The Kitsap Peninsula is such a rich peninsula with so much history and charm. When a group of writers traveled there a couple of months ago, this is what we found.
As we traveled, we felt immersed in the giant firs and cedars as well as the shoreline of weather
beaten driftwood flung on the gravelly shoreline of Puget Sound.
Whether you have Scandinavian roots or not, don’t pass up the town of Poulsbo. Poulsbo, known as “Little Norway, Big Fun,” has been voted the #1 visitor destination on the Kitsap Peninsula. The
Scandinavian settlers came for the fishing, farming, and logging, a reminder of their past roots. Front street is packed with shops of Scandinavian gifts, gourmet coffee, and pastry shops. Waterfront
Park is home to concerts and lines the boardwalk along the shore.
No visit to the Kitsap Peninsula would be complete without a stop at the Suquamish Museum, the place to learn about the original inhabitants of the peninsula. You can read about them at: https://bit.ly/3Di71F2.
A quick but fascinating stop is the Poulsbo Maritime Museum. It showcases the growth of Poulsbo through the water and fishing industry. It’s a great source of the maritime history for this very maritime area. We met Mary
Ann Acosta, Director of Operations along with Jessica Wall of the Poulsbo Historical Society, and Bittina Erickson of Sons of Norway. Hopefully they will be there when you visit because these ladies are the best of hosts and ooze excitement about Poulsbo.
From Poulsbo, we headed north to the very tip of the peninsula to Hansville’s Point No Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse, with its most unusual name, was given the name by Charles Wilkes, an expedition
leader because it appears much less of a promontory at close range than it does from a distance. It is the oldest lighthouse on the Puget Sound and marks the entrance to the Sound. The driftwood animals adorning the park lawn warmed all of our hearts. The lighthouse has an area inside where the innkeeper would climb the stairs to observe and send out signals. The downstairs is full of all things lighthouse related. If you want to be immersed in the whole lighthouse experience, the Innkeepers Cottage is available for vacation rental at Point No Point and Park.
Port Gamble at the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula is a most interesting and historic town. This unincorporated small village was originally built as a company mill town when Pope & Talbot lumber company opened a mill there in 1853. The logs from nearby forests of cedar and fir were milled into lumber for the San Francisco housing market. Until 1995, when the mill finally closed, it was the oldest mill in the country.
What’s so fascinating about this village, declared a National Historic Landmark, is that it is still set up as a company town. No one can purchase land here for housing. Everything is leased. Once the
mill shut down, Pope Resources reacquired the town and started refurbishing it. Olympic Property Group is responsible for maintaining the grounds, the homes, the church, and even the cemetery.
Because Pope and Talbot were from Maine, all the homes are built in the clapboard style with steep roofs and white picket fences. The town feels like a small New England village.
The general store was the first building to be constructed in the village in 1853. It was where the loggers would come to get their paychecks and buy their groceries and other supplies. The Port Gamble General Store is a treasure today and a great place to visit. The oldest continually occupied home in the state of Washington and built in 1859 is the James Thompson home.
Pete Orbea the Town Manager, led us on a walking tour through the village. Worthy of a stop is the Port Gamble Historic Museum at the back of the Port Gamble General Store down the pathway
through the archway. Stored in a huge set of wooden filing boxes are the original plans, deeds, and all legal information about the past of Port Gamble. You can even see one of the original beauty hair curling machines. If you are interested in the paranormal, Pet Orbea can lead you on one of his Port Gamble Paranormal Tours.
Housed in an old automotive repair shop is just the place for a creative and filling lunch, the Butcher & Baker Provisions. I was told that the fried chicken sandwich was the best thing on the menu. The Butcher & Baker is also known for its baked goods like biscuits and lemon
blueberry cake. The day that we visited, I was tempted by the Shrimp Torta of marinated shrimp, black beans, and cotija cheese served on a grilled hoagie.
A rustic lodge owned by the Suquamish tribe is Kiana Lodge located in Poulsbo. The word Kiana means “Garden of the Gods” in the Native American language, and the grounds speak to that beauty. The lodge is available for events, but individuals can walk along the 1000 feet of waterfront property. The interior is rustic and full of Native American artifacts as well as floor to ceiling fireplaces. A surprising and tourist
drawing bit of stardom for this lodge is that the pilot episode of Twin Peaks was filmed here. Tourists can see the giant log where Laura was found in the water.
If you are interested in seeing these beautiful grounds and the lodge, you need to call ahead to make sure they are open.
When you are in the downtown area of Poulsbo, don’t pass up a really good restaurant for great Italian food. We found it to be the perfect dinner meal at the end of our busy day.
Sogno di Vino, located in the historic district of Poulsbo, combines the freshest Northwest ingredients with traditional Italian recipes. A classic saying of Sogno di Vino on their website explains their thoughts about wine. The quote says that Italians believe, “in wine there is truth”, and we
totally agree. Wine transforms food into a meal, acquaintances into friends, and friends into family. Sogno di Vino says, “A meal elevated to an experience becomes
something more – a memory.”
Sogno di Vino has a wide selection of wines in a wine cellar. The menu is full of delicious Italian dishes. I ordered a seafood linguini that was chock full of seafood in a creamy sauce.
Poulsbo and the Kitsap Peninsula feels like a world away from the busy life so many of us lead. I suggest you hop on the ferry and take a ride to that special place.