Beyond the city limits: A day on charming Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island is less than 10 miles from downtown Seattle. It the perfect island for hiking, kayaking, or just exploring the small town that lies steps from the ferry dock.

Considered one of the best ferry rides in the area, the ferry to Bainbridge takes just 35 minutes as you view the city skyline from the water, pass the occasional marine wildlife, and ease into the calm waters of Eagle Harbor.

Bainbridge is both an island and the name of the main town just southwest of the ferry terminal. (Don’t be surprised, however, if you hear a local call the town by its old name of Winslow.)

How to get to Bainbridge

Seattle to Bainbridge Island ferry ride at a glance:

  • Location: Pier 52/Colman Dock, 801 Alaskan Way, Seattle, Washington
  • Crossing time: 35 minutes
  • Price range: Adults (19 to 64 years old) cost $9.45. Bikes $1.00 surcharge; and youth passengers (18 and younger) ride free of charge. Passengers are charged just one-way for the ride from Seattle to Bainbridge. Walk-on passengers ride for free from Bainbridge to Seattle.
  • Cars Allowed? Yes. Car fares vary based on the vehicle length, but standard-sized cars (vehicles under 30’) cost $21.40 each way for the car and driver.

You can find more details about the ferry here.

Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

building photo of the bainbridge museum of artLess than a five-minute walk up the hill from the ferry terminal, you will find the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. This year, the museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It specializes in contemporary arts & crafts of the Puget Sound region. This small but beautiful museum offers rotating special exhibits, a café, and occasional classes for a small fee.

The museum is free and open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Eagle Harbor Book Co.

Eagle Harbor Book Co. is a longstanding independent bookstore and a local gem. The store, located in the middle of downtown Bainbridge, has been around for more than 50 years. Known for its wide collection of books by local authors and robust children’s department, they regularly have in-store author events in the spring and summer months. The staff is eager to give you a review of their favorite new books or help you find an old classic. Eagle Harbor Book Co. is open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., 7 days a week. 

Exotic Aquatics Kayak Tours & Rentals

Bainbridge Island has 53 miles of coastline, so getting out on the water is a great way to see the landscape, as well as seals, otters, eagles, and osprey. If you need some solo time in nature, Exotic Aquatics can set you up with a kayak or paddleboard. Or, if you want to be a part of an organized exploration, join one of their 2-hour kayak tours.

Your rental will need to be booked online before arriving.

Single, double, and tandem kayaks and Stand Up Paddle Boards are available.

You can find them at Bainbridge City Dock (301 Shannon Dr. SE Bainbridge Island WA).

1-hour kayak or paddleboard rental: $27.50

Kayak tour of Eagle Harbor $52.50 for a single (2-hour tour)

For more questions: 206-842-1980

Hiking in the Grand Forest

Craving some peaceful isolation? Tucked into the middle of Bainbridge Island, the Grand Forest encompasses 240 acres and eight miles of trails. Less than 12 miles from Seattle,  this park feels like a lush forest instead of a city park. Its trails are popular with locals as well as visitors. The Grand Forest is broken into three sections: west, east, and north. Although it is considered fairly easy terrain, there are winding and overlapping trails, so it’s a good idea to bring a map.

The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

The Grand Forest is a few miles from downtown Bainbridge, however, so if you are not on a bike you may want to call the Kitsap on-call bus (see above for details).

Japanese American Exclusion Memorial

Image of curving wall of the Japanese American Exclusion memorial

The Japanese American Exclusion Memorial is located near Bainbridge’s Eagledale Ferry Dock where Japanese Americans were gathered up and forcibly removed from the island during World War II.

The first generation of Japanese immigrants arrived on Bainbridge Island in 1883. They thrived on the island for nearly 60 years until World War II. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor by imperial Japanese forces on Dec. 7, 1941, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the creation of military areas where Japanese Americans would be contained.

In all, roughly 120,000 Japanese across the U.S. — two-thirds of whom were American citizens — were banished from their homes and incarcerated in camps for the remainder of the war. A 276-foot-long memorial wall on Bainbridge Island marks this sad chapter of history. A free audio tour is available.

The Japanese American Exclusion Memorial is located four miles from downtown Bainbridge at 4192 Eagle Harbor Drive NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110. To get there without a car, contact the Kitsap on-call bus or catch city bus number 99 from the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal.

How to get around Bainbridge

Walking to the town is somewhat easy, so there’s no need to bring your car as long as you can walk a few blocks uphill. Bainbridge is also a great place for biking. You can bring your own bike or rent one once you arrive.

Regular bus service, as well as an on-demand shuttle, will get you further around the island if you decide to explore more of the Kitsap Peninsula.

Bike Barn

Biking around Bainbridge is a great way to get around. You can rent a regular or electric bike from the Bike Barn, located by the Ferry Terminal. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Bike Barn is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

On-Demand Bus Service

Kitsap Transit offers a local bus service that runs from the ferry terminal Monday – Friday, 8:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m.­ – 6 p.m. If you need a ride outside those hours or locations, you can use download the Rides on Demand app on your phone to request a ride or call 1-844-424-7433. Rides are $2. You can pay online prior to boarding or use exact cash when the bus arrives.

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