Dare we say that the summer is winding down. But that doesn’t mean your weekend adventures have to come to a screeching halt. There’s still plenty of time to squeeze in a quick summer getaway in the weekends after school starts to keep that summertime feeling going. And Vashon Island is just a stone’s throw away, making it the perfect place for a day trip or overnight stay. If you’re ready to unplug and unwind without the stress of having to go far, read on for the deets on this eclectic island getaway.
Believe it or not, Vashon Island is only 13 miles long and 8 miles wide, and offers visitors a laid-back way of life. And getting there is part of the fun. Board the ferry at the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal, next to Lincoln Park in West Seattle, and take the 20-minute ride with your mini-mariner. Fair warning, if you’re going on a warm sunny weekend or a holiday weekend be prepared for lines–both to and from the island. And just remember… island time starts as soon as you disembark the ferry, so put away your digital devices, forget your deadlines and get ready to relax and enjoy the views.
Parks and Hikes and Lighthouses. Oh My!
Vashon Island boasts a plethora of parks nestled all over the island. Whether you want to sit back and relax with a picnic, while letting the kids skip stones or take a hike in a nature preserve, this island oasis has choices galore.
Visit on a Sunday and you can tour the Point Robinson Lighthouse. Located on Maury Island, the lighthouse, which was built in 1915, still shines as a navigation beacon and historic site and is well worth the visit. The 38-foot-tall lighthouse is open for tours on Sundays from mid-May through mid-September. And the view of Mount Rainier from the lighthouse and the shoreline is stunning. But don’t stop there… there are dozens of other parks and recreation areas, including Lisabuela Park where your little explorers can spy birds and seals, tromp along the beach, splash in the water or hike in the forest.
Kayak the Island
If you’re looking for a little more excitement and a little more scenery, consider exploring the island by kayak. You and your mini adventurer can rent a kayak or paddle board from Vashon Adventures and explore Quartermasters Harbor. It’s a relatively quiet and protected area, and perfect for any age and skill level. Take a class, take a tour or just rent a kayak for a few hours of fun. Psst… Vashon Adventures also rents paddle boards and is open six days a week from noon to 7 p.m. (closed on Wednesdays). Rates start at $20/hour for a single kayak.
Good to know: Vashon Adventures also offers electric bikes for rent which are great for cyclists who are eager to ride, but not so eager about all the hills on Vashon. (Note: if you do rent an e-bike you should also know that state law doesn’t allow rentals to anyone under the age of 16.) However, Vashon Adventures does have a couple of e-bikes with cargo holders that can hold seats for young passengers. But bring your own helmets for the kids and call in advance to make sure the option is available. E-bike rentals start at $25/hour; cargo e-bikes start at $35/hour.
Where to Eat Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Oh, the options! Vashon boasts an eclectic group of restaurants all conveniently nestled close to the center of town. For breakfast and coffee, check out the oh-so flakey and delicious house-made pastries at the Vashon Island Baking Company. Psst… their croissants are delicious, plain or with chocolate, and their maple bars (made with a croissant pastry) are to die for!
Looking for a good ol’ cup of Joe? The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie is a throwback to the Seattle Best coffee days… you can smell the beans roasting as you walk in the door. Set in a 100-year-old historic building, this is good coffee and good entertainment for the Littles. There’s a vintage roaster right in the center of the building where coffee beans are hand roasted. And if you’re not a coffee drinker, check out the wall of tea.
For lunch or dinner, there is an eclectic mix of restaurants around the center of Vashon. Head to Zamorana for authentic and delicious Mexican fare, cruise into Zombiez if you’re craving burgers or consider dining at The Hardware Store Restaurant, a popular eatery that serves American fare. Looking for a bit fancier? May Kitchen + Bar serves delish Thai food, but make sure to snag a reservation.
Farm Fresh Produce
If you and your kiddo love fresh from the farm, you’ll be happy to know that more than a dozen farm stands dot the island. In fact, you can travel from one end of the island to the other visiting each farm stand and stocking up on fresh produce. Whatever is in season will be up for sale (think: berries, lettuce, zucchini, potatoes and even eggs and cheese). Psst… these farm stands are based on an honor system which means your sidekick can enjoy choosing fresh vegetables and fruit, weighing them up and then putting the money into secure boxes.
We All Scream for Ice Cream
After all those vegetables, ice cream is definitely in order. And Glass Bottle Creamery makes small batch ice cream with flavors like balsamic strawberry, toasted coconut and cherry chocolate made with dairy and eggs from Smith Brothers farms and seasonal local fruit. Psst… eight flavors rotate through the case. Get a cone and sit on the bench outside or wander past the storefronts and check out the art galleries along the main street, including an origami art store right next door! Or check out Zuzu’s Ice Cream located right behind the Vashon Island Roasterie.
Where to Stay
If you’re looking for modern style meets Mother Nature, The Lodges on Vashon offer contemporary lodge features—perfect for a quick overnight or weekend getaway. Located in the heart of the island, these cozy lodges bring the Vashon idea of simplicity to life with keyless entry, communal outdoor spaces and modern fixtures within each space. Kids will stay entertained with games on the lawn like corn hole and croquet, or with s’mores over the communal fire pit, while parents relax nearby.
If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, check out the Pt. Robinson Keepers’ Quarters that are available for a week or a weekend. Two houses that used to be homes for the lighthouse keeper sit right on the beach and offer the perfect place to relax on the porch while the kids play in the sand or in the sound.
Are you planning any last-minute summer getaways? Tell us in the comments below.
— Natalia Dotto (all photos courtesy of Natalia Dotto Photography)
A portion of this trip was paid for by The Lodges on Vashon, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.