Most people long for another island. One where they know they will like to be, so says Bloody Mary in South Pacific’s evocative and lyrical Bali Hai.
One such island escape is Bainbridge Island, a scenic, 35-minute ferry ride from Pier 52 in downtown Seattle and within the Central Puget Sound basin. Approximately 5 miles wide and 10 miles long, with 53 picturesque miles of shoreline, you’ll find every water activity imaginable, a pedestrian-friendly town center, and quiet country roads for hiking and biking—all within an easy walk from the ferry.
One-of-a-kind boutiques line the sidewalks, along with wine-tasting and eateries such as Bee’s Luncheonette, Emmy’s Vege House and Doc’s Marina Grill. Above all, don’t miss The Harbour Public House, built in 1881 in the tradition of the English pub, with proprietors Jim and Judy Evans and their family living there for several years.
This is not a place to count calories. As a certified purveyor of an ‘Honest Pint,’ the establishment ensures that a patron receive at least 16 ounces of beer when a pint is poured. Follow this up with the Pub Clam Chowder. Never have I tasted such ambrosia: Baywater Salish Blue clams—left happily in their lovely shells—arrive in a large, steaming bowl of potatoes, onions, bacon and heavy cream. (I’m not finished.) A drizzle of white wine floats on top. (Still not finished.) Topping all this beauteousness is a pat of butter, melting into all the wonderment. (There, done.) But if that doesn’t do it for you, try the pub’s Poutine, a Quebec dish that’s basically French fries topped with brown gravy, curd cheese and sometimes ground beef, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and/or black beans. Canadian Fernand Lachance, upon seeing this first served, exclaimed, Ca va faire une moudite poutine! Translated, this means, It will make a d*mn mess. It does.
Charming inns, such as Island Country Inn, are available, but I loved the Eagle Harbor Inn, a ‘petit hotel’ offering five one-of-a-kind rooms and three custom townhouses built around a garden courtyard.
A short drive or bike ride from the downtown area is the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, an outdoor exhibit commemorating the forcible relocation and interment of Japanese Americans in 1942. While most of these families were moved to California, about 150 returned to the island after World War II and many family members continue to reside on the island today.
Cycle along the lovely meadows and residential areas to see where many in this art colony live. And the arts are everywhere. So much so that one might assume every island resident is an artist. Not too much of an exaggeration, actually, as the art scene encompasses the entire island with resident artists, actors, dancers, designers, filmmakers, illustrators, musicians, painters, photographers, poets, sculptors, singers and writers. Whew!
All this beneath the sleepy backdrop of Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountains…Seattle’s own Bali Hai.