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12 Top-Rated Things to Do on Bainbridge Island, WA

Written by Brad Lane
Sep 29, 2021

Bainbridge Island is in Western Washington, opposite Seattle in Puget Sound. It's accessible from the city on an incredibly scenic 35-minute ferry ride. And despite its proximity to the Seattle metro, this 27-square-mile island offers a paradise far from skyscrapers and city traffic.

The cultural appeal of Bainbridge Island is immediately present upon departing the ferry. Here, places like the Bainbridge Art Museum and Bainbridge Historical Museum offer free, enjoyable insight into the island. This district is also where several local restaurants and stores line the island's "Main Street," many of which are worth the ferry ride alone.

But branch out from this ferry landing, and the island is a wild place to explore. Stunning sunsets across the water, grand forests that live up to their name, and 150-acre public reserves all offer reasons for an extended trip. Find your slice of island paradise with our list of the top things to do on Bainbridge Island.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Stroll around Main Street

Winslow Way
Winslow Way | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Bainbridge Island's charming "Main Street" is the first left turn on Winslow Way after getting off the ferry. And for many, the shopping and restaurants here are the reason to take the quick 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle in the first place.

Local cafés, bookstores, and gear shops line both sides of the street. And popular places to visit like Streamliner Diner always have people spilling out onto the sidewalk waiting for a seat. Other popular restaurants worth checking out include Blackbird Bakery and Coquette Bake Shop.

This central shopping and dining drag emits a fun Saturday afternoon vibe, with people meandering in and out of the shops. Benches offer a place to sit down, perhaps with a cup of coffee and croissant, and enjoy the people watching.

2. Bloedel Reserve

The Residence at the Bloedel Reserve
The Residence at the Bloedel Reserve | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The Bloedel Reserve is a stunning mix of natural and landscaped environments spread across a 150-acre property. It once belonged to Virginia and Prentice Bloedel, who prospered thanks to the region's timber industry, and the Bloedels spent over three decades cultivating the enchanting scenery still seen today.

The Bloedel Reserve opened to the public in 1988 as a public garden and forest reserve. Today, with the price of admission, anyone is welcome to wander the property and take in the stunning natural beauty. It's located on the far northeast end of the island, less than two miles from the Agate Pass Bridge.

The most common route to explore is an approximately two-mile dirt trail that makes a big loop throughout the property. Visitors encounter open meadows, shady forests, and teeming wetlands along this route. Expect to encounter wildlife along the loop, including barred owls that like to blend into the surroundings.

Barred owl at Bloedel
Barred owl at Bloedel | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

At the far end of the two-mile loop, the Residence is often the crown jewel of any visit. Guests can walk through the former home of the Bloedels and catch a glance at the good life with a view of Puget Sound. The reserve's most intricate gardens surround the Residence, including an ornamental Japanese Garden and guesthouse.

Address: 7571 NE Dolphin Drive, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Official site: https://bloedelreserve.org/

3. Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

Bainbridge Island Museum of Art
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The eye-catching Bainbridge Island Museum of Art is just a few blocks from the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal. This LEED Gold-certified building houses a growing collection of permanent art relating to the Puget Sound region. And its repository is free to the public to enjoy with no price for admission.

The museum also displays regularly rotating exhibitions, offering something new to see with each visit. Expect to spend 30 minutes to an hour perusing the two floors of artwork. The popular BIMA Bistro is also on-site, offering regionally sourced entrees and espresso.

Address: 550 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Official site: https://www.biartmuseum.org/

4. Fay Bainbridge Park & Campground

Fay Bainbridge Park
Fay Bainbridge Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Fay Bainbridge is a beautiful 17-acre marine park on the northeast corner of the island. It has several park amenities that cater to all types of visits. The scenery here is stunning, including over 1,400 feet of saltwater shoreline overlooking Puget Sound.

The heart of the park sits near the beach access. Here, things like a ship-inspired playground and volleyball nets see use throughout the day. Other park amenities include a boat launch, flushing restrooms, and picnic tables. There is also designated watercraft storage for those traveling along the Cascadia Marine Trail.

Playground at Fay Bainbridge
Playground at Fay Bainbridge | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The biggest draw to Fay Bainbridge is its beach. Large pieces of driftwood backend this stunning stretch of sand with enormous views across the water. On clear days, Mount Rainier and Mount Baker are both visible on the horizon, and sunsets here give any day a memorable aspect.

Camping at Fay Bainbridge supports tents, RVs, and those traveling via hiking trail, bicycle, or non-motorized watercraft. The designated tent sites sit above the central part of the park, while the RV and hiker/biker sites are steps from the beach. Reservations are available and must be booked at least 10 days ahead of time.

Address: 15446 Sunrise Drive NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Official site: https://biparks.org/fay-bainbridge-park-campground/

5. Explore a Hiking Trail in the Grand Forest

Grand Forest
Grand Forest | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The number one spot for hiking on Bainbridge Island is the Grand Forest. This central and aptly named park encompasses over 240 acres spread across three parcels. The two most popular parcels to explore are Grand Forest East and Grand Forest West.

Grand Forest East and Grand Forest West have approximately three miles of trails to explore each, and the 0.7-mile Hilltop Trail connects the two. The scenery within either parcel is a lush second-growth forest that feels far from civilization.

Maps are available at most trailheads, and helpful waypoints line the routes to help navigate the twisting and connected trails. There's no significant elevation change in the Grand Forest, though the trails do undulate for some moderate uphill effort.

