Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Issaquah, WA

  • Published 2022/02/18

Located in King County, Washington, Issaquah is an important regional center for the state’s economy.

City limits are Sammamish Plateau to the north; and the “Issaquah Alps” to the south.

It is surrounded by Interstate 90 and the Sammamish River Valley.

Costco’s headquarters may be found here.

Issaquah is part of the Seattle metropolitan area.

The city’s name came from the Native American language, “Issaquah,” which means either “the sound of birds” or “snake.”

Squak Valley, an ancient name for the area, also comes from this Native American word.

On the 29th of April, 1892, the city became incorporated.

The city’s look and economic emphasis have significantly shifted since it was first established as a modest mining town.

If you live in Seattle, you may be surprised to learn that downtown Issaquah is much closer than you thought.

Issaquah is the cultural epicenter of the Eastside because of the city’s thriving arts, music, and events culture, which flows over from Seattle across Lake Washington.

Many small businesses, artists, and entertainers can be found in Issaquah’s downtown area, most of whom work tirelessly to perfect their craft.

Issaquah was named Sunset Magazine’s “Best Suburb” and Outside Magazine’s “Best Place to Live” in the US.

If you need reasons to explore this vibrant city, here are the best things to do in Issaquah:

Meet and Greet Animals at Cougar Mountain Zoo

Exterior of the Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Junkyardsparkle, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Is your family going to accompany you on your trip to Issaquah?

Cougar Mountain Zoo is a must-see for families with young children.

On the north side of Cougar Mountain, the Zoo is tucked away with a stunning view of the Cascades and Lake Sammamish.

The Cougar Mountain Zoo was founded in 1972 and focused on endangered animals and education.

A cougar puma at Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Danita Delimont /

For visitors to have a deeper understanding of various life forms, many of the zoo’s animals are either born or reared there and have acquired a fearless attitude toward people.

It features tigers, kittens of the black panther, and a herd of reindeer.

A white tiger at Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Michael J Magee /

Enjoy Various Lakeside Activities at Lake Sammamish State Park

A bridge at Lake Sammamish state park.

Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz /

Is a day at the beach on your bucket list?

You should visit the State Park in Lake Sammamish.

Lake Sammamish State Park is a day-use park on Lake Sammamish that covers 531 acres and has a shoreline length of 6,858 feet.

For at least four Native American groups, the land around the lake holds cultural importance.

A salmon-bearing brook and great-blue-heron rookery give excellent chances for birdwatching and animal observation.

Landscape at Lake Sammamish State Park.

Mggkitsap, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This park features two lakefront beaches and hiking routes through deciduous woodland and wetlands, making it a great place for families to get away from the city.

One of the park’s bald eagles or great blue herons may join you for a picnic.

Take advantage of the light-dappled paths if you’ve got a GPS device and a GPS tracker with you for geocaching.

Allow children to run wild in the brand-new, cutting-edge playground while you sit back and relax.

The park offers a variety of outdoor activities for the whole family to participate in throughout the year: birding and nature hikes; paddling and cycling expeditions; kids’ obstacle courses; outdoor concerts; boat parades during the holidays; and the Parkadilly Fair in the summer.

Berries at Lake Sammamish State Park.

Anya Adora, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn the Art of Making Tea at Experience Tea

Tea is the world’s second-most popular beverage, yet few people realize that all of the many types of tea—white, green, oolong, black, and pu’erh—come from the same plant species Camellia sinensis.

The owner, Roberta, wants to educate people about the science and botany of tea, but this is only a tiny part of her mission.

The owner of Experience Tea is an expert in running a small business and embarking on a tea adventure.

Located at 195 Building on Front Street in Issaquah, Experience Tea opened its doors in October 2011.

It moved to a larger facility in Front Street in15.

If you want to learn this craft without going to China or Japan, Experience Tea is your place to be.

Go Cycling at Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park

A man riding the bike at Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park.

OpenRangeStock /

Located on the Sammamish Plateau in a 120-acre tract of lush evergreen forest, Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park is a world-famous mountain biking destination.

Duthie Hill Park’s mountain biking paths are fun and demanding to learn and improve your abilities.

This mountain bike park is ideal for cyclists of all skill levels, styles, and ages.

The 2.5-acre central clearing is the center of a six-mile network of sloping single-track paths that form a clover shape.

Each cloverleaf has a network of downhill-only trails full of berms, jumps, and drop-offs for free riders to explore.

