Locals looking for a relaxing afternoon out, visitors looking for the best views, and wild food enthusiasts alike will find common ground in a day trip to Bainbridge Island. Looking back at the city as the ferry pulls away on its 35 minute journey, even a city snob will find it hard to resist an adventure begun by boat, taken by foot, and finished with blackberry-stained face slurping island-grown oysters at one of the best restaurants in the region.
After hopping off the ferry on the island side, taking the first left onto the waterfront trail offers a pleasant walk into town. In summer, blackberries and salal berries grow wild along the path, ripe for snagging and snacking. The ten-minute walk into Winslow winds lazily along the waterfront, with a park on one side and Elliott Bay on the other.
Along the way, in the marshy inlets and on the shoreline at Waterfront Park where the path ends, sea beans (also known as samphire or sea asparagus) spring up, and goose tongue greens are sprinkled about. Abundant in these areas, both types of sea greens pack a salty crunch that is unexpected from such tiny plants.
After a healthy graze of the local flora, the natural first stop in town is Mora Iced Creamery. At the small shop, named by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the best ice cream spots in the country, townies, tourists, small children, and dessert-lovers of all strips line up for a scoop of the namesake blackberry ice cream or any of their huge variety of super-creamy, bold flavors.
Continuing from there to one (or three—since the whole trip is by foot) of the tasting rooms for local wineries is the natural next step for a full gulp of the island. The eight wineries located on the island are part of the Puget Sound AVA (wine growing region). With a car, one could head out into the rest of the island and see the wineries themselves (and the vineyards, in some cases), but by foot the tasting rooms in town are the best bet for sampling the local reds and whites.
To cap off the evening, a meal at Hitchcock Restaurant brings the idea of hyper-local food and island pride together with some amazing cooking. The name-your-price tasting menu winds up being an incredible value (often six or more courses for around $50). Included are hand-made pastas, island-grown produce, and house-made cured meat products. Even though the food isn’t strictly local, Food & Wine Magazine’s People’s Best Chef Brendan McGill brings an island pride—and excellent instinct for flavor—to every dish. The servers, too, love their island home—but they also are great about making sure any customer who needs to will make it out in time for the last ferries of the night. And at the end of the meal, an evening constitutional back to the ferry dock does a body good, but it is nice not to have to do it in a full-on sprint.