If there is one part of the Washington State that stands out in this spectacularly beautiful part of the country, it is its islands. Covered with old forests mixed with rolling fertile hills, circled by miles of sandy beaches, and with views of the surrounding mountains, the Washington State islands are hidden jewels. Some, linked to the mainland with bridges like Mercer, are a suburb of Seattle. Fairly close to Seattle, many islands are an escape for the busy and affluent from the stress of life.
1. Orcas Island
2. San Juan, WA
4. Camano Island
5. Fidalgo Island
6. Romantic Washington State Islands: Whidbey Island
9. WA Islands: Lopez
11. WA Islands: Marrowstone
13. Seattle Islands: Mercer
14. Blake Island State Park
15. Best Washington State Islands: Puget
16. Anderson Island
19. Washington State Islands: Guemes
What are the 20 of the Most Beautiful Washington State Islands?
The 20 of the Most Beautiful Washington State Islands according to local experts are:
- Orcas Island
- San Juan, WA
- Camano Island
- Fidalgo Island
- Romantic Washington State Islands: Whidbey Island
- WA Islands: Lopez
- WA Islands: Marrowstone
- Seattle Islands: Mercer
- Blake Island State Park
- Best Washington State Islands: Puget
- Anderson Island
- Washington State Islands: Guemes
Attraction Spotlight: Suquamish Museum
Located within the Port Madison Indian Reservation in Suquamish, Washington, the Suquamish Museum preserves artifacts related to the history and culture of the Suquamish indigenous tribe. The occupation of the Kitsap Peninsula and Puget Sound regions by the Suquamish indigenous tribe dates back more than 10,000 years, with the area thriving as one of the most populated cultural centers north of present-day Mexico City prior to the arrival of Europeans in the Americas.
The traditional Southern Lushootseed name for the region roughly translates to “place of clear salt water.” Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the Pacific Northwest, the Suquamish tribe sustained primarily on salmon and clam harvesting practices and lived in a network of affiliated autonomous small villages connected by intermarriage, political and trade agreements, and broader culture and language elements.
Following the 1853 establishment of the Washington Treaty and the 1855 signing of the Point Elliott Treaty, the Suquamish were relocated to the Port Madison Indian Reservation, located near its traditional winter village on Agate Pass. The modern Suquamish Tribe partners today with the State of Washington on a number of economic and cultural endeavors, including co-management of the state’s salmon fishery. In 1983, the Suquamish Museum and Cultural Center was opened by the tribe as a means of preserving their history and culture for future generations in a public museum setting. A major capital campaign was embarked on in 2009 for the construction of a new long-term facility for the museum, aided by the efforts of Senator Patty Murray and Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro. In 2012, the new facility was opened to the public, tripling the former museum’s exhibit and activity space.
Today, the Suquamish Museum is owned the Suquamish Tribe and is governed by a five-member board of directors overseeing its operations. The museum’s current 9,000-square-foot facility was designed by Seattle architectural firm Mithun at a cost of $6 million and has received LEED Gold certification for its environmental sustainability efforts. It is located within a botanical garden setting in the Suquamish Village region of the Port Madison Indian Reservation and is open to the public daily throughout the summer months, with five-day operations during the fall, winter, and spring.
Two galleries are featured at the museum, one housing the museum’s permanent collections and the other hosting rotating temporary exhibits related to aspects of Suquamish history and culture. The museum’s permanent Ancient Shores: Changing Tides exhibit gallery showcases a wide variety of cultural artifacts on loan from Suquamish tribe members and families, many of which have never been featured on display elsewhere prior to their acquisition by the museum. The exhibit, designed in collaboration with Seattle’s Storyline Studios, uses symbolic design elements to chronicle the story of the Suquamish Tribe’s past, present, and future and foster deeper understanding of culture than is usually created by modern historical narratives. The tribe’s native Lushootseed language is heavily integrated into the exhibit, emphasizing critical analysis of communication between cultures. Highlights of the exhibit include a 300-year-old carved canoe and a cedar-designed timeline display that spans tribal history from the end of the last Ice Age through the present day. An award-winning documentary produced in collaboration with Seattle’s Sadis Filmworks, Come Forth Laughing, is also shown periodically in a 50-seat auditorium within the exhibit.
Past exhibits within the museum’s rotating exhibit gallery include Trade of the Northwest Coast, which examines the relationship and commerce between the Suquamish and early European fur traders in the first part of the 19th century. The works of artist Danielle Morsette were the focus of Woven: Contemporary Salish Wool Weavings, which highlighted traditional tribal clothing design techniques.100 Years: Photographs from the Suquamish Tribal Archives showcased a retrospective of historical images of the tribe in order to challenge contemporary Western romanticizations of indigenous life, while Salish Bounty: Traditional Native American Foods of Puget Sound worked with Native Coastal Salish advisors to explore the tribe’s diverse culinary traditions and diets.
