Bainbridge Island for Families
We believe in the old adage “the family that plays together, stays together.” There are certainly plenty of opportunities to play in the greater Seattle area. Throw fish with the fish mongers of Pike Place Market, ride to the top of the Space Needle, explore The Museum of Pop Culture and the Pacific Science Center, and so on. But, what if we told you there was a place so idyllic and perfect for a family getaway, that you wouldn’t believe it truly exists? It does, and it’s just a 35-minute ferry ride away from downtown Seattle. The journey is easy, and the bonding time for your family irreplaceable.
Day 1: Winslow Adventure
Your adventure on Bainbridge begins from the moment you disembark the ferry. Turn left at the stop light, and you’ll be on Winslow Way, the downtown heart of Bainbridge Island. Here, you’ll find three wonderful museums, some of which are perfect for kids. The Bainbridge Island Historical Society’s Museum makes for a fascinating first stop for families with older kids. It’s housed in a 1908 schoolhouse. Inside, the exhibits, videos, photos, and audio recordings will walk you through Bainbridge Island’s history, including the fact that it was one of the first communities affected by the internment of Japanese American’s during World War II. This history will serve as an important backdrop for a later side trip to the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. For younger kids, make a trip to the Kids Discovery Museum, known locally as KiDiMu. It’s designed to let young imaginations roam free, learning through interactive play and their own curiosity.
Afterwards, let the kids head down the street and into Bainbridge’s local toy store, Calico Toy Shoppe. The store recently moved into a new location, and it has become a true destination toy store. They pride themselves on finding unique toys that are local and eco-friendly. Your kids will love it! Afterwards, let them get a sweet treat–to be enjoyed after dinner of course–at local confectionery, Bon Bon Candies. Their fudge is to die for. They even have some vintage candies that will immediately transport you back to your own sweet, sugary memories of childhood. Finally, pick up a new book or two from Bainbridge Island’s independent bookstore, Eagle Harbor Book Company. From here, enjoy lunch with the kids at Fork & Spoon, J’aime les Crepes, or Doc’s Marina Grill.
If the sun’s out, you may want to rent a kayak from Olympic Outdoor Center or Exotic Aquatics, and paddle around the gentle waters of Eagle Harbor. Being on the water is one of the Island’s simplest pleasures. If the water doesn’t sound appealing, younger kids will enjoy the chance to play around at Waterfront Park. If you have older kids in tow, head for a challenging bonding experience at the Island Rock Gym. Bainbridge Island’s Aquatic Center is also a fun place to spend an afternoon, complete with a water slide, a rope swing, two diving boards, and a lazy river. At this point, parents have definitely earned a minute or two to relax themselves. Enjoy a beer at Bainbridge Island’s local micro-brewery, Bainbridge Brewing Company. Kids are welcome.
Day 2: Beaches and Parks
There’s nothing better than a day dedicated to visiting the best of Bainbridge — its parks and beaches. Ask your lodging hosts for their favorite recommendation. You’re going to need to fuel up for a full day of adventure. Grab a hearty breakfast at one of the Island’s delicious breakfast spots. The best places for breakfast in Winslow include Streamliner Diner, Madison Diner, and Blackbird Bakery. If you’re on the south end near Lynwood Center, grab a bite to eat at the Marketplace at Pleasant Beach. After breakfast, it’s time to head to the park. The best park on the Island for kids is Battle Point Park. It has a spectacular play structure for kids, but also includes a 1.5 mile walking path around the park and a duck pond. If you want to extend your walk and enjoy some of the Island’s green spaces, leave Battle Point by foot along the Forest to Sky Trail, and you’ll find yourself in Bainbridge’s tranquil Grand Forest.
As it warms up in the afternoon, it’s time to grab lunch and head to the beach. The best place to pick up a picnic style lunch is Metro Market or Town & Country Market, which has a delicious salad bar and deli. If you’d rather eat before going to the beach, stop for some delicious pizza at either Treehouse Café in Lynwood, or That’s a Some Pizza or Bainbridge Thai in downtown Bainbridge. There are two easily accessible and popular beaches to visit on Bainbridge. On the north end, there’s Fay Bainbridge Park, which has a beautiful sand beach, exceptional views of Seattle, picnic and camping areas, and a dedicated playground. The second is a classic sand beach named Pritchard Park. It’s a wonderful place to play, and offers exceptional views of the ferries as they come and go through Eagle Harbor. While there, you can also visit the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, a tribute to the many Japanese Americans who were forced off the Island and into internment camps during World War II.
In the evening, unwind with a movie at one of the Island’s two movie theaters, take in a show at Bainbridge Performing Arts, or reward yourself and your kids with some delicious ice cream from Mora Iced Creamery. It doesn’t matter how long the line is; it’s always worth the wait.
Day 3: The Peninsula Beckons
On your way off the Island, take your kids on a little treasure hunt. You’re looking for an island legend called Frog Rock, which has been making people smile since the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. It’s nothing more than a giant rock painted like a frog, but it’s a wonderful place to snap a photo of your family before you leave Bainbridge Island. Once you leave the island, head to the historic town of Port Gamble on the Kitsap Peninsula. Not only is Port Gamble is charming town, it’s also a gateway to some of the peninsula’s best outdoor attractions. Port Gamble is home to a privately owned 4,300 acre tree farm, the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park. It has a network of approximately 30 miles of trails in total. You can rent mountain bikes at Olympic Outdoor Center, and hit the trails within minutes. When you’re done, fuel up with lunch, followed by ice cream at the Port Gamble General Store and Cafe.
If you’d rather spend your time hiking in the Olympic Mountains, the 7.2 mile (round trip) hike to Lower Lena Lake is about 90 minutes away from Bainbridge Island. As one of the most accessible alpine lakes in the Olympic Mountains, it’s a very popular family-friendly adventure. Nearby Rocky Brook Falls is also worth seeing if you head in this direction. Afterwards, you can have lunch in the nearby town of Hoodsport or consider heading to the Victorian town of Port Townsend, which is approximately an hour away from Bainbridge. Whether indoors or out, Port Townsend is a beautiful and fascinating city to explore. The kids will love running around the old army installations at Fort Worden State Park and Fort Flagler State Park. For a little down time, take them on a journey back in time, and catch a double feature at Port Townsend’s Drive-in Movie Theater. It’s one of five remaining in the state.
Create memories for your family that will last for a lifetime. Bainbridge Island is waiting!