Idyllic Vashon is one of the best small towns in Washington state. Artsy, rural, and slow-paced, this island in the Puget Sound is an ideal escape from city life. It’s a short ferry ride away, and despite its small size, visitors will find tons of fun and unique things to do on Vashon Island.
Come for wine and cider tastings, check out the immersive art scene, take farm tours, eat fresh, local produce, and enjoy uncrowded parks, beaches, and hiking trails.
Vashon Island is one of the best day trips from Seattle and one of my favorite places to visit in Washington state. If you’re adding it to your itinerary, these are the Vashon Island activities you’ll want to do!
Table of Contents
- 23 Best Things to Do on Vashon Island
- Food & Drink
- What to Do Outdoors
- Unique Vashon Island Activities
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23 Best Things to Do on Vashon Island
Dragon’s Head Cider
Sip cider in a beautiful orchard
Dragon’s Head Cider is one of Vashon’s fantastic cideries and you can enjoy tastings and flights right on their Vashon Island orchard. In the summer months, you’ll want to make sure you call ahead to make a reservation as their tasting spots tend to fill up fast.
Dragon’s Head makes its ciders using high-quality apple varietals and traditional cider production methods. You can choose from a range of delightful ciders to sip right by their orchard, wander among the trees, and when you finish, you’ll get to keep the glass as a token of the experience.
🚗 How to Get There: No bridge leads to Vashon, so if you’re in the mood for some island hopping, the best way to get there is to take the ferry. You have a few options depending on which direction you’re coming from. Visiting from Seattle means you’ll take the Fauntleroy Ferry and if you come from Southworth you’ll go to the Southworth ferry terminal. Tacoma dwellers get to Vashon from the Point Defiance Tahlequah Ferry. You can ride the ferries by car, bike or on foot. Ferry times are posted and updated at the Washington State Ferries.
Snapdragon Bakery and Cafe
Grab a pastry and brunch at an eclectic vegetarian restaurant
Snapdragon Bakery is a Vashon Island staple. It’s on the south end of Vashon’s downtown strip, and its mouthwatering pastries will greet you the moment you walk in. Don’t worry, they taste as good as they look.
Grab a couple of pastries or enjoy their rotating Mediterranean-influenced brunch plates with seasonal ingredients. Adjacent to the cafe is the bar, open on select evenings for delicious drinks, trivia, live music, and other events.
The interior of the cafe is charming and eclectic, equipped with two expansive rooms with tables, couches, and other cozy seating options. There’s also a patio out back for warmer days when you want to enjoy your food among fresh flowers and greenery.
Visit the shops, restaurants, and galleries in Vashon’s core
Vashon Island’s downtown is full of fantastic restaurants, art galleries, and shops, so it makes sense that wandering the downtown area is one of the top things to do on Vashon Island.
While exploring, make sure to check out Giraffe, a store that sells hundreds of fair trade goods from around the world. Plant lovers should go to the Herban Bloom gift shop for all manner of botanical gifts, or to take home a gorgeous bouquet.
Visit Raven’s Nest for contemporary native art and other treasures, then grab a bite to eat at Earthen Bistro for a delicious dining experience. There are many other unique specialty shops, breweries, and restaurants specializing in Hispanic and Asian cuisine so you can easily stay busy on a visit downtown.
Point Robinson Park and Lighthouse
Check out a beautiful lighthouse in Vashon’s iconic park
Point Robinson Park and its gorgeous, well-preserved lighthouse are the defining landmarks of Vashon Island. The Point Robinson Lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been guiding ships and other vessels through the dark and fog since 1885.
With a picturesque shoreline to explore, plenty of great grassy areas to relax and play, and trails to wander, visiting this park is one of the best things to do in Vashon Island. A variety of travelers will enjoy time by Point Robinson Lighthouse – from families with young kids, couples looking for a romantic picnic, and individuals craving some solitude by the water.