In addition to exhibit gallery spaces, the museum also stores artifact collections in a climate-controlled storage vault, which is accessible to tribal members and accredited researchers on an appointment basis. The Leota Anthony Museum Store offers a wide variety of merchandise celebrating elements of Coast Salish indigenous culture. All products for sale are produced by Native-owned companies and artisans or allied ethical corporations working in conjunction with the Suquamish Tribe.
Ongoing Programs and Education
Guided tours of the museum are offered for small groups and organizations, including curriculum-incorporated field trip opportunities for elementary and secondary school groups. Tours may include showings of documentaries related to Suquamish and Salish cultures, tours of the nearby Old Man House village and Baba’kwob site, and in-depth exploration of current temporary exhibits. Special workshops may also be designed to focus on topics related to group needs. Researchers wishing to access the museum’s archives may also make copies of photographs, documents, and oral history transcripts by special arrangement with museum staff.
6861 NE South St, Suquamish, WA, Phone: 360-394-8499
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Attraction Spotlight: Bainbridge Island Historical Museum
Located on Bainbridge Island in Kitsap County, Washington, the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum showcases the social and cultural history of the Bainbridge Island area, housed within a preserved historic schoolhouse facility. The Bainbridge Island Historical Society was formed as an organization in the 1930s, holding informal meetings at members’ homes throughout the following decades.
In 1949, the Society was merged with the local Kitsap County Historical Society and was incorporated as the Bainbridge Island branch of the organization. Following the merger, Elnora Parfitt was elected as the Society’s first official president. In the 1970s, the Bainbridge Island School Board donated the historic Island Center schoolhouse, which had been constructed in 1908 and operated until 1923 as a one-room schoolhouse, for the Society’s use as a museum facility. The schoolhouse building was moved to the island’s Strawberry Hill Park, which formerly served as a site for a Cold War-era Army missile base. Difficulties in public access to the Strawberry Hill Park site prompted a multi-phase move of the museum’s facilities to the island’s downtown area, which began in 2003 with the approval of a 90-year lease of a lot on Ericksen Avenue. The museum’s collections were temporarily stored while the museum’s buildings, including the historic schoolhouse facility, were relocated to the downtown site. The museum’s new downtown location officially opened to the public in August of 2004.
Permanent Exhibits and Collections
Today, the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum serves the Bainbridge Island community by preserving its social and cultural history through a variety of museum exhibits and public programming events. The museum’s 1908 schoolhouse facility is preserved as a historic landmark, serving as the primary facility for exhibit showcase, while an annex building contains a gallery for rotating temporary exhibits, along with office space and a research library facility. A core staff of five employees oversees operations along with a team of more than 100 volunteers and a local Society membership of more than 800 islanders. As a result of its new location, the museum has become part of the island’s downtown cultural corridor, located near the Bainbridge Performing Arts Playhouse and Winslow’s City Hall building.
The museum’s collections, which are stored within the annex building’s climate-controlled basement when not on display as part of exhibits, showcase the social and cultural history of the island from the mid-19th century through the present through a variety of artifacts, documents, and multimedia objects. More than 9,000 photographs are preserved as part of a historic photography collection dating back to 1854. Other items include collections of historical maps and nautical charts, logs from early area settlers, civic data and documents, industrial artifacts, ephemera memorabilia, and archaeological and geological materials related to the island’s natural and indigenous history.
All museum exhibits are geared toward families and children, with a variety of hands-on interactive and accessibility features, including audio recordings, multimedia presentations, and touch drawers. The schoolhouse building’s main An Island Story exhibit spans the island’s history from its indigenous days through the present day, focusing on ethnographic timeline elements. Focused historical exhibits include World War II From An Island Perspective, which examines the island’s participation in World War II, including the 492 islanders who served in troops such as the all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the use of Fort Ward and Battle Point as radio communications posts, and the use of Winslow Shipyard for the construction of steel-hulled minesweepers. The Ansel Adams: A Portrait of Manzanar exhibit provides a visual retrospective of the experiences of the 227 island citizens transported to Manzanar, California in 1942, the first Japanese-Americans to be relocated in internment camps during the war. Other exhibits include the Overland Westerners exhibit, which documents the three-year journey of four island horse riders across a 20,352-mile of the continental United States, and the Port Blakely: Portrait of a Mill Town historical photograph and multimedia retrospective.
