15 Fun Things to Do on Mercer Island

Updated on May 1, 2022 | by Erin Sirianni

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For newcomers and long-time residents alike, Mercer Island offers a surprising variety and abundance of recreational activities for all ages. Local businesses, shops, and restaurants have created new and fun activities to discover and enjoy; while some of the places and activities listed below have contributed to memorable experiences throughout the decades. Discover your favorite activity on Mercer Island today.

Find your next favorite read at Island Books. 

A wonderful independent bookstore, Island Books has served Mercer Island since 1973 and has a busy calendar of events, including author readings, book fairs, a weekly storybook corner, and monthly PJ storytimes. Don’t miss the fantastic kids’ section, including a sweet playhouse, and the delightful collection of typewriters.

Satisfy your sweet tooth. 

Mercer Island is now home to two sweet shops. The classic Oh Chocolate! is a long-time local shop that has perfected artisan chocolates through three generations of family ownership. This shop also teaches the fine art of chocolate making with both kids and adult classes. A newer addition (opened in 2018) and brightly colored Island Treats shop sells both highly addictive hand-crafted chocolate confections (be sure to try the Pretzel Thingies!), bulk candy, and party supplies.

Go wine tasting.

Enjoy a flight of wine at Mercer Island’s favorite wine bar, Barrels, owned by Tina and Joe Kennedy. Their curation of wines – both local and from around the world – is exceptional, and their space is warm and welcoming, with leather chairs, bold art, and an impressive display of 1500 bottles on shelves. Happy Hour is an all-day event at Barrels, offered Tuesday through Saturday with 9 wines offered by the glass for $6.

Discover art. 

Enjoy Mercer Island’s First Friday Art Walk and find wonderful art at participating local galleries, including Suzanne Zahr’s SZ Gallery, Clarke + Clarke Art & Artifacts, and MIVAL Gallery. On a beautiful day, extend your walk down to Mercer Island’s Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Gallery, which features about 10 striking sculptures along Sunset Highway.

Savor a delicious meal.  

Whether for date night, a business lunch, or a quick grab-and-go meal, Mercer Island’s restaurant scene is sure to satisfy. Mioposto offers upscale dining, a great spot for either a romantic dinner or a special occaision. Enjoy modern Asian fusion at Vivienne’s Bistro; meet friends for happy hour at The Roanoke Inn; or grab a grass-fed beef burger, fries, and a shake at Hap’s Burgers & Taps. Looking for healthy fare? Be sure to visit Sano Cafe for fresh juices, smoothies, acaí bowls, salads, and more; or get a delicious local, organic sandwich, made at Homegrown. Find all of our favorite restaurants on our restaurant guide.

Go dragon hunting!

A friendly dragon awaits young adventurers at Deane’s Children’s Park.  The sculptural creature and nearby playground are among the most beloved play spaces on Mercer Island. The dragon was installed in 2013 by artist Kenton Pies, replacing an older, small dragon sculpture. Kids will find a slide off the dragon’s tail and can climb across its back and into its belly through its mouth or side openings. Find even more favorite playgrounds on Mercer Island on our list here.

Hit the beach. 

Mercer Island has four public beaches, and our favorites are Luther Burbank beach, which has a wonderful sandy beach and swimming area, and Groveland Beach, the island’s only westside beach where you can enjoy watching the sunset. The beach at Calkin’s Landing is the smallest of the four, but is perfectly pleasant for a swim or setting off with your kayak or paddleboard. If you’re looking for a quieter spot, visit the peaceful Clarke Beach on Mercer Island’s east shore, which has a large grassy lawn for playing, picnicking, and sunbathing.

Explore Luther Burbank Park. 

Mercer Island has over 475 acres of park and open spaces, and our favorite is Luther Burbank Park. Rich in history and located on the shore of Lake Washington, this park features the island’s largest playground, a public swimming beach, a dog park, an amphitheater (the stage for Shakespeare in the Park performances in the summer), tennis courts, trails, and plenty of green space for relaxing and enjoying a picnic and the Lake Washington view!

Hike Pioneer Park.

Explore the three quadrants of Mercer Island’s Pioneer Park – the island’s largest park, at 113 forested acres, offering 6.6 miles of trails. For an easy flat loop, visit the northwest quadrant (you can grab a coffee drink at the nearby Starbucks to take with you!); or hike down into the ravine and across a creek in the northeast quadrant. Hikers of the southeast quadrant (the equestrian quadrant) may find themselves sharing the trail with horseback riders and will enjoy plenty of interesting twists and turns amidst towering Douglas Firs.

See a show. 

A wonderful children’s theatre, Youth Theatre Northwest (YTN) produces 12 professional shows each year and has been delighting audiences since 1984. YTN is currently performing in its temporary residence at Mercer Island’s Emmanuel Episcopal Church and awaits its future home in the Mercer Island Center for the Arts.

Forage at the Mercer Island Farmers Market.  

Open every Sunday June through October, the Mercer Island Farmers Market features beautiful produce, sustainably caught fish, pasture-raised meats, flowers, artisan and ready-to-eat foods, and much more! Don’t miss the Children’s Table, for fun activities for young ones, and enjoy live music, tastings, and helpful advice from Master Gardeners too.

Go off leash.

Want to do something on Mercer Island with your furry companion? Visit the dog park in Luther Burbank Park – two separate fully fenced areas provide plenty of play space for little dogs and big dogs. The park is right on the lake, and dogs can even cool off with a swim.

Enjoy a drink at the Roanoke Inn. 

If you’re 21 or older and would like a taste of history, you’ll want to stop in for a drink at the The Roanoke Inn. Mercer Island’s oldest establishment (opened in 1914), this historic tavern is “where friends meet friends” and has been satisfying thirsty customers for decades. The patio in the back is a lovely spot for outdoor dining.

Shop for a special gift.

Shop local on Mercer Island, and you’re sure to find the perfect item for a loved one or for yourself. Shopping on the island wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Island Books, and just a few steps away, Terra Bella offers a plethora of unique gifts, fine home and decor items, and gourmet kitchen products. Mercer Island Florist has a selection of gift and home decor items, in addition to beautiful flower arrangements. Find quality apparel and accessories at Hip Zephyr,  a women’s clothing and accessories boutique. The Boutique Lounge is worth the trip to Mercer Island’s south end shopping center for unique gift items, home goods, apparel for adults, kids, and babies, handbags, jewelry, Mercer Island spirit wear, and more.

Take a historic site tour. 

The Mercer Island Historical Society has sponsored the placement of markers that identify at least 15 historic sites on Mercer Island, “in recognition of the people and events that contributed to today’s Mercer Island.” You’ll find these markers at the local VFW Hall, the Roanoke Inn, Luther Burbank Park, the Sunnybeam School, and other locations listed here. Find them all for a great education of Mercer Island’s development and community history.

Mercer Island offers so many more great places to explore, discover, shop, eat, and play, and we’ll be sure to add more to this list in the future. Don’t forget to share your favorites below, and if you still need more inspiration for your next local outing, visit our guide to Mercer Island.