There are so many things to do in Issaquah, Washington, especially if you love the outdoors. This delightful Eastside destination is right on Lake Sammamish and surrounded by mountains. It’s also less than 30 minutes away from gorgeous hikes in the Cascades.
Issaquah is also a shopping destination with quaint local businesses, historic buildings, a friendly community, and tasty restaurants.
Don’t skip out on this small city packed with gems near and around it. Here are 17 things to do in Issaquah, Washington from hikes to paragliding.
17 Things to do in Issaquah, Washington
Poo Poo Point Hike at Tiger Mountain State Forest
Despite the giggle-inducing name, Poo Poo Point is one of the most popular hikes to do in the Issaquah area. Located in Tiger Mountain State Forest, this fun hike takes you up a forested, somewhat steep trail to a clearing atop the mountain.
On bright, sunny days without a cloud in the sky, you’ll be able to see expansive views of the city, forest, and mountains beyond. This is also the launch point of paragliders with Seattle Paragliding! Enjoy a snack, and watch people paragliding off the mountain when you get to the top.
Poo Poo Point is a good, non-technical hike for relatively new hikers. It’s a fun year-round hike that’s a great workout, even if your view is obscured at the top.
Paragliding is one of the more epic things you can do in Issaquah. Seattle Paragliding operates out of Issaquah. If you’ve ever wanted to feel your heart racing while you glide hundreds of feet above the ground, you’ll want to check them out. It’s a must for adrenaline junkies.
Book a tandem flight with an expert pilot on their website. The experience is not cheap, but it’s worth it for this exciting once-in-a-lifetime flight. While flying, you’ll see views of the forests, mountains, cities and so much more. Eagles may even join you on the flight.
You’ll launch from Poo Poo Point on Tiger Mountain. If you love it enough, Seattle Paragliding also offers pilot classes where you can learn to glide on your own.
Squak Mountain State Park Natural Area
Squak Mountain State Park Natural Area is east of Tiger Mountain and west of Cougar Mountain. The trails in this state park are well-maintained, making them great for hikers of all levels. Explore them with kids or dogs, or even on horseback.
Along the trails, you can expect to see little creeks, towering trees, moss-covered logs, and so many ferns. Visitors should also seek out Bullitt Fireplace, the historic remains of a fireplace from 1952. If you’re searching for a view, prepare to work up a sweat and hike to the peak of Squak Mountain for city views.
Squak Mountain is accessible year-round. If you visit in the rainy season, just be sure to bring good boots and prepare for a muddy trek.
Lake Sammamish State Park
Part of Issaquah is right on the shores of Lake Sammamish, and visiting Lake Sammamish State Park is one of the best ways to get out and explore it. Just grab a Discover Pass and get going!
This is a really popular state park, and its proximity to the city means you should expect crowds on the nicest summer days. There are quite a few ways to spend time here. Go to Tibbets Beach or Sunset Beach to play, swim, or sunbathe. Kayaking, paddle boarding, and floating on the lake are also popular activities. If you don’t have your own watercraft, there are rentals at Tibbets Beach.
For a little more exploration on foot, wander the many trails in the park. Kids will adore the playground and its ever-popular zipline or play sports at the playfields. Bird watchers have a chance of spotting plenty of ducks and even bald eagles throughout the park.
Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park
Cougar Moutain Regional Wildland Park is a massive protected park with over 3,000 acres to explore. Within, you’ll find trails to mountains, waterfalls, and along creeks beneath thick tree canopies.
Hiking enthusiasts should check out the Coal Creek Falls trail, which leads to a pretty waterfall that’s perfect for winter and spring excursions. If you’re craving a view, hike to the Million Dollar Viewpoint to take in the city, water, and mountain views after a climb. Whichever hike you choose, make sure you bring a map with you. There’s a large network of trails through this park and it’s easy to get disoriented.
In addition to being a hiker’s paradise, the many trails also make it a haven for trail runners. If you’re looking for a nice, shady place to run, pack your shoes and lots of water and get going.
Keep in mind that the area was once used for coal mining. Visitors should stick to the trails and not venture off because of sinkhole risks. You’ll also want to be prepared to potentially encounter wildlife in the area including cougars, deer, and the occasional black bear.
Gilman Village is Issaquah’s top shopping destination. Visit this super charming, historic spot if you want to support local businesses and take home one-of-a-kind treasures.
There are plenty of gift shops with everything from books and clothing to ceramics and jewelry. Check out Citrine Design Shop or Studio Den for some great, well-curated gifts. Visit Aquascape Studio and Supply to buy plants, aquarium, and terrarium supplies. Paint pottery at Mudhouse Pottery Painting or go for tea and cookies at Paisley Parlour.
If you get hungry, there are plenty of restaurants to grab lunch, happy hour bites, or dinner. Wandering through Gilman Village feels a bit like a maze but this only adds to its appeal when you discover something new. Parking is free, plentiful, and easy to find during non-peak hours.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll want to go to Boehms Candies. They’ve been handmaking candies since the 40s and their expertise is evident from the moment you bite into the confections. Chocolates, truffles, caramels, hard candies, and fruit candies are just a few of the sweet treats you’ll find here.
To get the best experience, I recommend booking a tour. Public and private tours include live demonstrations where you’ll get to see the candy makers at work and get plenty of samples. You’ll also learn about the founder’s fascinating life and see the chalet where he used to live.
If you love your experience enough, you can even take a chocolate-making class to learn from the pros and leave with over 1.5 pounds of chocolate!
Issaquah Alps Trail Club
Join the Issaquah Alps Trail Club on a hike, restoration work party, or another event meant to help educate, appreciate, and preserve the beautiful trails surrounding the city. The club has been around for over 40 years, helping hikers and nature lovers keep outdoor spaces maintained and usable.
