Great Day Trip from Seattle: Vashon Island

We used to visit Vashon Island regularly – just a short ferry ride away from Seattle. It was charming, beautiful and full of character.

Then, we moved there. And discovered it was all those things and more! There are so many things we didn’t know about the island before truly becoming locals. Now that I’m back in Seattle, I thoroughly enjoy a day on the island – some of the gems are below.

Yes, go to the Point Robinson Lighthouse. But, please, please don’t stop there. Some additional gems:

  • Island Center Forest. This seems to be a secret even among the locals. I would take 2-hour walks after work in the summer and see 1-2 other people on the trail at the most. The trail system is great and there are lots of places to catch the trailhead. I always picked up the trail at the end of 188th Street, off of Vashon Hwy SW.
  • KVI Beach. Again, this is not one that gets talked about much—and it’s awesome! Even when the tide is in, there’s plenty of room to walk and explore.
  • Wingehaven. I’m convinced that no one from off-island comes here – locals only! It’s a short, steep walk through the woods down to the beach that makes for a beautiful workout. There’s remnants of an old estate down on the beach. During low tide, head north for a nice long walk (depending on how low the tide is you can walk all the way back to the north ferry dock if desired).

Other things to do? You’ll be disappointed if you miss out on these:

  • SnapDragon Bakery & Café. Don’t judge this place by its Chevron gas station neighbor! This is a bakery you do not want to miss – plate-size sticky buns, homemade breads, scones you can nibble on for days. Get in there! (closed Mondays-and some random days when they’ve got other things going on. So Vashon.)
  • Farmers Market, Saturdays 10 – 2. In town, on Vashon Hwy SW, April – December. It’s small, but the sense of community just may make you want to move there!
  • Palouse Winery. Linda and George are the best – and their wine is a real treat. Just one mile (ish) from the north end ferry dock – Tastings Saturday and Sunday, 12 – 5, about $10.
  • Vashon Pharmacy. I’ve got a soft spot for small town pharmacies. You can buy reading glasses here and the most unique gift at the baby shower—they’ve got it all. Not your Rite Aid hours, go on a Sunday and you’ll need to pop-in between 11 and 1:00!
  • SAW – Starving Artists Network. Here you’ll get a good flavor of the variety of artist talent on the island. In town (9922 SW Bank Road).

The charm of this place is amazing. In the summer you’ll find honor-system flower stands road-side, in the winter, you’ll find families ice skating on frozen-over Fisher Pond. Whatever the season, you’ll feel miles (and hours) away from the hustle-bustle of the city.

Getting there: It’s a 20-minute ferry ride from West Seattle. You’ll want a car on the island. Town is 5 miles from the ferry dock and there is not much to do before you get to town (i.e. there’s just one restaurant at the ferry dock). There is a bus – and that can work – but it is not all that frequent, so you definitely want to check the schedule beforehand. More than once, I’ve picked up people at the dock trying to call a taxi for a ride into town. Ha! It’s not that kind of island. It is rural—and a little like stepping back in time (hitchhiking is still a thing here).

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