When you want to get away from Seattle for a bit but not have to travel far, Vashon Island is a perfect choice. In only 30 minutes, you’ll be transported to a beautiful island waiting to be explored. From hiking to delicious restaurants, you’ll find plenty of things to do on Vashon Island during your time there.
You can easily take a ferry to get to Vashon for a day trip from Seattle or Seattle weekend trip. While it’s not the biggest island, you’ll find no shortage of what to do on Vashon Island during your trip. Many of my friends go here on the weekends for a sporadic day adventure, which is easy to do since it’s so close.
We decided to do the same on a sunny spring day recently and looked up the ferry schedule, packed up the car, and headed out for a Vashon Island day trip. While I’ve lived in the area for decades, it was actually the first time I visited the island, but I was glad I finally made the trek!
The island is a warm and friendly place with an extensive list of activities to do. There are many pretty beaches, forests, hiking trails, breweries, galleries, parks, and much more. To experience its lifestyle like a local instead of a tourist, here are some of the best things to do on Vashon Island, which is one of the closest islands near Seattle.
23 Things to Do on Vashon Island
Book a cabin with views of the Puget Sound and escape the city for a small-town experience at Vashon Island. This place is brimming with creative nature enthusiasts who love art, crafts, fresh produce, and relaxing while catching up with old and new faces. Here are some ideas for things to do in Vashon Island.
1. Hike Through Shinglemill Creek Preserve
Located in the northern part of Vashon Island, Shinglemill Creek Preserve is a natural area surpassing more than 160 acres. If you’re looking for fun things to do on Vashon Island that are outdoors, I recommend stopping here for a nice easy hike.
You can take a 3-mile hike through the lush green forest that will lead you to an opening to the beach. During salmon season, you can experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where you can hear and see hundreds of salmon splashing around the river. Watch out for the slippery mud on the way, especially if it recently rained!
2. Discover Dockton
Maury Island is surrounded by the beautiful blue waters of Puget Sound. The island is tied to Vashon Island by an isthmus that was made in 1913 by locals, so I recommend driving over when looking for what to do on Vashon Island.
On Maury Island, you can visit Dockton Park, which has a picturesque picnic area and a swimming beach. Take a leisurely walk through the town to learn more about its history from the interpretive signs and various exhibits stationed at different stops, which is perfect when you’re in Seattle on a budget.
3. Have Coffee in Burton
The small town of Burton sits at the isthmus (a narrow strip of land) and has all the primary necessities for the island’s residents, like a post office and different kinds of general stores.
Situated in this residential town is Burton Coffee Stand, famous for its coffee and amicable atmosphere. Here, you’ll be greeted by friendly smiles from locals who are always ready to strike up a conversation – especially with tourists or new residents on the island.
Also located in Burton is the Harbor Mercantile, or locally known as the Burton Store. In existence since 1908, the convenience store has a variety of things like fresh produce, snacks, drinks, toys, and hardware items. Make a quick stop at the Burton Store for a drink and a yummy sandwich.
4. Enjoy Jensen Point Park
Spend part of your Vashon Island day trip at Jensen Point Park, investing your time in different water-top recreational activities. You can rent a kayak or swim in the shallow water when you want things to do on Vashon Island that are low-key. Along the shoreline, there are picnic tables lined up with charcoal grills so you can cook up a delicious barbecue.
The park is small and secluded, allowing you to spend quality time with your family and friends. Relax to the sound of water and the sight of seabirds.
Want another waterfront vacation? You’ll love all the things to see on Whidbey Island.
5. Do Some Shopping
Vashon offers a wide variety of different kinds of stores to its visitors, allowing them to choose from a diverse range of items to purchase. They’re all around the same area, making it convenient for those looking for things to do on Vashon Island without a car.
Some of these stores include:
- Giraffe: A famous store that offers different household, clothing, art, and food products
- The Raven’s Nest: A native art gallery and gift shop. This store offers traditional and contemporary native art. Purchase souvenirs and gifts for your loved ones to take back home here.
- Vashon Bookshop: Calling all book lovers, this book store has a cute aesthetic and sells both new and second-hand books.
- The Country Store and Farm: A general store with products ranging from the outdoor garden to a nursery. You can also purchase your Washington souvenirs and gifts from here.
