Seattle Day Trips: The Best of Bainbridge Island

Do you ever just want to get on a ferry and sail away to a quiet island full of super beautiful houses, nice parks, friendly people, and great little small businesses to explore? We do! Guess what? Bainbridge Island checks off all those boxes and is only a short 30 minute trip from Seattle. 

Getting there

To get to Bainbridge Island you will need to take a Washington State Ferry out of the ferry terminal in Downtown Seattle. You can get on the ferry on foot/bike or drive on. Both have their benefits. Walking on is eight dollars round trip. Even if you just ride to Bainbridge, and then turn around and come back it is worth eight dollars! Walking on does limit you a bit once you are on the island though, while the quaint downtown is all within walking distance some of the parks and businesses require a car/bike to get to. 

Ferry to Bainbridge Island

If you drive on it is usually around $15 - $25 (depending on how many people you have in the car) and then you can access whatever you'd like once you arrive. This is the route we normally go. Make sure to check the scheduled departures before you head there to time it right! 

Food and Drink

Streamliner Diner - Believe us when we say there is no other spot to get breakfast on Bainbridge Island. First off, if we ever had a breakfast joint, we would want it to have this exact vibe. It's so authentic and homey. A cup of coffee and some of their jam, it just makes you feel at home. We love their Citrus French Toast, A.B.C.T (I mean who actually wants the lettuce on a BLT? might not have ever minded it, but when we ask would you rather have cheese over think cheese obviously), Eggs Benedict, Biscuits and Gravy and probably anything on the specials board. 

Streamliner Diner Breakfast

Hitchcock Deli - This spot has a cult following in the PNW. They have several locations now, but the O.G. is on Bainbridge. People rave about the Pastrami, but we love the Cuban! Their quirky sign and unique locations are a joy to visit, with friendly staff and ethical food, it's a great lunch spot. 

Via Rosa 11 - This little Italian grocery store is a killer place to grab a bite. They make all their pasta and desserts in house. It's expensive, we but could eat their delicious handmade pasta until we POP. If they have meatballs on the menu, drop everything and order them all. No, we mean it, just ask how many meatballs they have back there and order every last meatball.

Blackbird Bakery - Is there any day that can’t be made great with a wonderful cup of coffee and sweet treat? Blackbird Bakery is a local bakery with a small town feel, and we love popping in for a slice of lemon tart or cinnamon roll. Good luck choosing what you want from the pastry cases though - we usually walk away with something for later as well!

Blackbird Bakery Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Brewing - This brewery has one of our favorite logos in the Pacific Northwest. We love their tribute to the ferry boats we enjoy so much living up here. Bonus: They also have amazing beer AND some really awesome locations. Their alehouse is in downtown Winslow and is a new and more modern space to hang out with some friends over a beer (and maybe a game or two). Their brewery is a short drive outside of town, but it is worth a trip if you have a car. We are big fans of their Kolsch and Grapefruit IPA.

Bainbridge Island Brewing

Eleven Winery - Eleven Winery is a great spot to break up your exploring and grab a tasting, poured by friendly staff. They have two locations, a tasting room within walking distance from the ferry in downtown, and their winery is just a short 5-mile drive up the road. Both are small spaces that provide an intimate setting to taste their variety of wines. Note the winery location is only open on the weekends and often has events, so make sure to check out their calendar when planning a visit to see what they have going on.

Things to do

Eagle Harbor Book Co. - As huge lovers of books, we always seek out the local bookstore in small towns like Bainbridge Island. Eagle Harbor won’t disappoint. They sell both used and new books and have a wonderful set up and selection to keep you browsing for days. The staff is incredibly kind, and they are right on the main street in Downtown.

Eagle Harbor Book Company Bainbridge Island

Bloedel Reserve - This 150 acre public garden and forest preserve was created by Mr. and Mrs. Bloedel when they purchased the private property in the 1950s to build their home. Over the years they worked to create a haven they would open to the public in the late 1980s and locals and visitors have been enjoying the grounds ever since. You can easily spend a few hours here exploring the trails, forest, and the beautiful home of the Bloedel’s. It’s open and wonderful to visit year round.

Bainbridge Island Museum of Art - This museum might not be incredibly big, but it is packed full of great art, including a ton of local artists and PNW culture. It’s also a beautiful building to be admired and only a short walk from the ferry terminal. Definitely worth a visit if you are a lover of art and culture.

Fort Ward State Park - If you want to take a quiet stroll along the waterfront, we recommend heading over to Fort Ward State Park. It has some old forts for the history buffs in the group and beautiful views of the Puget Sound for everyone. There are a few different trails to explore to get some exercise, great views, and fresh air.

Cute shop right off the ferry - stop in to shop for clothes, candles, and home goods.

Cute shop right off the ferry - stop in to shop for clothes, candles, and home goods.

This is our short list of the best of Bainbridge - did we leave anything out? Let us know in the comments if you have other favorite spots to visit!

Best Desserts in Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is a bit of a food mecca in Seattle. Dessert is no exception. The various shops and restaurants around The Market have something for everyone and we have compiled our list of favorites sugary, sweet treats for you!

