Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Vashon’s new giant troll by Thomas Dambo

Sail over to Vashon to meet this new neighbor

There are giant trolls in Seattle, and the king of the trolls is on Vashon Island. Meet Oscar The Bird King, one of the final installments in Danish artist Thomas Dambo’s “Way of the Bird King” exhibition. Towering over a grove of trees in Vashon Island’s Point Robinson Park, Oscar is both whimsical and magnificent to behold.

[Find the Bainbridge trollthe West Seattle trollthe Issaquah troll, and the Ballard troll]

A crown fit for the Bird King

Oscar is the fifth of six giant trolls in the Pacific Northwest section of the exhibition (trolls have already been completed in Portland, Bainbridge Island, West Seattle, and Issaquah and Ballard).  Unlike the other trolls in the exhibition, however, Oscar is the King–and, as such, he has some unique features. Adorning the Bird King’s colossal head is a crown composed of–you guessed it–birdhouses!

The birdhouses built for each troll in this exhibition are made of wood scraps and leftover materials when the artist and his team create the fur and cladding for the trolls, emphasizing the artist’s goal of creating sustainable art. Additionally, the artist used social media to request rope strands strung with found natural objects to use as decorations for Oscar The Bird King’s display. Local residents responded with beautiful strands made from driftwood, shells, feathers and stones. Those rope strands now flow from birdhouse towers that surround Oscar’s throne.

How to find the King of trolls

When you’re ready to find Oscar The Bird King, take a ferry to Vashon Island and drive to Point Robinson Park. There are three ferry lines servicing Vashon Island, departing from Tacoma (Point Defiance), West Seattle (Fauntleroy), and Port Orchard (Southworth). Schedules and pricing for ferries are on the Washington State Department of Transportation website.

Bonus: If you want to add in a second troll-finding adventure to your day, you can also visit the West Seattle Troll, Bruunidun, in Lincoln Park before or after you catch the Fauntleroy ferry! 

Point Robinson Park

Oscar is located a few hundred feet from the upper parking lot in Point Robinson Park on a wooded bluff above the beach. There are two clean, well-serviced port-o-potties in the upper parking lot and an additional port-o-potty near the lower parking lot and the beach. The trails through Point Robinson Park are not ADA-accessible, but there is designated handicapped parking in the lower lot near the beach and the lighthouse.

Make a day of it

After you have time to marvel at Oscar, allow some extra time to explore his (truly breathtaking) surroundings. Take the 5-minute walk from Oscar’s Grove down to the iconic Point Robinson Lighthouse and beach, the perfect spot for beachcombing and picnicking. If you don’t want to pack your lunch from home, stop by the town’s deli counter at the Vashon Thriftway for handcrafted sandwiches and snacks. 

The Bird King is at home in nature, so enjoy some of his favorite local nature spots on Vashon Island. If Oscar’s ocean-front residence has you craving more beach time, head over to KVI Beach (also called Point Heyer), voted the island’s best place to build a sandcastle. Pro tip: swing by Vashon Pharmacy on your way to the beach to pick up sand toys, snacks and souvenirs from your day on Vashon Island.

If being on the water is more your speed, head over to Jensen Point Marina, where you can rent kayaks and paddle boards from Vashon Adventures. Online reservations are recommended, and services are only offered seasonally.

More things to do on Vashon

When you’re ready to head inland, consider visiting one of Vashon Island’s most popular hiking trails, Island Center Forest, where you can explore over 10 miles of trails. There are also several beautiful parks to add to your “Must Visit On Vashon” list. Ober Park has over 5 acres of land to explore, including a playground and walking trails; you can even stop by the adjacent Vashon Library while you’re there. Perhaps read a Nordic legend or fairy tale to keep the troll magic going! For an alternative park experience, head over to BARC (Burton Adventure Recreation Center) to enjoy a bike pump track, indoor and outdoor skate parks, and a climbing boulder. 

Stop by one of Vashon Island’s fantastic restaurants or farm stands if you work up an appetite during your adventures. A can’t-miss stop for a pick-me-up is Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie. The birthplace of Seattle’s Best Coffee brand, this shop offers everything from espresso to hundreds of loose-leaf teas, live music, an organic market, and a bookshop.

Island Queen is a kid favorite with burgers, colossal soft-serve ice cream cones, and a model train chugging overhead. Lunetta Pizzeria serves up rustic wood-fired pizzas, fresh salads, and craft cocktails for the grown-ups. For a truly unique experience, check out the Vashon Island Growers Association farm map to discover local farms and farm stands you can visit for a satisfying farm-to-belly experience.

Pick up local produce, artisan goods, and crafts at the Vashon Farmers Market (open Saturdays from mid-April to mid-October). For a final treat before your trek home, pop into Glass Bottle Creamery and Arcade for small batch ice cream and retro arcade games.

Plan to make a day out of experiencing the magic of Oscar The Bird King and his incredible home on Vashon Island.

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About the Author

Allison Peterson

Allison Peterson is a former elementary teacher turned full-time driver/chef/tutor/nurse/coach/memory-maker to three children who call her "Mom". She lives in Woodinville, and is always looking for her next adventure!