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15 Things to Do in Mercer Island from Kayaking to Amazing Views

15 Things to Do in Mercer Island from Kayaking to Amazing Views

Post last updated March 26, 2023

You might be surprised by all the fun things to do in Mercer Island! This quiet island suburb in Lake Washington is neither as energetic as Seattle nor as vast as other cities on the Eastside. However, Mercer Island is practically made for people who love tight-knit communities and relaxing days spent outside. 

Come to Mercer Island for the parks – there are plenty of popular and tucked-away spots. You should also visit The Rock if you like supporting small businesses or are looking for a welcoming, kid-friendly day trip.

Mercer Island may be only five miles long, but there are quite a few places on the island to keep visitors entertained. Here are some of the best things to do on Mercer Island from kayaking to amazing views.

15 Things to Do on Mercer Island

Luther Burbank Park

Luther Burbank Park
(Image Credit: Shutterstock / knelson20)

Mercer Island is known for its many great parks, and Luther Burbank Park is arguably the best. Located on the northeast end of the island, it offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. 

Go on a leisurely hike along any of the trails throughout the park. Take to the water at Calkins Point in the north. Here you’ll find a quaint beach for swimming or kayaking, along with views of Seattle. 

On the east side of the park are piers perfect for fishing. Bring kids to the playground, and dogs to either of the off-leash areas. If you come in late summer, bring baskets with you to pick a bounty of blackberries. 

One of the most popular things to do at Luther Burbank Park is attend the free Shakespeare in the Park performances put on by the Wooden O Theater. These are popular, fun, and family-friendly. Pro-tip: bring a comfortable seat, blankets, and snacks, and arrive early!

Roanoke Inn

Looking for a place on Mercer Island with good food, cold beer, and a laidback atmosphere? Visit the historic Roanoke Inn. 

In addition to being a well-loved local pub, Roanoke Inn is also the oldest Mercer Island business. While it’s changed quite a bit since its opening in the early 1900s, one thing remains the same: Roanoke Inn is a great place to hang out on Mercer Island.

Food offerings include things like burgers, sandwiches, and tacos. Can’t make up your mind? Go for the Whiskey BBQ Burger or try their delightful daily specials (Friday’s fish and chips and fish tacos are both winners!). Enjoy the wonderful beer selection, cocktails, or wine by the glass or bottle. 

If you visit, try to get a seat at one of their cozy (heated) outside tables, especially on a nice day. Keep in mind that Roanoke Inn is a 21+ establishment. If you plan to visit, you’ll need to leave the kids at home.

Pagocha Restaurant

Pagocha is a Croatian restaurant in downtown Mercer Island. It specializes in Croatian flatbreads. These pagochas are soft, chewy, and made fresh daily. They’re a must-try. In addition to the flatbreads, enjoy other food with an Adriatic-Northwestern twist. 

Come for brunch on the weekend to try the delectable dutch baby made with pagocha bread or a spicy shakshuka. Another popular dish is the Meditteranean bowl with quinoa, hummus, artichoke, feta, and a lemon vinaigrette. 

Lunch is served Wednesday through Sunday and includes sandwiches, burgers, and salads. For dinner, try the classic lamb shank, fresh, housemade pasta, or a pogocha pizza. 

Pioneer Park

You’ll find Pioneer Park toward the south end of the Island. This park is great for hiking and has well-maintained trails perfect for nature walks. This is a bike and dog-friendly park, which is also open to equestrian use. Don’t be surprised if you see people on horseback throughout.

While most of the trails are flat, there are some hillier sections throughout, making this a decent place to get your heart rate up. Admire moss-covered trees, lush ferns, fungi, and springtime blooms along the forest-y trails.

Mercer Island Farmers Market

Come to the island on a Sunday from June to September to make it to the Mercer Island Farmers Market. It’s located right by Mercerdale Park and close to the Mercer Island Thrift Store, two other great things to do on Mercer Island.

Stock up on all the fresh produce your heart desires. There are fresh blueberries, strawberries, squash, tomatoes, and chili peppers. There are also artisan goods like honey, hot sauce, hummus, olive oil, and pickles to peruse.

If you’re the type who likes to eat your way through markets, you’ll be happy here. There are plenty of food trucks and food vendors. Skip breakfast before you come! Munch on freshly baked pastries, kettle corn, sandwiches, bagels, Indian street food, and tons more.

Live music performances keep the market upbeat and flower vendors keep it colorful (don’t leave without a bouquet!). The Mercer Island Farmers Market is a fun, community event to go to, and a great place to hang out with the locals. 

Keep in mind before you visit, though, that this is one farmers market that doesn’t allow dogs.

Mercer Island Thrift Shop

Mercer Island Thrift Shop
One cool display of treasures at Mercer Island Thrift Shop (Image Credit:

If you’re someone who likes to search for unique finds and one-of-a-kind treasures, you’ll enjoy Mercer Island Thrift Shop. Proceeds support the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services so it’s a great place to buy things while also supporting the community.

The thrift shop stocks high-quality goods and is well-organized. Sort through men’s and women’s clothing, homewares, furniture, children’s toys, and more. On previous visits, my husband and I have found great dishes, art, and some of the cutest trinkets, so it’s absolutely worth a visit. 

The shop is open Sunday through Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Groveland Beach Park

Groveland Beach Park may be small, but it’s a great place to catch one of those dramatic Washington sunsets. This west-facing, sandy beach in south Mercer Island can get busy during the summertime. This is especially so during Seafair. The park provides a perfect view of the Blue Angels and their aerobatics. 

