Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Mercer Island, WA

  • Published 2022/07/20

Mercer Island in Washington state is a city filled with fascinating art and sweeping views of nature.

It’s located east of King County on the island of the same name and part of the Seattle metropolitan area.

The island connects to Seattle on its west through the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and to Bellevue on the east by the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge, with both carrying Interstate 90.

Initially, the island’s western side was occupied by Snoqualmie villages until the Mercer brothers, for whom the island was named, arrived in the Puget Sound Region between 1870 to 1880.

Thonon-les-Bains in France is Mercer Island’s sister city designated by the Sister Cities International.

Mercer Island is filled with local shops, lovely beaches and parks, and many art locations that would delight the artsy traveler.

See these sites to discover the best things to do in Mercer Island, Washington:

Enjoy Tons of Activities at Luther Burbank Park

Pergola at Luther Burbank Park

Cascade Creatives /

If you’re looking for some fun in the sun activities, you can bring your family to Luther Burbank Park.

It’s a large public park that spans 73 acres along the three-quarter miles of Lake Washington’s waters.

Back in 1903, the area had a school for wayward boys run by the Seattle School District until it was bought by King County and made into a local park.

You would see the plaque installed by the society to commemorate the school and Willis Rand, who was the school’s principal for 40 years.

Aerial view of Luther Burbank Park

Cascade Creatives /

You’ll have a fantastic view of the lake and enjoy water activities like swimming, fishing, and boating.

Many wildlife roams in the wetlands, including over a hundred species of birds, many types of waterfowl, beaver, muskrats, and tree frogs.

Little ones will also enjoy the large play area with swings, upgraded play equipment, and the zipline.

Have a relaxing picnic, play tennis, let your pet dogs enjoy the off-leash area, and walk the park trails.

Concrete dock on Luther Burbank Park's water

knelson20 /

Have Fun in the Waters at Groveland Beach

The island’s only private and public beach on its west side, Groveland Beach gives you a wonderful sandy place to enjoy the sunset over the lake.

Enjoy swimming in the lake waters, but take precautions as there are no lifeguards in the area.

The park has a picnic area with tables and a barbecue area to grill your burgers or hotdogs.

You can let your kids have fun around the nice playground, too.

You can bring your fur buddy to the park but must be on a leash at all times.

Other amenities offered by the park include a volleyball park, restrooms, and parking.

Shop for Fresh Products at Mercer Island Farmers Market

You can get the best of Mercer Island’s produce at the Mercer Island Farmers Market.

The annual market event runs from June to October with a special version called the Harvest Market that happens on a Sunday during November.

Get freshly caught fish, farm-fresh meat, colorful blooms, local and ready-to-eat foods, and goodies from hosts of selling vendors.

Kids can also have loads of fun time at the Children’s Table.

You can catch live music, different specialty tastings, and even tips from local expert gardeners.

Have Fun Outdoors at Aubrey Davis Park

More fun awaits your family at Aubrey Davis Park.

It was formerly called the Mercer Island Lid and First Hill Lid, covering 90 acres of parkland and 2.8 miles of transportation and recreation strip from West Mercer Way to 76thAvenue of Mercer Island.

The park was built in 1992 to lessen the impact of I-90 and was named after former mayor Aubrey Davis after his death in 2013.

The park complex includes Park on the Lid, the Boat Launch, the Mountains to Sound Trail, and the Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Gallery.

You can enjoy the park’s sports amenities like the softball fields, tennis, and basketball courts.

The park has plenty of open space where you can relax and areas to bring your family for a picnic and barbecue.

Some other amenities the park offers include a large playground area, restrooms, trail systems, restrooms, and parking.

Enjoy Storytelling at Shakespeare in the Park

One of the things you can enjoy at Mercer Island during the summer months is Shakespeare in the Park.

This event takes place at the Luther Burbank Amphitheater, and you’ll get to watch the Seattle Shakespeare Company perform classical plays.

The event is free to the public and is supported by 4Culture.

You can enjoy watching outdoors while having a picnic with your family.

