Native American legend had it that the island in Lake Washington was inhabited by evil spirits, or perhaps sunk into the deep every night, so there were no permanent settlements here when Thomas Mercer first explored the land. Slowly, however, a settlement (called “East Seattle”) developed on the northwest side of the island. It wasn’t until the I-90 floating bridge was built in the 1940s that the population really started to grow. Along with it, a quaint business district developed.
While the term ‘island time’ might be a little extreme here, things do seem to slow down a little on Mercer Island. There is a decent population of retired folks here, and in general things are quieter and less stressed-out-feeling. Residents here enjoy their large homes—many with views—as well as the safe and tight-knit atmosphere.
Activities and Attractions
There are two areas of Mercer Island that have small business districts. The first—and biggest–is on the north side. Here, you’ll find unique little eateries like Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro, Sushi Joa, and the Alpenland Delicatessen—specializing in German cuisine, of course! Other shops include bookstores, boutiques, and thrift shops. The Roanoke Inn is worth a mention, too, even though it’s pretty far from the main drag. This neighborhood pub has been around forever, serving generation after generation of Mercer Islanders.
Farther south, around the expansive Pioneer Park, is another area where businesses have sprouted up. Here, things are a little more run-of-the-mill, with sandwich shop chains and grocery stores. The park itself is the real attraction, with acres of woodland and hiking trails, and even a section specifically maintained for horseback riding.
It is an island and all, so it wouldn’t be right not to mention the lakeside attractions. First, check out Groveland Beach or Clarke Beach for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. In the summer, Mercer Islanders have a front row view of the Seafair boat races, either from their own back porches or from the Park on the Lid.
Homes in Mercer Island
You Might Also Like
This island community is home to many affluent folks. They have the benefit of being located equidistant between Seattle and the other east side suburbs, making commuting a breeze. And, because it’s an island, property is a hot commodity and suburban sprawl is impossible.