Beautiful Bainbridge Island Beautiful Bainbridge Island

Bark for Bainbridge Island

Escape the city with your four-legged friend for a taste of island life just a hop, skip and a ferry ride from Seattle.
Written by Elizabeth Henkes | Photography by David Henkes & Jen Flynn
Two dachshund noses sniff the salt air in anticipation as our ferry makes its thirty-five minute crossing to the nature-lover's paradise that is Bainbridge Island. Discovered in 1792 by Captain George Vancouver (but settled in the mid-1800's), the Island was later named for naval war hero, Captain William Bainbridge. Today Bainbridge proudly retains its maritime heritage, just as it has gained a reputation for its amazing garden show, beautiful parks, and admirable preservation of its Main Street.

We're on a quest to explore as much of the Island as possible before the evening ferry, a nearly impossible task! As always, it's best to let Winston and Sawyer stretch their legs before heading into town, so we go in search of a great place to walk. Bainbridge residents take great care to safeguard their green spaces; no less than 16 parks offer up excellent views and grassy areas (not all are dog-friendly, so check before traveling). The beach, with all its interesting smells, calls to the hounds and we make the short drive from the ferry dock to Fay Bainbridge State Park, on the northeast corner of the Island.

Although there is a chill in the air and the wind has picked up, the sun is shining, the tide is out, and the boys love bounding over the driftwood (at least as far as their leashes will allow). Camping is permitted year-round in this 17-acre park; one stalwart soul has set up their tent in a shelter of trees (with a spectacular water view) and is drumming at the water's edge. The cadence is a fitting backbeat to the lapping of waves, and we spend a little time enjoying the view of Seattle as we sit in the Adirondack chairs that are thoughtfully anchored here and there within the reeds.

Eventually the crisp wind drives us from our perch and we elect to head just a couple of miles south to the Bainbridge Island Vineyards & Winery. Gerard and Jo Ann Bentryn are the owners of this small family farm, and were the first in the state to produce wines officially declared as "salmon safe," which refers to the purity of their growing and harvesting practices. The grounds, though compact, are nicely landscaped and we're able to walk the boys through the small garden off the parking lot before we enter the tasting room. 

The boys barrel in the door, startling Jozia (pronounced "you-ja"): a huge, but shy, bear of a dog who presides over the cozy, quirky space, which gives wine bottles and antique glassware equal space. Jozia's name is Polish, meaning "little Josephine," and she patiently suffers through wild dachshund greetings and the petting of strangers. Jo Ann is behind the counter and offers a free taste of the wine of our choice, giving us the option of paying three dollars for a flight of four wines. According to Jo Ann, their vineyard is the only one in the state that grows their grapes on premises; in 2005, it was voted by the Seattle Times as one of the top ten wineries in the state.

The majority of the offerings today are sweet whites and dessert wines, but there is also a nice Pinot Noir available. Gerard stops in for a few minutes; he's been out in the vineyard, readying it for the free tours that take place every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. sharp, year-round. The Bentryns' wines are only available at the Winery, in addition to local wine shops and restaurants, so we make our selection carefully before taking a few photos around the grounds and going in search of the off-leash park.

Eagledale Park and Arts Center is located on Rose Avenue, south of downtown Winslow. Cruising down Eagle Harbor Drive affords us a great view of the serene harbor, and we easily find the quaint little park with its picnic shelter, tennis courts, and off-leash park. It's a bit confusing at first, but we eventually figure out that the boys need to stay on-leash as we walk up a steep, paved hill which opens up at the top into a lush, grassy area. Winston and Sawyer enjoy the new territory, but are anxious to get to the official, fenced off-leash area, which lies past the grassy area, and is surrounded by dense woods on three sides. There we meet two new friends, Georgia and Stella, golden retrievers who are slaves to the ball. It may only measure at one acre, but the secluded space provides plenty of room for all of us. It's outfitted with a picnic table, bulletin board, and large water bowl, everything we need for a rousing game of fetch.

Sufficiently worn out, we drive north, just a mile or so back around the harbor and into downtown Winslow. Parking at the west end of town, we discover Bainbridge Bakers, a spot made for lunch with canine companions. Due to expected health codes, the pups aren't allowed inside the bakery, but there are ample tables outside and it's a beautiful afternoon to enjoy a cup of country ham and lentil soup with gourmet sandwiches as we watch the world go by. As if the culinary offerings weren't enough, we are delighted to discover a dog tie up outside (in the form of a bicycle sculpture), with a small doghouse nearby in case the weather turns south. By the time we've finished eating, we've been joined by three other canine friends: one is a little shy, but two Bernese Mountain Dogs, Ziggy and Marley, are gentle and very friendly. Everyone who comes by seems to know them, and they even score a few of the bakery's freshly baked dog treats in return for their patience!
After lunch we amble down Winslow Way, the main street in town, stopping in at various shops to peruse their wares. Many are dog-friendly; it's wise to use your best judgment based on the size and accessibility of the shop.   

Of course we can't resist the call of Eagle Harbor Book Co. where we are greeted with a friendly staff and treats the moment we walk in the door. Only a moment later, my trackers locate playful store dog, Mickey, nearly hidden behind the counter. Winston and Sawyer are spoiled by customers and staff alike as we wander the store, perusing some of the 30,000 titles in stock and admiring the many funky gift items for sale.

Unfortunately, the hour is growing late, and we leave the store to take a quick walk through the 5.5 acre Waterfront Park, which sits on the water just behind the main street. A location for frequent festivals and other community gatherings, this park is the perfect place to end our busy day before we dash for the ferry.

Once on the boat, we admire the downtown Seattle skyline glittering on the water in the late evening light, and discuss all the places we'll go the next time we visit Bainbridge Island. It's a magnificent feeling to know that relaxation waits in such an artistic and welcoming community, just across the water from the hustle and bustle of the city.

More Information

Bainbridge Bakers
140 Winslow Way West, 206.842.1822
Lunch, dessert and freshly baked dog biscuits!

Bainbridge Island Vineyards & Winery
8989 Day Road East, 206.842.9463
100% estate grown; free vineyard tours every Sunday at 2:00pm sharp.

Eagledale Park & Arts Center
Off-leash Area
5055 Rose Avenue NE

Fay Bainbridge State Park
Two miles off Sunrise Drive NE, on the northeast side of the island.

Waterfront Park (Eagle Harbor)
Off Brien Drive, across from Bainbridge Commons; 206.842.1212.
Bainbridge Island has an abundance of green space.

B.I. Barkery
278 Winslow Way E
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Eagle Harbor Book Co.
157 Winslow Way East, 206.842.5332.
Friendly staff, great book and gift selection, and store dog Mickey!

Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce
590 Winslow Way East, 206.842.3700

Washington State Ferries
2901 Third Avenue; Suite 500; Seattle
206.464.6400 or 800.808.7977
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