6. Browse the Gather Gallery
A great way to experience the soul of Vashon is by visiting the Gather gallery and exploring your artistic side. Gather is an art gallery showcasing the creative work of local artists. Even when not hosting an event, it’s open to the public.
Vashon hosts some beautiful attractions of historical significance. These sites have been marked as important for the environment and are listed as some of the best attractions to see on this eclectic island.
7. Visit Point Robinson Park and Lighthouse
One of the most popular Vashon Island attractions Island is Point Robinson Park, which spans 10 acres on the east shore of Maury Island. If you’re looking for a good picture, I recommend coming at sunset to catch the warm glow wash over the lighthouse.
The Point Robinson Lighthouse, built in 1914, towers over the park and is an Instagram-worthy spot. It has provided lighthouse service for water vessels in the dark since 1885. The sandy beach shoreline wraps around the curve of the island, offering dramatic views.
You can catch resident orcas making their way close to the shore to hunt salmon in fall and winter. Walking trails in the park allow you to tour the upland woodlands. On a good windy day, you can fly kites. There’s a grassy area for picnics with your family or friends. Kayaks are also available to rent if you want to get out on the water.
8. Explore Maury Island Marine Park
For all the nature lovers out there, get your chance to experience nature in its true form at Maury Island Marine Park. The park is home to many wildlife species such as bald eagles and the great blue heron, which is one of the most amazing things to see on Vashon Island if you’re lucky enough!
You can relax and admire the shoreline and the gorgeous views of Mount Rainier, the Cascade Range of mountains, and the East Passage. If you’re looking for things to do on Vashon Island that are active, you can explore the hiking trails that run through the evergreen Pacific Madrone trees and marshes.
9. Relax at Lisabeula Park
Located on the west side of Vashon Island, Lisabeula is a beautiful park with a 5.5-acre shoreline. The shoreline is upgraded with play areas, picnic tables, a hand-carry boat launch, and a designated campsite.
It’s a perfect spot to enjoy quality family time while letting the kids run free, making it a fun Washington family vacation. The east side of the property has a wooded ravine and hillside, making for picture-perfect landscapes.
10. Walk Through Fern Cove
On the northwest side of Vashon Island, Fern Cove is a site made up of an estuary, forest uplands, two creeks, and the Puget Sound shoreline. It’s the perfect activity when looking for things to do on Vashon Island.
Also on the site is the historic house of Washington’s first female physician – the Belle Baldwin House, which is now a unique vacation rental. In fact, the state of Washington has many stunning treehouses and cabins to stay at (one of the many Seattle facts I love).
Vashon Island Restaurants
I always love finding new local restaurants to visit, and Vashon has them in abundance. You can find some delicious restaurants located on the main street downtown. Here are some of the best restaurants on Vashon Island.
11. Island Queen – Burgers and Treats
Island Queen has an old-school diner vibe and offers a vast selection of menu items catering to different people. You can build your own hamburgers or order their specialty burgers, sandwiches, and onion rings. They also offer delicious ice cream flavors and malts. The atmosphere is like the golden days of the ’50s, and the staff is warm and welcoming.
This was the first place I ate at on Vashon because it had so many great reviews online. I got an amazing burger, fries, and milkshake, which fueled me for the rest of the day for my road trip from Seattle. Island Queen is a famous visit amongst locals and tourists, and I can see why many people come back to the island just to enjoy the food at this restaurant again.
12. Bramble House
Serving Pacific Northwest cuisine, Bramble House is a sophisticated restaurant owned by chef Lia Lira. The restaurant is undoubtedly one of the best restaurants on the island. Lira uses artisan techniques to bring a farm-to-table dining experience for her guests.
13. Patty’s Place
Patty’s Place is a hidden gem in Vashon that serves the perfect fusion of Hispanic and Asian cuisine. A highly recommended breakfast dish is the Tamale Huevos Rancheros. Patty’s is known for its fusion food and easy packaging that allows you to carry your food parcel wherever you go conveniently.
14. May Kitchen + Bar
Eating at May Kitchen + Bar is like being transported to a restaurant in Thailand. The posh eatery serves authentic Thai food and sets the exquisite mood too, with good music. The classic pad Thai is a must to try! Be sure to make a reservation in advance because this place gets packed pretty quickly.