Ongoing Programs and Education
The museum’s research library is open to the general public, with special hours for students, researchers, and visitors with accessibility needs available by appointment. Collections include a large variety of books, oral histories, biographical files, and multimedia pieces related to the island’s history. A variety of public educational programming is offered at the facility, including curriculum-incorporated tours of the museum for elementary and secondary students. Outreach educational programming includes in-classroom storyteller visits and trips to area historical sites for student groups. An annual Friendship Camp is presented for area youth in conjunction with the local Suquamish Tribe, and a variety of public special events are hosted at the facility annually, including a Historic Tree Walk, Cruise Around the Island, and a number of neighborhood celebrations and community walk events. Free admission to the museum is offered on the first Thursday of every month, and a StoryShare program solicits local community narratives through an outreach initiative.
215 Ericksen Ave NE, Bainbridge Island, WA, Phone: 206-842-2773
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Attraction Spotlight: Kids’ Discovery Museum
Located on Bainbridge Island off the coast of the state of Washington, the Kids’ Discovery Museum, commonly known as KiDiMu, is an interactive children’s science and art museum offering a variety of hands-on exhibits and public educational programming.
The Kids’ Discovery Museum was the vision of a community group of Bainbridge Island citizens, who formed a nonprofit organization for the development of an interactive educational facility dedicated to housing science and art exhibits for children and families. The museum was opened in April of 2005, showcasing a rainforest-themed inaugural exhibit. Additional exhibits were installed following the museum’s move to a new permanent facility, which was officially opened to the public in June of 2010. The new facility was recognized in 2011 by the United States Green Building Council for its environmentally-friendly design and operational practices, meeting LEED Silver standards for its core and shell and its commercial interiors.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
Today, the Kids’ Discovery Museum, commonly referred to as KiDiMu, is a part of Bainbridge Island’s Island Gateway cultural center, which also houses the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, a public garden facility, and a number of private businesses and restaurants. The museum is a member organization of the Association of Children’s Museums and the Northwest Association of Youth Museums. More than 35,000 annual visitors attend the museum, which offers a variety of interactive exhibits geared toward presenting family-friendly STEM and arts learning experiences for the youth of Bainbridge Island and beyond.
A variety of hands-on exhibits and permanent installations are offered at the museum, emphasizing sensory exploration aspects and encouraging interactive play for family members of all ages. The museum’s Pirate Tree House serves as its centerpiece exhibit, stretching two stories high and offering dress-up, imaginative roleplay, and active play activities. The treehouse’s top floor is a designated “no parents’ land,” offering birds’-eye views of museum exhibits and a giant slide. An Our Town exhibit recreates a small town main street, offering a variety of storefront exhibits, such as a Dollar and Sense Financial Center, a Grocery Store, and a Medical Center with interactive play activities to emphasize career principles and social interactions. A recreated Waterfront Park area features a climb-aboard KiDiMu Ferry, while a real scale-model Electric Car emphasizes sustainable energy principles. A Construction Zone exhibit also allows children to explore engineering and construction concepts through interactive play.
At the museum’s Science and Literacy Hall, STEM principles are introduced through fun, hands-on activities and exhibits, including a Big Blue Blocks playspace, which was chosen by the blocks’ Imagination playground manufacturing company as the best exhibit of its kind as part of a playspace design contest.Motion Madness and Fun With Physics exhibits emphasize concepts such as gravity, velocity, acceleration, and friction through free play with golf balls, while a Discovery Videomicroscope exhibit offers opportunities for children to explore the microscopic aspects of natural and scientific concepts. A Light Wall allows children to create colorful designs with giant pegs, while a Magnet Wall introduces magnetic principles in a creative play environment.
Reading literacy is the focus of the museum’s Imagination Station, which offers a puppet theater, soapbox derby race car, and train table, along with a variety of books and puzzles for independent family play. The museum’s Art Studio lets children of all artistic skill levels explore their inner creativity, with rotating weekly art activities themed around a particular medium or activity theme. A year-round climbing wall, solar-powered water table, and easel painting area are offered as part of the museum’s Outdoor Play Area, while a Totally TOT exhibit offers safe play experiences for the museum’s youngest visitors structured around Waldorf School educational principles. A museum gift store also offers a wide variety of educational toys, books, and souvenirs.
Ongoing Programs and Education
A wide variety of educational programming is offered by the museum, including live daily demonstrations and hands-on activities. Curriculum-incorporated field trips are available for elementary school groups, and a summer camp program developed around Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines offers small-group activities led by instructors. Weekly special events include Messy Monday watercolor workshops, Tuesday Tunes song and dance groups, and Sensory Sunday programs for children on the autism spectrum. A monthly First Thursday event also allows families to attend the museum free of charge. Annual public special events include an Easter egg hunt, a Halloween costume swap, and a gingerbread house construction station and display. The museum may also be rented for private special events such as birthday parties, community functions, and business events.
301 Ravine Lane, Bainbridge Island, WA, Phone: 206-855-4650