Step off the ferry onto Bainbridge Island, and experience a Northwest way of life with rural character that incorporates the best of the big city just across the water. You’ll find upscale boutiques here, great coffee and pastries, bookstores and even a children’s museum for the kiddos. If you visit for just a day trip, stay for dinner; Winslow is now home to several restaurants that rival Seattle’s best eateries.
Beyond the village of Winslow, Bainbridge Island is beautiful, lush and rural. The island has a rich array of parks, wineries and nurseries to visit, and is the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula beyond.
Why go? Bainbridge Island is a top day trip to give out-of-town guests a taste of what lies beyond the city, or a quick escape when a Saturday morning just begs you to get out of town for a spell.
Bainbridge Island is one of the easiest day trips from Seattle, and tourists love it for the short but scenic ferry crossing. From Seattle, board a Washington State Ferry from the downtown ferry terminal at Pier 52; the crossing is approximately 30 minutes and delivers you right in the middle of the village of Winslow. Leave the car behind if you want; there’s plenty to keep you busy in Winslow, or take your bikes on and ride to the parks, gardens and wineries beyond.
Things to Do
- Go wine tasting. From the ferry dock you can walk to four wine tasting rooms (there are seven wineries on the island). Visit bainbridgewineries.com for tasting room locations and hours. On designated weekends, rural tasting rooms are open as well for tasters that have a car or bike.
- Visit the 150-acres of public gardens and preserved forests at Bloedel Reserve. This tranquil reserve is a unique blend of natural woodlands and beautifully landscaped gardens, including a Japanese Garden, a Moss Garden, a Reflection Pool and the Bloedels’ former estate home.
- Take a walk. If you visit Bainbridge car-free, stretch your legs and get a feel for the island’s culture and scenery on the Waterfront Trail (click here for a map).
- If you bring a car, there are several parks and sights beyond the town of Winslow to explore, like Fort Ward Park on the island’s southern tip. Frolic in the 137 acres and 4,300 feet of saltwater shoreline on Rich Passage. Many of Fort Ward Park’s structures reflect the historic military significance of the area. Two remnant gun batteries are located in the park.
- Want to be guided around the island? Try Tour Bainbridge. They’ll pick you up at the Bainbridge ferry terminal and take you on a half or full-day tour that combines sightseeing and exploring with immersion into history, heritage and local culture.
Where to Eat
- A great first stop off the ferry is Blackbird Bakery for a strong cup of Herkimer Coffee and a fresh-baked pastry or gluten-free muffin. See, Seattle isn’t so far away after all.
- Looking for a family-friendly eatery? Try the Streamliner Diner, a long-time favorite for egg-lovers and coffee fanatics alike.
- On the north end of town is the newly-opened Bainbridge Island Brewing Company, which doesn’t serve food but you’re welcome to bring in your own while you enjoy a pint of craft ale in their taproom.
- Farm-to-table is all the rage at Hitchcock, which serves up locally-sourced, French-inspired bistro fare and is particularly known for sublime meat dishes, including house-made cured and smoked meats. Inventive desserts like earl grey creme brulee finish your meal.
- Seattleites are crossing Puget Sound just to dine at Restaurant Marché, chef Greg Atkinson’s new Northwest-meets-France style bistro. Fresh local seafood is plentiful on the menu.
- Splurge for a cone of fancy, homemade ice cream at MORA. Their old world, artisanal process of making ice cream results in a velvety, creamy texture, and their 50+ flavors (from green tea to lemon bar) are out of this world.
Where to Stay
Many visitors to Seattle make a side-trip to Bainbridge Island just for the day, but you’ll have more time to explore and experience this beautiful place if you stay overnight.
The Eagle Harbor Inn sits on the waterfront facing the marina and bike path, and is walking-distance to the ferry so the top choice for travelers coming to Bainbridge without a car. Suites are available, as well as townhouses with full kitchens.
The Bainbridge Island Farmers Market, Saturdays April – October, 9am – 1pm at the Town Square at City Hall.
Artist studio tours occur seasonally. Take a tour and meet artists like local potters and painters as you discuss their work and even see them in action.
Tap your toes to great live music at the Bainbridge Bluegrass Festival in July.
Photos: child looking at sailboat by majorbonnet, mural by mokolabs, sailboat by bigskyred, driftwood on beach by kendura99, tugboats by Curtis Cronn, wooden boat at dock by eldan, sunset on beach by BrittneyBush, Streamliner Diner by Curtis Cronn, Mora sign by camknows, wild mushrooms by sea turtle, fern by sea turtle, marina walk by Colorado_Chris, marina and water by marc cappelletti, Bloedel Reserve by Chiot’s Run, ferry to Bainbridge by tobiaseigen.