A true treasure on Bainbridge Island, the Bloedel Gardens are like the secret garden we all dreamed of when we were small. But this isn’t fiction, it is a real and flourishing place not far from Agate Pass. Here is my post Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Bloedel Reserve.
Long before Virginia and Prentice Bloedel purchased this property in 1951, the Suquamish people were stewards of this land for generations. The Bloedels built their home here, and surrounded themselves with gardens, adding acres through the years.
For more than thirty years the Bloedels sculpted the landscape and welcomed friends and family to the masterpiece they built. When they no longer could care for the land, they gifted it to the community.
The reserve website says of Mr. Bloedel;
Mr. Bloedel was deeply interested in the relationship between people and the natural world, and the power of landscape to evoke emotions — from tranquility to exhilaration. He was ahead of his time in understanding the therapeutic power of nature and funded early research into the psychological effect of time spent outdoors.
Most trails are accessible and walkable. I visited with my 83 year old mom and she walked, using her walker, without issues through most of the garden.
Since Covid, the Reserve has and will continue to be, by timed ticket. Purchase your ticket online ahead of time. Adult tickets are $22 and $25 during peak summer. The Bloedel Reserve is open Tuesday – Sunday year around, but hours change seasonally so check the website. Closed on major holidays.
Don’t miss this Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Bloedel Reserve. A treat for the senses.
A thirty-minute ferry ride from Seattle, or a thirty-minute drive from Bremerton, Beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington is a well kept secret.
Home to 25,000 full-time residents, the island is one of several that call the Puget Sound home, and is one of the most populated. Only ten miles long and five miles wide, Bainbridge is connected to the Kitsap Peninsula by a bridge over Agate Pass and to Seattle and King County by Washington State Ferry.
History of Beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington
For thousands of years the island was home to the Suquamish people who lived in nine separate villages around the island. The Vancouver expedition visited the island in 1792 and the Wilkes expedition in 1841. It was Wilkes who named the island after Commodore William Bainbridge.
In 1855 the Suquamish relinquished their claim to the island to the US government in exchange for reservation and fishing rights at Port Madison.
Japanese immigrants made their way to the island starting in 1888 and began much of the agriculture of the island, some of which remains today. But the Japanese were removed to internment camps during WWII…many never returned. A very beautiful Japanese American Exclusion Memorial is located just outside of the town of Winslow.
In 1991 the entire island was named the City of Bainbridge Island.
A Perfect Day Trip
Spending more than one day on beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington would be amazing, but if you only can get here for a day trip there is plenty you can do. We offer up some suggestions below. If you are walking from the ferry the village of Winslow has much to offer. And if you have a car there is even more to see and do further afield. Here are our suggestions:
Close to the Ferry
If you are driving, parking is usually available either on the main street called Winslow Way or on one of the side streets. But if you are walking from the ferry it’s a short five minute walk to the area known as Winslow.
The Winslow area offers a wonderful variety of shops and restaurants including clothing and outdoor wear, jewelry and decorative finds, wine and tea and more. Two of my favorite shops are the incomparable Eagle Harbor Books and Town & Country Market. On my most recent trip I discovered Bainbridge Apothecary and Tea Shop. I loved it!
You will never go hungry on Bainbridge Island. So many wonderful places to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Photo below is dinner at Restaurant Marche, one of my favorite restaurants in Kitsap County. We also love both Cafe Hitchcock and their new sister restaurant Burgerhaus. Streamline Diner is great for breakfast, Blackbird Bakery has the best lemon blueberry scones and San Carlos is one of the best Mexican/Southwest Restaurants in the state of Washington.
It’s not a long walk but the Bainbridge Waterfront Trail is a beautiful walk along both a paved path and a raised boardwalk. Definitely worth a few minutes of your time to enjoy the wind and salt in your hair, the thousands of masts and to hear the horn of the ferry in the distance.
Unfortunately the day we were on Bainbridge the Bainbridge Historical Museum was closed, currently having limited hours due to the PanDamit. I do encourage you to check it out though when you visit. Learn more about it here.
We were, however extremely surprised and impressed with the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. What a revelation to find such an outstanding museum in this small town. And it was FREE!! We spent about an hour here, enjoying both the permanent and temporary exhibits as well as marveling at the beautiful architecture of the building. A must visit when on the island. Learn more here.
GRAND FOREST PARK – an astonishing variety of trails offered in this park located in the forested interior of the island. A beautiful spot.
BLOEDEL RESERVE – not to be missed. This 150 acre reserve is located on the historic property of Virginia and Prentice Bloedel. Today the spectacular gardens are astonishing to say the least and open to the public by timed tickets available online. Adults $20. Worth every penny.
BAINBRIDGE BREWING – always in search of microbrew, we found it on Bainbridge. Bainbridge Brewing has it’s brewing headquarters and a tasting room on the interior of island and also has a tasting room in Winslow.
Worth a day or a weekend, beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington will sooth your senses – forest bathe in the green forests, inhale the salty air from the multiple waterfront locations, relax. Experience a friendly neighborhood island of socially active residents who make nature, art and sustainability a priority on their island. Take it down a notch on beautiful Bainbridge Island Washington. I’ll see you there.
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