Seating comes on a first-come, first-served basis, and you can also drop your donations to support the performances.

Have Pleasant Wine Tasting at Barrels

If it’s the best wines on the island you’re looking for, you’ll get to enjoy these at Barrels.

Owned and established by husband and wife tandem, Tina and Joe Kennedy, Barrels was a result of exploring wines in different regions and all over the world.

Their love for wines finally led them to open Barrels in 2018.

They have the most extensive wine list on the island, and they offer over 40 glass pours and more than a hundred bottles you can purchase.

They also use the Coravin system to ensure the wine doesn’t oxidize from the bottle to your glass.

You can also have great parties, wine deals, beers, and small bites to enjoy here.

The place is relaxing and engaging, and you’ll also get to see Acrylic and Oil artwork by local artist Debra Van Tuinen.

Let Little Ones Enjoy at Deane’s Children’s Park

Known as the “Dragon Park,” Deane’s Children’s Park is undoubtedly a place where your little ones can have roaring fun.

Located on Island Crest Way, the park was developed by the Mercer Island Preschool Association with the aid of volunteers and donations.

Your little tots can play, climb and slide on a variety of playground equipment like Kenton’s Dragon, created by artist Kenton Pies.

There’s also a covered shelter area to enjoy some picnics and walking trails where you can have a pleasant relaxing stroll.

It’s one of the city’s public parks you can enjoy with the family while in Mercer Island.

Savor Sumptuous Meals and Wines at The Roanoke Inn

The Roanoke Inn is more than a restaurant; it’s a local icon being the oldest restaurant business on Mercer Island.

It was built by George Macguire in 1914 and was a popular spot for weekend getaways for locals and tourists.

The inn may have had controversies in the past, but the Reeck family, who purchased the Inn in 1941, worked to keep the legacy of great food and ambiance until today.

The State of Washington registered the Roanoke Inn as an official historic landmark in 1976.

The restaurant offers daily specials like Chipotle Chicken Sandwich, Fish Tacos or Chicken Enchiladas, Chopped Salad, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Fish Tacos or Fish and Chips from Monday to Friday consecutively.

Enjoy Baby Back Ribs on Saturdays, Chicken Fajitas on Sundays, and other tasty fares on the menu.

Have a sit-down dinner at the kiosks and cozy cabanas and pair your meals with their White Wine selections like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc or savory Red Wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Check the Fascinating Artworks from the City’s Public Art Collection

Statues at downtown Mercer Island

knelson20 /

Tour all across Mercer Island and glimpse the city’s delightful and interesting Public Art Collections.

You’ll find more than 60 art pieces created to engage the community with arts, culture, and creativity through various mediums.

These art attractions were a collaboration of artists, city personnel, and individuals to help promote the arts and preserve these creative expressions.

It was also made possible by the city’s “1% for Art in Public Places” fund.

Aerial view of the earthworks sculpture at Mercer Island

Cascade Creatives /

Stop by and get inspired by sculptures like the Totem on Roanoke Park, the Playful Pup, Stepping Forward, The Yearling, and Hope, built in memory of Iona Silverman on Aubrey Davis Park.

See the wall paintings on concrete like Darwin’s Dream on Southeast 24th Street & West Mercer Way or the Birds In Flight on Luther Burbank Playground.

Check out the Glass Tiles entitled Flight of the Butterflies, created by Sandy Glass and Jose Orantés, with some Mercer Island graders and community volunteers on Luther Burbank Playground.

Visit the bronze sculptures Between Two Worlds at the entrance of Mercer Island Library and Mercy, an eagle sculpture on the Pedestrian overlook at the I-90 trail.

Statue at Mercer Island

knelson20 /

See the Art Collections at the Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Gallery

View more art pieces at the Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Gallery on Sunset Highway between 77th and 80th Avenues.

It was a part of the ARTway Task Force, with its first phase that opened in 1995 that aimed to enhance the city center area and encourage a sense of community.

