Most Seattleites have taken the jaunt to Bainbridge Island before, but many never travel beyond Winslow. It makes sense—the easy walk from the ferry into town means you don’t need to bring your car to indulge in ice cream at Mora, Northwest brews and views at the Harbour Public House, the shellfish at Restaurant Marché and the newly opened Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. But extend your trip a bit farther (by bike or car) and you’ll find many more reasons to love this easy escape.
MUST SEE: The quickest way to feel like you’re far, far away is to head north to Rolling Bay. This tiny little area—not a town so much as an intersection—packs abundant charm into a rural setting. The main attraction is the sprawling Bay Hay and Feed (206.842.2813; bayhayandfeed.com), which includes a nursery, a farm stand (fresh produce, cheese, honey, eggs), a feed store (organic goods for chickens and pigs), pet supplies, gardening gear and, for good measure, live baby chicks and yoga clothing. The old-school, one-stop shopping mash-up may well convince you to drop everything and become a farmer/yogi. Next door, the darling Rolling Bay Café (206.780.6788; rollingbaycafe.com) meets your caffeine needs and offers house-made sandwiches to eat at the sweet picnic tables set up in the Hay and Feed garden.
MUST STROLL: Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, The Bloedel Reserve (pictured left, 206.842.7631; bloedelreserve.org) is an ideal stop for a peaceful walk through truly stunning grounds with views of Puget Sound. (It’s less ideal for those hoping to yak on a cell phone, picnic or let kids run wild.) There are a lot of rules, yes, but the net gain is positive—stepping into a lush paradise that includes a Japanese garden, a rhododendron glen and the pride of the Northwest: a moss garden. In a couple of ways, the reserve has loosened up—reservations are no longer required in advance (an entry fee still stands; $13) and for the first time, art will appear on the grounds. Vashon Island–based sculptor Julie Speidel is installing several geometric pieces (on display 8/30–10/13) that recall errant rocks left by glaciers.
MUST EXPLORE: Long the home of the adorably historic Lynwood Movie Theatre (206.842.3080; lynwoodtheatre.com), the south end of the island is getting an update, thanks to the brand-new Pleasant Beach Village (pleasantbeachvillage.com). Although the name sounds straight out of Stepford, this neo-Tudor complex boasts The Beach House restaurant (oysters galore) and a marketplace in the style of Capitol Hill’s Melrose Market, which includes a wine shop, Hitchcock charcuterie, a coffee shop, fresh flowers, produce and a crêpe stand. --Brangien Davis
Ferry: Seattle Ferry Terminal to Bainbridge Island
Departures: About every 50 minutes, weekdays from 5:30 to 1:35 a.m., weekends from 6:10 to 2:10 a.m.
Duration: 35 minutes
Fare: One adult, walk on, $7.70; drive on, $13.15
Tip: Sit on the sunny, south side of the boat for a spectacular view of Mount Rainier (when it's out).