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Oceanside living off the coast of Seattle.

Travel + Leisure
September 07, 2012

Free outdoor attractions, from Japanese gardens to beachfront views of the Olympic Mountains, make Bainbridge Island the perfect wallet-friendly getaway. When you’re not having a picnic or sipping a glass of wine overlooking the island’s vineyards, stroll through its quaint downtown, filled with bookshops, galleries, and cafes. Set your own schedule and spend a day or more—it’s just a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle.

Bloedel Reserve

This 150-acre preserve at the northern tip of Bainbridge Island (35 minutes by ferry from Seattle) is a mix of pristine second-growth forest and meticulously landscaped gardens. The self-guided loop trail takes roughly two hours and leads you through a bird refuge that’s home to trumpeter swans, great blue herons, and kingfishers; across hand-hewed wooden bridges and through fern-choked forest; and into a Japanese garden where leaves fall gracefully among wooden gates. The path eventually ends at a grand mansion, the former private residence of the Bloedel family—prominent in the timber industry’s forest-conservation efforts during the 1940’s and 50’s.

Admission: $13 adults; $9 seniors; $5 student; Children under 13 are free. Closed Monday.

Bainbridge Island Vineyards & Winery

Have a picnic overlooking the vines and cap it off with a few sips in the tasting room.

Harbour Public House

Fuel up on Northwest-style pub grub like wild-caught salmon burgers (plus lovely deck-side views over Eagle Harbor.

Eagle Harbor Inn

A short walk from the Bainbridge Island ferry, the inn surrounds a small garden, with cozy interiors that feature overstuffed armchairs and Oriental rugs. The rooms have cushy beds and sofas, and DVD players.

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