Sometimes the best family-friendly attractions in Seattle are a quick ferry ride away. If a change of scenery is what you’re after, head to Bainbridge Island. Read on for our adventure-packed staycation ideas that’ll please both parents and kids. It’s an eat-play-stay trifecta!
Beach, Berries & Bloedel Day
The north end of the island offers a little something for everyone in the fam. Start the day at the Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre garden, featuring different landscapes to explore, like the woodlands, the glen, the reflecting pool and the Japanese Garden outside the guesthouse. Kids will love the freedom to explore the trails and the chance to spot wildlife along the way. Bloedel is open to the public on limited hours (Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.), and timed tickets help maintain social distancing. After a peaceful start, take the kids berry picking. Raspberries are in season at Suyematsu Farms, and pickers can get their fill daily, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (psst… raspberry season usually ends the first week in August). Blueberries are another summer u-pick fave. Find them on the island at Bainbridge Island Blueberry Co. They should be ready at the end of the month, but call the berry hotline at (206) 673-7812 to make sure things are up and running before you go.
[Editor’s note: The pirate playground at Fay Bainbridge is tentatively scheduled to open July 16 as part of Phase 3.]
The afternoon is all about parks; two to be exact. Bring lunch to Fay Bainbridge and pull up a picnic table with a killer view. Here you’ll find a new pirate-themed playground for kids to climb and slide on, and an expansive beach to explore, once lunch is done. End the day at Battle Point Park. Although the playground is out of commission, families can walk, bike or scooter along the paved trails that encircles the property, and the massive fields make it easy to play catch or Frisbee or kick a soccer ball with the kids. In late summer, it’s one of the island’s hot spots for blackberries (feel free to pick 'em!). Also in August, the park district will host drive-in movies at Battle Point on Friday nights. Sounds like a great start to a weekend getaway!
Where to Eat
You can find breakfast, lunch and dinner bites at Coppertop Park. No matter what time hunger strikes, Sweet Dahlia Baking has got a meal to match with curbside pick-up. Their family-style Dinner Club meals (served Thursdays and Fridays) are convenient if an overnight stay is on the menu. That’s a Some Pizza is another easy option to feed the crew, and both Fletcher Bay Winery and Bainbridge Island Brewing offer outdoor seating with a green light to outside food.
Market, Art & Playground Day
Whether it’s your first or fifteenth time on the island, a trip to Bainbridge wouldn’t be complete without spending time downtown. Even with coronavirus, this shopping district offers plenty of things for families to do. Start the day browsing the Farmer’s Market, held Saturdays, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Winslow Town Square parking lot. You'll find fewer vendors and plenty of space with masks required here. Then it’s off to the Scrappy Art Lab to get those kid-creative juices flowing. Spend time making art in the lab, or take an art jar or grab bag home to enjoy later.
[Editor’s note: Owen’s Playground is tentatively scheduled to open July 16 as part of Phase 3.]
Spend the afternoon outside at Owen’s Playground in Rotary Park. This all-abilities playground is the stuff kid dreams are made of, with artistic equipment, a spot to experiment with sand and water and a butterfly garden that will delight toddlers and big kids alike. From there, head to Pritchard Park to enjoy easy forest walks, sandy beaches and a little bit of history. Looking back on Seattle from the viewpoint (or the beach) is worth the trip, as is spending time at the Japanese Exclusion Memorial. This small national park is a solemn place to reflect and learn about the 120,000 Japanese people who were put in camps during WWII. The wall lists the names of families exiled from Bainbridge, and the memorial serves as a reminder to “Nidoto Nai Yoni”…“let it not happen again.”
Where to Eat
When you're staying downtown, finding good eats is easy. Start the day with a baked good from Couquette, the cute cart parked in front of the Winslow Mall or Blackbird Bakery. Thuy’s is where it’s at for lunch, especially if pho or bahn mi is what you’re craving. Order takeout and then grab a seat under the umbrella tables just outside to enjoy your food. Follow it up with a scoop from Mora Iced Creamery. This local fave should not be missed, even on a chilly day. For dinner, you can’t go wrong with the new offerings from Hitchcock Deli. Preorder a Sacka-Burger for pick up any night of the week, or drop by to grab BBQ out front on Fridays and Saturdays.
Pleasant Paddle & Waterfront Day
The best part of an island adventure? It’s got to be all the beachside activities. Start at Pleasant Beach Village, a sweet little shopping district on the water. There are a few ways to access the beach here. Use road end access to get to Lytle Beach, a sandy oasis where kids can dip their toes or go all in while watching the ferries travel between the city and Bremerton. Shel Chelb is another point of entry. Across from this small, natural playground, families can access the beach for swimming, rock throwing or sandcastle building. But if rocky shores are what your crew is after, head to Point White Pier, just down the road and park the car. Then enjoy views from the rocky beach across the street as you search for sea creatures under rocks at low tide.
Where to Eat
One of the reasons spending the day on the south end of the island is easy is because they’ve got eateries to match every appetite. Hammy’s is every burger lover’s dream. Enjoy it at a nearby beach or sit down outside to dig into your juicy burger. The Treehouse Café (open daily 4-8 p.m.) is currently seating at 50% capacity, and they have an outdoor patio where families can share a pizza and a salad. If sweets are what you’re after Island Cool Frozen Yogurt will chill you out, while Pleasant Beach Donuts will leave you wanting more. These donuts are all the rage on the island right now and in order to get some, you’ve got to place a pre-order by Tuesday at 3 p.m. for pick-up Wednesday through Sunday.
Make it a Weekend
[Editor’s note: The pool at the Inn at Pleasant Beach and Wacky Nut Farms are both tentatively scheduled to open July 16 as part of Phase 3.]
With so many ways to spend time on the island, it’s easy to turn your daycation into a staycation. If you’re looking for a place to stay, we’ve got a few family-friendly options to consider. Because hotel pools are always a hit with kids, the Quality Inn & Suites is a good spot to start. It’s pet-friendly and just down the road from Strawberry Hill Park and Winslow. If having a small kitchen (sans stove) makes your stay easier, try the newly-renovated Marshall Suites.
For an upscale feel, check into the Inn at Pleasant Beach. Situated in the heart of Lynwood, next to beaches and dining, each suite has its own personality, and your stay includes access to the pool, complete with a kiddie wading area. For something totally different, try Wacky Nut Farm, a working horse farm where families will enjoy the amenities of home in a shared guesthouse. Tucked away, yet still close to downtown, this is a great option any time.
Know Before You Go:
1. Ferries are still running on a reduced schedule to Bainbridge Island, and drive-on passengers are encouraged to stay in their cars if possible for the 30-minute crossing. We recommend downloading the WSDOT app to get real-time ferry info to make traveling with the kiddos easier.
2. Masks are a must on Bainbridge, so bring yours and the kids’. Many businesses are limiting the number of customers inside stores, and even outside activities (like berry picking and Bloedel) require masks to be worn.
3. Because you know the kiddos will need one, keep this list of public restrooms handy when you head out to explore.
featured photo: Tobias Eigen via flickr