Day trip to Poulsbo: The town called "Little Norway" is just a short ferry ride from Seattle.
The historic waterfront town of Poulsbo is a hub of all things Scandinavian, with streets named Lindvig and Fjord, a welcoming sign that reads “Velkommen til Poulsbo” and a nickname of “Little Norway.”
For good reason. Norwegian was once the only language spoken in Poulsbo. Norwegians came in the 1880s, drawn by water and mountain vistas that reminded them of their homeland.
Facing the majestic Liberty Bay, the historic downtown is filled with boutiques, antiques, bookstores and lots of cafes and bars drawing visitors.
Hop a ferry, and get an early start. Here’s a day’s worth of activities to explore in Kitsap County’s own version of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
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Waffles and eggs
9 a.m. Start your day at Shelia’s Portside Restaurant, 18779 Front St. NE. It’s the local greasy-spoon, nothing fancy. Hearty waffles or egg breakfast deals go for around $5 to $6, the latter served with a signature, thick and spongy bread to soak up all the butter. Breakfast is served until 2 p.m.
Something lighter? Hit either of the two bakeries on the main drag, the underrated Liberty Bay Bakery, 18996 Front St. N.E., or Sluys Poulsbo Bakery, 18924 Front St. N.E. The latter is downtown’s biggest tourist attraction. The original recipe for the famous Poulsbo Bread originated here. Popular sweets include the Doughboy, a big gingerbread-man-shaped doughnut and the Viking Cup, a cinnamon roll with a dollop of cream-cheese icing.
A bit of history
10 a.m. You’ll appreciate your visit more if you know the back story of a town billed as “Little Norway.” The Poulsbo Historical Society gives hourlong walking tours that include a short history of the early settlers. Call Judy Driscoll, tour coordinator, 360- 697-3033. Suggested $5 donation.
11 a.m. Visit the Poulsbo Marine Science Center, 18743 Front St. N.E. Those 800 fish, crabs and eels you see in the tanks were all captured in the Puget Sound by aquarium director Pat Mus and another staffer. Their latest goal: to grab another octopus for the collection to replace the one they released this summer. Free admission. Open Thursday-Sunday from 11-4 p.m.
On the water
11:30 a.m. Rent a kayak from Olympic Outdoor Center, 18971 Front St., near the aquarium and paddle around Liberty Bay, with the Olympic Mountains as your backdrop. You might see a seal or two. If paddling is not your idea of a leisurely day trip, sit back and enjoy the view on an electric-boat tour with Bill Archer of Northwest Boat Rentals and Adventures, 18779 Front St., Suite 108.
1:30 p.m. Grab lunch at Paella Bar, 19006 Front St., one of the restaurants owned by Kim Tomlinson, who has created much buzz in town since opening three restaurants in the last two years. Open for lunch and dinner.
2:30 p.m. Work off that big lunch with a stroll around town. Marina Market, 18882 Front St. N.E, an imported-goods store, offers a large section of Dutch treats.
Check out “the Licorice Shrine,” an aisle devoted to 300 kinds of licorice from around the world. Europa Bottleshop, 18928 Front St. N.E., sells imported beers including some cult brands such as Russian River Brewing. Mora Iced Creamery, 18801 Front St., the popular chain from Bainbridge Island, recently opened a branch here. Just look for a crowd hanging around the sidewalk holding ice-cream cones.
Become an artist for a day at Dancing Brush, 18846 Front St., a ceramic-painting studio. Pick plain bowls, plates and cups from the shelves and paint your own design, with the help of the staff.
Ready for a coffee break? Hot Shots Java, 18881 Front St., is the local hangout. There’s also the hipster Poulsbohemian Coffeehouse, 19003 Front St., with a nice view of the bay. Writers congregate here for poetry readings and fiction-writing workshops.
4 p.m. Follow the sound of seagulls to the water. Stroll along the waterfront, or just grab a seat on a bench along Liberty Bay Waterfront Park. The boardwalk leads to America Legion Park, one of 15 parks in town.
A mile north is the 21-acre Fish Park, 228 N.W. Lindvig Way, where birds and rabbits can be found along the nature trails. Across the street from Fish Park is Nelson Park, 217 N.W. Lindvig Way, where the Martinson Cabin and Museum, home of one of the early settlers, is open Saturdays.
Take a self-guided walking tour of the town’s rare and giant trees. Download the pamphlet “Significant Trees of Poulsbo” at www.cityofpoulsbo.com.
5 p.m. Enjoy an early dinner at Burrata Bistro, 19006 Front St., Tomlinson’s flagship restaurant, and the hottest dinning spot in town. Start with the light calamari and some bread to mop up the sauce, then follow with fresh pasta.
More winecentric is Sogno di Vino, 18830 Front St., a restaurant, with wine shop and upstairs bar.
For beers and a casual bite, hit Tizley’s Europub, 18928 Front St. Tizley’s has arguably the best beer selection in the county. Also, look for the new Valholl Brewing Company to open a tasting room in late fall.
6 p.m. Time to head back to the ferry. Lots of visitors, though, will stop by Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, 15347 Suquamish Way N.E., outside of town, to play a couple of hands of before heading back.
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org