Bainbridge Island offers some of the best views of Seattle from across Puget Sound. This small island off Kitsap Peninsula has been named one of the best places to live in the United States by Money Magazine, offering lots of protected land and wildlife as well as affluent homes. While downtown Bainbridge Island is known for its artistic community, the surrounding peninsula offers many outdoor activities, making Bainbridge Island one of Seattle’s best tourism destinations.
Bainbridge Island WA
English explorer George Vancouver was the first recorded visit to Bainbridge Island in 1792. He named the point at which they came on land Restoration Point in honor of England’s King Charles II. While Vancouver’s explorations of the area included what would become the nearby town of Port Orchard, he originally mapped Bainbridge incorrectly as a peninsula. The mistake was eventually corrected, and in 1841, it island was named after Commodore William Bainbridge, a commander in the War of 1812.
Bainbridge Island’s strong cedar logging industry made it a vital resource for the United States Navy’s shipbuilding needs. The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard remains in operation today in nearby Bremerton, Washington. The history of Bainbridge Island also includes the first group of Japanese-Americans to be sent to internment camps during World War II. In 2011, the island opened a memorial in commemoration of these events.
Bainbridge Island Ferry
The only land access to Bainbridge Island is the Agate Pass Bridge over Agate Passage connecting the island to Kitsap Peninsula. Because of this limitation, the most popular way to access Bainbridge is via Washington State Ferries. This 35-minute ride carries passengers and cars across Elliott Bay from Pier 52 on the Seattle Waterfront to downtown Winslow on Bainbridge Island.
Bainbridge Island Downtown
The entire island officially became the City of Bainbridge Island in 1991 when the former City of Winslow on Eagle Harbor annexed the rest of the island. The Visitor Information Center near the ferry terminal on Eagle Harbor is an excellent source of information and maps.
The downtown area is popular for its strong artistic influence, frequently showcasing the work of local artists. There is a performing arts center, several art galleries, and a film complex. Bainbridge Island Historical Museum offers exhibits and a research library focused on the history of this beautiful island and its people. Downtown also offers excellent shopping and dining options, including the Bainbridge Island Vineyard and Winery.
Beyond downtown, Bainbridge Island’s carefully preserved green spaces offer many opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, golf, tennis, and cycling, including the annual Chilly Hilly bicycle ride every February. Another popular Bainbridge Island destination is Waterfront Park on Eagle Harbor, within walking distance of downtown Bainbridge Island. While this scenic spot offers lawn areas and sports facilities year-round, the summer season brings concerts, festivals, and a farmer’s market to this community-gathering place.
Bainbridge Island Hotels & Lodging
Bainbridge Island offers a standard Best Western for basic lodging needs. However, for a unique Pacific Northwest experience, consider staying in one of the cottages at Ashton Woods Retreat. Offering comfortable cabins nestled in moss-covered woods, this privately run lodging is considered the best on the island. For more centrally located lodging, consider the well-maintained Eagle Harbor Inn within walking distance of downtown. Additional lodging options are also available on the island, including several bed and breakfasts and private vacation rental homes.