Bainbridge Island: A Journey Through Time & Curiosities

I recently visited my uncle on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. I had a great time exploring, and I want to share the highlights with you. Before I tell you about my visit, I want to share a bit of history about this city that lies across Puget Sound from Seattle. While you can take Washington 306 to get there, I rode on the Washington State Ferry, which was a terrific experience. You can check the schedule for the next Bainbridge ferry if you are planning to visit.

History of Bainbridge Island Town

As I explored the museums, historical sites and monuments in Bainbridge, Washington, I could almost hear the whispers of ancient tribal dwellers, English explorers, American pioneers and Asian immigrants talking to me. Food from Puget Sound and the island’s forests was plentiful for all these early settlers.

In 1792, the arrival of English explorer Captain George Vancouver visited the island and named it Restoration Point to pay homage to King Charles II.

Very little changed on the island until 1841, when U.S. Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes visited the island and renamed it Bainbridge to honor Commodore William Bainbridge, a celebrated figure from the War of 1812. He negotiated a treaty with Chief Kitsap of the Suquamish tribe to move the nine Native American villages on the island northward. In 1855, Chief Kitsap ceded the land to the U.S. government.

Fort Ward Museum

Very soon, the island had a thriving logging industry. Many Asian immigrants arrived to work in the sawmills and create farms. There were two major towns on the island. Port Blakely became home to the world’s largest sawmill, while Port Madison had many hotels, schools, and shipping sites.

Bainbridge Island’s geographical location has also made it important to the military throughout modern history. In 1890, the U.S. Army erected Fort Ward as Beans Point, which later served as a Navy spy base from 1948 until the military decommissioned the fort in 1958. Today, the island is home to Naval Base Kitsap, the Navy’s largest fuel depot, one of the four nuclear shipyards, one of two strategic nuclear weapons facilities and the only West Coast dry dock that can handle a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

Visiting Bainbridge Art Museum

After getting off the ferry, I made the short stroll to the Bainbridge Art Museum. This small museum features temporary exhibits with many pieces featuring Puget Sound art or artists.

Highlights of My Trip to Bainbridge Island Town

On my trip to Bainbridge Island in Washington State, I enjoyed exploring:

  • Bainbridge Island Historical Museum: A museum preserving and showcasing many aspects of Bainbridge Island’s history.
  • Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, which commemorates the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II on Bainbridge Island.
  • Suyematsu Farm focuses on the agricultural contributions and cultural significance of the island’s inhabitants throughout history.

Scenic Beauty

Bainbridge - Museum of Art

I went in the late spring, and it was an ideal choice because of the flowers blooming. I especially enjoyed the picturesque views of the harbor from Blakely Harbor Park. Another favorite experience from my trip to Bainbridge, Washington, was exploring Bloedel Reserve, where I enjoyed seeing how Prentice and Virginia Bloedel had transformed the rugged landscape as a tribute to the Suquamish People, who were called the people of the clear salt water.

I wish I had brought my camera along as I wandered through open meadows, shady forests and teeming wetlands on a two-mile dirt trail that runs along the edge of this beautiful property and to capture photos in the ornamental garden next to the main house. The home is open to the public, and you will love the views of Puget Sound through its windows. This is one of the best-preserved homes in Bainbridge Island town.

Town and Country Bainbridge

Another area that I particularly enjoyed exploring on a walking tour was downtown Bainbridge. I grabbed some organic fruit at Town and Country Bainbridge before starting my tour of the area that was once called Windsor. I was so impressed with the fruit quality at Town and Country on Bainbridge Island and the friendly customer service that I returned after my tour to buy some more to take home with me.

Exploring History in Windslow

While exploring Windslow, I loved seeing the large homes and churches built in the early 1900s. I especially loved seeing the Wyatt Home, which workers constructed in 1909. I remember my grandmother telling me about attending community dances in this building when Captain Wyatt owned it, and Winslow was the largest community on Bainbridge Island.

Visiting IslandWood

IslandWood Main Door

The next day, I returned to Town and Country Market on Bainbridge Island before heading to a family reunion at IslandWood in Bainbridge. This was the perfect setting with many outstanding hiking opportunities. I loved climbing the 120-foot canopy tower and harvesting ingredients from the garden to make an appetizer for my family. The spacious dining room was very well maintained, and the staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

Bainbridge With Kids

I am so thankful that I got to spend a day exploring the island with my niece and nephew. Since the day started a little cool, we started our adventure by exploring the Kids Discovery Museum, where they especially enjoyed hanging out in the treehouse. Then, we headed to Battle Point Park, where I introduced them to disc golf before they played on the spacious playground. This park also has two ponds, a jogging trail, two soccer fields, three softball fields, a horse area, a picnic shelter, two tennis courts, play areas, and two basketball courts shared with a roller hockey court.

Family-friendly Hikes

We could have easily spent the whole day at this park, but we decided to hike along the Forest to Sky Trail to explore Grand Forest West. The kids thought walking across the wooden bridge built across Issei Creek was so fun. Thankfully, I had stopped at Town and Country Market on Bainbridge Island, and we enjoyed a beautiful picnic lunch and trail snacks.

Great Seattle Day Trip Destination

If you want a fun day trip from Seattle, visit Bainbridge Island. Riding the ferry is the best way to get to Bainbridge Washington, and you will find unique adventures around every turn on this island that was once home to Native Americans and was vital to United States military efforts for many years. To check ticket prices we have a page to help you. While it is easy to get there, it is not easy to leave because there is so much to do. If you want to stay longer, you will find great lodging options in Bainbridge Washington.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. I will write more articles based on your feedback, so don’t miss out!

P.S.: I was unable to record videos, but there is a quite informative video from Alex that can provide you with some additional information: