One Square Mile of Perfection

National Trust For Historic Preservation
Names Friday Harbor, Washington To Its 2008 List
of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations

Washington, D.C. (February 7, 2008) – Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Friday Harbor, Washington one of its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations.  Since 2000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has annually selected communities across the United States that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from the typical vacation destination.  From dynamic downtowns and stunning architecture to cultural diversity and commitments to historic preservation, the selected destinations boast a richness of character and exude an authentic sense of place.

Friday Harbor, located on San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest, is a picture-perfect historic seaport surrounded by spectacular mountain and marine views.  With a natural grandeur that combines salty breezes, vibrant blue water, pebbled beaches and fragrant woods, it is a rare, unspoiled retreat ideal for outdoor adventurers, wildlife enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Friday Harbor, an antidote to city life, is a small, well-preserved community tucked between Seattle, Vancouver BC and Victoria BC.  It’s a year-round destination, accessible only by ferry or seaplane, where visitors can easily get around on foot to indulge in the eclectic collection of art galleries, coffeehouses, boutiques and eateries.  Nestled in the center of a “rain shadow” cast by the mountains on the Olympic Peninsula, Friday Harbor enjoys nearly 250 days of sunshine each year and only half the annual rainfall of nearby Seattle, making it a place where kayaking, biking and walking are as common as driving.

Though only one square mile in size, Friday Harbor boasts nearly 150 historic buildings reflecting the community’s civic, commercial and residential history. Friday Harbor is one of Washington’s few seaport villages to survive the turn-of-the-century fires that engulfed early Seattle and other cities. Its authentic downtown streetscape and postage-size Memorial Park are the gateway to discovering the rich history, rural character and pristine marine environment of the San Juan archipelago.

“With its distinctive Pacific Northwest heritage and seaside activity, Friday Harbor is an inviting destination no matter what you look for in a vacation,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “In the face of ever-increasing tourism pressure, it has successfully preserved its historic fabric and safeguarded its natural environment to retain its authentic sense of place.”

In and around Friday Harbor, there are six National Historic Register sites. These landmarks transport visitors back in time and tell the story of the Territorial Northwest. From the historic village of Roche Harbor to the San Juan Island National Historical Park, where exhibits, historic buildings and re-enactors bring to life The Pig War – a 12-year standoff between British and American troops in the late 1800s – the wealth of historic resources belie the island’s small size.

Just a short drive or picturesque bicycle ride out of town, country roads are dotted with agricultural fields, open territorial views and rocky coastline vistas. From late spring to early fall, the 36-acre Lime Kiln Point State Park is the best place in the world to view from land the endangered species of Orca whales. Nearly 90 of these whales make their home in the Salish Sea surrounding the San Juans; spectators on the park’s shoreline are able to be as close as 20 feet from the animals as they surface for air. This region is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the country as porpoises, sea lions, seals, river otters and more than 250 species of birds, including resident bald eagles, make their home here. There are year-round nature experiences on land and water, including sea kayaking treks, wildlife cruises, birding tours and scuba diving.

The 2008 list of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations includes:

Aiken, S.C. (888-245-3672) – Aiken seamlessly balances its varied 19th century heritage with cosmopolitan flair to offer all the necessary ingredients for a great vacation.

Apalachicola, Fla. (850-653-9419) – Apalachicola, an authentic coastal town renowned for its mouth-watering seafood and singular charm, features a waterfront dotted with fishing vessels, a downtown filled with eclectic shops and streets lined with historic buildings.

Columbus, Miss. (800-237-2686) – The birthplace of prize-winning playwright, Tennessee Williams, Columbus thrives on its extraordinary mix of Southern history, natural beauty and culture—with antebellum homes spared during the Civil War and historic tours showcasing the remarkable impact of the African American community to a revitalized Main Street that possesses great curb appeal.

Crested Butte, Colo. (800-814-7988) – One of the most charming vacation destinations in the Rockies, this former coal mining village is a recreational paradise that offers a rare mix of rugged beauty, history and adventure no matter the time of year.

Fort Davis, Texas (800-524-7988) – With no traffic lights or chain stores, Fort Davis is a gateway to an unspoiled terrain, offering an extraordinary blend of majestic scenery, abundant wildlife and cultural resources that bring to life the history of the 19th century western frontier.

Friday Harbor, Wash.—This small, well-preserved community in the San Juan Island chain is one square mile of perfection—an antidote to city life, ideal for outdoor adventurers, wildlife enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Portland, Ore. – Boasting both the charm of a small town community and the urban vitality of a big city, Portland, Oregon is a dynamic destination that offers an alluring mix of natural beauty, lively downtown entertainment and landmark historic attractions.

Portsmouth, N.H. (603-610-5510) – This elegant seaport, the nation’s third oldest city, is one of the most culturally rich destinations in the country with its captivating blend of coastal beauty, historic buildings and lively downtown.

Red Wing, Minn. (800-498-3444) – Conveniently located one hour south of the Twin Cities, this handsome historic town features a treasure trove of architectural gems dating back to its beginnings as a riverfront trade point as well as an enviable natural environment.

Ste. Genevieve, Mo. (800-373-7007) – One hour south of St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve is the only French colonial village remaining in the United States, providing an unparalleled glimpse into the pioneer spirit of the early settlers.

San Juan Bautista, Calif. (831-623-2454) – Known as the “City of History” because of its exceptional collection of Spanish colonial architecture, San Juan Bautista showcases Old California like no other.

Wilmington, N.C. (866-266-9690) – From riverboats to battleships, grand old mansions to historic museums, splendid gardens to Civil War sites – Wilmington, North Carolina has a charm and style all its own that dates back nearly three centuries.

This is the ninth time the National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced a list of Dozen Distinctive Destinations. To date, there are 108 Distinctive Destinations located in 42 states throughout the country. To see a complete list, visit\ddd. In each community, residents have taken forceful action to protect their town’s character and sense of place. Whether by enacting a local preservation law to protect historic buildings against demolition, rewriting zoning codes to prevent commercial sprawl, removing regulatory barriers to downtown housing, making downtown areas more walkable, enacting design standards, or taking some other major step that demonstrates a strong commitment to their town, residents have worked hard to preserve the historic and scenic assets of their communities, with rewards that transcend town limits.

To download high resolution images of this year’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations, please visit

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a non-profit membership organization bringing people together to protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them. By saving the places where great moments from history – and the important moments of everyday life – took place, the National Trust for Historic Preservation helps revitalize neighborhoods and communities, spark economic development and promote environmental sustainability. With headquarters in Washington, DC, nine regional and field offices, 29 historic sites, and partner organizations in all 50 states, the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides leadership, education, advocacy and resources to a national network of people, organizations and local communities committed to saving places, connecting us to our history and collectively shaping the future of America’s stories. For more information visit

National Trust for Historic Preservation
1785 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036