A private and secluded sanctuary awaits you in the island community of Bainbridge Island, WA. Only a 35-minute ferry ride away from Seattle, the community wows residents and visitors alike with its stunning mountain views, gently rolling hills, and small-town America feel. In 2005, the island was named by CNN/Money and Money Magazine as the secondbest place to live in the United States. It was recognized again in 2011, earning the top spot in a nationwide study of the best island enclaves byTopTenRealEstateDeals.com. With gourmet food shops, a vibrant artisan community, and an impressive selection of local wineries, it’s no surprise that Bainbridge Island continues to be a favorite hamlet for those seeking luxury real estate and a low-key island lifestyle.
The charm of Bainbridge Island begins to show itself the moment you step aboard the ferry that connects it to Seattle. In fact, the commute to and from the Island is one of the biggest reasons people consistently choose the Island over mainland locations a similar distance away. For those residents, traffic and honking are things of the past, a far cry from the gently lapping waters of the Puget Sound and the sun setting on the mountains in a panoramic view. The ferry ride is different every day, allowing unparalleled enjoyment of the changing seasons and sometimes even a sighting of the elusive Orca whales.
It’s almost as if time travel is achieved by getting off the ferry at the bustling dock on Bainbridge Island. Suddenly you are transported back to a time when people walked down Main Street, live music floated on the air, and the dominant aroma was roasted coffee and cinnamon muffins. For many, the town center, affectionately called Winslow, is a storybook community.
Surrounded by tall trees, pastoral fields and wooded hills, it certainly looks like a storybook community. And its rustic charms donʼt end there. They extend into the variety of eclectic storefronts, bustling coffee shops, and gourmet restaurants that keep the community connected.
With only 65 square miles of land and just over 22,000 residents, Bainbridge Island could have fallen into the trap of being just another sleepy village. But its thriving artisan industries and the resulting strong economy based on small and medium sized businesses have made the town into a strong intellectual and cultural center. The variety of contemporary art available, as well as the traditional crafts that residents are so proud of, continue to draw many visitors each year. Because of the strength of its community, Bainbridge Island continues to be a haven that unites people of different strengths, from the civically-minded to the creative to the intellectual. All of these people enjoy the lifestyle that is made possible by the Island and its lack of trafﬁc, where everything you might want to do is only minutes away. It is truly a place where there is something for everyone, from the golf enthusiast to the hiker to the quiet reader.
Once you experience everything that Bainbridge Island has to offer, itʼs likely you wonʼt want to go anywhere else. And yet the ability to do that, to go somewhere else quickly and easily, is one of the Islandʼs most endearing qualities. Seattle is not the only destination nearby. The Kitsap Peninsula and Hood Canal are wonderful spots for weekend travel and are accessible by bridge.
Bainbridge Island unites more than just the country with the city. It unites the convenience of modern life with idyllic values from long ago: artisanship, community, and natural beauty. And that has made it more than just a place to live. It has made it a place to relax and enjoy the best that life has to offer. And that, even more than the ferry ride to get there, has made all the difference.
In the 1880’s, a small group of Norwegian immigrants led by Jorgen Eliason happened upon a piece of Washington land so rich and beautiful, it reminded them of their own homeland in Norway. It was a verdant valley nestled between two snow-capped mountain ranges, the Olympics and the Cascades, with water lapping at its shores from a bay that on calm mornings reflected the blue sky like an exquisite looking glass. The immigrants, who missed the fjords of Norway with heartbreaking intensity, immediately claimed the land as their own and eventually founded a small town. This town, Poulsbo, or “Little Norway” as it is known around the world, was molded in the image of the immigrants’ mother-country. Through the years, its residents have remained proud of their heritage and Poulsbo has become a regional tourist destination where old-world charm meets Scandinavian sophistication. Although Poulsbo is a fascinating place to visit, the nearly 10,000 residents of the town all agree: it is an even better place to live.
Although Poulsbo is surrounded by gorgeous natural beauty, the town itself is also a beautiful sight to behold. This is apparent in the picturesque downtown core most of all, where rosemaled storefronts mix with historic murals and blooming flowers. A walk down the main streets of Poulsbo showcases the best of what the town has to offer, from Scandinavian-themed shops and restaurants, to heritage exhibits, to calming green space tucked here and there among the buildings. It is a town filled with interesting gift shops and delicious bakeries. The scent of baked goods permeates the streets.
The beauty and small-town feel of Poulsbo have made it a great local destination, but its focus on Norwegian culture has made it famous world-wide. Indeed, Poulsbo is to Norway as Leavenworth, Washington, is to Germany. Norwegian culture is served up everywhere in town, from local restaurants to annual events like the Sons of Norway Lutefisk Dinner and Viking Fest.
Although the old-world town is proud of its Norwegian heritage, it is also a hotbed of Scandinavian and European sophistication. Sprinkled among its charming shops are trendy restaurants serving delicious food from around Europe, lovely wine stops, beautiful cafes, and several pubs featuring award-winning local micro-brews. Poulsbo is a place where even the pickiest foodies are satisfied with steaming hot spaetzle, Swedish meatballs, and Norwegian lefse.
The diversity of food available in Poulsbo is mirrored by the diversity of its residents. The town is a mixture of blue-collar and white-collar residents, many of whom enjoy an 18-mile ferry boat commute to work in Seattle and other surrounding eastern cities. Many Poulsbo residents also commute to nearby Bremerton for work at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, or to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
Poulsbo is a popular place to live for many military families because of its small-town feel, low crime rate, great schools, and full line-up of year-around events. It’s also regarded as an excellent stepping-off point for adventures around the Kitsap Peninsula. Many residents enjoy weekend trips to Bainbridge Island and Vashon Island. Poulsbo is also a gateway for trips to the coast, including Victoria, B.C., and the Olympic National Park. For urban adventures, Bellevue and Seattle are just a short ferry ride away.