Start summer off with a splash this weekend at the Kitsap Peninsula Water Trails Festival and celebrate one of the world’s most spectacular paddling destinations with food, music, games and outdoor recreation for the whole family.

Plan to stay a night or two to enjoy the Kitsap Peninsula’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife via the only nationally designated water trails in the state of Washington and the only saltwater trails in the national system. In addition to picture-perfect views of Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountains, paddling along our 370+ miles of shoreline offers incredible up-close opportunities to see herons, bald eagles, friendly harbor seals and more. To plan your route, check out our new interactive water trails map listing popular access points, directions and amenities.

We’ve got a full slate of activities planned on land and sea June 24-25, including Ride the Tide, a 6-mile supported paddle from Bremerton’s Evergreen Park to Silverdale Waterfront Park (registration required) and a 2-mile Family Paddle around the north end of Dyes Inlet. Bring your own kayaks, canoes, paddleboards or other human-powered craft, or rent equipment from Olympic Outdoor Center.

The festival fun also includes waterfront bicycle rides ranging from 2 to 22 miles, outrigger canoe races, old-fashioned family games, games for active and retired military, crew racing and the wacky Dinghy Derby. Click here for the full schedule and here for the music line-up. Many events take place at Silverdale Waterfront Park, but there are activities scheduled around the Kitsap Peninsula, including Bremerton, Port Orchard, Keyport and Brownsville.

More reasons to spend this weekend on the Kitsap Peninsula

Kingston Lavender Festival – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday – Explore the manicured grounds of Kingston House, a weddings and events venue, cut your own fragrant bundles of lavender and learn about growing and using the herb. There will also be live music, food from the Grub Hut food truck and lavender products for sale. Admission is free, but organizers request that you RSVP here.

Trails and Ales – 5:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday – Enjoy a guided hike and bike tour through the Port Gamble Forest followed by beers at Hood Canal Brewery and info about the effort to save the forest. Food will be available for a donation. The ride is suitable for beginner and intermediate mountain bikers. Click here for details and to RSVP.

Kingston Brew Fest – 5-9 p.m. Saturday at Mike Wallace Park next to the Kingston ferry dock – Taste some of the best craft beers on the Kitsap Peninsula in a gorgeous waterfront setting. $20 per person for seven tastes. Live music, food trucks, kids’ booths and more.

Fathoms O’ Fun Parade and Summer Festival Craft and Vendor Show – Thursday through Sunday, Port Orchard waterfront – The fun includes concerts, a car show, a foot race, a horseshoe tournament, bouncy toys, the wacky Dinghy Derby and South Kitsap High School’s invitational rowing regatta, plus the 50th annual Grand Parade at 6 p.m. Saturday. Click here for a schedule of events.

Gig Harbor 20th Annual Garden Tour – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday – This self-guided tour of seven outstanding Gig Harbor-area gardens is one of the premier gardening tours in the Puget Sound area. Ticket info here.

Olalla House Concert with Allison Preisinger – 7 p.m. Saturday, potluck at 6 p.m. – Preisinger is a Northwest-rooted singer-songwriter, who merges folk rock, blues and soul into acoustic folk and has been compared to Joni Mitchell and Carole King. A $15 donation is suggested.

Lodging suggestions From waterfront suites to budget- and family-friendly options, the Kitsap Peninsula has a wide range of lodging choices, including Oxford Inn & Suites, Silverdale Beach Hotel, Baymont Inn & Suites, Super 8 Bremerton, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Flagship Inn, Quality Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Clearwater Casino Resort, Poulsbo Inn & Suites, GuestHouse Inn & Suites Poulsbo, Comfort Inn on the Bay.