Vashon Island, Washington Weekend Escape

Vashon Island has yummy eats, beautiful sights, and is a nearby, mellow escape from Seattle.

Mount Rainier rises on the Washington mainland in view of Point Robinson Lighthouse on Vashon Island
Mount Rainier rises on the Washington mainland in view of Point Robinson Lighthouse.
Terry Donnelly

Only a short ferry ride from Seattle, the slow-paced retreat boasts miles of Salish Sea shoreline, forests awash in feathery ferns, and winding roads dotted with farm stands.

Sights and Events on Vashon Island

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 mid-May to mid-September. Visit on Kite Day in May to marvel at the colorful crafts.

Strawberry Festival

Vashon’s eccentric spirit is on display at the annual jubilee, held July 19–21 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.

picture, raspberry pastries at Snapdragon Bakery, Vashon Island, Washington

Raspberry pastries line a counter at Snapdragon Bakery.

Tara Morgan

Where to Eat on Vashon Island

Sip a yellow curry–laced cocktail called an East Goes East while dipping rice paper wraps into tangy tamarind sauce at May Kitchen + Bar. Imported teak and ornate gold flatware round out the romantic ambience.

The sundappled patio at the vegetarian Snapdragon Bakery and Café makes a relaxed place to enjoy herb polenta tarts stuffed with squash and mushrooms or a buttery scone with seasonal fruit.

a ferry passes Vashon Island, Washington, photo

A ferry leaves Seattle, with Vashon Island in the background.

Richard Walker

Outdoor Activities

Navigate your way along 10 miles of peaceful pathways past alders and Douglas firs in a 360-acre forest at the Island Center Forest.

Kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders flock to the shoreline park overlooking calm Quartermaster Harbor at Jensen Point Park. Vashon Watersports rents gear on-site and offers popular moonlight kayaking tours.

To tour the island on two wheels, stop by Spider’s Ski and Sports 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.

The Country Store and Farm on Vashon Island, Washington, photo

The Country Store and Farm includes a nursery and model train.

Tara Morgan

Shops to Visit

The island’s general store, Country Store and Farm, overlooks a patch of u-pick produce: strawberries in June, blueberries and raspberries in July.

Score treasures ranging from rain jackets to vintage sherry glasses at Granny’s Attic, a thrift store and community gathering place.

Polished ceramic bowls, glittering jewelry, and other wares handmade by more than 100 island artists fill Koch Gallery, a shop operated by Vashon Allied Arts, the nonprofit behind the brand-new Vashon Center for the Arts.

Stuff your satchel with local sockeye salmon or Rainier cherry vinegar at the Saturday Vashon Farmers Market April through fall.

Plan an outing past rolling farmlands to visit Nashi Orchards, a maker of hard apple ciders and perries (fermented pear juice). Chojuro Perry, from Asian pears grown onsite, is lightly fizzy with floral aromas.  

Nurse a mug of coffee in a century-old building at Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie or devour a cone of Skagit strawberry from the adjoining ZuZu’s Ice Cream.


This article was first published in Summer 2016 and updated in February 2019.