting this property. It allows you to walk the beach facing Semiahmoo Bay and the Salish Sea for one mile, cross over the two-lane road and walk back to the resort facing peaceful Drayton Harbor. Keep your eyes open for bald eagles, as they are regularly spotted in trees along the walk. The spit is very popular with the eagles since the fishing opportunities surround them. It’s common for them to welcome guests while they hang out in trees near the property’s entrance courtyard.

SemiahmooThe Semiahmoo lodge is a grand structure, four stories tall and running along the beach. Many of the rooms face the Salish Sea, rewarding guests with stunning sunsets. To further enhance that experience, it offers a number of firepits that are lit each evening at 7, along with s’mores kits to sweeten the view even more. After the sun sets, the twinkling lights of Surrey’s skyline (British Columbia) in the distance light the night.

The rooms are spacious and clean and include a coffee maker, a small fridge and a safe. The beds are very comfortable and the rooms quiet. Wi-Fi is strong throughout the property. And the resort loves dogs, so bring along the family companion.

The onsite activities are literally endless. They include indoor and outdoor pickleball and tennis courts; a heated, indoor and outdoor pool with hot tub; bicycles; wine tastings in the wine cellar; self-guided or guided bird-watching tours; sauna and steam room; full-service spa and salon; an indoor walking track around the fitness center; and a sandy area outside for summer volleyball or winter horseshoes. One of the best family features is a 50-seat movie theater with proper theater seats and popcorn. It offers child-friendly movies during the day and PG-13 films in the evening.

SemiahmooIf it’s the company you want to bring instead of the family, the resort can accommodate up to 600 for meeting events.

SemiahmooIn case the free coffee in the resort’s lovely wood-paneled lobby doesn’t meet your caffeine needs, you’ll find a Starbucks just 15 minutes away in the charming town of Blaine. The village has a cute, four-block downtown facing Drayton Bay. Here you can find additional dining options that include a delicious breakfast served in a caboose, appropriately named The Railway Café; and a wine bar and restaurant, The Vault, with an intriguing menu and an impressive 18-page list of wines from around the world.

SemiahmooNeed more to do off the resort? The Canadian border is literally in Blaine’s backyard, so be sure to pack your passport. Surrey, B.C., is an hour farther and its population of 500,000-plus adds a cosmopolitan offering to Semiahmoo guests’ visit. With parks, golf, restaurants, culture and shopping, a visit to Surrey can add a full day to your stay.

And if that’s not enough, Vancouver is only an hour and a half away, not counting border crossing time.

SemiahmooAs you return to the resort, the property’s award-winning golf course, Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club, tempts golfers. This Arnold Palmer-designed track is gorgeous. A parkland setting with gentle elevation changes is a walker’s delight. The course is private, but Semiahmoo guests are welcome, and the green fees are fairly priced for a course of this caliber. Links magazine recently ranked the course among the 10 best Palmer courses in the world available to the public.

SemiahmooThe golf course’s clubhouse houses Great Blue Heron Grill, which offers fine dining with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Service is on par with what you might expect in a country club setting. The golf course and clubhouse are a seven-minute drive from the resort.

Want to stay on property for dinner? Packers Kitchen + Bar almost feels as if it’s two venues in one. One side is quiet, takes reservations and offers memorable water views, while the other side delivers a livelier evening. This second side brings the same awesome western views with wall-to-ceiling windows, but with a more sports pub vibe. The menu is shared in both and is casual, with dishes like gochujang wings, cioppino and steak frites.

SemiahmooThere is also a café in the lobby serving breakfast and lunch as well as the prerequisite coffee dishes. Word has it that the pastries here are well worth the splurge.

Adding to the resort amenities is a full-service marina complete with a store, café and all the big marina services, including moorage, pump-out and fuel. It can even accommodate seaplanes.

It’s hard to believe that one resort this size can offer so much. This area and destination in this most-northern part of Washington is a gem — and only a ferry or freeway ride from West Sound. Come and bring the kids, the dog or the work team.

Semiahmoo Resort

9565 Semiahmoo Parkway, Blaine • 360-318-2000 •