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Isle’s minutes away but another world

  • LOS ANGELES TIMES
    Sailboats are reflected in the water on Bainbridge Island, just across the waves from Seattle.
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The Seattle waterfront wants you. Especially the Seattle Aquarium (Pier 59) and the Seattle Great Wheel (Pier 57), whose bright lights can be seen for miles. But if you’re there when the weather is mild, you might want to consider Pier 52, the ferry terminal.

That’s where you can catch a 35-minute ride to Bainbridge Island. The round-trip tab is just $8 a person, or $13.65 per car. (For adults, that’s way less than a $21.95 aquarium ticket or a $13 wheel ticket.) The trip will take you far from the urban grid.

The island (population 23,196) is close enough for islanders to commute to Seattle on the ferry yet far enough away to feel like another country.

I gave it only about four hours — a serious tactical error because I could have spent five hours just eating, never mind the 30 miles of trails (www.bit.ly/1yzyBc0) or the seven wineries (www.bainbridgewineries.com).

Once the ferry has pulled into Eagle Harbor, it’s an easy walk up Olympic Drive Southeast to Winslow Way East, the main drag of the tiny town of Winslow.

There the diversions begin with the curvy Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (550 Winslow Way E.; 206-842-4451, www.biartmuseum.org), which opened in June 2013 and specializes in contemporary works with a regional focus. Then come the restaurants and shops.

I prowled the waterfront trail at the foot of Madison Avenue, browsed Eagle Harbor Book Co. and Bainbridge Arts & Crafts, then settled in for late lunch at Doc’s Marina Grill (403 Madison Ave. S.; 206-842-8339, www.docsgrill.com), a cas­ual, surfy-turfy place with a big patio overlooking the marina. (Most main dishes $12-$26.)

Then came a difficult choice: a drink at Hitchcock (133 Winslow Way E.; 206-201-3789, www.hitchcockrestaurant.com), a locavore restaurant and bar that opened in 2011, or dessert at Mora Iced Creamery (139 Madrone Lane; 206-855-1112, www.moraicecream.com), part of a three-location Seattle-area chain.

Mora’s blackberry gelato (made from local berries) won me over. But next time it’ll be dinner at Hitchcock, whose chef, Brendan McGill, has won a kitchen full of best-chef prizes.

I wouldn’t make any changes in the timing of my return trip, though. If you catch the ferry just before dark, as I did, you can watch the sun set as the island fades into the distance and the Seattle skyline begins to light up. That’s $8 well spent.

By Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

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