Etta's Coconut Cream Pie - This is not only the best pie in the market, it is easily…EASILY… the best pie in the city. Tom Douglas, our city’s award-winning restauranteur with a slew of great spots to eat around town, has tapped into something we can’t truly describe but will try. It’s fluffy, it’s creamy, it’s coconuty, it’s sweet, it’s perfect in every way. Go grab a slice… or a whole pie.

Storyville Coffee’s Frosted Cinnamon Roll - We have written about this cinnamon roll before and we will write about it again. It’s CRACK, people. In the best way possible. Grab one with a cup of coffee and sit by the window of their 2nd story location in the market overlooking the hustle and bustle of the main street.

Storyville Cinnamon Roll

Ellenos’ Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt - Fall in Seattle isn’t actually referred to as Fall, it’s “Ellenos Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt” time. This local favorite bakes pumpkin pies and then crushes them up, crust and all, into their amazing Greek yogurt. And we go CRAZY TIME for it. You will too. If you visit during the rest of the year, known as “Non-Pumpkin Pie Yogurt Time of Year,” you can enjoy our other favorites, marionberry pie and passionfruit.

Ellenos Pumpkin Pie Yogurt

Piroshky Piroshky’s Apple Cinnamon Roll - You really can’t go wrong with anything on the shelf at this tiny walk up, but their apple cinnamon roll with thin slices of apple dipped in sugar and cinnamon is definitely a best seller for a reason. Be prepared for a line, but it will move fast and we promise it will be worth it.

Piroshky Piroshky Apple Cinnamon Roll

Le Panier Chocolate Croissant - Or as the French call it "Pain au Chocolat. Order it the French way and you’ll feel way more cool. This flaky, chocolate staple won’t disappoint. You can taste the butter and chocolate melting together….MMmmm, don’t think about how bad it is for you, just enjoy.

Daily Dozen Doughnuts’ Assorted Dozen - This is THE spot for mini-doughnuts in Seattle. They crank out tons of tiny doughnuts every day for their hoard of fans. From the plain to the maple bacon they are all equally delicious. Grab some of each flavor and don’t forget cash!

Shug’s S’More Sundae - Because the combination of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallow could only be improved by adding Shug’s locally sourced ice cream to the mix. The old fashioned atmosphere and sundae cups help, too.

Shug's S'More Sundae

indi chocolate’s Hot Chocolate - This hot chocolate will change your life. Add whipped cream and a toasted marshmallow (or two) and sit down in their cafe or walk out to take in the views of Puget Sound while you sip your warm, liquid goodness.

What are your favorite sweet spots in Pike Place Market? Tell us in the comments below!  

City Hikes: Meadowdale Beach Park

If you're looking to avoid a long drive to the mountains this is a great hike to stay in the city and still enjoy nature and be rewarded with great views at the end! 

Lush, quiet forest surrounds you on your hike.

Lush, quiet forest surrounds you on your hike.

Meadowdale Beach Park is located in Lynnwood, so head north from Seattle and weave through some neighborhoods once you get off I-5 to make your way to the small parking area to start. Head over to the trailhead to begin the 2.5 mile roundtrip hike. It won't take you too long, but we would budget in time to enjoy yourself once you make it to the beach. It isn't too strenuous, so packing a small picnic in a backpack and a blanket to relax is a great idea. There is a small open park at the end of the hike with some picnic tables and also ample room on the beach further down the trail. Once you finish the trail you head through a tunnel that runs under a railroad and out onto the beach. The tunnel definitely adds a little fun to the end of the hike. 

Walk through a low tunnel to get to the final reward - Puget Sound and all the beauty that comes with it!

Walk through a low tunnel to get to the final reward - Puget Sound and all the beauty that comes with it!

The hike itself is really enjoyable, the trail is well maintained and, although close to the city, feels very removed from civilization. It's downhill going to the beach and there are benches to stop and rest along the way, a creek to explore off the trail, and depending on the time of year, berries to pick and eat. It's good for kids and people looking for something pretty easy or hikers who want a quick jaunt in comparison to something that eats up an entire morning/day. The hike back up might leave you a little sweaty, but overall it's fairly moderate. 

Enjoying the sounds of the ocean and taking in the views of the Olympic Mountains from the beach at the end of the hike.

Enjoying the sounds of the ocean and taking in the views of the Olympic Mountains from the beach at the end of the hike.

People enjoying the beach on a warm afternoon in Seattle summertime.

People enjoying the beach on a warm afternoon in Seattle summertime.

Check it out and let us know what you think! 

Seeing Seattle by Water - Kayak Tour of Lake Union

Seattle is a city where water and mountains collide, and it’s basically a sin to visit and not experience one or the other (but hopefully both!). If you’re visiting for a short time the mountains are sometimes hard to get to, but luckily we have three big beautiful lakes right in the city. Since they are so accessible, we love to recommend to people of all backgrounds and fitness levels to get out on the water and experience the city from a different point of view. For first time visitors to Seattle, we often point to Lake Union as the spot for stunning views of the city (iconic Space Needle included) and the fun experience of checking out the house boats that sit along the edges of the water and the sea planes taking off over head!

lake union

Where to Rent

The fastest way to get onto the lake is to rent equipment from a place right on the lake. There are three companies we love equally, so take your pick:

Agua Verde

Located in Portage Bay, Agua Verde is not only a Mexican restaurant but also a paddle club! You can rent either kayaks (single or double) or stand-up paddle boards March - October (and if you need a snack, we won’t be mad at ya if you grab a taco before heading out. They even have a to-go window). The Paddle Club has a huge selection of rentals, so the chances of them running out of equipment even on busy, sunny days is pretty slim. You don’t need a reservation for groups under 11, and they also offer guided tours in case you don’t want to venture out alone. Check out their tour page to see what’s up.