In 1997, the gallery paved for the city’s recognition by the National Recreation & Park Association and was given the Pacific Northwest Regional Arts and Humanities Award.

It was renamed the Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Gallery in 2017 to honor the Island local who contributed to its founding.

View the creative artwork by various artisans or purchase art pieces that might catch your interest.

Enjoy the Waters at Clarke Beach

Take a day off to relax and take advantage of Clarke Beach’s tranquil and quiet location.

This relaxing spot is located on the island’s east shore offering a large grassy area for picnicking, playing, sunbathing, or simply unwinding.

Though it may lack amenities you can enjoy with other parks, like a playground and a sandy beach, it does offer a more peaceful escape.

Take a dip in the waters but take precautions as there are no lifeguards in the area.

Your pet dogs can go to this beach, provided they have their leashes on.

You can also use other park amenities like barbecue areas, docks, and restrooms.

Find Unique Gift Items at The Boutique Lounge

Are you looking for something unique to bring home from Mercer Island?

You can find and get one-of-a-kind items at The Boutique Lounge.

This retail space houses curated gifts and exclusive locally sourced and eco-friendly products.

Join pop-up events hosting artisans, designers, and micro-businesses and get to meet them, too.

You can choose from a wide selection of apparel like pajamas, scarves, baby wear, handbags, and a variety of organic skincare and cosmetics.

There are also home and houseware items like blankets, decor, candles, and gift books.

Check out the selection of jewelry, gemstones, and office essentials like pens, notecards, and coffee table books.

You can also purchase Mercer Island-themed apparel uniquely designed by Liat Perlman.

Find Ancient Pieces at Clarke & Clarke Art and Artifacts

Clarke & Clarke Art and Artifacts is the place for art lovers looking for an array of contemporary and ancient art.

View the contemporary art exhibits and appreciate local artists’ different creative expressions and mediums.

You’ll get to see interesting paintings, sculptures and art glass pieces, vintage and antique paintings, and various prints.

See an Andean Dragon Mask and a Mayan Pottery Rattle in the Americas section, a Japanese Sword Guard called Tsuba Japanese, and the Seto Kilns Stoneware called “Ishizara” or “Stone Plate.”

View artifacts from Africa, India, and the Himalayas like the Nepalese Hill Tribesman Sculpture or the Himalayan Wolf Mask.

You can also see ethnic and artisan jewelry like the Turkman Vintage Beaded Epaulets and Naga Necklace from the Konyak People.

You can purchase art pieces in case you find something you like.

Taste Delectable Sweets at Oh! Chocolate

Satisfy your sweet cravings at Oh! Chocolate.

This chocolate shop owned by three generations of the Krautheim family has been creating hand-crafted chocolate flavors since 1985.

Have a taste and indulge in these exclusive flavors, and you’ll undoubtedly be returning for more.

You can also sign up for their Chocolate classes, learn more about this sweet treat, and play with your chocolate.

They also have chocolate classes for kids during summer where they can learn about the origin of chocolates and how this sweet confection is produced.

Of course, you can buy and take home these delightful treats to share.

Enjoy an Array of Books at Island Books

For certified bookworms, Island Books is one place you can’t miss out on visiting.

As the only independent bookstore serving Mercer Island for more than 45 years, this small book shop has become part of the lives of the local community.

Owner and bookseller Laurie Raisys and the bookstore staff ensure that anyone who drops by feels welcome.

Pay a visit and get to find books that might interest you or cards, games, toys, and gifts of your liking.

Bring your kids here and let them find magic in the children’s section and playhouse area.

Get them to join the weekly storybook corner or the monthly pajama story times.

You can also catch and join the book clubs and book fairs.

Final Thoughts

Mercer Island is an ideal place for art enthusiasts and nature lovers.

This laid-back city is home to specialty local shops, lovely parks, great restaurants, and beach areas that suit everyone in the family.

Take a vacation in this fascinating city, and you’ll find that there’s a lot to discover here and enjoy.

You’ll surely have fun checking off the items on this list of the best things to do in Mercer Island, Washington.

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