Crowds aside, this is a fun beach to swim at. Kayakers can also launch their boat from here. If you’re up for it, you can kayak straight across the lake to Seward Park. 

Bring a picnic and enjoy a leisurely day here. If you’re looking for a little more solitude, just be sure to arrive at the park earlier in the morning.

Mercerdale Park

Mercerdale Park, Mercer Island
Pretty, handmade lanterns at Mercerdale Park (Image Credit:

Located right at the base of Mercer Island’s downtown area is Mercerdale Park. This little park is a fun place to hang out. Relax here after a farmers market or bring a book and blanket to lay out on the expansive grassy spaces.

Families will want to bring their little ones here. The playground is large, with plenty to keep them entertained. There’s a skatepark for more adventurous kids, and a paved path perfect for strollers loops around the park. 

Since it’s central, clean and close to lots of businesses, Mercerdale makes a good spot for a post-dinner or early-morning stroll.

Shawn’s Cafe and Bakery

Shawn’s Cafe and Bakery is the go-to place in downtown Mercer Island for a variety of bread, sweet or savory pastries, and sandwiches. Carb fans, you don’t want to miss this spot.

Popular items at Shawn’s include pretzel rolls, challah bread, paninis, and bagels. If you’re in town for lunch, the fig jam, goat cheese, and prosciutto panini will hit the spot.

There are a few tables outside of the cafe to sit and enjoy your food on a warm day, but it’s primarily a takeaway restaurant. I highly recommend grabbing a couple of things from here before you venture out to the myriad of parks on a day out in Mercer. This top-rated island bakery won’t disappoint.

Clarke Beach Park

Visit Clarke Beach Park if you want to hang out at a secluded little park that doesn’t get too busy. 

This little park on the southeast side of the island has a shady, tree-lined walking path, and a dock for fishing. Don’t be fooled by the name, though. Despite this being a beach park, there’s no real sandy area. It’s still a good place to swim. Cement steps lead down to the water, and there’s a grassy area with picnic tables for when you need a snack break. 

Come to Clarke Beach Park early to watch the sunrise. On clear days, you may even see Mount Rainier. 

Barrels Wine Bar

Barrels Wine Bar is in downtown Mercer Island and is a community staple. The owners are true wine aficionados who have been in the business for years. Their vision and passion to bring a comfortable and welcoming wine bar to the island make Barrels a wonderful spot to visit.

One big perk of this wine bar? All-day happy hours. Get deals on pours and food whenever you visit. There are hundreds of bottles for wine lovers to take home and over 40 options for those interested in a glass or two. Light snacks include meat, cheese, crackers, and olive plates. They also have a few beers on tap along with ciders, seltzers, and non-alcoholic beverages.

Barrels Wine Bar is the ideal place to relax after a day of exploration or to visit with friends or a loved one for pre-dinner drinks. 

Aubrey Davis Park

Aubrey Davis Park is a good option for people searching for views of Seattle. If you’ve ever driven from Seattle to Bellevue, you’ve been underneath this park, which is right above the I-90 tunnel.

The 90-acre park is perfect for recreation. You’ll find tennis courts, baseball fields, and plenty of spots for dog owners to exercise their pups. There are walking and biking paths throughout, and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail runs right through it. 

The park has two playgrounds for kids on both the east and west ends. It’s a clean, well-maintained, and safe park, making this a perfect choice for families.

Oh! Chocolate

Pick up some delicious, locally made confections at downtown Mercer Island’s Oh! Chocolate. Here you’ll find irresistible chocolate treats. Grab a few caramels, especially the Hawaiian coconut caramel or coffee caramel. More of a truffle fan? Do not miss out on the PNW blackberry, champagne, or americano truffles. 

Oh! Chocolate is a sweet place to go if you’re visiting the island on a date. Go in and grab a couple of gift boxes to take back home with you. If you’d prefer to get a little more hands-on, sign up for one of their (delicious) chocolate-making classes.

Deane’s Children’s Park

Gearing up for an adventure-filled day with the kids? Take them to Deane’s Children’s Park. This is a fun play area tucked away in Island Crest Park with more than enough to stimulate their imaginations.

There’s plenty to climb, spin, and run around on. Young kids will be charmed by the castle-like play structure and the giant dragon. They can also venture off to the tree-covered trails for more nature exploration. There are covered shelters near the playground with tables for picnics and snacks.

The park is also home to the Adventure Playground. This is a spot where kids can use tools (with adult supervision) to build the play structures of their dreams. Note that sometimes the Adventure Playground is closed.  It’s a good idea to call the Mercer Island Parks and Rec Department to confirm it’s open before venturing out.

Slater Park

Calkins Point Beach
Calkins Point Beach (Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ute Sonja Medley)

Slater Park is a tucked-away park with views of Seattle. It’s another spot that gets a lot of use during Seafair and Blue Angels performances. At other times, it’s a peaceful, quiet spot where you can admire the views or get out on the water. 

Come to Slater Park to swim, kayak, or merely watch the sunset. There’s not much to do at this secluded little neighborhood park, but if you’re in search of solitude, you can find it here.

If you visit Slater and find it a bit crowded for your liking, head north to Calkins Landing, or south to Proctor Landing. These are other tiny, hidden parks with great views and water access.

And there you have it! If you were wondering what there is to do on Mercer Island, you’ve now got plenty to keep you busy. From parks with views and water access to quaint local businesses, there are plenty of things to do in Mercer Island.

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