While many tourists and locals alike visit the Seattle waterfront and see Bainbridge Island from across the water, they may not know what the island holds. Taking a day trip to Bainbridge Island is a fun way to get out of the city and feel like you’re on a mini-vacation. From museums to boutique shops, there are plenty of exciting things to do on Bainbridge Island.
Bainbridge used to be a place I only drove through because I didn’t know what to do on Bainbridge Island, but I found out the answer is so much. From wineries to hiking trails to historical sites, you’ll love visiting the island. This is one of the best day trips from Seattle, and you can make it as long or short as you want.
I’ve been here multiple times with my kids but also on a solo trip by myself, so there’s something for everyone. I’m constantly recommending that my friends come here when they’re looking to get away on a short trip.
This article shares some of the best things to do on Bainbridge Island, explains how to get there, and gives sample itineraries for a Bainbridge day trip with and without a car, so let’s get to planning your trip there!
This post was first written in 2020 and last updated in early 2023.
Tips for a Bainbridge Island Day Trip
Here are a few tips to help you plan your day trip to Bainbridge Island. There are several ways to get to Bainbridge Island for the day, whether you decide to walk on or go on a short road trip from Seattle.
The most common way is to take a ferry, which is a quintessential item to put on your Washington bucket list. It’s also a reason why many consider it the best island to visit in Seattle because it’s actually fun getting there.
How to Get to Bainbridge Island From Seattle
Bainbridge Island is west of Seattle across Puget Sound. To get from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, you can take the Bainbridge Island ferry from downtown Seattle. The schedule is online so you can plan your trip in advance. Just note that there are different sailings for weekdays versus weekends, so make sure you’re looking at the right schedule.
Unlike visiting San Juan Island or going to Ocas Island, there are no reservations for this ferry, as it’s first-come, first-serve when going from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. You’ll pull up to the ticket booth, pay the fare, and they’ll tell you what lane to get in.
There can be quite a wait in the summer in Seattle when it’s more popular, so plan to get there early if you want a specific time.
You can leave your car in Seattle in one of the many paid parking lots if you’re going to walk on the ferry. Just make sure that you’re in a spot that’s long enough (all day versus 2-hour parking). If you’re wondering how long does it take to get to Bainbridge Island by ferry, you’ll be happy to know it’s only a short 30-minute ferry ride.
How to Get to Bainbridge Island From Edmonds
You can also take the ferry from Edmonds if you live up north and go on the 30-minute ferry crossing to Kingston (check out my guide to Edmonds first). From there, it’s only about a 30-minute drive south until you get to the main part of the island. You can find the schedule online to plan in advance for your day trip to Bainbridge.
There are also no reservations for this ferry, and this can get even more backed up as it’s the main ferry that takes everyone to the Olympic Peninsula. In the summer, you can expect a two to three-hour wait if you go during the day.
My recommendation is to go as early as possible, such as 7 am, and aim to make it a long day trip to Bainbridge Island so you can catch a later ferry around 7 pm or 8 pm. All the ferries in Washington have cameras you can look at to see how long the wait is, so I recommend doing that before you’re about to head out.
How to Drive Around
The last option for getting to the island is to drive around, but this can take quite a while, depending on where you’re coming from. The only bridge that connects the island is at the north end of the island, so you’ll have to drive through the Olympic Peninsula if you’re coming from the west or south through Tacoma and then all the way back north.
What Can You Do on Bainbridge Island Without a Car?
Other islands in the area require a car, like when doing Vashon Island activities, but there is a ton you can do on a Bainbridge day trip without a car! I have a specific itinerary if you scroll to the bottom, but you’ll only be a few minutes away from the main part of the island. There are dozens of stores and restaurants in this area to explore during your time there.
17 Things to Do on Bainbridge Island in One Day
There are tons of things to do in Bainbridge, whether you have part of the day or an entire day. Here are my top recommendations.
1. Get Breakfast at Pegasus Coffee
There are several locations on the island, but I recommend stopping at the one in downtown Winslow. The ivy that crawls up the walls makes it instantly one of the best Instagram spots on Bainbridge Island and the best way to start your Bainbridge Island activities.
The inside is just as cute, as it looks like someone’s house with couches, a fireplace, and tables. They have a variety of espresso drinks, breakfast sandwiches, and other options for breakfast or lunch. There are also two outdoor seating areas if you want to enjoy the weather.
2. Hike Through the Grand Forest
Taking a hike through the Grand Forest is one of the more active things to do at Bainbridge Island. There are seven full miles of trails, and you’ll see on the map there is the Grand Forest West as well as the Grand Forest East.
I went to the east section, but both looked great to me. It was a bit rainy when I was here, but it was an ideal Seattle rainy day hike because of how much coverage I had from the trees.
The trails are fairly flat, so they’re good for beginning hikers and kids alike. However, they aren’t wheelchair accessible, so that’s something to keep in mind if that will be an issue for your group during your Bainbridge Island trip. You’re largely covered by the trees on the trail, making it a great winter hike in Washington.
