While Bremerton may be better known, there are other places in Kitsap County worth a visit. Kitsap Peninsula is 30 minutes away from Seattle across Puget Sound, but it’s another world. It’s very diverse, both physically and culturally. It’s home to two Native American Tribes, has one town with a Viking heritage, and is a watersports lover’s heaven. This was a complimentary trip, but my opinions are my own.
I entered the peninsula by ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. The island is walkable. You can bring bikes or scooters, these are boarded downstairs through the car entrance.
Pro Tip: Tour Bainbridge is a great way to see the island. Our drivers, Paul and Mark, were wonderful and so knowledgeable.
1. Streamliner Diner
Streamliner Diner is a good breakfast stop. It’s next to the Chamber of Commerce and has brochures about places to see out front. Inside you get out-of-this-world biscuits, fresh fruit, or any variety of breakfast dishes.
2. The Marketplace At Pleasant Beach
The Marketplace is a coffeehouse, delicatessen, and taproom. It’s also a local meeting place on Pleasant Beach. The sandwiches are filling and delicious. I had tuna. It was so hearty, I ended up sharing it with a friendly dog at the next table. The entire island is pet friendly.
Earth & Vine is attached to The Marketplace. It’s a wine bar with live music in the evening.
3. Pegasus Coffee House
If you’re a coffee connoisseur, Pegasus teaches all the things you didn’t know about coffee, from where they purchase the beans by Direct Trade, to roasting and grinding. We had a demonstration, including tasting several different kinds from light to dark roast.
4. Hey Day Farm
Hey Day Farm is a 25-acre sustainable family farm with a turn-of-the-century Pederson farmhouse as its base. The home and grounds almost became another development but were saved as a dining and event place. You can enjoy their community dinners on most Thursday and Friday nights. They’re small events accommodating less than 100 people, so make a reservation. Our chicken was fantastic. Naturally, they offer local wines.
5. Japanese American Exclusion Memorial
Bainbridge Island was the first place where the government removed Japanese Americans and put them in American-style concentration camps during WWII. The Japanese American Exclusion Memorial was built in remembrance so that this will never happen again. It’s self-explanatory, but groups can request a tour. We did a tour with Lilly Kodoma. Lilly was seven years old on March 30, 1942, when she, along with 226 other men, women, and children of Japanese descent — two-thirds were American citizens — were removed by armed U.S. Army soldiers and sent to exclusion camps.
6. Bloedel Reserve
Bloedel Reserve was the residence of Virginia and Prentice Bloedel for over 30 years. They created the natural gardens in 1988 and opened the Reserve to the public as a 150-acre garden. Their former home is also open to tour.
If you are looking for incredible Italian food, Bruciato, downtown on Winslow Way, is the place for dinner. The meatballs are the best I have ever tasted. The pizza is cooked in a beautiful wood-fired oven. It is delicious and so thin that they are served with scissors to cut it.
8. L’Atelier TR
At L’Atelier TR chocolate and waffles are the specialties. They make cakes and European pastries and even offer cooking classes. But oh, that chocolate! Their candy is a true delight.
9. Eagle Harbor Wine Company
You can witness the complete winemaking process from crushing in the fall to aging to bottling at Eagle Harbor Wine Company. Enjoy a tasting or include a tour. On summer weekends, they offer music at the winery. I loved their 2017 Reserve Merlot. There’s a downtown tasting room on Winslow Way for just a tasting.
10. Highside Distilling
Highside Distilling is a true family business. Helen and Jeff Glenn with their son, Matt, produce gin, sour mash whiskey, and amaro. Jeff is of Scottish descent and a trip to the Highlands and Speyside regions of Scotland inspired this dream to become a reality beginning in 2014. Taking the tour is informative and fun. Tasting is even more fun.
Suquamish Tribal Reservation
We left the island for more adventures on the peninsula. Here, we explored the history of Agate Passage, the winter home of Chief Seattle.
11. Clearwater Casino
Besides the typical slots, tables, and betting at the casino, they offer a luxury resort with restaurants, bars, shops, a spa, and a basic RV park. Clearwater Casino is the only waterfront casino in Puget Sound.