Bridge in the Grand Forest
Bridge in the Grand Forest | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The one-mile Forest to Sky Trail extends from Grand Forest West and connects to Battle Point Park for extended adventures. Grand Forest North is also a viable place to explore, offering a less-than-a-mile hiking route.

Official site: https://biparks.org/

6. Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial

Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

This outdoor memorial shines a light on the events that took place on the island in 1942. Less than three months after Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This legislation led to the mass incarceration of any American citizen with Japanese heritage, and among the Americans sent to internment camps were hundreds of Bainbridge Island residents.

The memorial is a designated Historic Site operated by the National Park Service. The site tells the larger story of this dark time in American history. But it really focuses on the 227 Japanese Americans living on Bainbridge Island that were given less than a week's notice to vacate their homes.

Armed military units escorted these American citizens onto a boat along the same dock the memorial stands today. And now a giant cedar "Story Wall" lines the walk to the Eagledale ferry dock site. This commemorative plaque has all 227 names etched into its wood, alongside stories of the people whose liberties were denied during wartime.

Address: 4195 Eagle Harbor Drive NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Official site: http://bijaema.org/

7. Bainbridge Island Historical Museum

Bainbridge Island Historical Museum
Bainbridge Island Historical Museum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The Bainbridge Island Historical Museum is another worthwhile stop near the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal. And like the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, admission is free.

Once inside, the main exhibit at the Historical Museum is "An Island Story," beginning first with the native Squamish peoples. The island's story continues with significant milestones, like the first European explorers, the advent of the logging industry, and the socio-economic effects of World War II. The museum also highlights the invention of pickleball, which occurred on the island in 1965.

Artifacts, photographs, and immersive history make up this main exhibit and the rest of the museum, including the outside grounds. Although curious visitors will want to spend more time, walking through the museum doesn't take more than a half hour. The museum is open only on the weekends, Friday through Sunday.

Address: 215 Ericksen Avenue NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Official site: https://bainbridgehistory.org/

8. Battle Point Park

Battle Point Park
Battle Point Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

On the island's west side, Battle Point Park is a very popular place to play outside. It encompasses approximately 90 acres of what used to be a naval radio station. Today, a 1.6-mile pathway navigates throughout the park, connecting its many tourist attractions and things to do.

One of the most popular reasons to visit is the Kids Up! The Next Generation of Play playground. This unique play structure goes well beyond the ordinary slides and monkey bars. It features several themed elements to climb and explore, including orca whales, octopuses, and a 47-foot-long ferry.

Battle Point Park is also a central spot for sports activities. Basketball courts, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, and a roller hockey rink all find use throughout the week. The park also has pickleball courts. And for those interested in trying disc golf, a beginner's nine-hole course weaves throughout the landscaped lawn.

Address: 11299 Arrow Point Drive NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington

9. Suquamish Museum

Suquamish Museum
Suquamish Museum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The Suquamish Museum is on the Port Madison Indian Reservation, just across the Agate Pass Bridge from Bainbridge Island. The short drive is worth the informative trip to learn about the original inhabitants of Puget Sound: the People of the Clear Salt Water.

At the museum, the main exhibit offers a visual timeline of the Suquamish. Here, artifacts on display speak to the millennia of co-existence with the landscape. The museum also dives into the timeline after the late 1700s and early contact with European explorers.

After learning about the Suquamish, the surrounding community invites further exploration. Other cultural monuments nearby include Chief Seattle's Grave and Old Man House Park – home to the largest Suquamish winter village. Visitors here will also find options for local dining and shopping.

Address: 6861 NE South Street, Suquamish, Washington

Official site: https://suquamish.nsn.us/

10. Fort Ward Park

Fort Ward Park
Fort Ward Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Fort Ward Park is near the island's southern tip and provides a popular place for a bike ride or walk next to Puget Sound. The 137-acre park now encompasses what used to be Fort Ward, a seacoast fort that was a radio station and training school during World War II. To this day, artifacts of this military history are still present throughout the park.

An approximately two-mile looped hiking trail is the primary path for recreation at Fort Ward Park. The trail that parallels the coastline is paved, while the upper portion meanders along a dirt path. There's minimal elevation gain along the entire route, except the two hills that connect the upper and lower trails.

Address: 2241 Pleasant Beach Drive NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington

11. Find Something Fresh at Heyday Farm

Heyday Farm is a family-owned farm, restaurant, and event space on the island's south side, less than a 15-minute drive from the ferry terminal. The 25-acre property has been restored from the island's original "heyday" of agriculture, including extensive restoration of an early 1900s Pederson farmhouse.

Heyday Farm offers several ways to enjoy its bounty. One of the most popular has to be the weekly Community Dinners on Thursdays and Fridays. The menus for these celebrated get-togethers change every week based on what the farm is producing. Without exception, though, expect fine dining and professionally crafted meals.

Address: 4370 Old Mill Road NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Official site: https://heydayfarm.com/

12. Hall's Hill Lookout and Labyrinth

Hall’s Hill Lookout and Labyrinth
Hall's Hill Lookout and Labyrinth | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

For a quiet moment of contemplation during the day, head to Hall's Hill Lookout and Labyrinth on the island's south side. This small public space overlooks Blakely Harbor and features landscaped walking paths, benches, and a stone mosaic labyrinth designed by a Portland-based garden architect.

Visitors are asked to keep their visits quiet and respectful. And with the serene nature of the lookout, and waves lapping nearby, the landscape lends to a meditative visit. For those seeking to quiet a busy mind, consider carefully walking through the stone labyrinth step by step. The park has minimal parking.

Address: NE Halls Hill Road, Bainbridge Island, Washington

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