Grab your best gals and plan a weekend getaway to Vashon Island – Heart of the Sound. With three ferry terminals on the island, if you live in Seattle, Tacoma or out on the Kitsap Peninsula, it’s just a short ferry ride and a world away. Coming from North Idaho, it is a further jaunt but makes a great base for a longer vacation. You can easily reach Seattle, the Olympic Peninsula and Tacoma from the island. When looking for a location for a girlfriends’ weekend, you want a great place to stay with a nice spot to sip a glass of wine or cocktail, quaint shops, yummy restaurants and lots of local flavor. Vashon fits the bill, and the best part is it’s not well known as a tourist destination, and its close proximity means you spend more time on your weekend and less time traveling.
One of the best-kept secrets on the island is the beautiful, historic waterfront homes available as vacation rentals on some of the most pristine natural areas on the island. The Vashon Park District manages the Belle Baldwin House at Fern Cove Park and the Keepers’ Quarters at Point Robinson Lighthouse Park. For a girls’ weekend, there is no question that it must be the Belle Baldwin House. In 1912, she became the state’s first female physician. Located at Fern Cove Park, the home is set in a forested area with a nice lawn overlooking 750 feet of Puget Sound beach, perfect for sunsets and cocktails. The home has a fully stocked kitchen, three bedrooms, one bathroom and sleeps six. Fully restored with a vintage vibe, it has all the household items you need for a comfortable stay.
Friday. Try to get an early afternoon start to beat rush-hour traffic for the ferry. Plan to swing by the Sugar Shack to pick up dinner before heading to the Baldwin House. The Sugar Shack is the brain child of owner Hedy Anderson. She is known around the island as “The Caramel Lady” for the delectable candy she makes for her business King Caramel. In 2017, she paired with Chef Wally Bell to start the Sugar Shack, a unique food shop that carries local treats and sells prepared meals for take-out. You’ll often hear locals asking Chef Wally, “What’s for dinner?” when they see him around town. The shack is open Monday through Friday from 4 to 7pm. Check their Facebook page to see what they are serving and just swing by to pick up a meal. Don’t forget some King Caramels for dessert.
Saturday. Start your morning at the Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie. It is located in the center of the island in a building more than 100 years old. A hub of island life, you’ll find plenty of coffee, antiques and may even see the vintage roaster humming away. This is where friendly locals hang out. It’s a great place to sip some coffee and learn about things to do on the island, like the live music jam on weekends that you must be vetted by a local before receiving the location.
A step into Vashon Bodywork and your cares start to slip away as the soothing music, aromatic smells and luxury venue work their magic. The only therapeutic and organic spa on the island is the brainchild of owner Deja Mariee Star. She believes that living a green lifestyle is not a trend but a state of mind. The products and services at Vashon Body Works reflect that philosophy. The spa uses and sells products that are made from hand-picked fresh plants and botanicals which are rich in minerals, nutrients and vitamins. Everything is chemical-free, non-toxic and 100-percent organically grown. Star can tailor a visit for a small group. Services include massage, therapeutic bodywork for chronic pain, organic facials, waxing and sugaring, and many more; by appointment only.
After the spa treatments, swing in to the Pure Organic Café and Juicery located next door for a quick pick-me-up. This cute little place serves organic, vegan and gluten-free food items and juices. A quick swig of an energy-packed juice shot and you’ll be set for some marathon shopping in Vashon. Pure strives to use local island produce when in season and sources from Washington and Oregon as well.
Spend the rest of the day in “Downtown Vashon” enjoying the shops and having lunch. Plan to pick up items throughout the day for dinner back at the Belle Baldwin House. One of the most interesting shops on the island has a large metal Giraffe outside its namesake shop. It’s perfect for a girls’ trip selfie. Once inside you will love the carefully curated collection from more than 45 countries and local artists from the Pacific Northwest. When you walk in the door, you are warmly greeted and offered a spot of tea. Owner Priscilla is passionate about fair trade and the artisans who hand make many of the treasures sold at her store. Each item has its own unique story that she is happy to share with her guests.
Gather is a unique venture. A mother-daughter team opened this space, which is part art gallery and part just a great place to hang out, hence the name—Gather. The gallery is bright and cheerful with many places to sit and a large dramatic table, a work of art on its own which serves as a place for art classes or events. Visit the Facebook page before you visit Vashon as there are often art classes held. One recent class was on Travel Journal Sketching with watercolor pencils. Local artists have found a great venue to sell their work, and you will find many beautiful pieces hand made by those who call Vashon home.
You have to love a baking company that creates most of its products from handmade croissant dough. My first visit here was over a year ago, and I still remember the crisp, buttery croissant from that visit, still just as memorable on this visit. They sell a mixture of sweet and savory pastries with a croissant-dough base. Try a croissant dog for something different. It’s a hotdog baked with a croissant wrapped around it. Their most popular items are their cookies. Plan to pick up pastries for a Sunday morning breakfast.
No visit to Vashon is complete without a visit to The Hardware Store Restaurant. Owner Melinda Powers has created a great local hangout. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, also serves as a gallery for local artists and a musical venue for events and fundraisers. The food is great! Locally sourced, organic, all-natural and hormone-free ingredients make up a menu of classic food items that just taste better. It’s a perfect stop for a late lunch and is located in the midst of all the shops so you can take a break whenever you like.
Before heading back to Fern Cove, visit Nashi Orchards and taste the Perry. This is a wine made from various types of pears with a bit of fizz added to it. They also handcraft apple ciders. Both are very refreshing on a warm day. Owner Jim Gerlach works very hard to manage the soil and condition of the trees. His attention to detail shows in his award-winning products. Plan to enjoy a tasting, then explore the orchards and visit with the herd of St. Croix sheep.
After a busy day, head back to the Baldwin House. Fern Cove Park adjacent to the house is a scenic spot to walk, beachcomb or birdwatch. The little bridge heading up to the house is a good place to take photos. The home is perfectly equipped to throw together a simple supper to share with the gals. Enjoy the sunset while sipping a glass of Perry.
Sunday. Appreciate a hot cup of coffee and pastries from Vashon Island Baking Company for breakfast. Morning is a magical time at the cove. Often a fog has rolled in and you can hear the sounds of the cove with the view obscured by the mist. After check out, head to the ferry terminal to begin your trip home. If you have extra time, there are plenty of places to hike on the island or enjoy the many waterfront parks.
By Lindy Petersen