Escape the hustle and bustle of Seattle, and head to Vashon Island, where you can visit a lighthouse, sip ciders, and take a scenic bike ride.
Only a short ferry ride from Seattle, the slow-paced retreat boasts miles of Puget Sound shoreline, forests awash in feathery ferns, and winding roads dotted with farm stands.
Sights and Events Point Robinson Park and Lighthouse Perched on the east side of Maury Island (connected to Vashon by an isthmus), the historic lighthouse features a 10-acre park with beaches and walking trails. Lighthouse tours take place on Sundays from May to mid-September. Visit on Kite Day (May 21 this year) to marvel at the colorful crafts. 3705 SW Point Robinson Rd. Strawberry Festival Vashon’s eccentric spirit is on display at the annual jubilee, held July 15–17 in various locations. More than 30,000 visitors come for the bustling beer gardens and live music. Don’t miss the marching ukulele band at Saturday’s grand parade. Washington State Ferry Half the fun of visiting the island lies in the epic views of Mount Rainier and Puget Sound from the windswept ferry deck. Car ferries leave Seattle’s Fauntleroy Terminal (4829 SW Barton St.) headed to north Vashon and Tacoma’s Port Defiance Terminal (5810 N. Pearl St.) headed to south Vashon.
Eats May Kitchen + Bar Sip a lemongrass-laced cocktail called a Rickshaw while dipping rice paper wraps into tangy tamarind sauce at a restaurant named Best Thai in Seattle by the Stranger. Imported teak and ornate gold flatware round out the romantic ambience. 17614 Vashon Hwy. SW. Snapdragon Bakery and Café The sundappled patio at this vegetarian café makes a relaxed place to enjoy crisp lentil fritters with red cabbage slaw or a buttery scone with seasonal fruit. 17817 Vashon Hwy. SW. Zombiez Ditch the brains for all-natural beef at this lively burger shack, or try the fluffy corn dogs dipped in house batter and hand-cut fries made with Washington spuds. 17705 Vashon Hwy. SW.
Outdoors Island Center Forest Navigate your way along 10 miles of peaceful pathways past alders and Douglas firs in a 440-acre forest. Jensen Point Park Kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders flock to the shoreline park overlooking calm Quartermaster Harbor. Vashon Watersports (in the park’s boathouse) rents gear on-site and offers popular moonlight kayaking tours. 8900 SW Harbor Dr. Spider’s Ski and Sports To tour the island on two wheels, stop by this shop in Vashon’s compact uptown. Co-owner Lane “Spider” MacLeod recommends a jaunt down the scenic Westside Highway or a trip around the Burton Peninsula. 17626 Vashon Hwy. SW.
Shops Country Store and Farm The island’s general store overlooks a patch of u-pick produce: strawberries in June, blueberries and raspberries in July. 20211 Vashon Hwy. SW. Granny’s Attic Score treasures ranging from rain jackets to vintage sherry glasses at this thrift store and community gathering place. 17707 100th Ave. SW. Heron’s Nest Gallery Polished ceramic bowls, glittering jewelry, and other wares handmade by more than 100 island artists fill a shop operated by Vashon Allied Arts, the nonprofit behind the brand-new Vashon Center for the Arts. 17600 Vashon Hwy. SW. Vashon Farmers Market Stuff your satchel with local sockeye salmon or Rainier cherry vinegar at the Saturday market. 17519 Vashon Hwy. SW.
Sips Nashi Orchards Plan an outing past rolling farmlands to visit a maker of hard apple ciders and perries (fermented pear juice). Chojuro Perry, from Asian pears grown onsite, is lightly fizzy with floral aromas. 25407 Wax Orchard Rd. SW. Seattle Distilling Experience the Washington landscape in each sip of gin, crafted with juniper, lavender, elderberry, and hazelnut. The tiny tasting room also offers nips of vodka, whiskey, and coffee liqueur made with the local roastery’s beans. 19429 Vashon Hwy. SW. Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie Nurse a mug of coffee in a century-old building or devour a cone of Skagit strawberry from the adjoining ZuZu’s Ice Cream. 19529 Vashon Hwy. SW.
Photography by Tara Morgan (pastries, country store); Terry Donnelly (lighthouse); Richard Walker (ferry)
This article was first published in Summer 2016. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.