Ferries to Bainbridge Island are launched from Colman Dock at Pier 52. Passengers and vehicles are both allowed on board, and a car may be a good idea if you are planning to spend time other than in Winslow, the main town of Bainbridge Island. The voyage across Puget Sound covers the ten miles in 35 minutes. Seagulls will more than likely follow the path of your ferry, so watch out above if you are outside.
Once you land on Bainbridge Island, you swap the big city for the bucolic country surroundings. The small harborside town of "historic" Winslow has about 22,000 residents and welcomes incoming visitors with charming antique shops, art galleries, bookstores, and restaurants. It is a serene and leisurely pace here, not that the generally affable atmosphere of Seattle is anything one would want to run away from. Winslow Way is the main stretch of the town, and perhaps it is a bit touristy here, but this trait can be forgiven because it is so laidback. There is a farmers market held every Saturday in the plaza adjacent to the town hall.
If you are transporting your car on the ferry, you will probably want to head to the Bloedel Reserve, which is stationed at the northern end of the island away from the port. This was the country estate of lumber baron Prentice Bloedel, and it was then opened to the public in 1988. It is a nature conservatory, with gardens, ponds, trees, and many varieties of birds. The grounds feature a Japanese garden, a reflecting pool, and quiet trails to walk about. The Kitsap Peninsula is also not far if you have a car.
If you want to overnight here, there are a few inns on Bainbridge Island as well as a state park campsite. Drivers should be careful on the narrow roads. If you are heading back to Seattle, the most important thing to remember is to keep a ferry schedule handy. This definitely is not the Staten Island Ferry as far as the frequency goes. It runs about once every hour, so catching your return ferry may be the only mildly stressful part of your trip.
October 21, 2004
From journal Bill in the USA - SEATTLE