A pair of destinations prime for slowing down & charging up
written by Corinne Whiting
Islands abound in the Pacific Northwest—dreamy destinations where you can quickly fall in line with the rhythms of the tides, melodies of the birds and laziness of stretched-out days. Friendly folks serve up the best of local bounty at casual haunts, as you discover a pace that only island dwellers do best.
Located just an hour north of Seattle, a hidden gem awaits—no ferry necessary, friendly island vibes guaranteed. Start your Camano Island adventure at Cama Beach State Park, home to a charmingly rustic fishing resort with cedar cabins (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), The Center for Wooden Boats and the sensational Cama Beach Café.
This friendly, laid-back restaurant serves up fabulous views and locally sourced fare; tasty eggs come from 2 miles down the road, sausages from Silvana Meats, the focaccia from Wildpatch Bread, herbs from an on-site garden and other goods from Chef Kris Gerlach’s girlfriend’s organic farm. Don’t miss the café’s reubens, quiches or out-of-this-world B.L.A.Ts, as well as the wildly popular cherry pie and blueberry scones.
At Camano Island Inn, eagle watch on the beach before dining at an on-site restaurant where highlights include fattoush salad, halibut with carrot puree, mussels with chorizo and a creme brûlée finale. In the evening, hop in your own private deck hot tub for a sunset soak.
Other island “musts” include tree-top adventures with Canopy Tours Northwest, located on a lush 230-acre farm. Fun-loving guides lead the way along six lines, such as one that takes zippers from “Old Doug” to “Dougie Fresh” (the course’s tallest tree), then down an adrenaline-pumping surprise ending.
Also spend some time at Terry’s Corner, where a summer farmers market bustles at 3 p.m. every Monday. This community hub features a public library, the Camano Island Marketplace (home to Camano Island Coffee Roasters, a wine bar, art gallery and more) and Naked City Brewery, loved for its social patio, tasty dishes (try the Brewers Salad with chislic or pulled chicken sandwich with avocado slaw), plus popular brews like the Yankee Drifter and Easy Island Blonde, not served at the brewpub’s Greenwood location.
To slip into Vashon’s groovy pace, simply board the ferry in West Seattle (by car or bicycle). Twenty minutes later, find yourself on a rural isle roughly the size of Manhattan and marked by an artsy, carefree and hippie-tinged vibe.
Stay at The Lodges on Vashon, perfectly-curated spaces that blend modern sophistication with Mother Nature-fueled zen. The property features two inviting communal spaces with a location that can’t be beat, allowing you to hop on an e-bike or stroll to nearby cafes and shops.
Grab morning pastries from Vashon Baking Company, heartier breakfasts from The Hardware Store Restaurant, health-conscious lunches at Pure Organic Kitchen + Juicery and afternoon ice cream at Glass Bottle Creamery. At dinnertime, book a table at May Kitchen + Bar, where highlights include Thai and Cambodian dishes like the fried watercress and otherworldly pad thai, which gets a fun tableside presentation.
On Saturdays, visit the happening farmers market; almost any day of the week, build your own picnic at island-wide “honor system” farm stands. Explore further by taking a palate-pleasing tour of locally made ciders, wines and spirits with stops at Nashi Orchards, Dragon’s Head, Seattle Distilling and Palouse Winery.
Active folks love Vashon’s cycling, kayaking and SUPing options, while others enjoy kicking back on beaches like Point Robinson Lighthouse or sandy KVI, where breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier steal the show. Several times a week, find live music in the lush back garden of Snapdragon Bakery and Cafe.
No matter where you land, it’s unanimous that island time can be a beautiful, rejuvenating thing.