Dreaming of Travel: Bainbridge Island, WA
Bainbridge Island is a small city in Washington state, just outside of Seattle and accessible by ferry. Though there are many islands in Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island is arguably the most accessible island and offers beaches, outdoor adventures, and walkable downtown areas for a Seattle-based day trip. It's a fun place to add to your travel bucket list!
There are several inns as well as AirBnB's on the island, but if you want to stay in Seattle, Bainbridge is an easy day trip.
While the Bainbridge ferry is typically the most reliable, worker shortages mean they occasionally limit service so it’s a good idea to verify the timing on the morning of your trip. You’ll want to time your arrival at least 20-30 minutes before departure time. The Bremerton ferry departs from the same location, so make sure you tell the toll booth operator your destination.
While a car gives you the most flexibility, you have the option to walk on the ferry, which is less expensive and basically guarantees you a spot on the boat. The downtown Winslow area (which includes museums and most restaurants) is within walking distance from the ferry. BI Ride, a relatively new service, provides low-cost shared rides during the day when bus service is not available.
What to do
Downtown Winslow Activities
Kids Discovery Museum - This museum is the perfect size for tots and early elementary-aged kids, and it’s within walking distance from the ferry. Crowd favorites like a grocery store, bank, and indoor treehouse remain static (there’s also a small outdoor space), but the STEM-focused learning spaces change regularly. The space shares a parking lot with the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (which has free admission, so it’s a risk-free way to introduce kids to art).
Moritani Preserve - This former strawberry farm (whose Japanese-American owners were incarcerated during World War II) is the perfect green space for a stroll. Picnic under the cherry blossoms in the spring and explore the remnants of farm equipment and informative signs describing the park’s heritage.
Battle Point Park - the epic ferry-themed KidsUp! playground with accessible features and climbable orcas awaits at this park. You’ll also find a pump track, sports opportunities (including more rare options like roller hockey and disc golf), and an easy Forest-to-Sky trail that connects with Grand Forest.
Bainbridge Japanese Exclusion Memorial and Pritchard Park - if you have limited time on Bainbridge, this two-spot combo is a great contender (they share a parking entrance). Turn left at the entrance for the Memorial. It’s part of the Minidoka National Historic Site and is a touching tribute to the many Japanese-Americans who lived on Bainbridge and were forcibly removed from their homes during WWII. On the other side of the parking lot is Pritchard Park. A short walk down a hill will lead you to a beach area. The landscape offers natural protection and some shallow water with views of the ferry dock and downtown Seattle.
Fort Ward Park - Bainbridge is full of hiking trails (Grand Forest and Gazzam Lake are other fun options), but Fort Ward has a little of everything. There’s a rocky shoreline where you can sometimes find sea glass, old bunkers covered in colorful graffiti, and a network of kid-friendly trails where you can sometimes spot a fairy house or two.
Suquamish Museum - the Suquamish people have lived and stewarded the land around Bainbridge for thousands of years. This museum, located on the Port Madison Reservation just north of the island, offers a glimpse into their contemporary and traditional culture. Nearby, you’ll find the gravesite of Chief Seattle and a beautiful nature-inspired playground.
Bloedel Reserve - While this 150-acre garden and forested space are spectacular year-round, we especially love their seasonal events. There’s a gourd scavenger hunt in the fall and a holiday event each winter. We’ve enjoyed “Winter in the Woods” for the past two years, which features forest creatures and snow people made from natural materials like tree trunk slices and evergreen boughs.
Pleasant Beach Village - This community in the Lynwood neighborhood on Bainbridge usually has something fun happening. This winter, we enjoyed their outdoor ice skating rink and dined under a beautifully lit tent at Joe’s Restaurant.
Kids Discovery Museum - This spot bears repeating! We loved their sock skating rink this past winter and have participated in their spring Explore Bainbridge kit (with activities based on Bainbridge gems around the island) since its inception in 2021.
Where to eat
Make sure your trip includes plenty of opportunities to eat — you’ll find great options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We love the waffles at Streamliner Diner and the hot drinks from ivy-covered Pegasus Coffee.
Pick up takeout from SuBi Sushi, Proper Fish (the fish and chips portions are huge, so consider sharing with little ones), or Thuy’s Pho House. We love to bring it to the open-air tables on Madrone Lane or the grassy lawn in front of the Bainbridge Performing Arts Center (where you might also find a summer evening concert). You’ll also find delicious Neapolitan-style pizza at Bruciato and gourmet sides and salads.
As regular visitors to Bainbridge Island, my family and I have had a chance to enjoy many of the parks, restaurants, and museums and still feel like we’re always discovering something new. Bainbridge is a must-visit destination for any family that loves the outdoors!
Have you been to Bainbridge Island? What did you think!? If you have any great photos of your family enjoying a day out here (or anywhere for that matter!), be sure to tag us on Instagram @gethappyly for a chance to be featured!
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