Seattle is home to many exciting attractions and a rich history to explore, but it’s also as fast-paced as most other major US cities.
If you’re a resident of Seattle, or even just a visitor, and you’re looking to branch out from the fast pace of the city, look no further than Vashon Island.
Vashon Island, sometimes referred to as Vashon-Maury Island, is only a short ferry ride away from Seattle, but it’s natural beauty makes city life feel worlds away. With so much to offer, the island is a great weekend escape, or even just a day trip escape, from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The island is my preferred destination when looking for a quick getaway from Seattle, and, in this article, I’ll share with you my 15 best things to do on Vashon Island.
What is Vashon Island known for?
Vashon Island, on the Puget Sound, is surrounded by Seattle to the Northeast, Tacoma to the South, and Kitsap County to the West and Northwest.
It is known to be an eclectic community with a vibrant, and sometimes quirky, arts scene, beautiful natural landscapes to explore and fine restaurants serving a variety of cuisine including sushi, Indian and farm to table food.
Thousands of visitors travel to Vashon Island every day to disconnect from the faster-paced city of Seattle.
How to get to Vashon Island from Seattle by ferry
You can get to Vashon Island by taking Fauntleroy – Vashon ferry, a short 20-minute ferry ride operated by Washington State Ferries. The Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal, in West Seattle, is located at 4829 SW Barton, Seattle, WA 98136 and will connect you directly with the Vashon Island North-End Ferry Terminal between Point Vashon and Dolphin Point. The Vashon ferry is, without a doubt, one of the best ferry rides in Seattle that visitors from all over the world come to experience.
Another option for traveling from Seattle to Vashon by ferry is the King County Water Taxi. It offers weekday ferry service from Pier 50 on the downtown Seattle waterfront to the Vashon Island North-End Ferry terminal.
15 things to do on Vashon Island
In my opinion, you could have a nice Vashon Island day trip if you go by yourself or visit the island with your significant other.
The “island time” has a slower pace, so if you are used to city life, then prepare yourself to relax for a while.
However, you might also look into vacation rentals if you want to stay awhile and make the best out of all the Vashon Island activities around – it’s up to you!
Without further delay, let’s take a deep look at the best things to do on Vashon Island.
1. Visit Burton Acres Park
Burton Acres Park, on the Burton Peninsula, is 64 acres of natural beauty which includes ample walking, hiking and horseback riding trails.
If hiking or horseback riding isn’t your thing, you can head to nearby Jensen Point and rent electric bikes to explore the area or venture out on to the water by renting a kayak or standup paddle board from Vashon Adventures.
After your day of adventure, head to downtown Burton and warm up with a coffee from Burton Coffee Stand.
2. Go to Vashon Island Baking Company
If you are looking for sweets and treats then a visit to Vashon Island Baking Company is a must.
While custom buttercream cakes are their specialty, they also offer house-made pastries like croissants, cupcakes, and cookies, all baked daily. And they source local, fresh ingredients whenever possible including Island-grown vegetables and fruit to bake into their quiches and pastries.
Their address is 17506 Vashon Highway SW, Vashon, WA 98070. They are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 6:00AM to 6:00PM and Sundays from 7:00AM to 5:00PM.
3. Visit Maury Island Marine Park
Maury Island Marine Park is 320 acres of undeveloped land with 3 miles of mixed use trails and 1 mile of shoreline giving visitors pristine views of the East Passage, Mount Rainier and the Cascade Mountains.
While visiting the park you’ll be able to see stands of the rare Pacific Madrone trees and spot numerous species of wildlife and marine life such as great blue herons, bald eagles, kingfishers, chinook salmon, orca, and bull trout.
After taking in all that Maury Island Marine Park has to offer, head north and grab a glass of wine at Maury Island Winery, a small, family owned and operated vineyard and winery known for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and a sparkling rosé called Crémant de Maury.
You can access the park by taking either the Fauntleroy-Vashon ferry from Seattle or the Point Defiance-Tahlequah ferry from Tacoma.
4. Go to Point Robinson Park and Conservancy
Located on 10 acres on the east shore of Maury Island, Point Robinson features a white, sandy beach shoreline, walking trails and a few picnic tables for sitting and taking in the gorgeous views while you eat a nice picnic lunch with friends and/or family.
However, that’s not all Point Robinson has to offer.
The historic lighthouse, built in 1885, is the real gem of Point Robinson. Tours of the lighthouse are offered on Sundays from mid-May through mid-September and the Ship’s Store Gift Shop is open seasonally, as well.
For those looking to stay overnight, two Keepers’ Quarters have been fully restored and are available to rent. All proceeds from the rentals and the gift shop fund the lighthouse and Point Robinson park and conservancy upkeep.
5. Learn about Vashon Island’s rich history at the Vashon Heritage Museum
Vashon Island has a rich cultural and natural history and it is the mission of the Vashon Maury Island Heritage Association to preserve that history through Vashon Heritage Museum.
Built in 1907, the building that is now the Vashon Heritage museum first served as a Lutheran Church. The building was purchased in 1998, and now the museum educates visitors about the rich history of the island through both permanent and rotating collections which include interactive displays, visual artifacts, and extensive photographic exhibits.
The Vashon Heritage Museum is located at 10105 Bank Road SW, Vashon, WA 98070 and is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 1:00PM to 4:00PM.
6. Explore the farm stands on Vashon Island
Not only does Vashon Island have a rich cultural history, but a rich agricultural history, as well. This is showcased by all the farms and farm stands scatter about the island.
