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Remlinger Farms
(Image courtesy of Remlinger Farms)

6 hidden gems of Carnation, Washington

Located in rural King County, Carnation has a population around 2,200. This small Washington town offers some big-time fun and loads of charm. Writer Jeff Totey explores six spots that will have you asking, "What in Carnation was I waiting for?"

Red Pepper Pizzeria & Pasta

4721 Tolt Ave.
Carnation, WA 98014

Not your ordinary pizza joint, Red Pepper Pizzeria & Pasta is housed within an old gas station that still features the original gas pumps. Inside this "Carnation Station" (as the owners like to call it), the old garage is decorated with worn-out street signs, shiny hubcaps and black and white photos. A working stoplight adds to the charm. The tables in the dining room have been made with metal pipes and are illuminated overhead with work lights. Outside, the place is walled off with funky metal fencing with plenty of picnic tables, making this a fantastic place for a young one’s car-themed birthday party.

The little shop offers a huge menu, including their Red Pepper Signature Pizza (Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, olives and of course, roasted red peppers). They offer 11 specialty pizzas, eight gourmet chicken pizzas and options you won’t find other places, like gluten-free crusts and dairy-free cheese.

As for the pasta half of the menu, Red Pepper offers favorites like spaghetti, Fettuccine Alfredo and bacon mac-n-cheese. They also offer large sandwiches (meatball is probably the most popular here), salads (including a red pepper one!), wings, mozzarella cheese sticks and homemade bread sticks. For dessert, try the extra-large chocolate chip cookies or brownies, or go crazy with the house-made apple crisp. They even offer a kids' menu and lunch specials.

Red Pepper Pizza & Pasta is open Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The Blue Iris

4645 Tolt Ave.
Carnation, WA 98014

The Blue Iris is more than an antique store. It’s a treasure trove of new and old items alike. You never know what you’ll find there. You might walk in looking for vintage plates but walk out with a stylish coffee table. New gift items and greeting cards designed by local artists are set out among older home d├ęcor stuff. Everything from yard art your grandmother had to the toys you used to play with are here. Need some Scrabble tiles? You might find them here, but it’s not a bad idea to call ahead just in case. Better yet, just come in without any expectations. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll find. Prices are good, too!

The Blue Iris is open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Miller’s – A Gathering Place

4597 Tolt Ave.
Carnation, WA 98014

It would be easy to think that Millers – A Gathering Place, is just a rental venue for wedding receptions and family reunions, but Nancy and Bill Miller open their doors for a variety of public events every week, including live music, open mic nights, art and educational classes. The space features a bar serving a variety of wines, craft beers, IPAs and non-alcoholic beverages. There are also a couple "living rooms" and plenty of bistro tables set up, depending on the event. If an event is sold out, there is a good chance that a food truck will be there as well. From what we hear, the music is good with local bands and even a few from out of state playing here.

And if you are looking for a unique place to host your next event, Miller’s is an excellent place to host rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, baby showers, grad parties, memorials, weddings, movies, music and live theater.

Visit the Millers' event page for upcoming events

Remlinger Farms

32610 NE 32nd St.
Carnation, WA 98014

Remlinger Farms is not a new name for many people. They have been around for what seems like forever. Although still fairly hidden, this berry farm has grown to become quite the metropolis in the small town of Carnation over the years. Sure, you are probably aware of their strawberry, raspberry and pumpkin "U-Picks," but there is so much more to this place.

There's the new Remlinger Farms Brewery, which will soon be serving up new pizza options, too. It’s a nice addition to the Wine Bar, which offers a nice selection of Washington wines and specializes in unique fruit and berry wines. The casual restaurant offers many comfort foods, from their 17-Bean Soup to the Nutty Gobbler Sandwich (oven-roasted turkey breast, cream cheese, walnuts, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, and cranberry sauce on homemade honey wheat bread). They like to brag that their farm-fresh salads are made with vegetables that were only transported 100 yards from the farm.

If you’ve never been here, it is worth checking out their HUGE market, which features rows and rows of different down-home goodness, from jams and baking mixes to soup mixes and barbecue sauces. We counted 13 different brownie mixes alone! They also have fun with their products like T.O.E. Jam. Relax, it’s made with tangerines, oranges and elderberries. You’ll also find fresh baked goods and frozen u-bake berry pies which are made in a factory on-site.

All of this is in addition to their Fun Park, which just welcomed a new steam train. The park is also home to a number of amusement park rides (many of which can hold mom and dad, too!), pony rides, antique cars, a carousel and the one-of-kind Flying Pumpkin.

Remlinger Farms hours change by the season, so be sure to visit their website before you come.

Sandy’s Espresso

4650 Tolt Ave.
Carnation, WA 98014

Sandy’s Espresso is more than your average local coffee shop. They offer every kind of coffee drink you can imagine, from a Doppio Espresso to the humble drip coffee. Espresso drinks are made with a variety of milks, including soy, almond, hemp, oat and coconut. But they don’t stop there. Sandy’s also has Italian sodas, fruit smoothies, "Carnation Coolers," milkshakes and more. Enjoy a pastry from Monroe’s Sky River Bakery with your drink or come in for lunch for one of their panini sandwiches, ham or turkey croissants, an Italian salad or cup of soup.

Sandy’s offers a living room to enjoy your beverage with friends, complete with a fireplace and comfy chairs. If the weather is nice, opt for the seating on the porch. Work from home? Sandy’s can make for a nice change in scenery. The upstairs has been converted as a workspace for rent by the hour. Call a meeting and you can book a private room downstairs, too.

Sandy’s Espresso is open 5:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday.

Camlann Medieval Village

10320 Kelly Rd. NE
Carnation, WA 98014

Who knew that there was a medieval village in King County?! Camlann Medieval Village describes itself as a living history museum project that takes guests to a small rural village in Southwest England in 1376. The village offers different opportunities to experience the food and culture of Medieval life. Here, you’ll find an assortment of villagers offering demonstrations in cider-making, blacksmithing, pottery, basket-weaving and yarn-making. Tourney Field is home to competitions of longbow archery and knightly combat. It is also the space for dancing and game-playing. You can even rent a costume to fit right in.

The Bors Hede Inn offers hearty food, usually enjoyed by the noble classes, music and stories of the minstrels. A sample menu includes Fenberry Pye (pork, chicken & cranberries), Bourbelier de Sangle (roast pork in a savory sauce), Sanc Dragon (chicken in cinnamon and almond sauce), Coudre in Temp De Noir (roast salmon in hazelnut sauce) and Blamanger (a vegetarian dish with rice, favas, sugar and spices).

Camlann Medieval Village is open every weekend from May through September with additional festivals offered every month throughout the year. The Bors Hede Restaurant is open year-round by reservation.