Port Orchard has plenty of new features, but it hasn't forgotten its roots.
After an easy morning cruise north from Gig Harbor, via the Colvos and Rich passages, we pulled into Port Orchard Marina, our home for the next couple of days. The city of Port Orchard is located just south of Bremerton across Sinclair Inlet. Once Easy Goin’ was secured in her guest slip, Arlene and I headed for the marina office to check in, where we were met by the always helpful and energetic Kathy Garcia, Port of Bremerton marina operations manager/harbormaster. The Port Orchard and Bremerton marinas are managed and maintained by Port of Bremerton.
Before leaving the office we had a chance to visit with Garcia and her staff. They informed us of changes in town since our last visit a few years before and provided a few suggestions where to enjoy lunch and dinner.
Port Orchard has an old-fashioned look, with covered sidewalks and storefronts. Downtown is easily walkable and is only a block from the marina. For the serious shopper, a collection of eclectic boutiques and collectibles shops line Bay Street, where merchants offer a mix of designer goods and retro finds. For variety, Port Orchard is home to a collection of toy and game stores, bookstores and galleries.
The area’s rich history and cultural heritage ensures there are antiques and vintage finds in local antique shops. Specialty shops feature goodies from jawbreakers and taffy to handcrafted chocolates and ice cream.
GRAB A BITE
Nearby eateries offer a wide variety of dining choices, from pub fare to fine dining with a water view. For lunch we took one of Garcia’s suggestions and enjoyed a very good meal at Amy’s On the Bay, which specializes in surf-and-turf offerings served amid a relaxing waterfront view. Dinner was Mexican fare at La Palapa, another suggestion — and a good one. Other suggested restaurants were Thai Charlie’s, Golden Grill on the Bay (Chinese), Bay Street Bistro (Northwest flavors with Italian/Mediterranean influences) 6 and the Home Made Café (comfort food made from scratch).
MOOR YOUR VESSEL
When we arrived, there was plenty of room among the 1,500 feet of linear guest moorage and 46 slips, with a 40-foot maximum length.
Out on the docks behind a security gate, visitors have access to 30- and 50-amp power, water, Wi-Fi and an activity float with a barbecue for group gatherings. Nearby are the marina office, immaculate restrooms, free showers and laundry accessible only by a security code, which is issued when you pay for moorage.
The fuel dock is located out near the entrance to the marina and offers diesel, gas and a pumpout.
IN THE PARK
The Waterfront Pedestrian Path, with its view of the naval shipyard across the inlet and Olympic Mountains in the distance, is a scenic spot for a stroll or bike ride. Port Orchard offers two pet-friendly waterfront parks and a children’s area has play features for kids of all abilities. Marina Park, with a boardwalk and a covered gazebo, offers beach access and is the site of a Farmer’s Market from April to October.
TIME YOUR VISIT
Besides a walkable waterfront, there is an abundance of events and festivals year-round, beginning with an Easter Egg Hunt in the Park, Seagull Calling Festival, Fathoms O’ Fun Festival Grand Parade, Concerts by the Bay Series, July 4 Fireworks, Festival by the Bay & Cruz, Taste of Port Orchard and Halloween in downtown Port Orchard, to name a few.
Of particular interest to maritime buffs are the Mosquito Fleet Days, which commemorate the passenger ferries that were once the major mode of transportation between Puget Sound cities.
HOP THE FERRY
On the second day of our visit, we hopped aboard the foot-ferry 10 and rode it across Sinclair Inlet to Bremerton for lunch and some sightseeing. Running at 30-minute intervals, the 15-minute trip allows riders to travel back 100 years to a time when cars were scarce. Carlisle II is one of the last remaining Mosquito Fleet boats.
The trip across the inlet also offers riders a close-up view of the aircraft carriers and other naval vessels berthed at Naval Station Bremerton along the way.