Planning a weekend getaway this holiday season? A garden-focused escape might seem an untimely choice, but the verdant Bloedel Reserve located on Bainbridge Island—just a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle, Washington—will change your mind.

The 150-acre forest reserve and public gardens are a living tapestry of meadows, water features, woodlands and landscaped gardens that range from a serene Japanese Garden and guest house to the largest public moss garden in the United States. Connecting these and the other of the Reserve’s 14 breathtaking landscapes are beautifully manicured paths, fanciful footbridges, deeply shaded trails and sweeping views of Puget Sound. Sure, Bloedel is an obvious option during the Northwest’s mild summer season, but we love it later in the year. Here are five of the many reasons you will too.


Leave the bustle of Seattle behind. Armed with an overnight bag and a hot cocoa, ferry to the quiet charm of Bainbridge Island. The tiny main town is rich with quaint shops, inns and restaurants.


Summer’s tourist season is long gone, making a visit to Bainbridge and the Bloedel Reserve a more serene and special getaway.


Miniature houses, buildings and electric trains fill the stately residence at Bloedel Reserve. Decorated trees, adorned mantels, hot cocoa and cookies add to the home’s holiday cheer.


Experience the preserve on a staff-led stroll through the dark gardens and grounds, led by the light of handheld lanterns. Family nights welcome children; adult nights celebrate silence. Limited availability, dates and times.


Sure, it’s winter and the blooms are off the rhododendrons, but Bloedel’s grounds boast a magical tapestry of lush greens, delicate blooms, rich textures and a soft light that makes the season special.

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Brad Mee is the Editor-in-Chief of Utah Style & Design Magazine.