3120 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor, WA 98335, USA
The first stop on our tour, Gig Harbor, sits on the shores of the natural inlet of the same name, which has been used as a haven for small boats since 1840. The main street of this dockside city, Harborview Drive, is lined with restaurants and pubs, perfect places to grab refreshments after a long day out on the water. A perfect example is the taproom of Gig Harbor Brewing, a local beermaker with dozens of delicious draughts. You can see it on your right side, in one of the blue buildings that make up the Boatyard. You can also see the Boatyard’s iconic snack bar, which operates out of an antique trolley car. Just past the boatyard is Skansie Brothers Park, which is the central community space for Gig Harbor’s various events. With its small-town charm, Gig Harbor is both a popular getaway spot and a great place to live for commuters to Tacoma. The town embraces its relaxed bayside identity, hosting tons of events throughout the year, especially in the summer. Outdoor movies and concerts by the water are the perfect way to cap off a sunny day on the Sound. There’s also a weekly farmers’ market from June to September, featuring locally-grown produce from Kitsap and Pierce County’s best vendors. As you continue down Harborview, go straight through the roundabout at Eddon Boat Park. a little farther down the road, you’ll find the Harbor History Museum on the right side of the road, which celebrates the town’s founding and growth. The natural harbor that gives the town its name was first coined by one Captain Charles Wilkes in 1840, who was mapping the area then known as Oregon Territory. Though the harbor was too small to bring a full ship in, he sought shelter using a small boat, called a “gig”. When he published his map the following year, the inlet bore the same name it does today. It was years later, in 1867, that the spot was first used by fishermen, including many Scandinavian and Balkan immigrants. It remained a small fishing town for three-quarters of a century when the completion of the original Tacoma Narrows bridge connected the western shore to the urban areas across the sound. With motor traffic now able to cross, the southern parts of the county were rapidly transformed into small suburban towns, and Gig Harbor was officially incorporated in 1946. City planners in the 1950s elected to develop previously rural land into denser housing and commercial districts, allowing the downtown area to retain its charm in the face of sudden change. That brief history lesson doesn't really do the town justice; if you want to learn more, the museum should be coming up on your right side right about now. It has plenty to say about the area, from its prehistoric history to the construction of the region’s first gasoline-powered motorboat. Just across the street from the history museum, you’ll find a year-round Christmas store and a local favorite, the Gourmet Burger shop. The Burger shop is an area mainstay, serving baskets of fresh seafood alongside their classic burgers, fries, and milkshakes. Take a right turn onto North Harborview drive to continue along the water’s edge. The northeastern edge of the harbor has its own row of shops and restaurants, with patio dining offering views along the entire length of the bay. The most noticeable landmark on this end of town is Finholm’s Market & Grocery, with a prominent sign that simply reads “Food”. Part grocery store, part deli, and part tavern, Finholm’s boasts a massive selection of beers and wines, as well as offering fun events like trivia and game nights. Across the street you’ll find the Devoted Kiss Cafe, a popular spot for breakfast and lunch fare, Gig Harbor Thai Cuisine, serving authentic curries and noodle dishes, and Anthony’s, an upscale seafood restaurant with locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. Continue on to take a right on Vernhardson street, and then a left on Crescent Valley Drive. You'll pass Crescent Creek Park on your left side, with a ship-themed playground, BMX track, and carved sculpture. Crescent Valley Drive will take you out of town and onward to our next location. Enjoy a tranquil drive through the forest – I’ll pick back up with you in Olalla.
