A Day on Bainbridge Island Off the Beaten Path

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person fish during sunset during a day on Bainbridge Island

Spending a day on Bainbridge Island is the perfect way to escape Seattle. It’s only a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle, but is has about 28 square miles and 53 miles of shoreline to explore. Whether you like shopping, restaurants, wineries, hikes, or beaches, there’s something for you on Bainbridge.

Here’s how I’d spend my perfect day on Bainbridge Island.

How to Spend a Day On Bainbridge Island

If this itinerary doesn’t work for you, let me plan you a custom itinerary full of all your favorite things!

8:45 AM: Leave for the ferry

Since the ferry terminal is in downtown Seattle and the ferry ride is only 35 minutes, you don’t have to leave at the crack of dawn to make the most of a day on Bainbridge Island. In fact, the last time we went to Bainbridge Island, we made an impromptu decision at 11:30 am to go, got on a ferry around 12:30 pm, and were at our first stop by 1:15 pm. The ability to be spontaneous is especially true when it’s not summer, so consider visiting Bainbridge when it’s spring in Seattle.

There are a lot of ferries going across the Puget Sound connecting Seattle and Bainbridge, so you don’t have to worry about making a ferry reservation like you would if traveling to some of the other islands near Seattle.

While downtown Bainbridge is a short walk from the ferry terminal, I recommend you bring your car to make the most of your time on the island.

downtown Seattle cityscape view from the Bainbridge Island ferry

10 AM: Explore downtown Bainbridge

Assuming you got on a ferry around 9:30 – 10 AM, you’ll arrive in Bainbridge sometime between 10 – 10:30 AM. If you didn’t bring a car, walk from the ferry about 5 minutes to downtown Bainbridge, called Winslow, and pop into shops that interest you.

There are a ton of cute ones, including Salt House Mercantile, Petit & Olson, Millstream, Danger, Adorn, and Eagle Harbor Books.

If you love art, check out the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. It has 6-8 rotating exhibits and a permanent collection from contemporary Pacific Northwest artists. Admission is free with a suggested donation.

They also have a really good gift shop that’s a great place to buy souvenirs. You’ll find some of my favorite local jewelry makers as well as makers offering some of the best Seattle gifts online.

downtown Bainbridge Island main street

12 PM: Get lunch

A day on Bainbridge Island wouldn’t be complete without some eats. A lot of the best restaurants on Bainbridge Island are located in downtown Bainbridge, so stop in whenever you start feeling peckish. One option is Proper Fish for some of the best fish and chips you’ll ever have. They used to be a food truck serving some of the best seafood in Seattle, but moved to Bainbridge to open up a permanent location. It’s so good, it’s one of the best restaurants worth the drive from Seattle.

If you’re not craving fish and chips, definitely stop at Hitchcock Deli. This place serves unbelievable sandwiches, such as their burgers or homemade pastrami.

Or, do what I’d likely do, and just go to both places. 😂

Proper Fish, one of the best restaurants to visit on a day in Bainbridge Island

fish and chips you have to try during a day in Bainbridge Island

Hitchcock Deli in Bainbridge Island downtown

person holding up cheeseburger during one day on Bainbridge Island

1 PM: Go wine tasting

Bainbridge Island has 8 wineries. You’ll find some of the best wineries in the Pacific Northwest here, some of which grow grapes right on the island! While some of them having tasting rooms in Winslow, I prefer to check out the ambiance of their winery.

How many wineries you can visit on a day to Bainbridge Island will depend on how fast you’re able to move. When it’s just Dan and me, we can hit up 5 in few hours since we usually split a tasting at each stop.

If you can only go to one winery, visit Bainbridge Vineyards. They serve about 1,200 cases a year of organic, estate-grown wines made with some interesting white grape varietals you’ll only see in the Puget Sound AVA. They also have good ambiance with patio furniture strewn around the tasting room and a pumpkin patch near the vineyards open for u-pick in October.

Bainbridge Island Vineyards, where to go during a day on Bainbridge Island

If you can hit up more than one, check out Eleven Winery. This is my favorite winery on the island. Even though they use grapes from eastern Washington, they’re making about 3,500 cases a year of impeccable wines meant to be paired with food.

They also have a fun vibe with friendly staff. The tasting room is built in a warehouse, and you’re greeted with bikes as soon as you arrive. That’s because owner, Matt Albee, used to be a professional bike racer before turning to winemaking. The winery is named after the eleventh gear of a road bike, which is responsible for producing the maximum gear ratio racers use when they have to give it all or nothing to try and win the end of a race.

Eleven Winery

3:30 PM: Stroll Grand Forest

This is a great way to work off some of those wine tastes. Grand Forest is a network of 7 miles of easy wooded walking trails. There are plenty of options to do short loops, rather than commit to all 7 miles. In under half a mile you can get some great photos over bridges and stumble on a serene pond.

There are actually 3 sections of Grand Forest: West, East, and North. West and East are connected by a trail so they’re the most visited, but there’s a small area up north frequented by locals.

Make sure to take a picture of the map when you get to the entrance and pay close attention to the markers on the trail. While it’s pretty straightforward to track your steps backwards and, therefore, unlikely you’ll get lost, Dan did comment that the options for different loops had confusing turns. We had to backtrack a few times to make sure we didn’t accidentally do a longer walk than intended.

woman crossing bridge in woods

4:30 PM: Go beer tasting

Bainbridge Brewing is the only brewery on Bainbridge. You can choose from 2 locations, the alehouse downtown or the taproom up north. I recommend avoiding the tourists and going to the taproom up north. The alehouse is right by the ferry terminal and is often a zoo!

