Headed for cabin fever? We’ve got the cure! Family time on the Kitsap Peninsula is the perfect way to head off winter break laments of, “We’re bored!” In fact, there’s so much to do, you’ll want to stay a couple of days.
Here’s a suggested itinerary:
Spend a day in Bremerton – Weather permitting, explore the Harborside Fountain Park next to the ferry dock and let the kids get their wiggles out climbing on the rocks. Evergreen Park is also nearby and has an inclusive playground with lots of room to roam and a charming general store across the street with ice cream and homemade soups, salads and more.
The downtown arts district is filled with kid-friendly museums, including the Valentinetti Puppet Museum, where there’s a play area for kids to stage their own shows, a mechanical puppet stage and puppets from around the world. The gift shop is a treat, with an excellent assortment of puppets for last-minute shoppers.
If your kids are fascinated with ships, check out the Vietnam-era destroyer USS Turner Joy docked near the ferry or visit the Puget Sound Navy Museum, where exhibits feature the shipyard, the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and the story of wartime baseball. Can’t get enough? Take the short drive to Keyport and explore the Naval Undersea Museum. It’s free and offers hands-on exhibits about the ocean environment plus the control room of a cold-war-era submarine.
Bremerton is also home to a free bug and reptile museum, where kids of all ages can look at unusual insects under the microscope, watch the action in an eight-foot-long ant farm or don glasses that let them see like a bug. There are more than 15 exhibits of insects and reptiles from around the world.
Hungry? In downtown Bremerton, try the Belgian fries and dipping sauces at Fritz European Fry House at the ferry dock or go across the street for a taste of the islands at Kama’Aina Hawaiian Grill. In Keyport, there’s New York-style pizza at Trendy’s and ice cream, sandwiches and salads at the Mercantile.
From downtown, cross the Manette Bridge and follow Wheaton Way to the Bremerton Ice Center, where there are frequent public skating sessions. Click here for the schedule. For a bargain, look for Cheap Skate sessions, which include skate rental.
The Kitsap Peninsula has two twinkling winter wonderlands for after-dark exploration – Christmas in Big Valley just outside Poulsbo and Kingston Cove Christmas next to the Kingston ferry dock. In Big Valley, retired architect and model builder Ron Comin placed more than 70,000 lights in a woodland setting. At Kingston’s Mike Wallace Park, volunteers and port employees created stunning flowers and seascapes with 400,000 lights.
If you stay in a centrally located Silverdale hotel, you’ll find lots of family-friendly dining options nearby, including MOD Pizza at The Trails shopping center or try the unique Guitar Café, where the counter is shaped like a guitar and there’s an old-fashioned soda fountain. Get outside at Old Mill Park, Silverdale Waterfront Park or explore the Clear Creek Trail, a natural oasis in the heart of Silverdale.
On your second day, head north to explore Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island. SEA Discovery Center on the Poulsbo waterfront has touch tanks filled with anemones, sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. While you’re in Poulsbo, also known as Little Norway, explore the waterfront, look for Viking-themed public art and try a Viking Donut at Sluys Bakery or check out the licorice shrine at Marina Market. There are free downtown carriage rides Saturdays through Dec. 24 and Nordic Father Christmas will also be on hand.
On Bainbridge Island, the world-renowned Bloedel Reserve is beautiful in any season, with 150 acres, including a bird marsh, Japanese garden and moss garden. Through Jan. 31, the visitor’s center is showcasing a handcrafted miniature village with electric trains. You’ll marvel at the workmanship, including upholstered furniture, parquet floors and fully functioning chests of drawers.
For gourmet comfort food made from high-end local ingredients, try Jake’s Pickup in the Chevron station at Highway 305 and High School Road. Downtown, the Streamliner Diner will not disappoint with its traditional breakfast and lunch fare, and the Blackbird Bakery is famous for its thick-sliced whole wheat oatmeal toast served with berry jam.
Young children and their adults will love the Kids Discovery Museum near the Bainbridge ferry. A new train table exhibit opened this month and there are special activities most days, including make-and-take holiday art projects and STEM-themed Friday sessions. Ring in 2017 at Noon Year’s Eve Dec. 31. Click here for a calendar.
More family fun:
Winter Farm Nights at The Animal Experience – Meet and learn about horses, goats, chickens, ducks, pigs, rabbits and peacocks at this Port Orchard farm 4-6 p.m. Dec. 20-22 and 28-30. The acreage is decorated for the holidays and there will also be games, snacks and warm drinks. There’s a suggested donation of $5 to support educational programs. Text or email to reserve a spot. Click for contact info and more.