Now you might be looking at the title and asking yourself, “How on earth could I take a scenic drive to an island?” Why, on the Washington State Ferries, of course! Our ferry system crisscrosses the Puget Sound in multiple places, making it much easier to access islands and remote peninsulas. You can drive your car right onto the ferries, making a drive to any of the destinations they serve a breeze. Plus, the view from the deck of a ferry is absolutely stunning, so it definitely qualifies as scenic!
Bainbridge Island Ferry
The ferry docking at Bainbridge Island.
Starting in Seattle Southside, take 99 North for a more scenic route to Seattle with views of the Duwamish River and the Port of Seattle, as well as our Stadium District, SoDo. You’ll start to see signs for the ferry terminal as you near downtown. At the Ferry Terminal, follow signs for the Bainbridge Ferry – there are two different ferries from this terminal so make sure you’re taking the right one!
Once you’ve parked on the ferry, you can get out and enjoy the approximately 35-minute ferry ride with stunning views from the decks, or if it’s a bit windy you can choose to sit in the indoor seating area. Galley service has returned to some of the ferries after a temporary closure during the pandemic, and all ferries have vending machines available for snacks if you need something to eat during your ride. Be sure to keep an ear open for P.A. announcements so that you can hear when you need to return to your car prior to docking.
Bainbridge Island Scenic Drive
You can spot this fun rock sculpture at the Bainbridge Marina!
After you get off the ferry, explore the beautiful environs around Bainbridge Island, which we’ve gone into greater detail on in our Bainbridge Island Day Trip post. You can make a loop of some of the highlights of Bainbridge’s attractions by taking a left on Winslow Way after you disembark, which will take you past the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and the historical Town & Country Market. Turn right up Madison to cruise past City Hall, then turn left on Wyatt. Wyatt will become Eagle Harbor Drive, which forms a loop past the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, Pritchard Park, Rockaway Beach, and Blakely Harbor. The road changes names to Blakely Avenue after the harbor and turns back northward through beautiful wooded environs. Hang a left onto Bucklin Hill, then right onto Fletcher Bay Road. This road, which later becomes Miller Road, takes you through the heart of the countryside past farms and gardens, including historic Bainbridge Gardens.
Miller Road eventually will take you to State Highway 305. Going southbound will return you to the city of Bainbridge and the Bainbridge Ferry for a return trip to Seattle. If you want a longer adventure, you can take the highway north, eventually crossing Agate Pass Bridge to the Kitsap Peninsula, which has many beautiful sights of its own. That’s a scenic drive for another day, however, as we leave Bainbridge Island in our rearview mirror.
Explore Bainbridge Island via Scooter
If you feel like leaving the car and exploring the island on two wheels, rent a scooter! Read below to see how two friends spent the day exploring Bainbridge Island.
To start the day off we drove down to the ferry terminal at Pier 52 and parked on the street and since it was Sunday, it was free! On the walk to the ferry we stopped at Starbucks for a coffee and breakfast to enjoy on the ride over to the island because the food selection is limited and a little pricey on the ferry. After purchasing our walk-on passenger tickets for $7.70 each, we boarded the boat and while we waited for departure we took some photos of the new Ferris wheel that had just opened. It is best for walk-on passengers to arrive 15 minutes before sailing to ensure you will make it on time. Vehicles should arrive at least 30 minutes in advance.
The ride over to Bainbridge was a short 35 minute trip. (WSDOT Ferry schedule) We sat inside in the lower section of the boat since it was still a bit chilly out on the water in the morning. After we docked we walked two blocks to meet up with Don from BI Scooter Rental. I had called ahead to reserve our scooters and it was a good thing because more people showed up wanting to rent and there were not enough to go around.
After driving some practice laps around the parking lot and paying $75 each to rent the scooters for the day we were off on our journey. We headed up Ferncliff Avenue and connected up with Manitou Beach Drive where we passed through a park and rode along the water. Eventually we got to Sunrise Drive which took us all the way to Fay Bainbridge Island State Park where we walked along the beach and had a clear view of Mt. Rainier.
Speeding along the tree covered roads through pastures and up and over hills we eventually made our way to the west side of the island. For a short break we stopped at Bainbridge Gardens to visit the nursery and gift shop. By then we were getting hungry.
Lunch at the Treehouse Cafe consisted of the tasty and filling Rockaway pizza and a salad. Because it was so nice out patio seating was full so we took a window table inside instead. Afterwards we moseyed on over to Fort Ward Park where we pulled over and walked along a trail into the park. Since the sun was out we rested on the grass overlooking the water and soaked up some rays. Heading out along Southeast Beach Drive we passed cute little beach houses and as the road turned into Country Club road the houses got bigger and fancier. In between the houses there was the most amazing view of Seattle especially along Rockaway Beach Road.
Once we reached the small town of Winslow we decided to explore the community and local shops. We stopped at a shabby chic vintage store, Salt & Sea shop, then were engulfed in the heavenly scent of fudge at Bon Bon Confections, looked at unique Pacific Northwest gifts at Millstream and tasted a few wines at Eleven Winery. For a list of more shops, visit the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association.
For dinner, Lindsey and I stopped at the Harbour Public House and it felt like we walked into a comfortable old bar where everyone should know our names. We each ordered a hefeweizen and the fish and chips which was the perfect combination of crunchy outside and tender fish. Patio seating was available here and it overlooked the marina and a fantastic view of the Puget Sound and Seattle as the sun set.
MORA Iced Creamery was open until 10:00pm so we stopped there after dinner. Lindsey ordered the chocolate peanut butter moreo and I had the mint with shaved chocolate. Very delicious! By then it was getting dark and time to return the scooters and hop back on the ferry to get home.
Lindsey and I had a great time on Bainbridge Island and we look forward to exploring more islands around the Puget Sound!
For more information about Bainbridge Island visit Kitsap Peninsula's Visitor & Convention & Visitor Bureau.