It’s free to join them on one of their many events which include sunset hikes, native plant identification hikes, and restoration work parties. Just visit their website and sign up for what interests you.
Issaquah Farmers Market
The Issaquah Farmers Market runs from May to September and is a jewel of an event. Fans of farm fresh produce won’t want to miss out on it. Located outside of Pickering Barn in North Issaquah, the market occurs every Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm.
Come for a bounty of flowers, fruits, and veggies. There are hand-crafted goods like glass art, beanies, and jewelry, along with other food like sauces, jerky, and jam. While visiting, grab a bite to eat from one of many food trucks. There’s certainly enough to keep you fueled for more exploration.
The Black Duck Cask and Bottle
For good food and drinks in Issaquah, you’ll want to go to Black Duck Cask and Bottle. It’s located in Gilman Village, and the restaurant is spacious with large tables inside and a patio for warmer days.
As the name implies, its specialties are duck dishes. Order the Black Duck Pizza with confit duck, goat cheese, rosemary aioli, and pistachios. Share a plate of duck gravy poutine. If you’re not feeling the duck dishes you can also grab duck-less options like the soft pretzel, sweet potato tots, or zucchini fritter Bahn Mi.
In addition to delicious food, they have beers on tap from many local entities including Machine House Brewing, and Black Raven Brewing.
Don’t miss out on Xochi Tacos when you come to Issaquah! This food truck is located just south of Gilman Village, and their tacos are just about perfection.
Get their taco combo which is 5 tacos for $15. There are plenty of options for both vegetarians and meat lovers. Order the tinga or chorizo for something meaty or the zucchini or potato tacos if you’re going for a veg-forward meal. Xochi quietly serves up some of the tastiest (and most attractive) tacos in the Issaquah area so don’t miss out if you love this dish!
Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
The Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (or FISH) is completely free to visit and it’s a great place to learn more about the fish that’s synonymous with the Pacific Northwest. Come here to learn about the hatchery’s conservation efforts and the salmon life cycle, and to watch salmon jumping up the fish ladder.
You can go on a self-guided tour, but if you’d like to get more in-depth, book a tour for $5 per person where an expert can answer all the questions you have. The most interesting time to visit is late August to early November when you’ll see the most activity.
Salmon Days Festival
Go to the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival for fun, food, and entertainment! This is a family-friendly event that takes place in early October and it’s been running since the 70s. The festival celebrates the return of nearly 2 tons of salmon every year.
That said, there are a lot of places to view salmon during the Salmon Day Festival. Since it takes place right outside of the Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, this spot is the most popular, but it can be crowded. The Confluence Park Bridge is another viewpoint with fewer crowds.
The festival also has a parade, a kid-friendly obstacle course, and dock dog performances. You won’t go hungry when you visit. Enjoy a salmon BBQ and food trucks that range from dim sum to cajun cuisine. Adults can hang out at the beer and wine gardens and live entertainment keeps the atmosphere upbeat.
Formula Brewing is Issaquah’s first brewery and beer garden. Since it’s located right near the Cougar Mountain Area and Lake Sammamish State Park, it’s a good place to visit if you’re looking to end a day of hiking and outdoor recreation with a cold beer and a pizza. The brewery is both kid and dog-friendly.
The beer selections rotate, but you can count on there being a good variety of pilsners or IPAs. Do not miss out on the incredible pizzas! One of the specialty pizzas is the Rain Potato which has garlic oil, Yukon potatoes, and bacon. There’s also the Honey Hot with chili oil, feta cheese, and fresh basil.
This place is popular and parking can be limited at peak hours. Visit on a weekday in the early afternoon for the best chance to get a table and hang out.
If you’re searching for romantic places in Washington, Treehouse Point should be on that list. Tucked away in a forest along the Raging River, you’ll find a resort of unique treehouse lodgings. Every treehouse is equal parts rustic and whimsical. Staying here will make you feel as if you’ve been swept away into a storybook forest.
Treehouse Point offers yoga classes and massages for guests, and fresh-cooked breakfast every day of your stay. If you just want to peek in on the treehouses, you can book a tour to learn more about the resort’s origins for $25. This is by no means a budget-friendly stay, but if you want to splurge on a zen-inducing getaway, this is the place to go.
Triple XXX Rootbeer
Triple XXX Rootbeer is a landmark 1950s-style joint that’s an Issaquah staple. It feels a bit like a museum. The place is decked out in license plates, stickers, vintage signs, money chandeliers, gumball machines, a jukebox, and so much more.
The food is really darn tasty, but, as multiple signs cheekily state, 100% not good for you. Order giant burgers, greasy fries and onion rings, sugary rootbeers, rootbeer floats, and classic malt milkshakes. Pro tip, the portions here are huge, so it’s a good idea to share!
This is a cash-only business so come prepared or just use their ATM. And if you visit on Sunday mornings starting in March, you can even check out the super cool weekly car shows.
Cougar Mountain Zoo
Animal lovers will adore Cougar Mountain Zoo. This conservation-focused zoo is small in comparison to the ones in Seattle and Tacoma, but it’s great for families with little ones.
They have several endangered species to see and learn about. This includes Bengal tigers, ring-tailed lemurs, and east African crowned cranes. During December, Cougar Mountain Zoo hosts a Reindeer Festival where you can see, learn about, and feed these beloved animals.
General admission is $16 for adults and $13 for kids. Children under 2 get in free. When you’re checking in, pay a little extra for apple slices because you’re allowed to feed certain animals, which is a particularly fun activity.
There’s a lot to do in Issaquah, Washington, but these are all great places to get started. Whether you’re visiting for hiking or shopping, Issaquah is an easy city to fall in love with.