From here you can watch for resident orcas in the summer months and see an incredible sunrise year-round.
Camp Colvos Brewing
Drink craft beer in an unpretentious brewery
Both of Vashon’s breweries are located downtown off of Vashon Highway and are worth visiting if you’re a craft beer enthusiast.
Camp Colvos is a family-friendly brewery that’s hard to miss. Just search for the bright orange building in the heart of downtown and take a seat in their large outdoor seating area after grabbing your drink. With a great brew selection (try the Buckthorn if you’re into IPAs), and plenty of snacks (don’t pass up on a plate of their tater tots) you’ll understand why it’s an island favorite.
👉 Pro Tip: When planning your visit to Vashon Island, you should be aware of your timing. Don’t expect to find big-city hours on this small island. Businesses and activities on the island sometimes hold shorter or odd hours and will be closed for multiple days in the middle of the week. You don’t want to miss out on some of the best things to do on the island because you come on a day when they’re closed, so your best bet for catching all the fun on your Vashon Island day trip is to come on a weekend.
May Kitchen + Bar
Dine on delicious, authentic Thai cuisine
If you’re into Thai cuisine, you must visit May Kitchen and Bar. This beloved restaurant is popular with islanders and one of the standouts among the great Vashon Island restaurants.
Come here for pad thai dressed directly on the table with a preparation demonstration, perfectly spiced Thom yum soup, delicious desserts, a full cocktail bar, and an ambiance designed to make you feel like you’ve been transported far beyond Vashon.
Be sure that you make a reservation in advance, especially on weekends when they’re likely to get swarmed with locals and visitors craving some of the best Thai food in the Seattle area.
Note: May Kitchen is only open for take-out (as of May 2022), so if you grab some I highly recommend bringing it to enjoy at one of the parks or beaches on this list!
Food & Drink
Vashon Island Baking Company
Start your day with the best pastries
Quick, delicious, and sweet or savory pastries are what you’ll find at the Vashon Island Baking Co. The shop is tiny, but it’s filled with a variety of mouthwatering goodies. From fresh-made bear claws to apple fritters and savory croissants, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Grab a coffee and a pastry and nibble it on the go, on one of the benches outside the shop or enjoy it at Ober Park up the street. This is the perfect bakery to visit to kick off your Vashon exploration.
Taste delightful ciders right near Vashon’s downtown
Nashi Orchards is an award-winning Vashon Island cidery with two additional locations in the Pacific Northwest. The organic orchard’s main focus is on perries made from pears grown on the island and throughout the region. They only use the best Asian pears, European pears, and heirloom apple varieties, resulting in ciders that are crisp, light, refreshing, and naturally sweetened. Because their tasting room has recently moved from their orchard to downtown Vashon, it’s incredibly easy to stop by for a flight and leave with a bottle or two.
The Hardware Store Restaurant
Eat at a hardware store turned island-dining staple
A comfortable, laid-back atmosphere and consistently delicious food are what you’ll get from the Hardware Store Restaurant. The large space was transformed from a hardware store (hence the name) and now exists as one of the focal points of the Vashon restaurant scene, complete with a cool art gallery featuring art by local Vashon artists.
Come for breakfast and, if you’re lucky, you just might get a chance to snag some of their delicious house-made donuts. Show up for lunch or dinner to get some show-stealing clam chowder, fish and chips, or gourmet burgers.
Grab a cheap meal in a re-imagined diner
Need a quick and cheap lunch to refuel after a morning of exploring on your Vashon Island day trip? Go to Island Queen, a classic diner with burgers, fries, and ice cream. Originally a Dairy Queen, the restaurant was transformed into a family-friendly joint unique to Vashon. Eat on their outside patio or inside the colorful space where you can admire the model train on the ceiling while you chow down.
Maury Island Winery
Go wine tasting at an intimate, locally owned winery
Wine-tasting on Vashon Island is perfect for those looking for a less formal wine-tasting experience.
