Monday, June 30, 2014

Seattle: Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island is a Delightful Daytrip

Doesn't it look like a horse drawn carriage is about to pull up and the arrival of Lady Catherine De Bourgh (for my fellow Pride and Prejudice fans) will be announced?  The Bloedel Reserve, which was a private estate until 1980, is a breathtaking destination on Bainbridge Island. Admission tickets are $15 per person.

When my friend, Melissa was writing up suggestions for my stay in Seattle, she said that the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island was a MUST SEE (and yes, she used capital letters.) Earlier this week, I wrote about our visit to the Japanese house and garden on the grounds of Bloedel Reserve.

The area is essentially an enormous natural park and estate house with extensive walking trails, individual gardens (moss, Japanese, bog), water features and a spectacular view of Puget Sound's Port Madison Bay.
This is one of my favorite photos. The open front door gives guest a sneak peek at the view they are about to enjoy. Image arriving for a party and realizing that you get to sit, relax and enjoy the company of friends in this spectacular setting.  
This is the expansive lawn leading from the back of the house down to the bay. I'm not sure what is anchored out front - a dredger? When you glance back over your shoulder, this is the view of the house from the lawn.  A giant dollhouse with a northeast view of Puget Sound. 
Below is a photo of the living room. The first floor of the grand house now functions as the Visitors Center and a docent is on hand to answer questions. There is water for guests in the kitchen, as well as restrooms down the hall.
I loved this flattering 1920 portrait of Virginia Merrill as a teenager painted by artist Tade Styka. Just seven years later, she would marry Prentice Bloedel, mastermind behind the incredible 150 acre garden estate known as the Bloedel Reserve. She and Prentice lived at the estate on Bainbridge Island from 1951 to 1986. You can read more about the portraits on display at Bloedel Reserve here.
We sat on the steps overlooking Puget Sound for a long time. There were a few other visitors coming and going, but all of them seemed to feel the same sense of calm that we did. Couples talked in hushed voices to each other and everyone took a moment to sit on the cement benches and soak up the grand view.
The rest of the week, when I was recounting our Sunday trip to Bainbridge Island, very few people knew about the Bloedel Reserve. If you'd like to read a self-guided tour of the property, click here

I encourage you to take the ferry over from Seattle and spend some time walking the grounds as Mr. Bloedel intended.  Then give in to your need for ice cream and head to Mora in the main shopping area of Bainbridge Island. They let you choose 2 flavors for one "scoop" - I enjoyed Pistachio and Dark Chocolate.

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