Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island is an island suburb and city of its own just across the water from downtown Seattle. The ferry commute, which is done daily by many of the residents, is 35 minutes from the city. However, Bainbridge is its own city, on its own island, in a whole different county (Kitsap) and with a personality and vibe entirely its own. The island is home to about 26,000 people, though it is a vague figure, as there are many people with second homes or weekend homes, as well as a constant influx of tourists in and out. Bainbridge received its first white visitors in the form of Captain Vancouver’s expedition, however they did not make it all the way around the island and declared it a peninsula. The island was renamed and re-categorized in 1841, at which point Commodore William Bainbridge gave his name to the place. It began as a center for the popular industries at the time, which were logging and shipbuilding, however it has since become mostly a bedroom community for residents holding jobs in Seattle. The city of Winslow incorporated in 1947, however the rest of the island remained independent until 1991.

Now all of Bainbridge is part of the city of Bainbridge Island, however it does have a few distinct areas that used to be their own towns or communities, such as what used to be the city of Winslow, Port Blakely and Port Madison. The island is surrounded by Puget Sound, but further to the west, on the Kitsap Peninsula is Bremerton and Poulsbo, separated by the Port Orchard Channel. The State Route 305 Bridge connects the peninsula to the island over Agate Passage. Port Orchard itself is to the south of the island, across the Rich Passage.

Bainbridge is distinct from many of Seattle’s commuter suburbs not only because of its island location, but also the beautiful natural surroundings. Rocky shorelines are the norm, dotted by the occasional quiet harbors. The island is famous for its myriad of hills, many of which are utilized in the winter bike event, the Chilly Hilly. Recently the island has developed a small community of wineries to go along with the farms that are in the more rural parts of the island. Additionally, the island has long been a favored community for artists, and throughout the island various art galleries can be visited. The Bainbridge Performing Arts Center is a big draw for people coming to the island to peak at the culture that is so vibrant there.

The Bloedel Reserve is a nature lover’s paradise that takes up much of the island and offers a call to many of the visitors. 150 acres of garden and wildlife, this is a unique place, built on a former residential estate. Among the features are a Japanese Garden, a Moss Garden, a Reflection Pool and the beautiful estate home from its time as a private home.

Visiting Bainbridge is an opportunity to experience small town life for a day. Tourists stroll the various hiking trails and the Waterfront Trail, as well as strolling through town, visiting the Historical Museum, City Hall and the well-known Farmer’s Market. The town’s rustic charm is a huge draw for city folk looking to get away from Seattle for a few hours and spend time in a totally different place.