Are you looking for an ideal day trip or weekend getaway from Seattle to recharge yourself from the hectic city life? Just a short ferry ride from your Seattle vacation home rental is the beautiful island of Bainbridge.
Located in the heart of Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island is a beautiful paradise that more than 25,000 residents call home. With breathtaking views and plenty of outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone within easy reach on this picturesque island.
Touring the region by bike or car affords quintessential views of quaint shops, art galleries, and stunning views of nature, making it one of the best day trips that Seattle has to offer.
Also known as “The City of Subdued Excitement,” Bainbridge Island has acquired a reputation as a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city, making it the perfect place to reconnect with the slow life.
Getting to Bainbridge Island
Traveling from Seattle to Bainbridge Island requires taking a short ferry ride operated by Washington State Ferries from Downtown Seattle.
Specifically, you’ll leave from the Seattle Ferry Terminal at Pier 52. For reference, the terminal is several blocks south of the famous Pike Place Market.
While it’s true that you could technically drive around to Bainbridge, with the cost of gas and the requirement of more than two hours on the road, we’d suggest just taking the ferry and enjoying the views of Seattle from the water instead.
What’s more, the ferry ride can be exhilarating, especially on a clear day! You’ll be able to take in views of Mount Baker to the north, the Olympics to the west, Mount Rainier to the south, and Seattle to the east.
About the Bainbridge Island Ferry
- Schedule: The ferry runs every 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the schedule.
- Time: The crossing takes 35 minutes.
- Adults: Adult walk-on is $9.25 per adult
- Kids: Kid walk-on: $4.60
- Cars: Car fare (including driver) is $16.40
The Seattle to Bainbridge ferry is a carefree, cost-effective means of transport to get you to this dreamy day trip destination.
A bonus of traveling as a walk-on is that you only have to pay the fare one way, and your trip back to Seattle will be free. If you drive on, you must pay the car’s fee both ways, but all passengers inside the car will be free to return to Seattle.
Getting Around Bainbridge Island
Do You Need a Car?
When arriving on the ferry from Winslow, you’ll find the downtown area to be conveniently located within walking distance – a half mile from the ferry dock. The town itself is very walkable and a day could be spent just there exploring.
For those looking to explore Bainbridge Island’s inland beauty, places like the mesmerizing Bloedel Reserve, for example, having a car, is a better idea.
How to Explore Bainbridge Island Without a Car
If you are without a car, you can choose from a couple of other transportation options for getting around Bainbridge Island.
- Rent a bike.
- Hop on a bus.
- Take a shuttle service. (Ride Pingo is free for children and costs $2 for adults)
What to Do on Bainbridge Island
Once you disembark the ferry, follow Winslow Way and journey into town, where three hotspots will greet you: The Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bainbridge Brewing Alehouse, and Fletcher Bay Winery.
If you arrive early enough, stopping at one of these places is a great way to break away from the swelling throng of other venturers strolling around town.
In the meantime, you can check out the nearby boutiques and specialty shops; or grab a coffee at Blackbird Bakery off Madrone Lane before you head deeper into the island.
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art
The museum boasts remarkable art shows that rotate every three months. Make sure to explore their library and roam the corridors to locate additional artworks.
Outside awaits a courtyard featuring a water feature. If you are famished within the museum, there is BIMA Bistro with inside and outside seating options. The Kids Discovery Museum is located behind the art museum, which is particularly suitable for younger children.
Bainbridge Museum of Art, with no admission fee, is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.
Downtown Bainbridge Island is known as Winslow, a captivatingly cute and walkable town. With petite shops, a bookstore, a food market, pastry shops, frozen yogurt, and local eateries, Winslow was built for wanderers.
As far as cuisine goes, there are quite a few savory options to choose between (but why only pick one?). The downtown location is crammed with eateries and curious stores ready to be experienced. But daytrippers beware! Most businesses and restaurants shut by 6 pm, so be sure to factor that into your plans as you prepare to explore the rest of the island.
Nature lovers, unite! The Bloedel Reserve utilizes the region’s picturesque landscape to craft an impressive array of gardens and distinct landscapes using nature as its canvas and paint across 150 acres.
The highlight of the twelve official gardens is an authentic Japanese Tea House and Garden, which offers a perfectly tranquil reprieve from the hustle and bustle of life outside the island.
Ticketing pricing varies, but children under four are free. Walk-ups are not permitted, so be sure to book your timed tickets in advance.
While Seattle has its share of great beaches, this island offers something a little more remote and rustic on its sandy shores. Bainbridge Island has 53 miles of shoreline, giving you plenty of beach options to take in its particularly diverse flavor of nature.
Lytle Beach’s small public area at the end of a road is especially pleasant. The beach epitomizes the surrounding community with donated BBQs, paddleboards, and lifejackets donated and available for visitor use. Pick up lunch or a snack from downtown and be mesmerized by the bustling Seattle to Bremerton ferry route!