13960 Crescent Valley Rd SE, Olalla, WA 98359, USA
Welcome to Olalla! This small residential community is our first stop across the county line, in Kitsap County. Go ahead and turn right up ahead onto Banner Road. As you do, note the Olalla Bay Market and Landing at the corner – this is one of the town’s few gathering spots, with the post office, grocery, gas station, and pub all contained within. The Market’s future was in jeopardy due to its shutdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, but local author and historian Gregg Olsen purchased and renovated the spot, reopening it in 2022.Unfortunately, a fire in August of that year set back reopening considerably; at the time of this tour’s creation a GoFundMe has been set up to help rebuild. Banner Street will take you up the hill – keep an eye out on the right side for a spectacular view over the Sound – on a clear day you can see Mount Rainier towering on the horizon. These stunning views are one of the main attractions of Olalla. While living here likely adds a few minutes to your commute and grocery runs, there’s nothing like seeing the sun rise over the water from the back porch. Looking around you, you can probably tell that Olalla isn’t a particularly densely populated town. Its quiet, rural vibe belies its convenience – it’s only a half-hour’s drive to downtown Tacoma and a relatively quick ferry ride from Seattle. From the loose collection of houses and forested acres, you may not guess that Olalla was once a bustling port town, the same size as Port Orchard, Kitsap’s county seat. The Colvos Passage, a narrow strip of water between Olalla and nearby Vashon (VAH- Shawn)Island, provided the area with a safe enough harbor to establish a landing at the mouth of Olalla creek. Settled largely by Norwegian immigrants, the area became known for logging, boat-building, and strawberry farming, goods that shipped out of Olalla via the steam-powered Mosquito Fleet. In 1934, a massive storm destroyed the last Mosquito steamboat in Olalla’s harbor, driving the final nail into the coffin of the town’s port status. As you continue up Banner Road, keep an eye out on the right side of the road. Hidden behind a row of private properties you may be able to catch a glimpse of a unique Olalla landmark: a scale replica of the Washington Monument in D.C., hidden among the trees. You’ll also see a sign for Anderson Point County Park, a great place to take a stroll through the woods and along the beach. The Anderson Point area is also home to Spin Cider, a craft cidery, and the Edgewater House, a beautiful event venue for parties and weddings along the shore of the Sound. Well, that’s pretty much all there is to see in Olalla. Farther inland, along Olalla Valley Road, the town also features a local vineyard, community center, elementary school, and a small grocery store that serves the west side of town. Continue along Banner toward our next stop, Manchester. Along the way, you’ll pass the road’s namesake on your left: the Banner Forest, 636 acres of preserved space crisscrossed with miles of hiking and equestrian trails.
2239 Colchester Dr E, Manchester, WA 98353, USA
The village of Manchester lies just ahead, its small but charming downtown located right on the water. As you head up Colchester Drive, you pass the post office on your right, and two of the town’s essential businesses on the left; the barber shop and the Manchester Pub. The pub is much like any small-town bar. Comfort food, drink specials, and live music make it a great place to be a neighborhood regular. But one of the greatest draws of the town is its spectacular view across Puget Sound. Take a right up ahead on Main Street to see what I mean. Just ten miles directly across the water, the skyline of Seattle is laid out across the horizon. At night, the city lights shimmer against the night sky. The port here in Manchester is one of the best places in the county to see that truly impressive view. Once you’ve had your fill of the gorgeous skyline, turn around and follow Main Street up the hill. You’ll pass the local branch of the Kitsap Regional Library on your right, and then get a pretty good look at the kinds of homes that are common in Manchester. With large yards and delightful outdoor decks, these houses are great places to enjoy the beautiful summer weather. At the top of the hill, hang a left on Alaska Avenue. This road will take you through Manchester’s suburban streets and back to Mile Hill Drive, the main road into Port Orchard. As you get closer to town, you’ll pass into a far more commercialized district than the areas we’ve seen so far today. The shopping centers that surround the county seat include fast food restaurants, the local cinema, and full-sized supermarkets. The roadside shopping centers will give way to Port Orchard’s historic downtown, our next point of interest.
120 Bethel Ave, Port Orchard, WA 98366, USA
Welcome to Port Orchard! This bayside city began as a single sawmill in 1854 and grew rapidly following the establishment of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in the Sinclair Inlet. When the town officially incorporated, it was named Sidney after the founder’s father. The story of how it ended up with its current name is pretty funny. When the town of Sidney petitioned the state legislature to rename themselves, they were denied their request. That’s because Charleston, located across the bay, had already been approved to take that name. However, the Post Office didn’t get the memo, and established the Port Orchard branch here in Sidney and the Charleston branch in “Port Orchard”. It took a decade before a local politician could convince the state to sort out this confusing mistake. Nowadays, Port Orchard is known for the antique shops, coffee stands, and locally-owned restaurants that line Bay Street. A dedicated walking and biking path runs the length of the downtown area along the water, making it easy to park your car and spend a day enjoying the area. You can often catch otters and harbor seals playing in the water, and you can always see the breathtaking Olympic mountains on the western horizon. One thing you can find a lot of in Port Orchard is local art. Both the Sidney Museum and Port Orchard Gallery, on the left, display local artists that capture the stunning beauty of the mountains, the sound, and the flora and fauna that call the Kitsap Peninsula home. The town’s central intersection, where Sidney Avenue meets Bay Street, is where you’ll find the Olde Central Antique Mall, a great place to locate furniture, decor, and curiosities from days past. Sidney Avenue is also where you’ll find the ferry terminal, which runs service across the inlet and connects to Seattle via Bremerton. One of the more interesting happenings in town is the Night Market, a recurring summer evening event that combines the fun of a farmers’ market with live music, food, and games. If you’re looking for a bite to eat in town, there are plenty of options. La Palapa is the local Mexican restaurant, serving delicious carne asada, fish tacos, and margaritas. Of course, the Pacific Northwest is famous for its seafood, and you can find the town’s best crab cakes, oysters, and fish and chips at the Dock Bar and Eatery. Last, but not least, Brickhouse 714 is the neighborhood’s watering hole, for classic, comforting bar foods, and locally brewed beers. As you head out of town, you’ll pass several small boat marinas on the right-hand side. Like many of the towns just off Puget Sound, Port Orchard is a “haven” for boat lovers. With the abundant seafood in the pacific northwest, both commercial and pleasure fishing remain popular pastimes. One spot you can't miss as you head around the bend up ahead is City Hall on the left, with its tall clock tower facing out over the bay. City hall features the municipal courthouse, where local affairs are settled. Of course, Port Orchard is the seat of Kitsap County, and the county courthouse and administration complex are located just a couple blocks from City Hall, down Cline Avenue. Sprawling over two city blocks, the County complex contains the District Court, sheriff's office, and local governing bodies. Continue along this road, merging with state route 16, and follow signs for state road 3 to head across the inlet to our next stop.