You’ll have an opportunity to speak directly to the winemakers at Maury Island Winery. This Vashon winery is located on the southern end of the island and all tastings are private affairs. Call ahead to schedule and you’ll be treated to wine pours, snacks, and stories of the history of their winery. The wine-makers are a husband-wife team who have been making wine from their own grapes grown in their backyard since the ‘80s.
Drink beer and watch live music in a community pub
Vashon Brewing has a cozy atmosphere. The building is small, but this only reinforces their emphasis on bringing the community together. Come here to enjoy their seasonal drink selections and kick back with the locals. You have a good chance of catching a live show whenever you show up since they regularly host live music and open mic nights.
🏠 Where to stay: If you’re planning on an overnight stay on Vashon, I recommend booking one of the cute vacation rentals via Booking to snag a sweet spot on the island. If you’re planning on making it a day trip, you’ll want to stay in West Seattle or check out my guide on where to stay in Seattle to find something that’s best for your vacation.
What to Do Outdoors
Maury Island Marine Park
Hike, camp, and explore a scenic park on the water
Maury Island Marine Park is located on Maury Island, a small island attached to Vashon. Nature lovers will adore the walking trails and scenic views in this 320-acre park. Home to a large concentration of Pacific madrone trees, the park also has several perfectly placed benches and lookouts for visitors to take it all in.
Wander down to the shoreline to see the Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier on clear days. You can go kayaking or camp in the park from May to October. Blue Herons, seabirds, and other animals roam the park so wildlife watchers will have plenty to see on a visit.
Shinglemill Creek Preserve
Hike to an estuary filled with birds and other wildlife
Shinglemill Creek Preserve is a spot outdoor lovers should check out on Vashon. You’ll wander along forested trails, some of which can get quite muddy (read my Seattle Packing List article to ensure you bring the right footwear).
There are two trails to choose from. The lower trail is great for hikers of all levels, while the upper trail is quite steep and for those craving a good workout hike. The trails lead to Fern Cove which is home to tons of migratory birds, making this an ideal hike for birders too.
👉 Read Next: Interested in some off-island hiking? Check out my article on Hikes near Seattle next!
Picnic and play at a small, grassy park
This little resort-turned beachfront park is tucked away on the west coast of Vashon. Lisabuela Park is a bit of a hidden gem, popular with locals, and rarely crowded. Beach comb or search for clams along the rocky shoreline.
Play frisbee, bring your dog, or picnic on the large grassy area or at one of the picnic tables scattered around. The wind can pick up easily here, so it’s a great place to fly a kite or to simply sit back and watch the sunset. A visit to Lisabuela beach is one of the more peaceful things to do in Vashon Island, and worth making the trip out here.
🚴 How to Get Around: The easiest way to get around Vashon is by car, but that’s not your only option. If most of what you want to do is in the downtown area, you can go on foot and take the local bus right from the ferry terminal. And if you want to venture out a little without a car, go to Vashon Adventures where you can rent e-bikes to help you get around the island.
Spend time on a hidden beach
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 6 am – 10 pm daily
KVI Beach is a public beach tucked away in a residential neighborhood, making it a bit of a hidden gem. This sandy beach is owned by a local radio station, equipped with a radio tower standing tall near the shore.
Parking can be a bit difficult here, especially during warm summer weekends, but if you snag a spot, you’ll be treated to a beach full of sea creatures and marine life. Search for crabs during low tide, look out for seals, and you may even see orcas offshore. The beach also has volleyball nets and, typical of Washington beaches, lots of driftwood to navigate around or rest on.
Unique Vashon Island Activities
Hang out with a herd of senior llamas
Meeting a herd of old llamas may not be the first experience that comes to mind when you think of going to Vashon, but it is one of the more unusual things to do on Vashon Island. Six geriatric llamas and their caretakers live on the island.
