The Bloedel Reserve is an exquisite garden and chateau on Bainbridge Island near Seattle.
This idyllic estate feels like a slice of Europe in Seattle's backyard, with 150-acres of meadows, formal gardens, ponds, a french-style chateau, and Japanese Tea House. The gardens are sublime and lull visitors into a sense of peace and tranquility.
Set aside a minimum of 2-hours to explore the gorgeous Bloedel Reserve.
Tickets: Tickets must be purchased in advance online, and are based on timed entry. You can't drive up the front gate and purchase a ticket.
Food: Food and picnics are not permitted at Bloedel Reserve, so drive 20-minutes to Winslow for lunch. Don't forget to bring a water bottle.
Dogs: No dogs allowed.
Restrooms: The Chateau has restrooms and water fountains.
10 best things to do at Bloedel Reserve
#1. Bloedel Residence
The Bloedel Reserve was originally owned by the University of Washington when it was an undeveloped piece of land. It was then purchased as a weekend retreat in 1906 by Seattle resident, Angela Collins, who constructed the French-Style Chateau in 1931 after her husband's death. Her husband was John Collins, the 6th Mayor of Seattle.
The property was then acquired by Prentice Bloedel in 1951, the heir of a lumber empire in the Pacific Northwest. Prentice retired to the property in 1951 and resided there with his wife until 1986. Prentice Bloedel was the driving force behind the garden, and transformed 150-acres of undeveloped land into a magnificent sanctuary. The Arbor Fund was established in 1985 to manage the property, and the gardens were opened to the general public in 1988.
The expansive water views are immediately visible from the front door of the Chateau.
Step out onto the front patio, with a lush lawn and incredible views of Puget Sound.
The living room, dining room, library and kitchen are all open to the public, but the upstairs rooms are closed off.
#2. Mid Pond
The Mid Pond is one of the most photographed areas at Bloedel Reserve, where the grandeur of the French-Style Chateau is enhanced by the sweeping lawns and elegant pond in the foreground. These lawns were once used as a 5-hole golf course!
#3. Reflection Pool
The 200-foot long Reflection Pool at Bloedel Reserve is fed by a natural spring, and is enclosed by a formal hedge, enhancing its sense of seclusion. The garden is the perfect place for quiet contemplation.
#4. Japanese Garden & Guest House.
The award winning Japanese Garden at Bloedel Reserve was designed in 1955-56 by Fujitaro Kubota, who also developed the Kubota Gardens in South Seattle.
Explore the Zen Garden with rocks and sand directly outside the Japanese Guest House, created in 1986 by Dr Koichi Kawana. The Zen Garden was originally used as a swimming pool when the estate was a private residence.
The Japanese Guest House at the Bloedel Reserve was used by the Bloedels, and built in 1964. You can walk around the deck, but the interior is closed to visitors.
#5. Trestle Bridge
Catch sight of deer as you pass through a thickly wooded forest along the Trestle Bridge, overlooking a deep ravine and creek.
Look out for the bronze plaque at the mid-point of the Trestle Bridge, that displays the Bloedel Reserve's logo.
The boardwalk is just beyond the Trestle Bridge, taking you deep into the forest floor at Bloedel Reserve, resplendent with giant sword ferns.
This section of the path along the Bloedel Reserve requires more effort, because of the path's descent then gradual ascent from the valley floor. This is the most arduous section of the Bloedel Reserve, so skip it if you are looking for an easier walk.
#7. Buxton Bird Marsh
Follow the path to the wetlands area known as "Buxton Bird Marsh" at Bloedel Reserve, with abundant bird life including over 100 species of migratory birds, duck and geese.
#8. Waterfall Overlook
More surprises await as you take the long set of stairs on the north side of the house down to the Waterfall Overlook. From here you can explore other sections of the Bloedel Reserve, like the Himalayan Birch Trail, Bluff Trail, and Rhododendron Glen.
#9. Moss Garden
The Moss Garden is a short distance from the Japanese Guest House, and was created in 1982 using 40 species of mosses and lichens. The ground and decaying tree stumps are carpeted in thick moss, infusing the landscape with a mysterious, primeval feel.
#10. Bluff Trail
The Bluff Trail is northwest of the Chateau, down the Waterfall Overlook stairs, and past the Birch Trail. This short trail leads to an overlook with magnificent views of Puget Sound. However, there is no beach access.
The Bluff Trail also takes you to the lower lawns of the Chateau, providing a unique perspective looking back up towards the Chateau on the hill.
#11. Meadow Trail & Sheep Sheds
As you first enter the Bloedel Reserve, you will stroll through the meadow where the Bloedels used to keep a flock of sheep. The original Sheep Sheds are still standing!
#12: Himalayan Birch Trail
Admire the Himalayan White Birches along this enchanting section of the trail at Bloedel Reserve.
#13. Swan Pond & Orchid Trail
The Swan Pond can be accessed up a set of stairs to a woodland, with an overlook providing a glimpse of this elegant pond that was once populated with swans.
Check in to Bloedel Reserve at the Front Gate
You will need to purchase a timed ticket in advance for the Bloedel Reserve (check here for hours and admission).
Drive up to the front gate at Bloedel Reserve to meet a friendly attendant, who will check your ticket and open the gate. It's then a short drive to the large parking lot.
The Gate House is adjacent to the front gate, and has an excellent selection of gifts, artworks and books.