Exploring Grand Forest, with its 240 acres of towering growth of moss-covered trees, is almost like being in Olympic National Park — without having to travel three hours by car from Seattle.
It’s a great retreat to take during rainy days; the trees shield you from the wetness while hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders traverse its eight miles of trails.
Halls Hill Lookout and Labyrinth
Stop in to appreciate the beauty of nature and art from Northwest creators and interact with the installments for an afternoon of quiet contemplation.
Portland artist Jeffrey Bale created a maze employing stones gathered from Bainbridge beaches. At the same time, Chimacum artisan Tom Jay constructed the bronze community prayer wheel that chimes after rotating it nine times.
Provided by a generous neighbor, there are only five parking spots on the side of this road, so come early to enjoy the lookout and art installations.
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial
The 276-foot-long wall made of red cedar, granite, and basalt that lands at the Eagledale ferry dock commemorates the 276 Japanese and Japanese Americans who were forced out of their homes in 1942 by soldiers with rifles and bayonets and sent to incarceration camps during World War II.
The citizens who were banished from their West Coast homes and sent to camps are honored here with this historical piece of great solemnity and beauty.
The Island is a haven for numerous prize-winning vineyards operated by devoted people who generate excellent wine. In total, there are seven wineries around the island. We highly suggest embarking on a wine-sampling route, tasting the vintages from each winery. A small number of them even provide vineyard jaunts such as Bainbridge Vineyards.
Eleven Winery is situated on Day Road and is an exemplary choice when it comes to tasting wine on the island.
This gorgeous winery is operated by the founder, Matt Albee, and his better half, Sarah. Environmentally conscious (quite on-brand for the Pacific Northwest), it is the first carbon-neutral winery in Washington State. The tasting flight ($15 per person) allows you to test five wines from a long list of their top wines according to your taste.
Where to Eat on Bainbridge Island
No day trip is complete without a long, leisurely lunch (and maybe a bit boozy) lunch.
You won’t be strapped for choices when looking for places to eat and drink in Downtown Winslow. Most of the coffee shops and eateries are within walking distance and can be found along Winslow Way, Madison Avenue, or Parfitt Way.
What would a small-town community be without its classic breakfast diner?
Streamliner Diner is a popular spot on Bainbridge Island known for its hearty breakfast and Italian bistro in the evening. It has been voted the best breakfast spot on the island.
The chef prepares homemade buttermilk biscuits with jam every day, and they can be served as a side dish with anything on the menu.
We think you’ll be pleased with anything you order from the menu. But Pacific Northwest Salmon Eggs Benedict is a can’t-miss option if you want something unique to the area.
Don’t be discouraged by the long line outside – it’s definitely worth the wait!
Bainbridge Brewing Alehouse and Fletcher Bay Winery Tasting Room
These are ideal spots to visit if you have an affection for beer or enjoy wine tasting, and a homerun if the answer is yes to both.
Bainbridge Brewing Alehouse is open from 2 pm Monday through Thursday and from 12 pm on Saturdays and Sundays (21+ only).
The testing room at Fletcher Bay Winery is open every day throughout the summer, starting at 12 pm.
If you’re a fan of Neapolitan-style pizza, Bruciato is the place for you! Located in an antiquated hardware shop, this eatery and bar are decorated with a full-service bar and wood-burning stove.
This locale is the community gathering spot, and the menu–which is subject to the head chef’s discretion–rotates depending on what fruits and vegetables are in season. Even more entertaining, you get to cut your own pizza with scissors (how fun is that?).
This restaurant takes pride in creating uncomplicated dishes in a straightforward process, and you can watch it all happen in their wood-heated oven.
Blackbird Bakery is a Bainbridge landmark, offering an array of delicious baked goods, coffee (try the salted rosemary latte!), cakes, and other special treats.
This long-standing bakery (one of the oldest on the island) is much-beloved by locals. If you want to order like a local, don’t skip the thickly sliced and delectably buttered toast, best paired with one of their house-made soups (fingers crossed it’s the chowder!).
Mora Iced Creamery
They’re determined to make ice cream the old-fashioned way, so you might see them peeling pears, chopping mint, or preparing any other fresh ingredients that go into their addictive scoops.
Mora’s is insanely popular, so be sure to get there early before your favorite flavor runs out! But if you do, you can taste your way through their 47 other flavors until you find one (or two or three) you like.
You can count on a long queue if it’s summertime, but we believe the wait is truly worth it! This is a dessert that would make any foodie rejoice.
Emmy’s Vege House
Finding the ideal spot to eat out when on a special diet can be challenging, but rest assured that Bainbridge Island offers Emmy’s Vege House, a relaxed vegetarian and vegan eatery with al fresco seating. Bring your appetite and tuck into their globally inspired menu.
Day Trip Bliss in Bainbridge Island
Whether you wish to take it slow or explore all that the island has to offer, we have compiled a list of must-see attractions, restaurants, and activities that will make your day trip unforgettable!
Visiting Bainbridge Island is the perfect way to spend a day from your Seattle vacation home rental!