Bainbridge Island is a pretty cool place.
It’s just a short ferry ride away from Seattle, but if one of my friends hadn’t invited me to spend a couple of days there during my visit to Washington, I may not have discovered it. The sunsets are awesome, and during an evening stroll around the island, I was fortunate that Mount Rainier revealed itself in the distance.
I was particularly excited to visit IslandWood, an outdoor learning center that uses the Puget Sound as its classroom. My friend teaches there, and I was lucky enough to get a docent-led tour during my weekend visit. Students get to hike through the woods, climb an observation tower, hold classes in a tree house — and do a host of other things — as they learn about nature and how they relate to it.
IslandWood’s Welcome Center has some really cool items, too, such as a cross section of a 600-year-old tree. To get a sense of how long it lived, major historical events are displayed on the tree’s rings.
The Welcome Center also displays a rare “Port Blakely toothpick,” which was the name given to the huge wooden beams that the Port Blakely Mill began producing in the latter half of the 19th century. This beam was discovered inside a mine in Montana and was returned to Bainbridge Island in 2001.
Definitely put Bainbridge Island on your itinerary if you’re visiting Seattle. There’s a cool vibe in this community, and the island’s natural beauty is fantastic. The ferry ride back to Seattle — with a view of Mount Rainier — is pretty cool, too.
Passenger fare on the Bainbridge Island Ferry is $8 from Seattle, but there’s no passenger fare when coming back from Bainbridge Island.