In June, the Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park hosts the Evergreen Mountain Bike Festival, which draws a large crowd.

It’s less than two miles from Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park to Grand Ridge Park, which links to the south, and less than three miles to Soaring Eagle Park.

Explore the Great Outdoors at Issaquah Alps Trails Club

Since its establishment, Issaquah Alps Trails Club has been more than just a hiking club.

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and West Tiger Natural Resources Conservation Area, Tiger Mountain State Forest, countless parks, open spaces, and county and state forests have all been established as a result of the efforts of the club since its inception.

Hiking and community education are two methods the club uses to promote awareness of the issues impacting the public lands.

People may enjoy the parks, trails, and open spaces of the Issaquah Alps today and in the future because of this group’s efforts.

Book with them if you want to explore the Issaquah’s great outdoors.

Have a Picnic at Confluence Park

Bridge at Confluence Park.

RS Smith Photography /

Issaquah Creek Park was originally a hop farm in the 20th century.

The Confluence Parks comprises three parks that have been merged as one.

A “Cybil-Madeline Green” can be found there.

The park was officially inaugurated in 2013 with a community celebration.

Far view of the wooden bridge at Confluence Park.

Michael J Magee /

Construction on the park began in the early 2010s, and the designated names were incorporated into park elements.

As a result of community proposals, a new pedestrian bridge and a playground were completed in 2017.

An 1896 sawmill-style picnic shelter and picnic tables made of wood from the area are part of the park’s amenities.

The 15.5-acre park is bordered by Issaquah Creek and the East Fork of Issaquah Creek.

A tall tree at Confluence Park.

Michael J Magee /

Learn and Practice Paragliding with Seattle Paragliding

At Tiger Mountain, there is just one full-time school for paragliding instruction: Seattle Paragliding.

Kiteboarding may also be done here whenever the weather permits.

Some teachers are only accessible at specific hours since they do not have access to facilities on-site.

Seattle Paragliding offers several benefits, such as watching your flight movies on its huge flat-screen TVs after landing, having access to basic facilities (rather as portable toilets), sounds and other technical facilities, and so much more.

On this grassy slope, you may work on your takeoffs and landings.

At night, it has stadium lights and outside speakers that play music to add to the mood on the only dedicated training hill in the area.

There are harness simulators in the barn that let you sit in and try on your harness before you buy or fly it.

Learn about the Science and Art of Propagating Fish with Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

Waters at Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

Bill Perry /

The Issaquah hatchery is the most popular incubator run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

FISH’s mission is to educate the youth about the importance of watershed management and encourage them to take care of the water they share with the salmon.

One of its main goals is to educate people about the importance of the Pacific Northwest salmon population by conducting educational tours of its hatchery and providing a comprehensive online curriculum.

The visitor will see adult salmon spawning in the creek, a fish ladder, and hatchery holding ponds in fall.

Visitors may also use the site’s exhibitions, native plant gardens, and wetlands.

Every time I visit the hatchery, I learn something new and exciting.

Visiting FISH many times a year allows visitors to see salmon at various phases of their life cycle.

A salmon jumping on the water at Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

Bill Perry /

Learn Glassblowing with ArtByFire

As a retail gallery and a glass school, Art by Fire has been in business since 1997.

Renée Robbins Pound and Lenoard Whitfield co-founded it in 1997 and have served as its directors ever since.

To help budding artists and students, Renee and Lenoard opened a gallery/studio space at their home.

After a few years, Art by Fire relocated to Issaquah from its original Ballard location.

Experience glassblowing in person with your loved ones and take part in hands-on classes to learn how to produce glass beads and other items.

You’ll create your keepsakes and get a taste of a popular art form in the Pacific Northwest.

Mini-classes and more comprehensive glass art instruction are also available on its website.

Also, Art by Fire can host private parties, business gatherings, and birthday celebrations for children.

Catch a Play by Village Theatre

Side exterior of the Village Theatre.

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Founded in Issaquah, Washington, and operating in Everett, Washington, Village Theatre is one of the region’s most prominent musical theater producers.

Founded in 1979, Village Theatre has evolved into one of the region’s most popular theaters, with around 18,000 Mainstage season subscribers.

Front exterior of the Village Theatre.

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every season gathers a projected 220,000 total audience.

The Village Theatre’s Village Originals program has launched more than 150 new musicals, making it a national leader in developing new musicals.

Pied Piper and KIDSTAGE, Village Theatre’s two youth education programs, serve more than 60,000 young people, families, and schools each year.

