bridges tea shop

Vashon Tea Shop’s welcoming counter

From the landing, it’s a five-mile bicycle ride to Vashon’s town center. Take note, however: the tree-shrouded path heads solidly uphill for at least two miles. If that sounds daunting, a bus from the ferry will take you directly to Vashon. (Two bus routes also service the island for anyone traveling sans bike.) When you arrive in the town—which boasts roughly three blocks’ worth of retail shops, restaurants, and galleries, with a bookstore, a tearoom, and a seasonal farmers market—car traffic picks up noticeably, but moves at a small-town pace.

We leaned right at SW Gorsuch Road and carved the final, curvy, mostly downhill mile to the Artist’s Studio Loft, spotting a deer at one turn and waving at the occasional passing car. The bed-and-breakfast’s hand-painted shingle hangs at the edge of a pasture. A bay-colored horse grazed in the neighboring field, flicking its tail and emitting low, sibilant snorts. The innkeeper, Jacqueline Clayton, was on hand to say hello and lead us over stepping-stones—which she had fashioned herself in the shape of rhubarb leaves—toward the meadow behind the main house, where the B&B’s four cottages are set.


beyond the bridges burger

The Icon Burger at The Hardware Store

Rooms and grounds abound with stained-glass art, mosaics, oil paintings, and metal ivy gates.

Clayton, an artist, bought the five acres of what she calls “empty pasture with falling-down chicken coops” in 1983, and then began planting hundreds of trees and building gardens on the land. Rooms and grounds abound with her stained-glass art and mosaics, oil and watercolor paintings, handcrafted barn-wood furniture, and metal ivy gates.

In the morning, the inn provided an ample breakfast: muffins, cereal, granola bars, and fresh fruit. But all we could think of was tucking in at the Hardware Store, the place to eat in town. Set in Vashon’s oldest commercial building, a 120-year-old Art Deco–looking structure with a worn wooden floor, the restaurant features exposed brick, a brass-ringed full bar, deep booths, and heavy leather armchairs. At the back of the room, a coffee bar whistles out Americanos and lattes. Families, techie business types, day-trippers, and regulars convene for brunches of pancakes, fluffy egg scrambles, and home fries, or tasty fish or portobello sandwiches, satisfying for either lunch or dinner.