Budget vacations from Seattle: Bainbridge Island

I arrived in Seattle on my birthday last week, which just happened to be the city’s hottest day in history. Temperatures across Puget Sound reached 106 degrees! Needless to say, I needed a break from the heat — and a break from long hours of driving up the northern California and Oregon coast. A mini-vacation on Bainbridge Island was an ideal break from both the heat, the car, and the city.

With a resident population of less than 2,000 around 24,000, Bainbridge Island is a unique weekend getaway that is just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. Ferries leave for the island from Seattle every hour from Pier 52, and downtown Bainbridge is a short 5-minute walk from the terminal. You can walk ($6.80 per person RT), bring your bike, or drive your car ($10 RT) onto the ferry.

Where to stay
There are three places to stay that are conveniently located close to the center of town.

  • Best Western Bainbridge Island Suites (350 High School Road NE; #206.855.9666): This pet-friendly option is nestled among forested hills and quiet harbors, yet is far enough away from the bustle of downtown Bainbridge that you’ll be able to have a little peace and quiet.
  • Island Country Inn (920 Hildebrand Lane NE; #206.842.6861): Escape the “sameness” of chain hotels and experience the casual, yet professional appeal of the island country inn, which is a perfect retreat setting.
  • The Eagle Harbor Inn (291 Madison Ave S; #206.842.1446): The Eagle Harbor Inn offers a unique “petit hotel” experience, with just five one-of-a-kind rooms and three custom town homes — all built around a garden-filled courtyard.

Where to eat

With over a dozen eateries to choose from, you will not be short on food. The most popular restaurants are all within walking distance from the ferry depot.

  • Harbour Public House (231 Parfitt Way SW; #206.842.0969): Its fish and chips are legendary and the patio seating has great views of the harbor. Only the best local brews are on tap.
  • Four Swallows Restaurant (481 Madison Ave N; #206.842.3397): This is the finest dining experience you will get on Bainbridge, but unless you splurge heartily your bill for two will still run you less than $100. The Four Swallows specializes in Northwest cuisine.
  • Town and Country Market (343 Winslow Way E; #206.842.3848): This great little market in the center of downtown Bainbridge has great coffee and other local goods for reasonable prices.

What to see and do
Whether you are walking, biking, or driving around, there is plenty to keep you occupied on Bainbridge for a full weekend.

  • Walking or biking: There’s a helpful Bainbridge Walker and Bicyclist map that you can pick up upon arrival at the ferry terminal that gives you the complete lowdown on things that are withing walking and biking distance. Nearly every month in the spring and summer there are cool walking and biking events on the island.
  • Kayaking: Bainbridge is an ideal size to explore by kayak. There are two outfitters in town that can help you rent water gear: Back of Beyond Boathouse and Exotic Aquatics Scuba & Kayak.
  • Wine tasting: There are at least three wine tasting rooms within the three block along downtown’s main strip. Tasting fees are $5 per person, and all wines are locally harvested.
  • Shopping: There are more than twenty shops and boutiques within downtown Bainbridge, and bargains are easily found!

Check out more budget summer vacations here!