Exterior of the Village Theatre second stage.

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Asian Art at Ming’s ZEN Gallery

In the heart of Issaquah’s historic downtown, explore the marvels of the Far East. Ming’s Zen Gallery is a must-see for tourists, a museum dedicated to 5,000 years of Asian history, culture, and tradition.

In its 51st year, Ming’s is locally owned and run by the 3rd generation of a globally recognized family of historians, direct importers, and qualified art assessors.

The items featured here include bronze and alabaster statues of Buddha and Tibetan singing bowls, screens and scrolls, rare maps and manuscripts, Japanese tansu, original snuff bottles, woodblock prints, jade, netsuke, and cloisonné antique paintings and Peking glass.

It also carries antique and vintage furniture and art.

The ancient jade amulets, unusual pendants, and exotic beads used to make its jewelry line all reflect the gallery’s identity.

Grab Some Sweet Goodies from Boehm’s Candies

Exterior of Boehm's Candies store.

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For your kids and kids at heart, there’s no better place to go in Issaquah than Boehm’s Candies.

Boehm’s Candies has been owned and run by Bernard Garbusjuk for over 35 years, following Julius Boehm’s footsteps.

Interior of Boehm's candies store.

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Expert candy makers at Boehm’s Candy manufacture more than 150 different kinds of chocolate confections.

Julius Boehm’s sweet creations, from caramels, peanut brittle, and English toffee, to European delicacies, are lovingly produced in the same way as they were when he started the business.

It is a wonderful place for chocolate lovers to visit on the foothill of the Olympic Mountains and enjoy the elegance of the Edelweiss Chalet.

Large easter bunny made of chocolate at Boehm's candies store.

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Immerse Yourself in Chopin’s Musicality at Chopin School of Music

There is no better location for flute, piano, or violin lessons in the Bellevue, Issaquah, or Sammamish areas than the Chopin Academy, which offers world-class instruction.

The faculty at the Chopin Academy can help you achieve your artistic goals, whether it’s learning to play the flute, violin, or piano or preparing for a future in music.

It offers the best piano, flute, and violin lessons in a community music school because of the faculty’s broad and international education and teaching experience.

Students at the Chopin Academy of Music can choose from various programs, including private piano or violin instruction, music appreciation seminars, theory and ear training, and more.

It is important to note that each teacher creates a curriculum specifically for each student based on their goals and the individual’s schedule and preferences.

Travel in Time While Enjoying a Snack at Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in

Name sign of Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in.

Photo by and (c)2006 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man), CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Triple XXX drive-in in Issaquah, Washington, is one of two Triple XXX drive-ins still in operation.

The Triple XXX on Gilman Boulevard near Front Street is well-known among die-hard Drive-In fans.

It offers burgers, root beer mugs, and straw-bending shakes.

It also features mini-jukeboxes on the tables, playing 1950s and 1960s pop music and the cherry-red and creamy white booths.

People eating inside Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in.

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Archie Rutherford, a Renton native, launched the city’s first Triple XXX Root Beer stand in 1930.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Archie and his sons Joel and Jerry capitalized on their father’s initial success by establishing a network of restaurants throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Triple XXX hasn’t changed much since then, other than the inclusion of several 1950s and ’60s memorabilia items such as vintage radios and soft-drink bottles, as well as license plates and posters of rock ‘n’ roll and movie stars by Jose Enciso.

Thanks to Jose and his family and other staff, the diner has a warm and casual atmosphere, reminiscent of the days of the drive-in movies in the 1950s.

People eating outside Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in.

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sip Wine at Capri Cellar

Make yourself at home or pick up something to go at Capri Cellar.

As a wine shop, bar, and restaurant, Capri Cellars is more than simply a stop on the way to somewhere else.

In addition to a broad selection of wines from the Pacific Northwest and worldwide, it also carries a wide range of sparkling wines.

The wines it offers are mostly from Washington, Oregon, and other parts of the world.

Small boutique wineries’ organic and biodynamic wines will be showcased on its site.

Each of its wines has a tale to tell.

Its Wine Bar features a rotating selection of flights and glasses of wine.

Meanwhile, the Bistro menu consists of locally sourced and international cured meats and cheeses.

Final Thoughts

As a destination for indoor enjoyment or outdoor fun, historic charm, and awe-inspiring natural wonders, Issaquah has it all.

Visit Issaquah today with our list of the 15 best things to do in Issaquah as your ultimate adventure guide!

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