3062 WA-16, Port Orchard, WA 98367, USA
Keep right to merge onto state route 3, heading north. This intersection is the commercial center of the town of Gorst, where five creeks converge and flow into the inlet. Keep an eye on your left as you merge onto Route 3 to spot Deep Draft brewing, a craft taproot known for traditional German brews. Although it’s a little remote to feature on today’s tour, I wanted to tell you a bit about a town called Belfair, located in the opposite direction down route 3. Belfair is located at the tip of Lynch Cove, on the thin isthmus that connects the Kitsap Peninsula to the greater Olympic Peninsula. Located just across the county line in Mason County, Belfair is best-known in the area for its August food festival, “The Taste of Hood Canal”. The annual bash features local foods from the restaurants, fisheries, and producers that line the western edge of the peninsula. More than just food, the festival also invites artists, artisans, and musicians to perform and sell their wares, and even hosts a classic car show! If you ever find yourself down that way, I recommend stopping in for a tasting at the Mosquito Fleet Winery, named for the steamships that made the development of Kitsap County possible. Outdoor enthusiasts will have a blast exploring the gorgeous natural wetlands of Lynch Cove, where eagle-eyed hikers can spot plenty of wildlife from Wetlands Trail. Moving on, we’ll next head into the downtown area of Bremerton, the largest city on the peninsula.
612 Burwell St, Bremerton, WA 98337, USA
Unlike the small towns that make up most of the county’s communities, Bremerton is a bona fide city. Take a left and head up Pacific avenue, which runs through the heart of the downtown area. Located on the north bank of the Sinclair Inlet, Bremerton is the heart of the area known as Central Kitsap County, an area of urban and suburban communities along Sinclair and Dyes Inlets. As I briefly mentioned earlier, Bremerton grew up around the massive Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, a military outpost shielded from rough weather at the end of the Sinclair Inlet. The existing naval infrastructure made Bremerton the port of choice for the ferries that take passengers across the sound to Seattle, leading to rapid population growth in the area. Look right at the intersection of 4th Street to see the prominent sign of the Historic Roxy Theatre, a cinema that opened in 1941. In addition to new releases and arthouse films, you can also catch live comedy and music in the recently renovated and restored theater. Along 4th street, you’ll also find the Kitsap History Museum, a free museum packed with local history. With exhibits aimed at children as well as adult visitors, the museum is a great place to spend an educational afternoon with the family. On this street, you’ll also find Dog Days Brewing and the Axe and Arrow Gastropub, for a refreshing beverage and delicious American eats. Further up pacific, you’ll pass Cups, a local coffee shop, and Bigfoot’s House of Vinyl, a quirky record store featuring a seven-foot statue of the sasquatch, wearing headphones and classic grunge attire. Moving on, you can’t miss the marquis of the Admiral Theatre, which opened just a year after the Roxy in 1942 and is now primarily a venue for live music with cabaret-style seating. Keep following Pacific up to Evergreen Rotary Park, one of the city’s best public green spaces. Along the way, I’ll tell you a little more about the place. Bremerton is made up of six distinct neighborhoods. Downtown, the area around the ferry landing, is rife with breweries, coffee shops, and art galleries, as well as a historic boardwalk along the water’s edge. Evergreen is due north of downtown, and you’ll notice a marked difference as you cross over 11th street between the two neighborhoods. Unlike downtown, Evergreen’s houses are larger and more spaced out, giving the neighborhood a classic suburban feel. The rotary park found here offers beach access, a boat ramp, and a weekly farmers’ market all summer long. As you reach the park, take a look out across the water to see the neighborhood of Manette. Though it was once its own town, the area on the opposite peninsula was annexed by the city in 1918 but continued to function on its own until the completion of a bridge in 1930. At the park, make a left. Our route will take you on a loop through evergreen and back to 11th street, the main artery that runs west through the city. As you take 11th out of town, you’ll see the Haddon neighborhood on the right side. This is where you’ll find Bremerton High School and Olympic College, a community college that serves all of Kitsap County. The left side of the road is the neighborhood called Union Hill; it’s almost entirely made up of residential homes, along with Bremerton’s historic churches. Notably, Union Hill features a pair of Giant Sequoia trees, which were likely planted by a California millionaire in the early 20th century, a reminder of his home far to the south. Shortly before 11th street connects with Kitsap Way and leaves town, you’ll cross over Callow Avenue, the heart of the final neighborhood, Charleston. You may remember this area from the post office mix-up I told you about earlier. Once a bustling port town and popular entertainment hub for sailors, the avenue is like a small downtown of its own, with a historic theater, restaurants, and nightlife. Our next stop isn’t so much a place to live, but it’s a popular destination for recreation that the whole county enjoys. Keep following your navigation to reach Wildcat Lake.
