The Viking City

Poulsbo is an eclectic Puget Sound town with a Norwegian feel, complete with fjords.

 Poulsbo has always been an attractive place, for good reason, for Arlene and me, and return visits are always highly anticipated. Poulsbo celebrates its cultural and natural heritage, as well as its growing diversity, in many ways. Downtown has a Norwegian theme, but look closer. The Norwegian bakery, Sluys, is famous for sure. But there’s also an English-style pub, Mexican and Italian restaurants, cafes featuring South American coffees, and art galleries featuring indigenous and other local artists.

Poulsbo is a great walking town, with numerous parks, trails and walkable neighborhoods.

Take a walking tour through nearby neighborhoods to see the Significant Trees of Poulsbo, designated by the city for their uniqueness and size, and heritage homes dating to the 1890s and early 1900s. A tree guide is available at City Hall. There are 15 parks in Poulsbo, the largest of which, Fish Park, has a boardwalk, interpretive signage, nature hiking trails and wildlife viewing platforms. The headwaters of a fork of Dogfish Creek are located in a forested wilderness park. A seaside boardwalk connects downtown’s Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park and American Legion Park.

If you like history, visit the Poulsbo Historical Museum in City Hall. The Martinson Cabin, across the street from Fish Park contains artifacts, early furnishings and interpretive materials, so you can get a feel for life of early settlers. The Marine Science Center downtown has an aquarium, touch tank, activities and displays, so children can learn about the local marine environment.

Downtown Poulsbo is a wonderful place to shop and find something special. Stroll down Front Street as it winds its way through the heart of town. Discover colorful shops that offer everything from Scandinavian gifts to fine art. Shop for fashion and sportswear, antiques, jewelry and more. If it’s a tasty treat you’re after, look for world-famous bread, handmade European chocolates, gourmet coffees and a variety of ethnic and American cuisine. Find everything from fast food to fine dining in cozy places for families and friends to gather. Some of our favorites are Burrata Bistro, Green Light Diner, JJ’s Fish House, and Sogno di Vino.

Poulsbo Marina is in the northeast corner of Liberty Bay, and guest moorage is on E and F dock. During the off-season months pull into any open slip and check in with the harbormaster in the harbor office at the head of the dock. Reservations are recommended for the balance of the year. The marina is open seven days a week and offers wide concrete floats, gas, diesel, pumpout, water, 30-amp power, restrooms and showers, laundry, Wi-Fi and an activity float for group functions.

The annual Viking Fest, held the third weekend in May, signals the start of summer. Front Street is crowded with people for the parade. There’s a carnival, live entertainment and contests.

In June, the summer solstice is celebrated with a Nordic-style Midsummer Fest. Poulsbo celebrates Independence Day a day early. The 3rd of July celebration features a day of live entertainment, capped by an evening fireworks spectacular out over the bay.

In August, Front Street is the scene of a street dance; the street is closed to vehicle traffic. In the fall, the First Lutheran Church and the Son of Norway host traditional dinners of lutefisk, lefse, meatballs and potatoes.

Julefest is held each December. Vikings escort the Lucia bride, known for her charity, from a torch-lit canoe on Liberty Bay to a bonfi re in Waterfront Park. Her appearance is followed by Santa Claus himself, who traditionally arrives on a fi re truck.

Golf is another option when visiting this seaside community. Three of Washington state’s top-rated golf courses, Trophy Lakes and Casting Club, McCormick Woods and Gold Mountain Golf Complex, are all accessible from Poulsbo via a taxi ride.

Conveniently located to the greater Everett/Seattle/Tacoma area, Poulsbo makes an easy and engaging year-round getaway for Puget Sound boaters. The colorful town, friendly residents, well-organized and operated marina, and a long list of community events throughout the year are all part of what will have you coming back.