Nice views of Downtown Seattle and the Space Needle can be viewed from the comfort of your own kayak on Lake Union.

Nice views of Downtown Seattle and the Space Needle can be viewed from the comfort of your own kayak on Lake Union.

Northwest Outdoor Center

This company offers single, double, or triple kayaks and paddleboards and is located on the western side of Lake Union, meaning you need to travel less distance than you do if you rent from Agua Verde (see map below). However, unlike Agua Verde, they do suggest making reservations and will require an extra $10 per item deposit for groups over 6. No need to worry if you are beginner, though. The center offers classes, which range from basic strokes to learning how to eskimo roll. They are also open year-round, which is a bonus if you’re crazy and want to be on the lake in the winter.

Moss Bay

In the south part of Lake Union, you’ll find Moss Bay, which provides single or double kayaks and paddle boards for rent. The waterway around the business has a 7-knot speed limit making it safe to paddle in case you’re worried about the boats. Moss Bay also offers tours that include a lesson (total time 3 hours) and will take you past all the great sites. They are open April - October.

Set Sail

Lake Union is a fairly small lake and easy to navigate (you are basically looking at one giant circle), and because of its location north of downtown, you get pretty epic views of our gorgeous skyline. The lake is also home to Kenmore Air, a seaplane operation that has been in business since 1946. From your vantage point on the lake, you can see the planes coming and going directly overhead and if you’re wondering, yes, it absolutely is an instagram-worthy event!

Kenmore Air seaplane comes in for a landing on Lake Union.

Kenmore Air seaplane comes in for a landing on Lake Union.

On the north end of the lake sits the famous Gasworks Park, a 19 acre park that you’ll recognize by the giant defunct (yet cool looking) gasification plant. You aren’t able to dock at the park and get out of your rental, but it’s definitely worth a paddle-by. There is always something new and unsual going on at the park from weddings to Irish step dancers, to nudist bike riders, to art installations. Seriously, we’re never sure exactly what we’ll see so check it out and report back.

Gasworks Park in Seattle is one of the best lake front parks and people flock to it to fly kites, sun tan, and play games. The old gas plant gives it unique character too!

Gasworks Park in Seattle is one of the best lake front parks and people flock to it to fly kites, sun tan, and play games. The old gas plant gives it unique character too!

Sleepless in Seattle IS the best Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film. Don’t argue with us. Tom Hanks actually filmed in Seattle for the movie, and there are many spots around town that you can visit from the film’s scenes. One of those spots is the Baldwin house boat (Tom Hanks’ Seattle home in the film), which still sits on Lake Union and looks exactly the same! Head to the houseboat on the west side of the lake and see if you can find it. And while we’re on the subject of houseboats, Seattle has the coolest ones around. They line the lake on both sides and are beautiful and interesting and worth checking out and then discussing what you would do if you owned one (for us, it would be paddle board right off our deck every morning before the day started).

Tom Hanks' houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle is still perfectly the same!

Tom Hanks' houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle is still perfectly the same!

Grab a Bite!

Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to stop for a bite. We have two favorites that have a dock where you can park your equipment. This is a great way to rest for a bit and fuel up for the equipment return trip.

100 LB Clam is exactly what you want in warm weather dining. It has outdoor-only seating with a walk-up window for ordering food. You’ll find a rotating menu, but you can be guaranteed that it will have delicious seafood combos and cold beer on draft. We highly recommend the Poutine O’ the Sea (clams! bacon! chowder!) or the fishwish BLT. Wash it all down with a microbrew or, our pick, a Rainier tallboy (your classic Seattle beer since 1887). They are open 11:30am - 3pm in the summer only. If you are outside of this window or you prefer indoor seating, head into the White Swan next door. It’s run by the same owner and also has an incredible menu (with a few of the same items like the poutine!) and a great happy hour.

Ivar’s Salmon House is another great lake option with a large outdoor seating area (and inside seating too). The restaurant is a Seattle staple and has been serving customers since 1938. The restaurant sits right on the lake, so you won’t miss a second of the boat action. You’ll find the freshest seasonal seafood on their menu, and you definitely can’t go wrong with a bowl of their famous clam chowder...even if it IS in the middle of summer.

A bowl of chowder at Ivar's is great year-round, a Seattle classic!

A bowl of chowder at Ivar's is great year-round, a Seattle classic!

Check out our inclusive map to get your bearings on our recommendations.

Map of Kayak Tour Lake Union Seattle

We can't wait to hear how you like it! Comment with your thoughts and/or questions below.