4750 Jewell Park Ln NW, Bremerton, WA 98312, USA
Here we are at Wildcat Lake County Park. Feel free to get out and stretch your legs on the shores of this beautiful body of water. A notable spot for fishing enthusiasts, Wildcat Lake is stocked with Coho Salmon, Largemouth Bass, and Rainbow Trout, as well as year-round resident Cutthroat Trout. Although the lake is mostly surrounded by private residences, the county park and the public boat launch offer plenty of access to the pristine water. Though it isn’t an incorporated town, this central area of Kitsap county is a popular place to live for folks who enjoy a more laid-back, rural lifestyle. The lakeside homes and surrounding cedar forest give the area a feeling of peaceful seclusion. Just across from the county park is a small Grocery that serves the needs of the residents, so you don’t even have to drive all the way to town to pick up essential items. When you’ve had your fill of the park and the lake, head back the way you came, and make a left out of the roundabout to continue your journey down Seabeck Highway. At the roundabout, you’ll pass the tip of Newberry Hill Heritage park, a wildlife refuge and hiking area that stretches over a thousand acres back into the woods, littered with ponds, creeks, and all the creatures that call these habitats home. One more spot left to see! You may not be surprised to learn that Seabeck Highway leads to a town called Seabeck. I’ll meet you there!
13425 Lagoon Dr NW, Seabeck, WA 98380, USA
Welcome to the last town on our list! As I give you a tour of the town, keep an eye out for a right turn on Miami Beach Road, followed by a left on Scenic Beach Road. Another sleepy harbor town, Seabeck offers some of the best water and mountain views on the peninsula. Of course, you may entirely miss the “downtown” area if you blink! A short stretch of buildings on the right makes up the entire commercial center of the town, including the local marina. Despite its small size, this strip has everything a small town needs. Coffee stand? Check. Pizza joint? Check. General store for groceries and dry goods? Also Check. And at the end of the row, a charming bed and breakfast with its own little country store included. With amazing views of the water and walking distance to the Conference Center on the left side of the road, Water’s Edge is a great place to stay if a business venture brings you to this small town. Just before you turn on Miami Beach, you’ll pass the Seabeck Community Center on your left. Essentially a basketball gymnasium with a small office, the building is an athletic facility and meeting place for community groups. They also host a community market on the first and third Sundays of the month, with local goods and fresh produce for sale. Miami Beach road, followed by Scenic Beach Road, will take you to the end of today’s route. I figured I’d leave you on a high note, and the view from Scenic Beach State Park certainly lives up to its name. Tucked behind a wooded neighborhood of cottages, the park has been named the area’s “best romantic spot” by locals. It features a gorgeous rhododendron garden, a historic log cabin, and a charming gazebo. But the piece de resistance has to be the view from the beach. Offering a clear view of Brothers Peak and the towering Olympic range across Hood Canal, this dog-friendly waterfront truly offers the best of the Pacific Northwest. Well, folks, that’s all I’ve got for you today! If you want to continue your journey through Kitsap County, please check out our tour of the northern half of the peninsula, which begins in nearby Silverdale. If you’re interested in finding a home here in Kitsap or Jefferson Counties, make sure to contact our local expert, Betsy Tarpley. You can reach her by phone at 360-649-2062 or send an email to email@example.com. As always, thank you for taking this UCPlaces tour, and have a wonderful day.