3. Get Lost in a Bookstore
One of the best things to do in Bainbridge Island on a rainy day is get lost in a cozy bookstore. Eagle Harbor Books is an independent and locally-owned bookstore that has a variety of used and new books to choose from and is a perfect indoor activity in Seattle when it’s raining.
They’ve been open since 1969 when they were known as “Betty’s Books” and have been the place to buy books since. You can also save time and order from them online and then go pick it up outside when you get there. Bookstores like this make it one of the best small towns in Washington state to visit.
4. Play at the Kids Discovery Museum
I’ve been to Bainbridge so many times at this point, mainly due to my kids constantly asking if we can visit the Kids Discovery Museum, as they consider it one of the most fun things to do on Bainbridge Island. While it’s a bit of a drive, I have to admit I love coming here because it’s small enough that I don’t have to follow my kids everywhere, yet it has tons for them to stay entertained.
This is one of the best things to do on Bainbridge Island with kids, and I recommend coming here right when they open to get your kids’ energy out before continuing your day. They have two stories complete with a full “village” and cars as well as a small outdoor area.
5. Grab Lunch at Sweet Dahlia Baking
Sweet Dahlia Baking has a variety of sandwiches, donuts, and other pastries to enjoy. I had a hard time deciding between their breakfast quiche and their homemade butternut squash soup for lunch.
They’re also right next door to Fletcher Bay Winery, Bainbridge Organic Distillers, and Bainbridge Brewing, in case you want a snack before or after you try some alcohol during your Bainbridge Island trip.
6. Walk Through Fort Ward Park
This is a huge park at the south end of the island that’s popular with bikers and dog owners. You drive through a neighborhood to get here, so keep going even if you think you’re going in the wrong direction.
While the main Bainbridge Island attraction is the walking path, you can also see people clam digging, bird watching, and even scuba diving if you time your visit correctly. There are also several picnic areas you can visit if you want to bring lunch during your Bainbridge Island day trip. The fall foliage is also beautiful if you’re looking for a fall hike to do during that time of year.
7. Pay Your Respects at a Japanese Memorial
Unfortunately, not all of Bainbridge’s history is one to be proud of. In the 1940s, Japanese immigrants living on the island were ordered to leave within six days, and anyone who happened to be away was not able to return back to their home. They were sent to an internment camp, and you can learn much more details about this time in history when you visit the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, which is one of the most educational things to see on Bainbridge Island.
Located on the south end of the island, you’ll walk through a short path in the woods that leads to the memorial wall, where beautiful flowers are hung, and the names and ages of the internees are listed. It’s a sobering experience to read all about it, but an important part of history to know.
8. Shop at the Farmer’s Market
The Bainbridge Island Farmer’s Market is on Saturdays from 10 am-1 pm from April to December. Located by the Bainbridge City Hall, this is one of the most popular Bainbridge Island attractions. They have about a dozen different vendors to choose from, and it’ll quickly become one of the top things to do on Bainbridge Island.
You’ll find woodwork, seasonal fruits and vegetables, flowers, cider, and more. I recommend bringing your own bag so it’s easier to carry around after you buy them. This is one of the easiest things to do in Bainbridge Island without a car since you can walk here from the ferry.
9. Walk Along the Waterfront
The Waterfront Park and Trail is one of the more active things to do on Bainbridge Island along the water. You’ll get to enjoy the woods and have a view of the nearby marina. There’s also a community center and playground nearby, so add it to your list of places to visit on Bainbridge Island.
I recommend checking out the map of all the historical structures and sites that you pass along during your walk. There are even trees with significance that you’d never know unless you read about them.
10. Learn About the Island’s History
Stop by the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum when you’re looking for free things to do on Bainbridge Island. The museum opens at 10 am, and I highly recommend stopping here at the beginning of your Bainbridge day trip.
I love learning about the history of places before I start exploring the town, as you’ll understand more about what you’re looking at as you walk around. They have a fun permanent exhibit on how and why people originally came to the island and what they used it for.
There is also a rotating exhibit, which was on women’s rights and voting at the time I was there during my last visit, and it’s one of the best things to do in Bainbridge Island without a car since it’s a short walk to the ferry.
11. Enjoy the Beach at Fay Bainbridge Park
One of the best things to do on Bainbridge Island when you want to be outside is visiting Fay Bainbridge Park. This is a huge campground where you can spend the night, or you can just visit the beach for the day. They also have a pirate ship playground for kids to enjoy, which my little ones loved running around.
This is located at the northeast corner, so it’s one of the things to do in Bainbridge Island with a car, as it’s about a 15-minute drive from the downtown area.
12. Admire Local Artwork
The Bainbridge Island Museum of Art is a fun place to visit right when you get off the ferry. Admission is free, so there’s no excuse not to add this to your list of things to do on Bainbridge Island.
They have several exhibits upstairs from local artists and a fun gift shop downstairs for gifts from Seattle. You can also stop at the bistro for espresso drinks or small snacks if you’re hungry during your trip to Bainbridge. When you’re done, you can head to one of the many restaurants nearby for lunch.
13. Buy Used Records
Stop at Backstreet Beat when you’re on a Bainbridge Island day trip on foot. This record store is in downtown Winslow so you can easily access it as you walk around. The store is just off the main street, making it one of the rare Bainbridge attractions people might not notice.
