Bainbridge Island is at once low-key and relaxed, yet filled with things to do. This island is attached to the rest of the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington state via Agate Pass Bridge on Highway 305 and you can also get there via a ferry from Seattle. Expect lots of nature, meandering roads, beaches, parks and the adorable hub of Winslow in the heart of it all. Whether you’re looking to spend some time outdoors, get out on the water, shop, eat or visit museums, Bainbridge Island has got something in store for you. In no particular order, here are the best…
Things to Do on Bainbridge Island
Visit a Park
Whether you visit Bainbridge Island by yourself, with friends, with a date, or with kids, you should set some time aside to hang out at a park. The island has green spaces that range from the expansive Grand Forest where you can go on a hike through the trees, to parks with paved walking trails along the shore like Fort Ward Park, to fun places for the kids to run free like Owen’s Playground. There’s even a park right in Winslow on the water called Waterfront Park. The island itself is a natural paradise and the parks are no exception.
Fay Bainbridge Park
One park I loved beyond all other parks (that’s why it gets its own paragraph) is Fay Bainbridge Park. This little beachfront happy place is located close to Agate Pass Bridge on the northern end of the island. We decided to stop there for the beach and because we have a toddler who thinks beaches are the best places in the entire world (and she’s not wrong). The park is 17 acres of awesomeness. The beach is filled with driftwood and shells perfect for wondering little minds to explore, and its long enough for a little walk. There’s a great playground and picnic tables and shelters galore. You can even camp at this park at tent sites, RV sites and cabins! There’s a lot in a small space here.
Location: 15446 Sunrise Drive NE
Japanese American Exclusion Memorial
On March 30, 1942, as a result of a presidential order, 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans were sent off to concentration camps, leaving from the site of what is now the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. Rather than a single stone monument, this memorial is more of an experience, leading you to retrace the steps of those who walked here on their way to the ferry dock. You’ll walk along wooden pathways through the woods that twist and turn and finally lead down to the actual memorial, which is a wavy wall with the names of 276 Japanese Americans who were forced off of Bainbridge Island (which later welcomed them home). I visited this spot on my own as my toddler was too busy protesting leaving the beach, but it’s entirely kid friendly and a great way to talk about a tough part of American history with older kids.
Location: 4192 Eagle Harbor Drive
The Bloedel Reserve features 150 acres of sheer beauty. Founded by Prentice and Virginia Bloedel, this swath of land was once like the rest of the island – beautiful but a bit wild. Today, it’s a marvel of landscaping that’s good for the soul. Expect several curated gardens, structures, a gift shop, as well as plenty of programs and events if a stroll through this beautiful place just isn’t enough.
Location: 7571 NE Dolphin Drive
Ride the Ferry to Seattle
The ferry is just not a way to get from point A to point B. The Bainbridge Island to Seattle ferry is also a nice cruise across the Puget Sound for an affordable price (under $10 per person plus the cost of parking if you walk on, more if you drive on). Leaving Bainbridge Island, you’ll see the Seattle skyline in the distance and you can watch as it gets closer and closer. Keep an eye on the water for seals, porpoises, seabirds, and other wildlife. There’s a restaurant at the center of the main deck where you can grab some snacks or chowder while you cruise. Don’t forget to enjoy the views. You can walk about freely and stand either inside or grab a window seat inside.
Eat and Drink
Bainbridge Island’s restaurants are located primarily in the small town of Winslow, but even though it’s small, there’s a whole lot packed into these town blocks. Enjoy a baked good from Blackbird Bakery, or some delectable ice cream from Mora. Or go for a sit-down restaurant like Doc’s Marina Grill on the water or Harbour Public House. You’ll also find wineries and a couple breweries dotting the island. Don’t think about it too much. Wander and pop into something that catches your eye. You’ll spot a few chains here, but most are local restaurants.
Walk around Winslow
Winslow is small, but has a lot of businesses packed into a small space. You can park right on Winslow Way if you can find a spot, and there are a few parking lots scattered around if not. You’ll spot a bit of everything – clothing shops, book stores, places to eat, pet supply stores, a toy store. The Winslow Mall is a treat if you’re a shopper as it’s open air, but still has a roof over it to offer the best of both worlds. Explore the clothing shops, taste some wine, or enjoy a pastry from Coquette, a little bake shop right at the entrance. Or stop in at Town & Country Market to pick up some groceries, cheese, wine, or any number of ready-made meals to take with you. If you got to Bainbridge Island via the ferry, you can get to Winslow within a few minutes of walking from the ferry dock.
Kids Discovery Museum
This was one of the best kids museums I’ve ever been to. It’s small, but mighty and has especially engaging exhibits to explore. On the first floor is a big tree house that kids can climb into (no adults allowed), as well as several sets kids can use to pretend, including a bank complete with an ATM and teller station, a grocery store, a construction site, and a car big enough for even an adult to climb into. Upstairs are all kinds of interactive displays, from a huge train track to physics experiments galore involving golf balls and gravity and all kinds of slopes, a really big Lite-Bright, giant blocks and some art activities too. The museum is within an easy walk of the ferry dock, too.
Location: 301 Ravine Lane NE
Bainbridge Art Museum
Located in the same parking lot as the Kids Discover Museum, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art features exhibitions by artists and from collections in the Puget Sound, and the exhibitions turn over three times each year so there’s always something new to see. Along with the art, you’ll find classes, lectures, films, workshops, and more. Kids can enjoy some hands-on art activities too. Admission is free!
Location: 550 Winslow Way E
Bainbridge Aquatic Center
If you want to take the kids swimming or go soak in a hot tub or swim some laps, Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center is the place for you. This community hot spot is accessible to the public with a cost of admission (and some hotels may offer free passes, too. We stayed at Marshall Suites and they did while we were there). The facility features the Ray Williamson Pool, an indoor six-lane 25-yard swimming pool, as well as the Don Nakata Pool, which is all about fun with a water slide, lazy river, sloped entry pool, tot pool, splash areas, a tot slide and more.
Location: 7666 NE High School Road
Suquamish Clearwater Casino
Just on the other side of Agate Bridge from Bainbridge Island is the Suquamish Clearwater Casino. Yes, this is a website dedicated to family travel. No, you can’t bring your kids in and gamble while they wait on the sidelines. And, no, I did not leave Daddy Monster and Little Monster in the car while I went in for some slots…but I thought about it a little bit. Maybe you’re lucky and traveling with a kind family member who can watch the kids while you go have a night out. In any case, I’ll just leave this here if you need it.
Location: 15347 Suquamish Way NE, Suquamish