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Picturesque Kitsap County is known as the Natural Side of Puget Sound. The Peninsula is located across the pond from Seattle, and is easily accessed by ferry or via the beautiful Tacoma Narrows Bridge. (Image: Valerie Hanson / Seattle Refined)

10 hidden gems of the Kitsap Peninsula, from a local

The Kitsap Peninsula is home to more than 250 miles of accessible shoreline to explore, and it has been my home for over 32 years. No matter which direction you wander, you will find a beach, a fun small town or park to explore. There are endless outdoor activities and something for everyone!

Picturesque Kitsap County is known as the Natural Side of Puget Sound. The Peninsula is located across the pond from Seattle, and is easily accessed by ferry or via the beautiful Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I’ve ridden the ferry many times but never get tired of the experience. It’s a magical ride every time!

Here are my MUSTS when visiting Kitsap.

Point No Point Lighthouse, Hansville
The light house is located in North Kitsap, and is considered to be the oldest in the Puget Sound. It sits on the “big long nose” of the peninsula. This low finger of land was named Hahd-skus by Native American Tribes around 1855. The lighthouse property is listed in the Washington Historical Society.

The historic landmark has been in operation since 1879, and has been a navigational aid to seamen since that time. Today there is a lovely beachfront park, a museum store and other original buildings. The coolest part about the lighthouse park- there are two vacation rentals to reserve for your beach trip. The Keeper’s Quarters and Magg’s House offer million dollar views and long beach walks. Contact to schedule a stay.

The Poulsbohemian Coffee House
Of course the choices for coffee in the Seattle area are endless. Starbucks has one on every corner. I prefer a mom and pop shop for my coffee. They usually have unique décor and specialty menu items. The Poulsbohemian is one such coffee house. It’s also located north of Silverdale, in the town of Poulsbo.

This charming java stop is a 15 minute drive from the Kingston Ferry. This is a favorite with many of the locals and is for sure one of mine. I call this little charmer an office with a view. You can relax, work or enjoy sweeping views of Liberty Bay. Pull up an Adirondack chair on the patio or take in the breathtaking scenery inside by the huge windows.

The Clear Creek Trail
The trail is a big hit with visitors and residents of the Kitsap Peninsula. The best way to enjoy summer is to get out and enjoy all nature has to offer. Clear Creek is a great place to explore, walk or hike. Anyone who is not an experienced hiker can still enjoy the trails here and have no problem at all. The nature scenes here are something to behold.

The parking here can be frustrating. There is a good sized lot at the head of the trail but it's always overflowing. Parking is available on the side of the road too. I do recommend arriving early in the day. In spring and summer the trail is always packed of course. It may be a good idea to wake up with the chickens and start trekking early!

Oak Table Café
At this hometown café the goal is always to provide the customer with an unforgettable experience. The owners believe the food is a compliment to the service. All the staff at the restaurant aim to delight each time you visit. This café serves up the best breakfast in Silverdale and the view isn’t too shabby either!

Everything on the menu at Oak Table is made from scratch. Only pure and high quality ingredients are used. The pancakes are probably the best I've ever tasted! All of the mixes at the Oak Table are made from unbleached hard wheat flour, fresh eggs and real cream. Don’t miss out on the huge German pancake. If you decide to order one bring a big appetite. It's actually enough for two.

Wildcat Lake
If you want to escape the burbs of the city and enjoy a bit of the country life, this is the place! Wildcat Lake is a fabulous spot to take a dip in the heat of summer. Dabble your toes in the clear refreshing water, relax and soak up some rays. Warm days don’t last long in western Washington so make the best of them right here in on the Kitsap Peninsula

Wildcat is located 15 minutes from Silverdale, near Seabeck- the rural area of the county. This county park is the perfect summer playground for the whole family. Several outdoor activities are yours to enjoy: lake access, fishing, basketball courts, playground, swimming area, restrooms, and a picnic area. The lake opens the last week of March and closes October 1st. The dates for fishing and boating are different, so do check the website for that information.

Seabeck is another charming waterfront oasis that offers total relaxation and escape from the fast fury of life. This is where one can experience the best of country living. The area is popular with boat owners and lovers of water sports. Centrally located, you can take a scenic drive out of Silverdale and arrive in 15 minutes.

There isn’t a lot to see, if you blink you may miss it! However natural wonders here are something to behold. On a clear day, you can catch panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and the Hood Canal. Scenic Beach State Park is a beautiful spot offering some of the best views in Kitsap. Camping is available at the 88 acre park, along with chances to spot thirty two different species of animals and marine life.

Bremerton Ice Center
If you are a fan of hockey you can get your fix at the Bremerton Ice Arena. I grew up on hockey in Canada and it’s exciting to see it gaining popularity in the U.S. This fun facility offers programs for boys and girls between the ages of 3 to 18.

If you aspire to take over the ice as a figure skater, lessons are available along with many other hockey schools and clinics. Itching to learn skating as an adult? It’s never too late to get started. The adult league plays on Sunday and Wednesday nights.

Kingston is the cutest little town located across the sound from Edmonds. The scenic ferry ride is only 3o minutes each way. Feast your eyes on beautiful scenery, and keep your camera ready for the marine animals that may be frolicking nearby.

If you are driving, head west from Poulsbo. If you arrive hungry, check out the Grub Hut. I’ve heard they have the best burgers on the peninsula you will run right onto it, or into the sound if you don’t stop, Kingston has family fun events all year. Grab the kiddos and head to Mike Wallace Waterfront Park. Take a seat on the gigantic Adirondack chairs, and show off Kingston on your Instagram!

Kitsap Transit Foot Ferry
The city of Port Orchard is located on the south end of Kitsap County. It’s a charming little village by the sea and home to world famous author Debbie McComber about “Cedar Cove.”

A quick way to navigate the inlet between Bremerton and Port Orchard is to hop on board the Kitsap Foot Ferry. I did so a few weeks ago, and it was the most delightful ride. The fun voyage takes about 15 minutes each way. Step off the ferry into a world of nostalgia. The streets are lined with antique shops and old timey eateries. A farmer’s market on the waterfront is a fun stop on Saturday mornings.

The community of Manette has charming ambiance and a home town feel you won’t soon forget. Locals and visitors alike are obsessed with this area of town located in East Bremerton. Why do they love it? Community ties here run deep and everyone enjoys a friendly and safe environment. Stunning views, walkability, peaceful and friendly are just a few of the trademarks that personify this amazing neighborhood.

Seatttlites desperate to find affordable housing, have discovered Manette. New houses are being built here by the multitudes, the builders can’t keep up! Another draw is the specialty boutiques and popular restaurants such as the Boat Shed. Many are willing to do the commute to work in Seattle, to enjoy life in this delightful area of Bremerton.