While there are less open farm stands during the winter season, people still visit from all over to come get fresh goods and products from the local farmers.
The Vashon Island Growers Association (VIGA) is an organization dedicated to promoting growing, farming and food production on Vashon Maury Island.
You can use the farm stand map that VIGA provides to discover the many different farm stands that you can visit on your next trip to the island.
7. Warm up at Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie
Seattle is known by many people to be the capital of specialty coffee. However, Vashon Island is the birthplace of specialty coffee roasting. And the one place you can see, smell and taste this specialty is at the Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie (TVICR).
Founded in 2003, TVICR is an independently owned coffee cafe and specialty coffee roaster. They use a time honored rustic roasting style with original vintage roasters to roast their beans and wooden Swedish grinders to grind their beans.
The Roasterie is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8:00AM to 4:00PM and Sundays 9:00AM to 2:00PM.
8. Taste cider at Dragon’s Head Cider
Hard cider is a rapidly growing segment of the alcoholic beverage market. It is anticipated to be a $6.72 billion market by the year 2030. And one of the cideries contributing to that growth surge is Dragon’s Head Cider on Vashon Island.
Dragon’s Head Cider produces traditional English cider. Everything from growing and harvesting the apples and pears to bottling the cider is done right there on their farm.
They offer tastings by their orchard every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from Noon to 5:00PM. And their bottle shop is open daily from Noon to 5:00PM. Children and dogs are welcome, as well, so you can bring the whole family.
9. Explore downtown Vashon
There are many great restaurants, shops, and places to see located in downtown Vashon. Here you can experience restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisine from American, Hispanic, and Asian.
One such unique restaurant is Bramble House located north of downtown Vashon. It is the restaurant that everybody wants to visit when they set foot on this island. They offer seasonally-inspired dishes from local growers, producers, and farmers, whenever possible, beverages that compliment the meal and friendly, yet efficient service.
If you are into more classic American food, go to Island Queen and get a ZAT burger.
Finally, visit one of the many awesome gift shops like Sandpiper or Pacific Northwest Shop and purchase a unique trinket to remember your Vashon Island trip with!
10. See a show at the Vashon Center for the Arts
The mission of the Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA) is to provide a center for the arts on Vashon Island, initiate quality arts experiences for all ages, and create opportunities for artists to perform and exhibit their work.
They put on a variety of shows, concerts and exhibitions throughout the year that are worth a trip to the island.
One such unique event is the Vashon Garden Tour, an event the Vashon Center for the Arts has been putting on since 1993. Every June, for two days, they welcome the public to tour some of Vashon Island’s finest private gardens and nature oases.
It’s truly a wonderful event and all proceeds from the event help support the arts programs at VCA.
11. Hike at Shinglemill Creek Preserve
The Shinglemill Creek Preserve, located in northwest Vashon, is 168 acres of nature preserve that outdoor lovers will surely enjoy.
Dubbed Vashon’s best spot for viewing shorebirds, the Shinglemill Creek Trail is a 3.5 mile loop trail of steep and sandy terrain that gains elevation from sea level to 400 feet above sea level. In November and December, after heavy rains, you can watch for Coho Salmon returning to the creek to spawn.
12. Visit Dockton Park and Marina
Fancy a swim on a sandy beach? Go to Dockton Park and Marina! This hidden gem in Vashon Island was closed for construction, but has since reopened since phase 1 of construction was completed in May 2022.
Here, you will find a swimming beach to dive deep into the waters of the Pacific Northwest. And a new playground with focus on climbers, slides, and spinners geared towards 2-to-8-year-olds will break ground in Summer 2023. There’s also now enough space for 30 boats to dock here.
In my experience, this is a great location to go with children since it offers beach access and the picnic area is clean and gorgeous.
13. Stay at Belle Baldwin House at Fern Cove
Belle Baldwin was the first female physician in Washington back in 1912. Her relevance in the history of medicine is still remembered to this day.
The best part is that you can stay at Belle Baldwin House at Fern Cove to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the people you love. The house is perfect for a group of up to six people and is situated on 750 feet of pristine Puget Sound beach.
Staying here is not cheap, however. The current rates are $2,030 per week or $290 per night with a 7-night minimum stay during peak season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), and $1,463 per week or $209 per night with a 2-night minimum stay during the low season (September through May).
14. Hike through the Island Center Forest
Island Center Forest is a natural forest located, well, in the center of the island!
The 440 acre forest features four trailheads which total 10 miles of multi-use trails. The trails wind through forested stands, meadows, and wetlands, and allow hikers the opportunity to spot the more than 70 species of birds that call the Island Center Forest home.
15. Relax and smell the lavender at Lavender Hill Farm
Family-owned and operated, Lavender Hill Farm grows a variety of lavender plants and produces lavender-based products.
The farm features 20 varieties of lavender and, during lavender season, visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the fields and gardens, purchase fresh cut lavender, lavender plants, and a variety of lavender-based products, including essential oils, lotions, soaps, candles, and culinary lavender products.
Lavender Hill Farm in Vashon also offers a variety of events and workshops throughout the year, including lavender wreath-making classes, cooking classes, and live music events.
If you want to stay overnight on Vashon, Lavender Hill Farm has got you covered, also. Guests can book a stay in the Farmhouse for between $375 to $695 per night depending on the season or in the farm’s new studio guesthouse named Betty’s Blue which will run you between $100 to $175 per night.