We are spoiled with many wonderful day trip opportunities in Western Washington, and one amazing option is visiting Vashon Island. Accessible by three different ferry routes (Southworth, Fauntleroy, and Point Defiance), Vashon makes the perfect spot to have a friends/family outing, day-date with your partner, or solo adventure!
One of my favorite ways to visit Vashon is an end-to-end trip. If you want to get to the heart of town sooner, I recommend beginning from the North side of the island. We boarded the ferry at Fauntleroy, and off we went! We had the entire day to explore, so we went back and forth throughout the island a few times to experience as much as we could!
Let’s Eat & Drink!
Vashon is packed with a number of highly-rated cafés, breweries, and bakeries. Our first stop was at the Vashon Island Baking Company to sample a variety of baked goodies, and a few hot drinks to warm up on a chilly Winter morning. Our favorites were the cinnamon twists, chocolate croissant, and gluten-free coconut mochi cake. The sprinkle-adorned hot chocolate was also a hit!
Not wanting to fill up on sweets, we also stopped at Caffe Vino Olio for a famous bagel sandwich, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The sun came out, and the large garage door/window was opened for a cheery “al fresco” feel. They make their bagels in-house and sandwiches to order, so it comes out fresh, and absolutely delicious! Other offerings include coffee & tea, wine, baked goods, and a selection of curated Italian items. In the back, enjoy a “cozy art gallery/remote working space, complete with fast, free wifi.”
At the end of the day, we stopped in at Vashon Brewing Community Pub for a dinner sampling and a glass of locally made wine. Much of the menu is locally sourced and house-made. The pot pie was like a warm hug after a day of adventures, and the pretzel with cheese was *chef’s kiss*. It’s a family-friendly location, and they even allow you to bring your own food if you wish. The craft beer production uses “locally sourced barley, seasonal fruits, and other ingredients” and can also be consumed by folks who are gluten-intolerant. The Pub is also a wonderful location to check out community events, as they frequently host musicians, open mic nights, and trivia events.
There are many wonderful places to shop on Vashon, with farm-fresh items, locally-sourced goods, or even exotic imports.
Giraffe is hard to miss, with the large metal Giraffe outside of the store. Inside, you’re greeted by ethically sourced goods from over 60 different countries. Their motto is “Weaving Together Beauty & Justice” and that really shines through in the fair-trade, handpicked items. If you’re not able to make it to their storefront, you can also shop online at GiraffeHome.com.
The Vashon Pharmacy
Serving the community since 1933, one of the most surprising shops was The Vashon Pharmacy because it is so much more than a typical pharmacy. They also offer an impressive selection of gifts, toys & trinkets, crafting supplies, apparel, and beautiful housewares. We picked out a handful of charming PNW stickers to commemorate our day!
Herban Bloom is a lovely shop/florist where you can find a beautiful gift, shop for décor, create your own bouquet, or pick out a new plant to brighten your home. They also provide flowers for events and weddings, and host their own events, too!
The Country Store
Further down Vashon Highway is The Country Store & Farm, which is another multi-faceted experience. Housed in a beautiful building, the shop offers a wide variety of goods. You’ll find a thoughtful collection of artwork, boutique-style clothing & accessories, gardening supplies, gifts, and artisan foods. The candy bar is a hit for both young and old! Upstairs houses an antique store with second-hand clothing & wares, with light pouring through the walls of windows. Outside, the farm offers a variety of supplies and farm-grown items, and it’s “home to the last remaining u-pick operation drawing visitors from all around the Puget Sound to harvest blueberries, raspberries, and Asian pears.”
The next time I visit the island, I look forward to stopping in other shops & farm stands that we didn’t get to, and browsing the secondhand stores that weren’t open during our trip.
“The Bike In The Tree”
One of the most famous stories about Vashon island is about a bike that is stuck within the trunk of a tree. After decades of an unsolved mystery, the true story came out that a young boy in the 1950s had left his bike against a tree and didn’t retrieve it because he wasn’t fond of the bike. As time went on, the tree grew around the bike, and it now rests about 7-8 feet in the air.
Unfortunately, over the years, this tourist attraction has been vandalized, and there’s not much of the bike left any longer. Where there used to be wheels and handlebars is now just a bit of the frame remaining.
The good news is, it’s very easy to get to, so it’s not a waste of time if you’re still curious about it. You can type in “The Old Bicycle In The Tree” and Apple/Google Maps will take you right to it!
Point Robinson Lighthouse & Park
Likely the most popular outdoor destination when visiting Vashon, Point Robinson is truly a breathtaking PNW park. An iconic lighthouse and beach overlooks the Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier, and offers 10 acres to explore. You can comb through sandy and rocky beach, take a hike along the shore or within the trees, or take a seat on one of the benches or driftwood logs and watch the birds and boats fly by.
Point Robinson has provided service for vessels since 1885, and the lighthouse has been fully automated since 1978. Lighthouse tours should be opening back up soon, and you can call Captain Joe Wubbold at 206-463-6672 for more information.
The park also features two Historic Lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters, and you can rent them for a unique beachside retreat!
Dockton Park & Marina
This marina is undergoing heavy renovation, so much of it is closed at this point. However, you can still use the playground and park for a waterfront excursion. You can also use the adjacent Dockton Forest for hiking and mountain biking trails. Some facilities are expected to re-open in 2022, and the marina moorage is slated for 2023 completion. Check back with King County Parks to see where they are at in the renovation process or subscribe to their newsletter for updates.
I knew we wanted to watch a gorgeous sunset from Vashon, and Lisabuela Park was the perfect place. West facing and offering plenty of waterfront, this park has a grassy lawn to play catch, read a book, or enjoy a meal on one of the picnic tables. It’s also a great spot to launch a hand-carry boat or paddleboard, as you’re not too far from the parking lot.
If you’re feeling daring, Vashon Adventures offers “primitive” camping at Lisabuela (and a couple of other Vashon parks), which means you can access it only by biking or boating in, as overnight parking is not allowed.
After a stunning sunset at Lisabuela park, we headed South to catch the Tahlequah ferry to Pt. Defiance in Tacoma. Lisabuela Park is nearly equidistant to each ferry terminal, so you can easily head home in any direction. The Tahlequah ferry was a quick 10-minute ride to Tacoma, and we were able to enjoy the glistening city lights in the distance as we recounted our very full day trip on Vashon Island. We can’t wait to go back!