Visit Like a Local // Island Itineraries for Everybody

By Cindy Jones

When you live on an idyllic island in the Pacific Northwest, you can expect lots of visitors. Even the ferry ride is a tourist attraction, given the stunning view of Mount Rainier from the port side of the boat. Still, the beautiful crossing is just the start. Whether your out of town company is devoted to healthy exercise, fine food, local art or natural beauty, one of our specially designed itineraries is sure to make their visit a memorable one. These one day visits highlight the tried and true favorites that locals know and love.

Plus, the bonus of living on a small island is proximity—it’s easy to mix and match restaurants from one itinerary with galleries from another, and never even leave Winslow Way. So the next time a houseguest asks what to do, just hand them this article. And don’t expect them back ’til dark.

A MATTER OF TASTE – An Art Lovers Tour

To start with art, head straight into downtown Winslow. Artisanal offerings abound at Blackbird Bakery, from the hand crafted espresso drinks and pastries to the art on the walls. Paintings, photographs and other creations are rotated through, and you might even catch a busker playing on one of the benches outside. From your seat in a booth or by the front window, give your butter knife a spin. Chances are good it will point toward a gallery. Stepping out of the bakery, Roby King Gallery is just a couple doors down; look across the street and you can see The Gallery to the right and Danger to the left. Each of these shops showcase locally made artwork.

To include music or theater arts in your mix, check out the schedule for Bainbridge Performing Arts. You’ll find choices that include chamber music, the symphony, improv performance and a complete season of theatrical productions. Also, mark your calendar to visit the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Slated to open in the summer of 2013, this eco and energy friendly space will include 20,000 square feet of galleries, classrooms, a café and more.

After a day of indulging your eyes and ears, be sure to give your palate a turn. There are plenty of choices; try Café Nola, which anchors one end of Winslow Way and offers the kind of rarefied experience your tastebuds can enjoy.

TASTY TRAVELS – A Foodie Tour

Food lovers, wear something loose fitting. You’re going to have your plate full trying to cover the highlights in only one day. If you’re here on a Saturday, don’t miss the Farmers’ Market, held downtown right by City Hall. Bring canvas bags to load up with produce and pack along a small cooler with ice if you can. This is your chance to stock up on fresh as they get veggies, artisan goat cheese and organic meats. The market runs April through mid November, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

At midday, grab a sidewalk table at the Hitchcock Deli & Charcuterie and enjoy soup and a sandwich while watching Winslow’s corner of the world go by. Save a bit of room, though, for a stop at Mora, a “destination ice cream store” recently noted by Food & Wine magazine as one of the nation’s best. Dulce de leche, blackberry, and dark chocolate mint are just a few of their signature flavors. For sweets to take home with you, belly up to the counter at Bon Bon Confections. This shop is packed with treats of all kinds—including their collection of the “wacky and nostalgic”—but the main attraction here is the mouthwatering selection of fine chocolate candies.

Be sure to check out the fudge. Made in small batches daily, the flavors are always, fresh, creative and sweetly satisfying. Still feeling peckish? Take your hosts to dinner at the world-class Restaurant Marché.

PEDAL & PADDLE – A Bike & Kayak Tour

If a fast pace is optional, but exercise a given, here’s a lineup for you. Tailor it to your interests, or go for the glory and do it all in a day. Bike to the ferry dock to begin, just like they do for the famed Chilly Hilly, an organized 33 mile ride held every February, rain, snow or shine. You can also rent a bike right at the ferry terminal from Classic Cycle. About 16 miles in, you’ll hit Battlepoint Park. Just happen to have a tennis racket strapped to your back? Lob a few
balls while you’re there.

Otherwise, take a quick trot around before getting back on the bike. The three miles of trails in the park are flat, and pass a pond where you’ll get to see ducks. Another nine miles and it could be time to refuel. Stop for pizza at the Treehouse Café and then grab a loaf of fresh baked bread for the road at Pane d’Amore right next door. When you roll back into Winslow, after 33 miles and almost 3,000 feet gained, you’ll be right on track for the next event to begin. Check out a kayak at Back of Beyond and dig in a paddle at Waterfront Park. From there you can tool around Eagle Harbor, take a short jaunt south to Pritchard Park or burn around the bottom of the island and up to Fort Ward.

Now it’s time to give your muscles some love. Plan a few days ahead and line up a massage near enough to limp to. Advaya Wellness is on the main drag in Winslow—an appointment is needed. Or try Island Fitness—you can schedule ahead or drop by and hope a massage table’s open. You could also lift a few weights while you’re there, but let’s not get crazy.

A WALK IN THE WOODS – A Nature & Bird Enthusiasts Tour

Map? Check. Boots? Check. Binoculars? Check. Now grab your hiking stick and prepare to explore. The irony, of course, is that to do very much walking you’re going to first want some wheels. So unplug that Leaf and load up the Kleen Kanteens—it won’t take much of your charge to get to the trailhead. Start out in the sun on the east side of the island. Fay Bainbridge Park offers a stretch of wild shoreline and a fresh salty breeze. Keep an eye out for eagles, ospreys and shorebirds, and be ready to hop over driftwood to get to the beach.

Next, swing further south and to the west side of the island; look for the Grand Forest parking area and get set to hike. You’ll find big old growth trees and a seasonal stream—do the main loop at least and check out the side trails if you want to explore more. When you’ve circled back to the car, just keep right on walking—the trail continues on the other side of the road. Another mile of shaded pathway leads to Battlepoint Park, where the trees give way to wide-open space (hence the name of the trail, Forest to Sky). The perimeter path is a flat loop of about two miles. Birders, don’t miss the duck pond at the far end of the park.

Once you’ve retraced your steps and are back at the car, hop in and head south toward Fort Ward Park. Choose the lower entrance to be closer to the water. Be sure to look for cormorants sunning themselves at the south end of the park; to the north you’ll see the Olympic Mountains on days when it’s clear. Birder bonus: add an extra stop at Schel Chelb Estuary near Lynwood Center. When it’s finally time to head back into town, you’ll be comfortable in your khakis at the casual Harbour Public House. Dig into one of their specials and down a chilly, well deserved local beer.

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