15. The Hardware Store
Named after the building it’s housed in, The Hardware Store is located in one of the oldest buildings in Vashon. It was initially an island hardware store and is now a popular lunch spot for American food. Book your reservation in advance to treat yourself to an upscale American cuisine loaded with yummy burgers, salads, and buttermilk fried chicken strips.
A bakery, bar, and restaurant all in one, Snapdragon is a haven for bread lovers. At first glance, it presents itself as a typical bakery, but one glance at their menu and you’ve discovered a wide variety of vegetarian dishes and pastries. You’ll find yourself wanting to come back here again and again.
Vashon Island Wineries & Breweries
Fancy a wine tasting experience? Vashon Island is also home to some excellent wineries and breweries that offer amazing tours. Experience the taste of rich grapes, scenic settings, and make acquaintance with the owners of these outstanding properties.
If you’ve got time on your hands, you should definitely add visiting these excellent wineries, breweries, and cideries to your list of things to do in Vashon Island.
Note: some of the wineries and breweries may be closed during the off-season or on weekdays, so check with the relevant establishment’s site in advance and book an appointment if needed before you go.
17. Camp Colvos Brewing
Conveniently situated right across Snapdragon, Camp Colvos hosts a crowd of people in colorful, outdoor seating. Guests can enjoy their beer and savory pies while socializing with each other.
They’re also a great Seattle brewery that allows kids, so it’s a good break if you’re out with the whole family. This was a great place for us to stop with our toddler who didn’t exactly want to sit still. We could be outside and one of us could walk with him down the sidewalk when he got restless without going too far.
18. Palouse Winery
Open all year round, Palouse Winery offers an opportunity to enjoy their rich wine on an exclusive porch that only members can access. The Winery serves exotic views of the woods and the great Olympic Mountains. If you’re not a member, don’t stress. You can visit the Winery on a Sunday to access the porch as a non-club member.
19. Vashon Winery
Vashon Winery, known for producing 600 cases of grape wine a year, is open on the weekends from April through October. However, if you wish to visit the winery on a different day or out of season, you may do so by booking an appointment with them.
20. Maury Island Winery
If you are interested in visiting a winery known for growing its own grapes, Maury Island is the one. The place is a small winery owned and run by Bill Riley and his family. Together he and his wife, Jan, make approximately 150 cases every year. They’re only open for tastings during summer, and you can check out their site for the opening and closing times.
21. Vashon Brewing
Love beer but suffer from mild gluten intolerance? If yes, then Vashon Brewing is the place for you. This brewery is known for making beer using local ingredients and an innovative method to reduce its gluten content. Furthermore, they skillfully do this without affecting the taste of the beer.
I recommend stopping here after a hike, as it’s the perfect hike and brewery combination.
22. Dragon’s Head Cider
Dragon’s Head Cider produces cider from apples they grow themselves in their Vashon Island orchard. They’re open for tastings on the weekend and also have a club where members can get up to four shipments of apple cider every year.
I love that they have this cidery on the island since not everyone likes or can tolerate beer. They also have a pretty big variety so whether you like sweet or dry cider as I do, everyone in your party should be satisfied.
23. Nashi Orchards
Another cidery, known for using apples grown in their Vashon Island orchards, is Nashi Orchards. They are known for making ‘perry,’ a cider made from Asian pear. Nashir orchard is open all year round on weekends or by appointment on weekdays. For all the cider lovers out there, this cidery should be at the top of your list when looking for relaxing things to do on Vashon.
Where to Stay on Vashon Island
You won’t find any hotels on Vashon Island, but that’s part of what makes it charming. Here are some vacation rentals to consider after a day of Vashon Island activities.
- Rustic 1935 Walk-in Waterfront Cabin – This beautiful cabin sleeps up to four people and has a trail that leads down to the water. (rates start at $165 per night)
- Waterfront Hideaway – This two-bedroom home has views of the water and a wood-burning stove to enjoy. (rates start at $159 per night)
- Waterfront Beach House – This is the ultimate place to relax, as you can go out on your waterfront deck to enjoy your morning coffee. You can sleep up to five people here. (rates start at $215 per night)
Feeling inspired by all the things to do on Vashon Island? Now it’s time to plan your trip and go explore!