A couple days ago, my girlfriend Britany and I started wondering about what we could do this weekend, and I had the idea of doing a day trip over to the other side of the Puget Sound for a bit of a joyride through the Bremerton area to share with her places I used to live, where I went to school and other such bits of nostalgia, then heading further north to visit to the city of Poulsbo.
For those not familiar with Poulsbo, it's the smallest of the four cities in Kitsap County, and is known as Little Norway because the city was founded by a Norwegian immigrant, who would be joined by other Norwegians from the Midwest as it was similar to their former home, from the surrounding hilly terrain, to the city's location on Liberty Bay.
When I was younger, my parents brought my two sisters and I to friend of my mom's family's home where they had a large Independence Day party that coincided with Poulsbo's fireworks show as they lived on the hill with a great vantage point of the show. Beyond that, a visit to the small aquarium there, and several visits to Poulsbo's location of Central Market, I really don't remember much about the city, so it seemed like a great idea to do some exploring with someone who had never been before, making it pretty much a new experience for both of us!
Thanks to many of the first citizens of this city being of Norse descent, there's a lot of artwork in the city inspired by that connection to the former home land of those who came here back in the 1880's when it was created, including tributes to the Vikings who lived in Scandinavia way back when.
You'll also find additional connections to the Nordic heritage through some of the city's architecture. It's nice to stroll down Front Street and see some of the buildings that house the various shops, art galleries and restaurants with old Scandinavian design, or enjoy some time along Liberty Bay in American Legion Park, where a bandstand has been built with a more Norwegian style.
Because of it's location along Liberty Bay (which connects to the Puget Sound by way of Agate Passage), the city celebrates and teaches about it's maritime connections from hosting a Maritime Museum that also serves as the city's visitor center, and they have a free aquarium that is supported by Western Washington University called the Sea Discovery Center. This was the aquarium that my sisters and I had visited as kids with out mom, and unfortunately it had closed in 2005. It was saved, however, when local business leaders worked with the university to reopen and expand it to provide educational opportunities in the marine sciences, working with local school districts to make it into a full-day field trip experience while also allowing other visitors to come and learn about local waterways and sea life.
As lunchtime came around, Britany and I decided to take advantage of the selling of pizza-by-the-slice at Poulsbo Woodfired Pizza. This place featured a fun atmosphere with some of it's pop culture references, and their cooler had an EXCELLENT selection of local craft beers, including a few that I've enjoyed myself. Unfortunately I didn't try any of the beers as we'd be having lunch out in American Legion Park, but we did enjoy a few of their slices, and Britany also tried their Caesar salad, which she found to be better than the pizza. It was nice to enjoy a beautiful pre-spring day along the bay with some food.
But the real treat came from visiting the must see in the city, Sluy's Bakery. Dating back to 1966, this bakery is known for their Poulsbo Bread which was distributed by the Franz Bakery Company from the 1980's into the 2000's, but now is only available in the shop. The building that houses it fits right in architecturally and artistically, plus some special touches that separate it from other buildings in town.
While the building the bakery calls home is neat, people don't come here just to look at the building, they come for the treats inside! Walking through the door hits you with a wave smells. That fresh, sweet, baked goods smell is hard to ignore, as they offer a wide variety of pastries, doughnuts and other baked goods that go along with their famous Poulsbo Bread.
As a HUGE fan of Dollywood's Cinnamon Bread, I thought I would give Sluy's take on it a try for later at home, but for a more immediate treat, I also picked up their Viking Cup. A smaller cinnamon bun that forms a cup shape with cream cheese frosting in the cup. I had myself a moment when trying this delightful baked chalice. Britany had their apple walnut pastry which she enjoyed later in the evening when she could heat it up at home.
Heading back home as the sun was making its way down, we drove over to Bainbridge Island to catch the ferry back to the other side of the sound, and one of the great things about this region of Washington is that on clear days it's pretty difficult to ignore the mountains in the area. As we went up the hill from Downtown Poulsbo, we found a great spot along the road to see the Olympic Mountains in the background, and on the ride back to Seattle, the Cascades were out in full view behind the city skyline. Definitely an excellent way to wrap up our day trip to explore another Washington town!
And that was our little day trip into Poulsbo. It was fun to share with Britany a bit about my childhood before going into Poulsbo, but I really enjoyed our exploring Washington's Little Norway. There were several restaurants I'd like to come back and check out in the future, as come back to see how the aquarium has changed from the last time I would have been there over 20 years ago. If you find yourself in the Pacific Northwest, Poulsbo is a neat town to come and visit for a day, or to include as part of a visit around the Olympic Peninsula. If you do go, stop by Sluy's. You won't be disappointed!
Thank you everybody for checking out this travel log! I hope you'll come back soon for more Coasting with Culture!
Take Care & Safe Travels!