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Kitsap Peninsula

Photo by Elizabeth Rose

Kitsap Peninsula Itineraries

Kitsap Peninsula’s Gig Harbor

Washington’s North Kitsap Peninsula

Washington’s Poulsbo Kitsap Peninsula

Outdoor adventure, maritime history and the real Cedar Cove

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As the ferry slips away from the Seattle Ferry Terminal headed for Bainbridge Island or as you drive your car across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from the bustling port city of Tacoma, you’ll be entering an area of Washington that is laid back and filled with natural beauty. It’s not so crowded on “the Kitsap,” as they call it (formally known as the Kitsap Peninsula). You’ll be arriving on a peninsula with Native American, lumber and maritime history, outdoor recreation, beautiful small harbors and the impressive Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Bremerton Naval Base.

You’ll encounter eagles, deer and other wildlife as you explore the Kitsap. There are many quaint small communities located on the waterfront that are have marinas offering boat and kayak launches as well as moorage. You’ll find nearly 300 miles of shoreline as well as forest trails providing a natural setting for a wide range of adventure sports including world-class kayaking, walking, running and mountain biking.


Experience Nature

Kitsap Peninsula has thousands of acres of forested lands, open space, wildlife and birding habitat to be enjoyed all year round. There are free city and county parks. Since the Kitsap Peninsula is narrow, you’ll have views of the Olympics on one side and Mt. Rainier on the other as you walk along the harbors and coastline.


Family Fun on the Kitsap Peninsula

In addition to outdoor recreation, many of the Kitsap Peninsula’s annual festivals are made for kids with events such as a waterfront carnival and a children’s Easter Celebration at the South Kitsap Regional Park featuring train rides around the park. There are museums to explore such as the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport. There are historical sites to wander such as Port Gamble, which was once a lumber town and is now open to the public.


Food and Drink

The Kitsap Peninsula has an abundance of local farmers, growers, and producers. Some grow just enough for the local restaurants and farmers markets and others source fresh products from around the region to create food and beverage products. You’ll find these products in local restaurants and bakeries. In Gig Harbor you can visit Heritage Distilling, just one of several distilleries on the peninsula. And in Poulsbo stop in to Sluy’s bakery for a morning pastry and purchase a loaf of Poulsbo bread to take home. Enjoy craft beers, wine tasting and farm to table cuisine. You’ll find seafood, pub fare and even Italian food.


History and Art

Since the Kitsap Peninsula is bounded by water, it’s no surprise that you’ll find plenty of Maritime history. You can view the restoration of The 65-foot purse seiner, Shenandoah, at the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor or, much farther north, spend a day at the Victorian seaport of Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula where they host an annual Wooden Boat Festival. Small towns are full of antiquing opportunities and Bainbridge Island is home to artists who participate in the annual Bainbridge Island Studio Tour.


Kitsap Surprises

You’ll probably encounter special finds as you explore the Kitsap Peninsula. Some surprises we found include Chief Seattle’s Gravesite and the Suquamish Museum, the Fish Park in Poulsbo and breakfast at a marvelous café at the rear of the Port Gamble General Store. A must-do is the Elandan Bonsai Gardens near Bremerton.


Places to Stay on the Kitsap Peninsula

The Kitsap Peninsula offers a wide-range of lodging options from plush, waterfront hotels with balconies, charming B&B’s nestled in the woods to kid and pet friendly motels. You can even stay in the Cedar Cove Inn which served as inspiration for the inn depicted in Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove book and TV series.


When To Go

Like most places in the western part of Washington state, the Kitsap Peninsula can get stormy and wet in the winter time. There is some snow and ice periodically. If you visit in the winter, be sure and watch the weather reports.

Of course the best time to visit is spring, summer and fall.

How Much Time To Spend

You can drive from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge north to the Hood Canal Bridge in an hour. So sightseeing and recreating on the Kitsap Peninsula can be done on a day trip from Seattle or Tacoma, for example.

