If you’re visiting the state of Washington, chances are you’re going to spend some time in Seattle, the state’s largest city. You’ve probably considered checking out the Olympic Peninsula, too, where you can hike deep into the forests and explore the rugged west coast beaches. Those are two very cool places to visit, but there’s a dreamy little place wedged right in between them that you might not know about. I’m talking about the Kitsap Peninsula.
The Kitsap Peninsula is a quiet place. It doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of Seattle, but it does have some adorable towns full of local shops and restaurants. It doesn’t have the vastness of the Olympic Peninsula, but it does have plenty of forests, beaches, and scenery of its own.
It’s the best of both worlds, really.
Within Kitsap County, you’ll find places like Bainbridge Island, Gig Harbor, and Poulsbo, vibrant communities with incredible food and a close-knit feel. You’ll find places like Hansville and Seabeck, quiet retreats surrounded by the most beautiful vistas. You’ll find Bremerton, a sprawling city among the otherwise suburban towns of the peninsula.
The Kitsap Peninsula is easy to get to from Olympia or Tacoma via highway, and it’s just a ferry-ride away from Seattle. It’s a wonderful place for a day trip, but I’d highly recommend spending a little bit more time enjoying this gem.
I lived on the Kitsap Peninsula for about 6 months, almost 4 years ago now. So I decided it was about time I feature it here!
Whether you decide to pop over for the day, or make it a part of a larger trip around Washington, here’s my guide to the Kitsap Peninsula.
Bainbridge Island is the easiest spot to explore on a daytrip from Seattle. It’s a short ferry-ride across the Puget Sound, and with so many shops & restaurants located right on the harbor, there’s no need to go any further. Foodies will LOVE Bainbridge. Local restaurateurs and farmers take food very seriously around here, so you can expect super fresh produce and plenty of seafood. And of course you’ll find good coffee too!
If you want to venture further around Bainbridge Island, you’ll need a car. But there’s so much to see in such a small area. There are art galleries, scenic parks, and beautiful neighborhoods to explore. Honestly, I could write an entire post about Bainbridge Island, but I’ll just keep it to a few recommendations here.
- Pegasus Café // 131 Parfitt Way SW
- Blackbird Bakery // 210 Winslow Way E
- Good Egg // 140 Winslow Way W
- Bainbridge Island Museum of Art // 550 Winslow Way E
- Mora Iced Creamery // 139 Madrone Lane N
- The Bloedel Reserve // Website
- Fay Bainbridge Park // 15466 Sunrise Dr NE
Poulsbo is a little suburban town just over the bridge from Bainbridge Island. The town has been given the nickname “Little Norway” in reference to its Scandinavian roots. Poulsbo celebrates its heritage with festivals throughout the year, and you can see European influences down on Front Street in the architecture, the food, and the shops.
- Poulsbohemian Coffee Shop // 19003 Front St NE
- Tizley’s Euro Pub // 18928 Front St NE
- Paella Bar // 19006 Front St NE
- Liberty Bay Waterfront Park // Map
- Sluys Poulsbo Bakery // 18924 Front St NE
- Liberty Bay Books // 18881 Front St NE
- Jak’s Café & Espressp // 19355 Jensen Way NE
Bremerton is another direct link to Seattle via ferry. There’s a naval base & shipyard there, so the town is built up around that. It’s the largest city on the Peninsula with about 40,000 people, so it definitely has a different vibe than the rest of the region. Bremerton actually feels like a city, while the other towns are very laid-back and suburban. I wouldn’t recommend spending too much time here, but if you arrive to the Peninsula via Bremerton, it’s worth having a look around.
- Puget Sound Naval Museum // Currently Closed
- Bremerton Boardwalk
- Fraiche Cup // 105 Washington Ave
- Uptown Mercantile & Marketplace // 816 Pacific Ave
- The Bridge Deli & Coffee Co // 2100 E 11th St
Other Spots to Visit on the Kitsap Peninsula
Outside of the main cities/towns in Kitsap, there’s still so much to do. While you can visit Bainbridge or Bremerton on a daytrip from Seattle without your own transportation, you’ll need a car to see the rest of the Peninsula. It’s well worth spending a day or more roadtripping around the Kitsap Peninsula to see all of these spots.
Gig Harbor // Gig Harbor is down on the Southern end of the Peninsula, not too far from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The town has the most down-to-earth community vibe, and just walking through town makes you feel like you could be a local. A few places to go: Harbor General Store, Java & Clay Cafe, & the Harbor History Museum.
Port Orchard // Port Orchard is a picturesque waterfront town with a slew of restaurants and shops to keep you busy. Stop by the Coffee Oasis, the Olde Central Antique Mall, and one of the many delicious restaurants for a bite to eat.
Hansville // Hansville is way up on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula. It feels like the most remote part of the peninsula, as it’s away from the larger towns, but it’s well-worth the drive. Check out Point No Point Lighthouse on the coast, and head inland to Buck Lake and the Hansville Greenway.
Seabeck // Seabeck is the perfect holiday retreat on the Kitsap Peninsula. It’s tucked away in the most scenic setting, with access to beaches and quiet parks. The views at Scenic Beach State Park and out over Seabeck Bay are some of my favorite views in the region.
Port Gamble // Port Gamble is a tiny community with a rich history. Everything is managed by a property group dedicated to preserving that history, so the storefronts and homes have so much character. Walk along the waterfront and stop in at the restaurants and shops. Head over to the Port Gamble Heritage Park for a walk in the forest.
Annnnnd just a few more quick places to check out:
- Island Lake Park
- Salsbury Point Park
How to Get to the Kitsap Peninsula
It’s easy to get to the Kitsap Peninsula from all sides. To the west is the Olympic Peninsula, to the South is Tacoma and Olympia/Shelton, and to the East (across the Puget Sound) is Seattle.
From Tacoma // Head west on HWY 16, across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. There is no toll as you cross towards the Kitsap Peninsula. If you return towards Tacoma via the bridge, there will be a toll.
From Seattle // Ferries run from Downtown Seattle to both Bainbridge Island and Bremerton. Ferries run all throughout the day, and cost depends on vehicle size. You can also ride as a passenger if you don’t have a vehicle. Check out the Washington DOT website for more information on the ferry system.
From Olympic Peninsula // Take HWY 104 east towards the Kitsap Peninsula. You will cross the Hood Canal Bridge and connect with HWY 3 to access the rest of the peninsula.
More Ways to Get to the Kitsap Peninsula
Above are the easiest access point for tourists. Here are a few more ways to get to the Peninsula.
- Edmonds to Kingston ferry
- Fauntleroy/Vashon to Southward ferry
- Highway access via HWY 3
Read Next: 12 Scenic Places to Visit in Western Washington
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These are all charming and picturesque places which I would love to explore, Courtney. I especially loved Poulsbo. When would it be the best time of the year to explore this little town?
I’d definitely recommend visiting during the summer. You’ll get mild temperatures and sunny skies, and crowds aren’t too crazy even in peak season.
I think you have done Bremerton an injustice. There are three historical theaters, charming shops, and many museums to visit in downtown Bremerton.
Check out the newly restored Roxy theatre, and then visit the historical museum next door. Oasis coffee is just down the road, and it’s a nonprofit as well. Wonderful coffee raising funds to fight teen homelessness. There is also the planetarium and so much more. Don’t rush by Bremerton, it has a lot to offer!
Thanks for the tips, Amber! It’s been a few years since I visited Bremerton and I definitely didn’t explore it as much as the other parts of Kitsap.