Active Adventures Across the Water: 3 Car-Free Ferry Day Trips

Updated May 3, 2019

One of the great attractions to living in Seattle is that there are so many fantastic outdoor activities, both in the city and just a short drive away.

But wouldn’t it be nice to leave behind the car for a change, get out of the city and head off on an exciting adventure?

Thanks to the Puget Sound and the Washington State Ferries, you can.

For $20 or less, you can walk or pedal your way onto a ferry and set sail for some island action not far from home. Here are some of our favorite day trips just across the water.

Biking on Vashon Island and Maury Island

Ferry Rides
Just a 20-minute ferry ride from the Fauntleroy terminal in West Seattle, Vashon Island boasts a classic ride circuit all the way around its perimeter. The 32-mile route takes you up and down the island’s rolling hills, past open farmland, through forested stretches and along occasional views of the sound, the city and Mount Rainier.

For a shorter ride, you can pedal about 7 miles to the quaint little town of Vashon; for a longer one, do the main loop but tack on another 13 miles or so by circling Maury Island, a smaller island connected to Vashon by a manmade isthmus.

Kayak from Bremerton

Ferry Rides
Most Washington ferries will let passengers carry or wheel their kayaks on board for the same price they charge motorcycle riders. To do that on the ferry over to Bremerton, you’ll pay just $5.95. You can then head over to the nearby Bremerton Marina Public Dock, or drop in and explore any of the Kitsap Peninsula Water Trails. From Bremerton, paddle around Dyes Inlet or cruise around Sinclair Inlet.

Experienced paddlers can make the 10-mile trip from Bremerton up to Eagle Harbor at Bainbridge Island and take the ferry back to Seattle from there.

HIKING on Bainbridge Island

Ferry Rides
Got a hankering for a little island ramble? It doesn’t get much easier than hopping on the ferry at Pier 52 in Seattle for the 35-minute cruise over to Bainbridge Island. Step off the ferry and take the easy stroll onto the main drag of Winslow to visit the town’s eclectic mix of restaurants, wineries and shops. Right off the ferry, you can also catch either one of Bainbridge Island’s waterfront trails. At 1.5 miles round-trip, the eastern loop winds through a nearby neighborhood before paralleling the beach at Hawley Cove. The 2-mile western loop passes through parks and by some of the island’s historic trees and sites.

Jon Bell

Jon Bell writes about the outdoors, fitness, health, and a range of other topics from his home in Lake Oswego, OR. He is also the author of "On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon's Perilous Peak."