12. Suquamish Museum
Denita Holmes, the Tribal Treasurer, led us through the museum. She spoke about the culture of her “people of the clear salt water.” The museum’s main exhibit, Ancient Shores-Changing Tides, provides visitors with an in-depth history of the Suquamish people. They were skilled fishermen, canoe builders, and basket weavers. Chief Seattle recognized the writing on the wall and signed the Port Elliott Treaty, which was supposed to protect their fishing and hunting rights, and offered health care, education, and land plots at Port Madison Indian Reservation. Many Suquamish families preferred to remain in villages. To destroy the native culture and force assimilation, the US government ordered the burning of the Old Man House in 1870. The museum has an entire room telling the history and culture of The Old Man House where many elders and families lived.
Just outside, there’s a recreation of a Suquamish summer house. They often constructed these with boards from the longhouse.
13. Chief Seattle’s Grave
Chief Seattle’s grave shows his tribal name, Sealth. In front of the grave, people have left tributes ranging from rocks and shells to feathers and coins. Chief Seattle converted to Catholicism in his later years and there’s a small mission church at the cemetery.
14. Point No Point Lighthouse
At Point No Point Lighthouse, we took a tour with Jeff Gales, Executive Director at U.S. Lighthouse Society, and his cute Boston bulldog, Auggie. The Point No Point Treaty was signed here in 1855 by territorial Governor Stevens and leaders of local tribes. It’s the oldest lighthouse on Puget Sound and has been in operation since 1879. The lighthouse is open for tours Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
The keeper’s quarters has been converted into a duplex. One side is available as a vacation rental and the other is the headquarters of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.
The beach is beautiful and popular with fishermen. There is a hiking trail behind the lighthouse. Don’t miss the cute sculptures made from driftwood in the yard.
Port Gamble is a historic 1853 town modeled on East Machias, a town in Maine. It’s where lumber mill owners, William Talbot and Andrew Pope, who founded the sawmill the town grew around, grew up.
15. Port Gamble Town Tour
Port Gamble Museum, in the general store’s basement, tells the town’s history. Pete Orbea, Port Gamble Town Manager, met us and led us on a tour of the town. Pete is also a medium and hosts ghost tours.
Port Gamble General Store looks much like it did when it opened in 1916. It has a small café in the back and just about anything you need upfront. There’s a free shell and sea-life museum with a collection from all over the world upstairs.
The theater was built in 1906. It began offering live theater in 2011 after a long closure beginning in 1958. The old post office is housed in the building as well.
House 11 is a good stop for a glass of wine.
16. Butcher And Baker Provisions
Butcher and Baker Provisions is a perfect choice for lunch. It was an auto repair shop built when automobiles became a common mode of transportation. The fried chicken sandwich is real chicken, not just a patty. The desserts are fantastic.
They call Poulsbo Little Norway. Jørgen Eliason led Norwegian fishermen to the area in the 1880s. Several annual events feature a local group of “Vikings” who reenact the town’s historic salmon fishing and events. When you step on Front Street, you feel you are in a charming Scandinavian town.
17. Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum is a good way to get a feel for the history of Poulsbo. Be sure to see the mural in front next to the replica of the pilothouse of the steamship Hyak.
18. Liberty Bay
Liberty bay is steps away from Front Street. There’s a large pavilion with a heron weathervane. Ships are docked at the marina and pass in the water. With luck, you may see a sea lion.
19. SEA Discovery Center
You can learn more about sea lions and all the local marine life at the SEA Discovery Center.
20. Sogno Di Vino
Restaurants abound in Poulsbo. Sogno di Vino’s Chef Willem Reinders offers fantastic Italian dishes. I had the crab & bay scallop linguine, but the wood-fired pizza looked delicious. You can dine on the patio next to a century-old magnolia tree or inside by a cozy fire depending on the weather.
21. Tizley’s Europub
Another great choice is Tizley’s Europub, a taste of Germany in Washington. I had the pork Wienerschnitzel. Delicious, but way more than I could eat. Be prepared to get a takeout box.
Pro Tip: For lodging, you can’t beat The Inn at Pleasant Beach Village on Bainbridge Island. You’re surrounded by flowering gardens, fountains, and sculptures, much of them featuring cute cats. My room was so cozy overlooking the garden with a fireplace and balcony. The pool looked fantastic, but I didn’t have time to sample it with so many places to see.
So, if you visit Bremington, Washington, make time to visit these other charming towns nearby.