You can book a farm visit which includes petting, feeding, and learning about the llamas, or a “happy hour” where you learn to spin, weave and get a chance to visit with the animals. Not only is the entire appointment private and intimate, but their caretaker is a friendly gem of a person who will happily answer any questions you have about the charming animals
Attend a sweet small-town summer festival
If you’re planning to visit Vashon in mid-July, you may be lucky enough to catch the strawberry festival. This weekend-long event is one of the largest happenings in Vashon and has been going on since the early 1900s when Vashon was covered in strawberry fields and a major exporter of fruit.
These days the festival involves a parade, beer gardens, live music, and tons of vendors selling interesting goods and eateries with (of course) strawberry-related snacks and meals. Come to this event if you want to experience a long-running and fun small-town festival event.
Lavender Hill Farm
Relax and wander on a lavender farm
Lavender Hill is a gorgeous lavender farm on Vashon that is open to visits starting in June and through July. Harvest your own lavender to dry or add to bouquets, and enjoy farm-fresh treats and drinks made from the fragrant plant. You can even learn how to make lavender wreaths and distill organic lavender essential oil. The farm has 20 different lavender varieties and is the gardens are well-kept and beautiful, making them the perfect place to take a stroll and experience a moment of calm.
Visit the small community on the south end of the island
South of the Vashon downtown area, you’ll find the town of Burton. This small, unincorporated community has a few quaint attractions to draw in visitors. Visit the general store in the area, Harbor Mercantile (also known as the Burton Store), where you’ll find all kinds of island goods and necessities and get a good taste of island life.
Stop at Spice Berry for home goods or grab a cup of joe from the Burton Coffee stand. Afterward, take a walk and stretch your legs on the trails of Burton Acres Park or get on the water at Jensen Point.
Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie
Warm up with a cup of joe in a historic coffee house
Need a good place for your morning coffee? Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie is an old-school coffee shop with a rich history. It was the original location of Seattle’s Best Coffee and the building retains both its old charm and some of the original coffee roasting equipment.
Come here to play board games, chat with friends, read a book, or journal. There’s no wi-fi, which makes it a great spot to disconnect.
It’s both a coffee shop and a specialty store where you can buy organic produce, teas, local gifts, honey, beeswax, and more. This spot is easily one of the best things to do on Vashon Island if you want the epitome of small-town life.
👉 Read Next: Best Things to Do in Seattle, WA
Check out Vashon’s robust art scene
Vashon Island is filled with artists of all mediums, from painting to clay to performing arts. Because of this, numerous art galleries feature local art. Gather is one of these, and, with a curated collection of beautiful creations, it’s hard not to get inspired.
The Vashon Island Center for the Arts is another must-see space for art shows, music acts, book talks, and dance performances. If you’re interested in the vibrant arts community and want to support the non-profit organization that hosts a wealth of them, then visiting the Vashon Island Center for the arts is a must.
Farmer’s Market and Farm Stands
Sample fresh produce from Vashon Island farmers
Visit on a Saturday morning in April through October to enjoy the Vashon Island Farmer’s Market. Grab fresh produce, flowers, bread, meats, cheeses, and more at the market. It’s a great way to understand the agricultural community of the island.
Even if you can’t make it on a farmer’s market weekend, there are tons of farm stands on the island to check out. Plan a visit by looking at the farm stand map, or just drive around the island and stop when you see something interesting. Because of the abundance of farms and farm stands, partaking in the farming culture (and getting some local goods out of it!) is one of the easiest things to do on Vashon Island.
Now you’re all ready to visit Vashon Island! Though it’s small, there are so many cool things to do on Vashon Island that make it a worthy day or weekend trip in the Pacific Northwest. What are you most looking forward to?
Want to know more about what you can do along the Puget Sound? Check out my guide on things to do in Washington state and other related guides next:
Have fun exploring the many fun things to do in Vashon Island!
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