Bainbridge Island is a small community on the Kitsap Peninsula just across the Puget Sound from Seattle. Most often visited by ferry-riding day trippers from Seattle, it is a quaint, beautiful town full of shops, restaurants, pebble beaches and boutique wineries. Definitely a great place to spend a day or even a week or so at a time, like we have, now on more than occasion. Should you find yourself in the Seattle area looking to visit the island, here are our favorite things about one our favorite places:
Fay Bainbridge State Park
After a day trip while in the Seattle area in 2015, we were really taken by the island, so naturally, when came time to plan our RV trip, this was one of the first, and only, places we thought to research campgrounds for ahead of time. Much to our delight, there was indeed this ideally located little (now local government-run) park on a beach on the northeast corner of the island. At $25/night, we had a water hookup, views of the Puget Sound from every site, hot pay showers, and access to a beautiful beach with terrific views of Mount Rainier. The water is chilly but it is a wonderful beach to for taking a walk, flying a kite or sitting and relaxing!
On our first trip out, were able to snag one of the two first-come, first-served spots that we were told when we called ahead of time would comfortably fit our rig. We aimed for those spots as in many of the reservable ones, we would have been limited to a few days before someone was slotted to be there. We have been very lucky so far in getting spots like these, and if you’d like to hear more how we do it, check out our YouTube video on it.
Our second visit, the park had added a few more non-reservable sites that we just barely squeezed our 28-foot trailer into, but made work. We should add though that the park unfortunately still has no operational dump station, so watching your tanks here is a must.
As much as we have loved getting away from civilization on this trip, it’s great to have a quiet place here AND have services and civilization nearby for a few days with very relaxing drives to get there to boot. I even was able to seamlessly get a tooth filling repaired same day, right on the island! RV’ing really makes you appreciate the little things!
Our visit in 2015 made us want to come back, and we’ve been hooked ever since. The island has a good number of wineries and tasting rooms but Bainbridge Vineyards really stands out. The only winery on the island to grow all of its own grapes, it operates sustainably and always has a unique lineup of wines – not just your typical cab and pinot grigio. An intimate, casual, yet classy setting, and a friendly, sincere staff that makes you feel right at home makes for a very enjoyable experience. Four-wine tastings are only $5, and you get one free if you purchase 2 bottles, which typically run at an average of $20 a pop. We love it so much, we’ve visited more than once in a week before (they are open weekends, 12-5, or by special request). Our favorites have been the Farmstead White – a blend of their delicious Pinot Gris and Madeline Angevine – and the Siegerrebe, a spicy, almost fizzy white wine with notes of grapefruit and melon.
Mora Iced Creamery
I LOVE ice cream. So there isn’t an ice cream I won’t eat, but Mora has to be one of the best I’ve ever had. Ridiculously creamy, and not quite as overly indulgent as a Ben and Jerry’s sort of ice cream, it seems just right. We’ve tried (perhaps on more than one occasion…) the Dulce de Leche with Shaved Chocolate, Cheesecake Brownie, Swiss Chocolate (with shaved chocolate, dulce de leche and chocolate liquer) and the signature blackberry flavor. All of their ice cream and sorbet flavors sound delicious though and we’d try all of them if we could! Prices could be considered a little on the high side, but it’s totally worth it. And we find that the pint for $7.97 split between the two of us to be a pretty decent value, too.
Did I mention that Mora is contracted to supply small batch ice cream for affogato, floats and milkshakes at the Starbucks Roastery in Seattle, where they only serve Starbucks reserve coffees, too? So you know it’s really good if they will serve it with a nitro cold brew worth $52/pound!
Hop Aboard the Ferry!
Again, this island has very easy ferry access, and a twenty-five minute ride to Seattle. We have been able to catch the commuter bus in the morning from the campground for $2/person, and ride roundtrip into Seattle to stay with John’s brother a couple of days for $8.50 round trip per person for the ferry. Not a bad deal and a beautiful ride no matter which way you’re going! Find the schedule here.
Sand Dollar Hunting
I talked more about it in another post, but we found more sand dollars on the beach by the campground here than we ever thought were possible! It felt like a really special discovery thanks to a tip from a local resident, and apparently something not even all the locals know about.
It is on the Puget Sound, so it is not uncommon to spot animals like bald eagles and sea otters from the beach near our camp!
That’s A Some Pizza
If you’ve read a good number of our blog posts, you might have picked up on the fact that I miss the pizza back East when we’re traveling. Well, this place comes the closest of any place we’ve found two times across the country. We like it so much we actually ate here three times during our stay in 2016! And we hadn’t been eating out too much lately, either. They have specialty pizzas which sound good, but you have to get plain (er, excuse me – “cheese”) or something simple like pepperoni for that Northeast taste.
Bainbridge is known for having a plethora of cute little restaurants along its main strip and along the water, and many of them look tempting, from fine dining to cheap vegetarian stir frys. For a small island, we love the fact that it has three Thai restaurants and we’ve tried two. Bainbridge Thai, while not my favorite Thai place ever, was definitely solid and had views overlooking a marina in the Sound. I also had a great Thai basil margarita with dinner, which was pretty tasty. We favored Sawatdy Thai a little though with its extensive menu and huge portions. It tends to be mostly frequented by locals too, being tucked away on the West side of the island. We’ve heard good things about Pegasus Coffee House and Emmy’s Vege House, and hope to try them some day. There’s just not enough time – or budget! – to try everything!
Nearby Poulsbo, WA
We like to stop in nearby Poulsbo, an old Viking town also on the Sound that
retains its theme to this day. It’s fun to walk around their themed downtown, eat huge schnitzel sandwiches at Tizley’s Europub and maple bars and viking cups at the famous Sluy’s Bakery. Oh yeah, and they have a Mora, too. So we kind of have to walk around a LOT after visits there to burn off all the food! Their annual VikingFest fair is fun, too.
Notable mention: we saw an incredible moon rising every night over the Sound during our 2016 stay!
Bottom line: we love this place, and we hope to be able to come back every so often and let this list grow. If you want a relaxing day trip or long weekend and have the chance to visit this beautiful island, we’d definitely recommend it and hope these suggestions might help!