People living in Seattle enjoy a weekend getaway to the Kitsap Peninsula to escape the bustling city. And, of course, there is enough to see and do that a vacation spent on the Kitsap would be an opportunity to keep busy with recreational activities and cultural activities as well.

High and Low Season

Summer is the busiest season.

Weather and Climate

Like most places in the western part of Washington state, the Kitsap Peninsula can get stormy and wet in the winter time. There is some snow and ice, periodically. If you visit in the winter, be sure and watch the
weather reports.

Of course the best time to visit is spring, summer and fall.

Time Zone

Pacific

What To Pack and Wear

Like with most areas of the Pacific Northwest, layering is ideal for all seasons. Make sure your top layer is waterproof. Always have a pair of walking or hiking shoes with you to enjoy the outdoorsy side of the Kitsap.

Transportation

There are a variety of ways to arrive and get around the Kitsap Peninsula. A favorite is to ride aboard a beautiful Washington State Ferry. There are four Washington State Ferries terminals that transport travelers to and from the Kitsap Peninsula; Kingston, Bainbridge Island, Bremerton and Southworth.

If you are driving or arriving via the Seattle Tacoma Airport south of Seattle, you can drive, catch a shuttle, or bike across the impressive Tacoma Narrows Bridge. You can also fly in via the Bremerton National Airport.

The Kitsap Peninsula is accessible from the Olympic Peninsula (North West) via the Hood Canal Bridge, from Shelton (South West) via HWY 3 and from Tacoma (South) via HWY 16 and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. There is a one way toll for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge when you leave the Kitsap.

To get around, you’ll need a car. If you are a bicycle traveler, know that the Kitsap Peninsula promotes recreational biking and is fast becoming a draw for bike events.

Getting There

There are a variety of ways to arrive and get around the Kitsap Peninsula. A tourist favorite is to ride aboard the
beautiful WA State Ferry. There are four Washington State Ferries terminals that transport travelers to and from the Kitsap Peninsula; Kingston, Bainbridge Island, Bremerton and Southworth.

If you are driving or arriving via the Seattle Tacoma Airport south of Seattle, you can drive, catch a shuttle, or bike across the impressive Tacoma Narrows Bridge. You can also fly in via the Bremerton National Airport.

The Kitsap Peninsula is accessible from the Olympic Peninsula (North West) via the Hood Canal Bridge, from  Shelton (South West) via HWY 3 and from Tacoma (South) via HWY 16 and  the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. There is a one way toll for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge when you leave the Kitsap.

Background

The Kitsap Peninsula lies across Puget Sound from Seattle, Washington. In addition to its impressive natural beauty, the Kitsap Peninsula also offers visitors a wonderful choice of communities located on the waterfront that are conveniently connected by marinas offering boat and kayak launches, as well as year-round moorage.

You’ll find nearly 300 miles of shoreline and marinas, making it a natural setting for a wide range of adventure sports including kayaking, cycling, running and mountain biking trails and events.

Farm to table dining, breweries, distilleries have become popular with visitors. Museums highlighting art and history are dotted along the peninsula. Outdoor festivals and artist studio tours will keep you busy during the warmer months.

History

The Kitsap Peninsula is rich with Native American, settler and maritime history.

Thousands of years before European exploration charted the waters of Puget Sound, several large communities of native people inhabited this area. Local tribes include Suquamish Tribe and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. One of the most famous tribal elders is Chief Seattle, ancestral leader of the Suquamish Tribe. You can visit his grave just east of Poulsbo. It is near the Suquamish Museum.

More than 150 years ago early settlers depended on water-based transport to move goods and people giving birth to the Mosquito Fleet.  Thanks to Kitsap Transit, visitors can still hop abroad the historic Carlisle II from the original Mosquito Fleet still in in operation today.

Port Gamble, an intact historic mill town is located in the northern part of the Kitsap Peninsula.

The Kitsap Peninsula has a rich Naval heritage. The Puget Sound Navy Museum, housed in the historic Building 50 built in 1896, is one of ten museums funded and administered by the U.S. Navy along with the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport. Located nearby is the historic USS Turner Joy, Naval Destroyer Museum which is open for tours.

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