Owner and brew master Russell Everett was born on Bainbridge. He started in home brewing and decided to do it full time. He makes both balanced year-round beers and more experimental seasonals, like a raspberry wheat. Get a tasting flight to try a few different ones!

If you have time during your day on Bainbridge Island, you can also hit up Fletcher Bay Winery and Bainbridge Island Distillers next door. At Fletcher Bay, don’t miss the sort of hidden back patio if it’s nice out!

woman drinking wine on patio

6 PM: Explore parks in south Bainbridge Island

There are a bunch of parks and beaches perfect for a visit when spending a day on Bainbridge Island. For beach views, check out Rockaway Beach or Lytle Beach. Rockaway is on the southeast coast and offers sweeping views of Seattle and the Cascade Mountains. Lytle is just up the way from Fort Ward and provides a local’s-only vibe since it is right in the backyard of some beautiful waterfront homes (but don’t worry, it’s a public beach!).

You can also get some beach views at Fort Ward State Park. This fort was used after World War II for training and communications back to Seattle to ensure the protection of the Bremerton Naval Base. You can still see two historic arms batteries within the 137 acre state park.

person fishing at sunset

Another option when you have a day on Bainbridge Island is Bloedel Reserve. This 150-acre nature reserve offers different landscaped areas perfect for strolls and photos. For example, you’ll find a Japanese Garden, a moss garden, and a reflection pool. It requires a ~$17 admission per adult, and they’re capping visits to 2 hours during COVID-19.

If you’re really into the outdoors and finding offbeat spots, Bainbridge’s park system has a helpful trail finder map.

7:30 PM: Get dinner back in downtown Bainbridge

You’re probably hungry after all that walking and drinking! Head back to Winslow for dinner. My top choice is Bruciato, which I’d definitely add to my list of the best pizza in Seattle if they were on my side of the Puget Sound.

Bruciato restaurant

pizza from a restaurant

fork picking up meatballs

Another option is Ba Sa, a Vietnamese restaurant with a cute outdoor patio. Some of their most popular dishes are their taro spring rolls and chili prawns. I really enjoy their Bun Cha Ha Noi, which is a dish served with vermicelli noodles, pork skewer, beef patties, taro spring rolls, nuoc cham, and greens so you can make yummy little lettuce wraps.

After dinner, Mora Ice Cream is worth a visit. They now have multiple locations across the US, but they go their start on Bainbridge Island and expanded after people kept requesting they ship their handmade ice cream made with milk, cane sugar, and natural ingredients versus mixes.

chicken bao sandwiches at a restaurant worth stopping at during your day in Bainbridge Island

bowl of beef noodle soup during a day on Bainbridge Island

9 PM: Take the ferry back to Seattle

Full and happy, head to the ferry terminal to take the ferry ride back to downtown Seattle. The Seattle ferry runs pretty regularly so you, but try to get in line about 30 minutes before departure to make sure you get on it.

Bainbridge Island Guide

Here’s some more information to help you make the most of a day on Bainbridge Island.

History of Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island was inhabited by white settlers in the 1870s, but like most of the land in the Pacific Northwest, native people owned the land for thousands of years. The sakh-TAHBSH band of the Suquamish tribe ceded Bainbridge Island to the Americans as part of the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855.

The island started as a farming town, most famously known for the strawberries grown by Japanese Americans. The predominant history see-sawed over the course of Bainbridge’s history, cycling through farming to shipyards to timber and back as different historical moments occurred. For example, strawberry fields owned by Japanese Americans were halted during World War II when the Japanese Americans were sent to prison camps.

You can learn more about Bainbridge’s rich history via History Link if you’re interested.

ferry on the water on Bainbridge Island

How to Get There

Getting to Bainbridge Island requires a ferry ride, which you can walk, bike, or drive onto. The Seattle ferry terminal is located in downtown Seattle a little ways south of the Seattle Aquarium and big ferris wheel. Ferries run about every 45-60 minutes both weekdays and weekends starting at around 6 AM through about midnight. Given how often they come, you can take an impromptu day trip without worrying about making a ferry reservation.

How Long It Takes to Get to Bainbridge Island

Visiting Bainbridge Island is one of the best scenic day trips from Seattle given its beauty and proximity to the city. You can make the trip from Seattle in 35 minutes, which means it’s possible to get there from your house in under an hour.

pond in Grand Forest, a must visit during a one day on Bainbridge Island

How Much the Ferry Costs

The ferry costs $9 per adult, $4.50 for kids and seniors, and $16 per regular-sized vehicle each way. Depending on how many people you have, their ages, and whether you bring a vehicle, you’re looking at around $20 – $135 round trip for your Bainbridge trip from Seattle.

Weather on Bainbridge Island

Like the rest of the western Pacific Northwest, Bainbridge Island has a mild marine climate. It rarely snows, is often rainy November through May, and usually sits at comfortable temperatures in the 70s during summer.

Map of Things to Do on Bainbridge Island

Here’s my map of things to do on Bainbridge Island to give you a sense of space. You’ll find more places than recommended in this guide, either because I haven’t been yet or I thought it was just ok. If you want more ideas, check it out!

Other Islands Near Seattle to Explore

There are 10 islands near Seattle worth exploring, for example:

  • Vashon Island (30 minutes from Seattle)
  • Whidbey Island (1.5 hours from Seattle)
  • Lummi Island (2.5 hours from Seattle)
  • San Juan Island (3 hours from Seattle)

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