You’ll want to take your time while you’re here, as you may be amazed at the vintage records you might be lucky enough to find. You can also find some newer artists and books in the store during your visit to Bainbridge Island.
14. Sample Local Beer
There are two locations for Bainbridge Brewing – one in downtown Winslow that’s 21 and over and one in Coppertop Park that’s mid-way up the island. The downtown location is perfect when you’re looking for what to do on Bainbridge Island without a car.
I visited the brewery in Coppertop Park and loved that it was both dog and kid-friendly, and it quickly become one of my top things to do in Bainbridge Island. They have about a dozen beers and ciders to choose from, and you can get a pint or 4 samplers.
You can also get growler fills to go or buy the crowlers they offer. There are a variety of snacks for purchase, and a food truck is often there. They also have covered outdoor seating and heaters for the cold weather while you’re visiting Bainbridge Island.
15. Shop at Boutique Stores
Salt House Mercantile is one of the cutest boutique stores I’ve ever seen, so I was excited to add this to my list of what to do on Bainbridge Island. Located in Winslow, it’s one of the best things to do on Bainbridge Island without a car when you want to go shopping. If I could redo my home, I’d love to make a room look like this store, which is very light and open.
They have a variety of souvenirs, candles, lotions, and more. You can also pick up some good gifts for others, as they have plenty of local spices and salts, bath and body products, and more. I dare you not to get anything when you stop here during your day trip to Bainbridge Island.
16. Go Wine Tasting
Wine tasting is by far one of the most popular things to do on Bainbridge Island, as there are seven different wineries in the area. What I love about them is many have tasting rooms downtown if you need things to do on Bainbridge Island without a car. However, you can also drive north on the island to visit the actual winery and vineyards.
I loved visiting Bainbridge Vineyards, as they’re set in vineyards without covered outdoor seating and heaters and are one of the best places to see on Bainbridge Island. You can grab four samples inside and enjoy trying them at your seat. They’re open from on Thursday-Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm.
Other Bainbridge Island wineries I recommend visiting include:
- Fletcher Bay Winery
- Eleven Winery
- Amelia Wynn Winery
17. Book a Bainbridge Island Tour
Don’t feel like looking for things to do on Bainbridge Island without a car? You can book a spot on a tour instead to have someone help you with getting around Bainbridge Island.
- Bloedel Reserve tour – You’ll have a private guide on this three-hour tour that starts at Fay Bainbridge State Park and then takes you to the beautiful Bloedel Reserve.
- Wine and history tour – If you want to learn about the island’s history and sample local wine, this tour is one of the best things to do on Bainbridge Island.
Bainbridge Island Itinerary (With and Without a Car)
I’ve listed two suggested itineraries for you to follow – one for taking a Bainbridge Island trip on foot and the other involving a car for your Bainbridge Island visit. They both include plenty of fun things to do in Bainbridge Island and some of the best things to do in the Pacific Northwest.
Day Trip to Bainbridge Island Without a Car
You can easily spend time on Bainbridge Island without a car, as there are a ton of attractions and restaurants when you first get off the ferry in Winslow.
- Morning – Walk onto the ferry over to Bainbridge, stop at Pegasus Coffee for coffee and breakfast, walk down to the Waterfront Trail
- Mid-morning – Visit the Farmer’s Market if here on a Saturday, otherwise check out the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum and Bainbridge Island Museum of Art
- Noon – Eat Italian food at Bruciato, get lost in books at Eagle Harbor Books
- Afternoon – Shop at the local stores, wine taste at Eleven Winery or Fletcher Bay Winery
- Dinner – Eat seafood at Proper Fish, head back to the ferry
Day Trip to Bainbridge Island With a Car
If you have the option, I recommend bringing a car so you can explore more of the island. Here are my suggestions for what to do during your Bainbridge Island day trip.
- Morning – Catch the ferry, get breakfast and coffee at Blackbird Bakery
- Mid-morning – Take a walk at Fort Ward Park
- Noon – Grab lunch from Sweet Dahlia Baking or That’s A Some Pizza, beer tasting at Bainbridge Brewing
- Afternoon – Visit the Grand Forest or Fay Bainbridge Park
- Dinner – Eat at Harbour Public House, get in line for the ferry
Where to Stay on Bainbridge Island
Want to extend your trip into a Seattle weekend getaway? Here are several places you can check out if you’d prefer to spend the night after a long day of exploring.
- This cottage is the guest house of waterfront property with beach access and sleeps there. (rates start at $250 per night)
- This waterfront home comes complete with beach access and a furnished deck to enjoy. (rates start at $187 per night)
- This tranquil couples retreat is at an ideal location that’s close to many attractions and has a beautiful garden to relax in. Ideal for two adults. (rates start at $145 per night)
- A stylish seaside home is a home near the beach with panoramic ocean views and sleeps up to seven. (rates start at $226 per night)
Now that you’ve read this guide to visiting Bainbridge Island, it’s time to go on your own trip! Enjoy all the things to do on Bainbridge Island, and let me know what your favorite is in the comments below.