Just across the Agate Pass Bridge from Bainbridge Island lies the Kitsap Peninsula and the Suquamish Indian Reservation. Take your first right after crossing the bridge from Bainbridge Island, and in the village of Suquamish, you'll see signs for the grave of Chief Sealth, for whom Seattle was named. Nearby (turn at the Texaco station on the edge of town) you'll also find Old Man House Park, which preserves the site of a large Native American longhouse. The Old Man House itself is long gone, but you'll find an informative sign and a small park with picnic tables. From Suquamish, head back to Wash. 305, continue a little farther west, and watch for signs to the Suquamish Museum, 15838 Sandy Hook Rd. (tel. 360/598-3311, ext. 422; www.suquamish.nsn.us/museum), on the Port Madison Indian Reservation. The museum houses a compelling history of Puget Sound's native people, with lots of historic photos and quotes from tribal elders about growing up in the area. From May through September the museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm; October through April it's open Friday to Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $2 for children 12 and under. In this same general area, right on Wash. 305 at the west end of the Agate Pass Bridge, you'll also find the Clearwater Casino Resort, 15347 Suquamish Way NE, Suquamish (tel. 800/375-6073 or 360/598-8700; www.clearwatercasino.com).
Continuing north on Wash. 305, you next come to the small town of Poulsbo, which overlooks fjordlike Liberty Bay. Settled in the late 1880s by Scandinavians, Poulsbo was primarily a fishing, logging, and farming town until the town decided to play up its Scandinavian heritage. Shops in the Scandinavian-inspired downtown sell all manner of Viking and Scandinavian souvenirs. Between downtown and the waterfront, you'll find Liberty Bay Park.
If you're interested in seeing Poulsbo from the water, you can rent a sea kayak from Olympic Outdoor Center, 18971 Front St. (tel. 800/592-5983 or 360/697-6095; www.olympicoutdoorcenter.com), which charges $14 to $19 per hour or $50 to $70 by the day.
If you have time and enjoy visiting historic towns, continue north from Poulsbo on Wash. 3 to Port Gamble (www.portgamble.com), which looks like a New England village dropped down in the middle of the Northwest woods. This community was established in 1853 as a company town for the Pope and Talbot lumber mill. Along the town's shady streets are Victorian homes that were restored by Pope and Talbot. Stop by the Port Gamble General Store and Cafe, 32400 Rainier Ave. (tel. 360/297-7636), a classic general store that is home to the Of Sea and Shore Museum. This little museum houses an exhibit of seashells from around the world and is open daily from 7am to 5pm; admission is free. Around the back of the building that houses the general store, you'll find the Port Gamble Historical Museum (tel. 360/297-8074), a collection of local memorabilia. Admission is $2.50 for adults and $1.50 for seniors and students (free for children 6 and under). From May through October the museum is open daily from 9:30am to 5pm; the rest of the year it's open by appointment only.
South of Port Gamble on Wash. 3, you can explore the Kitsap Peninsula's naval history. Between Poulsbo and Silverdale, you will be passing just east of the Bangor Navy Base, which is home port for a fleet of Trident nuclear submarines. The base is on Hood Canal. Near the town of Keyport, you can visit the Naval Undersea Museum, 1103 Hunley Rd. (tel. 360/396-4148), located 3 miles east of Wash. 3 on Wash. 308 near the town of Keyport. The museum examines all aspects of undersea exploration, with interactive exhibits, models, and displays that include a deep-sea exploration-and-research craft, a Japanese kamikaze torpedo, and a deep-sea rescue vehicle. The museum is open daily from 10am to 4pm (closed on Tues Oct-May); admission is free.
Continuing south, you come to Bremerton, which is home to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where mothballed U.S. Navy ships have included the aircraft carrier USS Midway and the battleships USS Missouri and USS New Jersey. There are always plenty of navy ships to be seen here in the harbor. Along the town's waterfront, several attractions are linked by the Bremerton Boardwalk, which provides a pleasant place to stroll along the waters of Sinclair Inlet.
The USS Turner Joy, a mothballed destroyer, is open to the public as a memorial to those who served in the U.S. Navy and who helped build the navy's ships. Operated by the Bremerton Historic Ships Association (tel. 360/792-2457; www.ussturnerjoy.org), the USS Turner Joy is docked about 150 yards east of the Washington State Ferries terminal. From May through September, the ship is open daily from 10am to 5pm; October through April, it's open Friday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $6 for children 5 to 12.
Nearby is the Bremerton Naval Museum, 402 Pacific Ave. (tel. 360/479-7447), which showcases naval history and the historic contributions of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sunday from 1 to 4pm (closed Sun in Jan and Feb). Admission is by donation.
Bremerton isn't just about naval history; it's also home to the Aurora Valentinetti Puppet Museum, 257 Fourth St. (tel. 360/373-2992; www.ectandpuppets.com), which has a large collection of puppets and marionettes and is sure to be a hit with your younger children. The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11am to 4pm. Admission is by donation. Also in Bremerton, the Kitsap County Historical Society Museum, 280 Fourth St. (tel. 360/479-6226; www.kitsaphistory.org), is housed in a 1940s-era streamline-modern bank building. The interesting architecture of the building is reason enough for a visit, but there are also historical photos by Edward S. Curtis and his brother Asahel, who at one time resided here in Kitsap County. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm (until 8pm first Fri of each month). Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children 7 to 17.
One of the last remaining "mosquito-fleet" ferries still operates between Bremerton and Port Orchard. If you park your car on the waterfront in Bremerton, you can step aboard the little passenger-only ferry and cross the bay to Port Orchard. In this little waterfront town, you'll find several antiques malls that can provide hours of interesting browsing.
Bonsai by the Bay -- Driving west from Tacoma on Wash. 16, just past the town of Port Orchard, you can't help but be curious about the odd collection of stunted trees and sculptures wedged between the highway and the waters of Sinclair Inlet. Elandan Gardens, 3050 W. Wash. 16 at milepost 28, Gorst (tel. 360/373-8260; www.elandangardens.com), is the result of one man's passion for bonsai. The collection includes trees that are more than 1,000 years old and that have been trained for decades. There are also Japanese-style gardens to wander. The gardens are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm (closed Jan); admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children 6 to 12.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.