Bainbridge Island is an island west of Seattle that is entirely surrounded by salt water and known for its outstanding natural beauty, rustic character and close location to Seattle. A ride with one of the Washington State Ferries from Pier 52 takes you to the island in no time. Make sure to give yourself a little extra travel time, especially on the weekends and when you’re traveling by vehicle, as ferries tend to fill up fast. Walk-on passengers are advised to be at the pier with enough time to beat lines at the ticket counters, but 15 minutes before scheduled departure should be plenty of time.
The crossing time to Bainbridge lasts about 35 minutes and offers a spectacular view of Seattle’s skyline across Elliott Bay. Passengers can choose to sit in one of the many seats inside and enjoy something from the café or head out on the deck to catch the Puget Sound breeze and views of the Space Needle and downtown Seattle. Once the ferry docks onto the pier follow the signs to the ferry terminal and start enjoying the lush and green scenery. Whether you arrive by foot or by car, there is plenty to do, to eat and to see.
For on-foot visitors, I highly recommend a walk down the waterfront trail, a trail that starts from the waterfront park close to the ferry terminal and leaves visitors with the opportunity to choose the 2 mile long western loop or the 1.5 mile eastern route. The eastern route takes hikers alongside the beach and the woods, the western trail offers parks, restaurants and historical sites. Both trails are walkable within an hour and require no special training. Picnic areas and benches can be found along the trail if you prefer to pack your own lunch.
A brand new attraction on the island is the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art in downtown Winslow. The museum showcases contemporary art from local artists in the Kitsap, Puget Sound and Olympic peninsula region. And the best thing – admission is free! Another fun thing to do is a visit of one of the 6 wineries around the island, 3 of them with tasting facilities in walking distance from the ferry. (Photo Credit: Dave Curran)
If you are interested in renting sporting equipment, Bainbridge Island is a perfect destination for you. Back of Beyond is located in short walking distance to the ferry pier and offers kayak, canoe and paddle board rentals. In case you don’t feel comfortable yet on any of these vehicles, don’t worry! Experienced guides are happy to give you an introduction and may even tell you about spots worth paddling to. For the bikers amongst you, check out Bike Barn Rentals right next to the ferry terminal and enjoy the ride!
Downtown Winslow is known for its cozy, cute little shops and restaurants and is definitely worth a stroll. Recommended restaurants to stop at are Café Nola that serves European Style food, Pegasus Coffee House which is known for making use of local produces and the Harbour Public House which is well-known for their hamburgers and fish and chips. If you still have room for dessert, pay a visit to Bon Bon Confections to taste fabulous chocolates or Mora Iced Creamery to indulge in extraordinary ice cream!
Bainbridge Island’s newest type of transportation is called the Bi-Ride operating on two routes starting from the ferry terminal– and the best thing: it is only $7! The North Loop bus takes you through downtown Winslow, the Bloedel Reserve - a 150 acres wildlife sanctuary and anterior estate with a Japanese Garden, a rhododendron glen and a wide garden with native plants and famous Northwest evergreens – and to the popular frog rock. Another stop is at Fay Bainbridge Park, a 17-acre park with camping, boating, fishing facilities and a great view of Seattle, the Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains. The last stop is the Rolling Bay Neighborhood Service Center that features a nursery, gift shop, bakery and coffee shop. The South Loop brings you past Coppertop, a distillery, brewery, winery and café, followed by Bainbridge Gardens nursery and garden center, the grand forest and Battle Point Park that offers picnic areas, a playground and a running track. Additional stops include the Island Center, Pleasant Beach Village and Fort Ward Park, the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial and Downtown Winslow Way.
Bainbridge Island may be a ferry ride away from Seattle Southside, but I promise you it is definitely worth it to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city – there’s no better place to do just that than on Bainbridge Island with its scenery, beaches, parks and trails, attractions and wineries!