EDITOR’S NOTE: Since this story was written, coronavirus-related safety guidelines have gotten more restrictive, rather than less. Gov. Jay Inslee has paused Washington’s advancement through the four Safe Start phases through the end of July and limited group gatherings to under 10 people in Phase 3 counties. We urge you to keep public-health guidelines in mind when deciding whether to travel and consider delaying trips until after restrictions are loosened or lifted. For up-to-date information, check https://doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus
Who doesn’t yearn to get out on the water on a gorgeous summer day?
It may not yet be time to travel, due to COVID-19 precautions. But when the time is right, here are three Kitsap County destinations that beckon walk-on ferry riders with tasting rooms, a farmers market, nature walks and barbecue picnic fare.
Bring your mask. Leave the car at home. Your ticket to ride from the Seattle waterfront and back will cost under $10.
Here are three suggestions:
Winslow, Bainbridge Island
Spend the day walking, wine-tasting and picnicking along the waterfront in the downtown area of Winslow, a few minutes walk from the Bainbridge Island ferry dock.
Board the ferry at Colman Dock on the Seattle waterfront for the 35-minute crossing. Motorists are asked to stay in their cars, so walk-ons will find ample distanced seating inside or on the open-air deck.
It’s just a few minutes walk from the ferry dock into Winslow via Olympic Drive Southeast. For a more scenic route, detour at the Waterfront Trail sign for a hike through the woods along Eagle Harbor with wooded paths, picnic spots and a marina.
Best time to visit is on a Saturday when the Bainbridge Island Farmers Market is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 208 Madison Ave. N., near City Hall.
With just 15-20 vendors, the market is small enough to wander without one-way paths or long lines.
Grab coffee from the vintage camper set up by Pegasus Coffee while you shop for produce, chocolates, cider and wine.
There’s live music and crafts such as whimsical yard sculptures crafted by Dick Strom of BapaTom’s Metalworks.
In town, several wineries have tasting rooms with outdoor seating. Eagle Harbor Winery pours at patio tables at the Winslow Mall next to the Coquette Bake Shop. Fletcher Bay Winery opens a rooftop deck on weekend afternoons next to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.
Check on the museum’s reopening plans before planning a visit. In the meantime, stop by Bainbridge Arts and Crafts, a nonprofit gallery selling contemporary paintings, jewelry and pottery made by Northwest artists.
Popular for outdoor dining with a view is the grassy back patio at Doc’s Marina Grill, or the deck at the Harbour Public House. My favorite is Bainbridge Thai Cuisine, with a few oft-overlooked outdoor tables on a walkway overlooking the marina.
Best picnic fare: Takeout barbecue pork or chicken from the Hitchcock restaurant’s pop-up sidewalk smoker, available Saturdays until they run out.
Bremerton and Port Orchard
One of my favorite excursions when we have houseguests is combining a scenic ferry ride with dinner on the patio at Anthony’s in Bremerton.
With no visitors this summer, my husband and I decided go anyway, this time to do some exploring, and to take advantage of the restaurant’s weekday early-dinner special for $25.
With views of the Olympic Mountains to the west and Mount Rainier to the southeast, this hourlong cruise is a bargain.
Dominating the skyline at Sinclair Inlet is the hulking Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, in this location since 1891.
If you’re interested in learning more about the town’s military history, check on the reopening of the Puget Sound Navy Museum (target date is Aug. 1).
Otherwise, walk about three-quarters of a mile along Washington Street to the Manette Bridge linking Bremerton with the residential neighborhood of Manette across Port Washington Narrows.
Take in the views of the USS Turner Joy, a Vietnam War-era destroyer built in Seattle that’s docked on the Bremerton waterfront. Then find Saboteur Bakery (call or click ahead), a little punk-rock pastry shop that hopefully won’t have run out of croissants and brioche by the time you get there.
Check out the vintage bird cases, neon signs and cookie jars at the Manette Trading Company at 1025 Pitt Ave., then double back to the ferry terminal for a $2, 10-minute ride to Port Orchard aboard either Kitsap’s Transit’s new electric ferry or the 103-year-old Carlisle II, the oldest of two operating original Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet vessels.
Poke around the antique malls on Bay Street, and find Carter and Co. at 707 Bay St., with a sunny deck available to enjoy a scoop of whiskey caramel ice cream, lunch or a homemade truffle.
Sample French-style crêpes and sip coffee for a cause in Kingston, a quiet hamlet on the north Kitsap Peninsula, 40 minutes by Kitsap Transit’s fast walk-on commuter ferry from Seattle’s Pier 50.
Hundreds of Kitsap County commuters use the passenger-only ferry each week, but few riders take advantage of the “reverse commute” — sailing from Seattle to Kingston in the morning and back to Seattle in the late afternoon or evening.
There were just three others aboard the day my husband and I caught the 10:45 a.m. sailing for lunch on the patio at J’aime Les Crêpes, a walk-up cafe specializing in sweet and savory Brittany, France-inspired crêpes.
The tide was low enough for a beach walk along Saltair Beach Park, followed by a hike up the hill on Ohio Avenue to A Quiet Place Park, with walking trails through second-growth forest.
COVID-19 forced a few businesses to close or reduce hours, so I was happy to find one of my favorites, Kingston Mercantile & Marine, still operating as the town’s “everything” store filled with crab pots, rubber boots, jars of local honey and beautiful pottery.
Also worth a stop is newcomer The Coffee Oasis, where the purchase of a latte supports programs for homeless and at-risk youths.
The earliest ferry back to Seattle leaves at 3.25 p.m., but we opted for 5:05 p.m. to make time for a beer on the deck at Kafé Neo. We knew we were in good hands when our waitress smiled from under her homemade face shield — more comfortable than a mask, she said, and certainly customer-friendly.
If you go
Do plan to walk onto the ferries, and explore on foot. Nonessential car travel is discouraged due to COVID-19.
Washington State Ferries operates the Seattle/Bremerton and Seattle/Bainbridge Island car ferries daily. See wsdot.wa.gov/ferries. Walk-on fares are $9.05 round-trip for adults, $4.50 for seniors/youth.
Kitsap Transit also runs a fast walk-on ferry Monday-Friday between Seattle and Bremerton (crossing time is 30 minutes), as well as the passenger-only ferry between Seattle and Kingston. See kitsaptransit.com. There is no weekend service.
Rides are free though July 31, then regular fares apply. Adults: $2 eastbound (to Seattle) and $10 westbound (from Seattle). Seniors and youths: $1 and $5.