The Basics: Bainbridge Island is tucked into the Kitsap Peninsula, a short ferry ride west of downtown Seattle. Although Seattle looms on the horizon as you cross Puget Sound, the island’s rolling hills and abundant trees make it seem far from the city, and daytripping families can easily fill a Saturday or Sunday with kid-friendly activities.
Don't Miss: Charming downtown Winslow, located on Winslow Way close to the ferry terminal, is easily walkable from one end to the other. Stop at the always-packed Blackbird Bakery, at 210 Winslow Way E., for a muffin or scone, slice of fruit pie or buttery cookie. Gluten-free goodies are always on the menu. Sit inside or outside at tables directly in front of the bakery, or look for wooden benches and chairs located along Madrone Lane around the corner. The independent Eagle Harbor Book Co., 157 Winslow Way E., contains a spacious children's area and hosts occasional author events; for a schedule, visit www.eagleharborbooks.com
The Kids Discovery Museum (Kidimu) is located at 305 Madison Ave. N. Its main exhibit, housed in an airy former garage, invites toddlers though 9-year-olds to explore the tropical rainforest, read, dress up and work on make-and-take projects in the art space. Organizers envision the museum as a community center: Local artists and community arts organization Bainbridge Performing Arts (www.theplayhouse.org) will host art and theater classes for kids, and a community group will present science programs for visitors. Exhibit admission is $5. For information on classes and events, go to www.kidimu.org or call 206-855-4650.
For lunch, pop into the Big Star Diner, located right in front of the children's museum building. Housed in a restored 1948 diner car from Pennsylvania, it serves a burger-and-shakes-based menu in an irresistibly retro interior complete with (on the day we visited) a guy named Lou behind the counter.
The Bainbridge Library, at 1270 Madison Ave. N., is also worth a visit, especially if the weather isn't ideal. Drive west on Madison Avenue, past historic houses and new development, to the roundabout at High School Road. Turn right and then right again into a parking lot; look for the "Children's Library" sign. The Children's Library, located on the building's ground floor, has its own (wheelchair-accessible) entrance -- something kids seem to love -- and looks out on a shady native plant garden with paths and a gazebo. Inside, you'll find a sparkling aquarium, plenty of kid-sized tables and chairs, and lots of puzzles. Check www.krl.org or call 206-842-4162 for a story time and children's special events calendar.
If your carload needs to blow off some steam, you can't go wrong with a trip to Battle Point Park, 11299 Arrow Point Dr. N.E. A brilliantly designed children's playground here is well worth the trip. Look for Native American- and Pacific Northwest-themed art; interesting spots for hiding and climbing; and an all-wood structure that invites both pretend and physical play. A flat, paved path -- accessible from a parking lot just past the park's main entrance -- winds through pretty open fields, dotted with brambles, to North Pond. The park also contains extensive open fields beyond the playground. To get there, take High School Road southbound to Fletcher Bay Road N.E. Turn right onto Fletcher, which becomes Miller Road. At Arrow Point Drive, turn left; you'll see brown directional signs to the park.
Getting There: For ferry information, go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/ or call 206-464-6400. The crossing from downtown Seattle takes about 35 minutes. Good Web sites to check for information on the island's 14 parks, many of them with waterfront access, are www.ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us and www.biparks.org. For a map of the downtown area that shows the location of shops and galleries, visit www.bainbridgedowntown.org
And don't forget: It is possible to visit Bainbridge with kids without taking your car. From the ferry terminal, it's a .3-mile walk up a rather steep hill to the downtown, which is an easy walk of about three long blocks. Kidimu is also within walking distance of downtown. If you plan on visiting the library or park, however, a car (or bicycles, for those willing to brave the hilly route to Battle Point Park) is probably necessary -- the library is located almost a mile from downtown, and the park about four miles from the library. There are no sidewalks once you leave town.
Kris Collingridge is Out & About editor at ParentMap.