Time from Seattle: 40 min - 1 hr (Ferry enroute)
Vashon Island, Seattle's lovely neighbor to the west, is the definition of "hidden in plain site." The quaint town and friendly locals haven't seemed to have left the 20th century, and they like it that way. This, and the fact that it's off of many tourists' radar, makes the island the ultimate getaway for any city-lifer looking for a step away from society and back to a simpler time.
Camera + 50 mm lens
A weekend excursion was long overdue - just look at my last post!! It was all the way back in JANUARY! I apologize. Life got a hold of me - it happens to the best of us. So naturally, I was itching to hit the road as soon as I woke up that sunny Saturday morning. Dressed in my new favorite yellow sweater and ripped jeans combo with my new beanie from Tinlid Hat Company - each purchased product plants a tree - and my camera in hand, and I was off!
Avoiding I-5 at all costs, I hopped on highway 99 (from my home in north Seattle), drove windows down along the beautifully scenic waterfront viaduct (still a little bitter it's going to be demolished), through West Seattle and onto the Fauntleroy Ferry.
Just 20 minutes later and the infamous "We are now arriving at our destination..." mantra played over the intercom - it just gets old, thats all. It was refreshingly short compared to the hour's ride to Bremerton, the 1.5 hours to Orcas Island, or even just the 30 minutes to Bainbridge Island.
Pro tip: I wouldn't recommend walking on in this circumstance! Vashon's downtown area is quite a ways from the dock. Biking or driving is the move.
The initial idea was to hit up the farmer's market. I'm a HUGE fan of exploring locally-sourced goods and supporting small businesses. And farmers markets always have the coolest and most delicious things! BUT thanks to Google's misleading business hours, the designated farmer's market area was barren. Sad day, but lucky for me, there's a lot more to explore than just the farmer's market!
Check out Snapdragon - contrary to what you might believe, it's not Asian food but actually delectable cafe and bakery serving vegetarian cuisine. They do it all, from serving all three meals a day to hosting Celtic music on Wednesday nights and Jazz on Sundays. In the summer, they open their back patio for dining and live music as well. Their Home Sweet Home bar offers tasty drinks and their Hastings Cone Gallery features art and music! It's truly a one-stop shop for food and entertainment at all hours of the day.
Cafe Luna is an adorable local cafe with delicious coffee and custom sandwiches with a few outdoor tables to relax.
The Hardware Store - Vashon seems to have a lot of misleading names - serves "great good food" made from locally-sourced, organic, all-natural, hormone-free, and in many cases, gluten-free ingredients for all three meals every day of the week. It's also located in the oldest commercial building on Vashon - you guessed it, it was once a hardware store - and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you're in the mood for small batch, delicious ice cream hit up Glass Bottle Creamery. I tried the maple bacon and the Honey Oat, and while both were delicious, I couldn't get over the honey flavored ice cream with real oats, so I chose the latter. Glass Bottle Creamery is a retail store selling local raw milk, kefir, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. All of their dairy products are sourced from Vashon Island and the Puget Sound region, and their ice cream is made down the street at their sister business, Vashon Island Baking Company. See photos of both below!
After a solid lunch, I continued down the highway until I stumbled upon a sign that said "chicks for sale" - I'm a sucker for baby everything, so I made a quick pit stop to take in the Country Store and Garden's adorable baby chickens! The clerk gave me a few Filson stickers for FREE which I'm stoked to add to my sticker collection (yes, I'm basically five years old, it's fine), and it was back on the road for me.
I came to a little rustic intersection with character and pulled into the back parking lot of the Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie. DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE. Located in a 120-year-old building made from old growth island fir trees, this Vashon Island "Center" has long been a meeting place for family and friends alike. Upon entering this coffee museum of sorts, I instantly felt a sense of comfort. Coffee antiques are hidden in every corner, a coffee tasting/beer tap/cashier booth is located center, the espresso bar to the right, an ice cream stand in the back room, and the entire back wall is lined head to toe with over 300 exotic herbs, spices, and teas in bulk for you to fill up and take home a jar of your own. They also offer delicious pastries, breakfast fare, salads and sandwiches to go, along with organic groceries, local produce and high quality supplements.
The owner approached us asking if she could help with anything and after we told her of our day of leisure on this beautiful island, she kindly told us the Vashon Island Coffee's history (founded with the help of Seattle's Best Coffee founder Jim Stewart - fun fact), answered all of our questions, and even gave us a few sight-seeing recommendations! When she shared her name, I was taken aback. It's Eva. and though I've heard of other Eva's, I've never actually met someone with the same name! Turns out there are three on the island and two who work at the raosterie. I may have found my calling.
The beans they use are all high mountain shade grown, rare, and traditionally farmed. They blend certified organic, fair trade, and direct trade beans to create their fine gourmet coffees.
Within the same building and sharing a hallway with the roasterie is Minglement - a natural and organic food and products store. Besides the back library - an old-school radio sitting on a shelf among hundreds of books caught my eye - the bulk honey was my favorite. I picked up an empty glass bear jar and filled it up (about halfway) with local Pacific Northwest lavender honey. I was in heaven. This place is full of hidden curiosities. No trip to Vashon would be complete without spending at least 30 minutes here. Sit back, grab a book, order a delicious latte, and relax like the locals. You'll never want to leave.
Eva - the owner of Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie - directed us to a local spot on the west side of the island for a beautiful drive and a short walk to the beach at the mouth of a stream. Though windy, it was a beautiful little nature escape. A guesthouse is located on the otherwise park property that called my name. I have every intention of renting that place out sometime in the future. Next stop: the lighthouse.
On the east side of Vashon lies Point Robinson Park. After a 20-minute drive or so and over a narrow peninsula connecting Vashon to what's technically known as Maury Island, I arrived at a trailhead leading me on a short walk through the forest to the beach - the gorgeous lighthouse standing in between me and the Puget Sound. It's also wheelchair accessible by road to the right hand side of the parking lot. After snapping a few pics of course, I explored the sandy and driftwood-covered shore. Everyone seemed to have the same idea on this beautiful day. Another must-see Vashon attraction if you ask me! A few skipped rocks later and it was back on the road.
The drive back to the main highway along the bay and around Maury Island Aquatic Reserve is a gorgeous one. But it was getting late, and I was getting hungry, so I drove straight to the Point Defiance - Talequah ferry on the south side of the island for a FREE ferry ride back to the mainland. The road dead-ends at the ferry line, and after a bit of confusion with no ferry tolls or even lanes to park in, I pulled to the side and waited. Tunes blasting, sun blaring, a seagull sitting on the pole next to me keeping me company, and the ferry had finally arrived. The sailing was no more than 15 minutes - the shortest ride of my life. Hellooo Tacoma. After a quick bite to eat, it was back to I5 for the 45-min drive back to Seattle. If you don't feel like a visit to Tacoma, I'd recommend the drive back up the island to the West Fauntleroy ferry for a more scenic experience.
Like always, if I missed anything that you feel should have been included in this Vashon Island road trip that I missed, or if you have any epic recommendations or local spots, I'm always all-ears!! I LOVE hearing what you think and I want to provide the best road trips I possibly can! Your help is always welcomed :) Cheers and happy tripping!