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New: Neighborhood Profile: Mercer Island

Posted on Apr 7, 2017

In the not so distant past, Native American traditions held that Mercer Island was not only a refuge of ghosts, but also prone to sinking into the waters of Lake Washington overnight, only to emerge in the morning. Since enduring a nightly dunk in the briny would be something of an annoyance, it’s hardly surprising that settlement of Mercer Island occurred relatively late compared to the rest of the Puget Sound region. Now, the island is one of the most popular parts of the Seattle area, a reputation that has no doubt been buoyed by the island’s apparent reluctance to sink beneath the waves.

Drifting in the middle of Lake Washington has allowed Mercer Island to escape suburban sprawl and maintain a small-town feel in the midst of an urban metropolis. The island’s population hovers just above 24,000 residents, and the community enjoys a calm, peaceful atmosphere. Despite its slower pace of life, Mercer Island’s close proximity to Seattle’s downtown makes it easy to commute to the city for work or recreation. However, Mercer Island has plenty of its own attractions, making it easy to stick around and bypass the city altogether.

Just because it’s tucked away from downtown Seattle doesn’t mean Mercer Island is a backwater when it comes to cuisine. Bennet’s is a unique restaurant serving the culinary essentials of the Pacific Northwest and Cascade region, specializing in local ingredients and classic favorites like Alaskan Salmon. For sushi lovers, family-run Sushi Joa serves classic dishes at affordable prices. The Roanoke Inn is a favorite local watering hole with a relaxed atmosphere, local beer on tap, and a colorful history (the inn reputedly escaped Prohibition regulation by simply serving liquor and libations in coffee mugs).

Fine dining aside, one of Mercer Island’s most popular qualities is its natural beauty. A small population has allowed the island to maintain its majestic forests and green spaces. Pioneer Park remains one of the region’s most beloved outdoor attractions, boasting 113 acres, more than 6 miles of trails, and plenty of space for equestrian outings. And, as a maritime community, Mercer Island is also home to popular swimming destinations at the Groveland and Clarke beaches, as well as prime views of the Seafair boat races from Aubrey Davis Park.

Art lovers will also find plenty to do on the island. The Mercer Gallery specializes in showcasing the work of local artists, while the Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Gallery both emphasizes the importance of public art and sells select pieces directly to enthusiasts. In fact, Mercer Island prioritizes public art in many forms, as its One Percent for Art rule ensures that money is routinely saved for creative work in community spaces.
Overall, Mercer Island combines the best qualities of small-town living with easy access to the big city. Contact Pickett Street today at (425) 502-5397 or to find your perfect island getaway.

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