Hop a 20-minute ferry to a little-known natural paradise in the Puget Sound
From the moment your car rattles onto the white Pierce County ferry, a trip to Anderson Island is a journey back in time.
The 8-mile-long island has no stoplights, one general store, a single restaurant, and about 1,000 year-round residents who want things to stay quiet and quaint.
Which explains why you may not have heard of this southernmost island in Puget Sound, even though there is plenty to shout about: two rare freshwater island lakes, a stunning west-side beach, and a carefully preserved pioneer past.
From Tacoma, head south on I-5 for about 15 miles. Take the Dupont-Steilacoom exit (exit 119) and head north about 6 miles to Steilacoom and the ferry dock.
Buy a ticket online beforehand, or park your car in the line for the ferry, then dash out and buy your ticket in the office. Plan on arriving about 30 minutes before the ferry is scheduled to leave. Ferries run every hour (round-trip fare $19 car and driver, $4.60 pedestrians; Steilacoom Landing Facility, 56 Union Ave., Steilacoom; www.co.pierce.wa.us/ferry.com; 253/588-1950).
Island General Store A lifeline for locals, and your first stop. Pick up a map and picnic fixings, like freshly baked peanut butter brownies. INFO: 10202 Eckenstam-Johnson Rd.; 253/884-4001.
Ol' Swimming Hole The ideal spot on a hot August day: a public park with picnic tables, a sandy beach, and spring-fed Lake Florence, with water warm enough for a swim. INFO: Lowell Johnson Park, off Guthrie Rd.
A century-old farm with a community garden, 13 historic buildings, and a tiny museum stuffed with everyday treasures that trace the island?s history. Great gift shop too. INFO: 12?4 Sat-Sun through Dec 31; 9306 Otso Point Rd.; 253/884-2135.
Johnson Farm Museum A century-old farm with a community garden, 13 historic buildings, and a tiny museum stuffed with everyday treasures that trace the island’s history. Great gift shop too. INFO: 12–4 Sat–Sun through Dec 31; 9306 Otso Point Rd.; 253/884-2135.
Andy's Marine Park Best late in the day, when the easy 0.75-mile serpentine hiking trail takes you to a driftwood-strewn beach backlit by an apricot sunset. INFO: On Claussen Rd., about 3/4 mile south of Sandberg Rd.
Riviera Lakeshore Restaurant Technically part of the island's country club, but it's more country than club. Enjoy fish and chips on Lake Josephine and a view to the top of Mt. Rainier. INFO: $$; 11019 Country Club Dr.; 253/884-3344.
You can wake up on Anderson if you have Barbara Lake's phone number ( Anderson Island Inns, from $100; 253/377-6467). You might call her an itinerant innkeeper ― she runs most of the small B&Bs on the island. Owners provide the bed, she provides the breakfast.