The Ultimate Guide to Bangor

USS Henry M Jackson, Bangor WA

I was incredibly nervous to move cross-country from Groton, CT to Silverdale, WA. My husband was returning to sea for the first time since we had children, and I was moving thousands of miles away from the Northeast, my home of the last 20 years.  But the scenic views, surprisingly good weather, and a multitude of outdoor activities have made it easy to enjoy our new home here at Bangor. Those who have not had the opportunity to enjoy the wonder of the Pacific Northwest are missing out. There is nothing quite like the spectacular mountain views, which you can enjoy on a daily basis. I have only lived in Washington state for a short time, so I look forward to updating this guide overtime. 

Naval Base Kitsap, located on Washington’s  Kitsap Peninsula, encompasses more than 12,000 acres withmore than 70 tenant commands, including Commander, Navy Region Northwest (NRNW), Commander, Submarine Group 9 (CSG-9), and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Northwest headquarters. The base is also responsible for Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB).



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Fast Facts

  • Serving the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Naval Base Kitsap is one of only two Trident submarine bases operated by the U.S. (the other at Kings Bay, Georgia).
  • Nearby is Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC), where submarine-launched ballistic missiles are stored and maintained.
  • In total, the base employs an estimated 36,000 civilian workers, contractors and active-duty personnel. 
  • The Kitsap Peninsula offers nearly 300 miles of beautiful shoreline and marinas, as a natural setting for world-class kayaking, cycling,bicycling and other outdoor recreation.
  • Nearby communities: Silverdale, Poulsbo, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Bainbridge Island.
  • Nearby points of interest: Hood Canal, Olympic National Park, Province of British Columbia. 

History

  • The land that is now Naval Base Kitsap was purchased in the early 1890s. The first dry dock was finished in 1896, which contributed significantly to the Spanish-American War in 1898. 
  • During WWI, there was an increase in the Navy’s activity in the Pacific Northwest from the Pacific Coast Torpedo Station at Keyport continuing through to WWII with the commissioning of Naval Magazine Indian Island (NMII). 
  • Bangor was an ammunition depot during WWII and was recognized as an official naval magazine in 1944. 
  • In 1973, Bangor became the homeport for the first squadron of Trident submarines. It was officially commissioned as Naval Submarine Base- Bangor in 1977. 
  • Naval Base Kitsap was created in 2004, by merging the former Naval Station Bremerton and Naval Submarine Base Bangor.

Things to Do

I always like to make a duty station bucket list once we arrive at a new place. A list of places to go, things to do, events and other festivals to get us excited for our next chapter. It also helps prepare our daughters through the transition. Here’s a handful of things from my list: 

The Great Outdoors 

  • Near and far to Bangor there are so many new trails and parks to investigate. Washington has so many different local, state, and national parks to picnic, hike, and camp.
  • Most notably is Olympic National Park, located about 79  miles from Silverdale. The park offers nearly one million acres of hiking and backpacking trails, with rainforests and beaches along the Pacific coastline. You should absolutely purchase a guide book and explore the area overtime! The Staircase is on my list. 
  • Mount Rainier National Park is the “granddaddy of national parks” in Washington. The park is about a two hour drive from Silverdale, with beautiful trails and wildflower meadows to explore. Another spouse highly recommended the Wonderland + Panhandle Gap Trail.  
  • Did you know military families can receive a free annual pass to National Parks? Click here for more details. 
  • For something closer to home, one of the first places I visited was the Clear Creek Trails in Silverdale. There are both paved sections that are kid, stroller, and dog friendly and unpaved sections. The trails have informational plaques regarding the habitat,  wildlife and history of the land. 
  • Scenic Beach State Park in Seabeck was beautiful to visit. There are places to picnic, trails to hike, and long stretches of undisrupted beach to walk along Hood Canal. Highly recommend purchasing a Discover Pass if you plan to visit multiple state parks in a year as it will save you on parking fees. 
  • If you enjoy the water, Kitsap Peninsula Water Trails will keep you busy paddling through the only saltwater trail in the USA. 

Kitsap County Activities

Day Trips

  • Seattle, of course, is only a ferry ride away. From Pike Place Market to TMobile Park and Centurylink Field events to the Pacific Science Center to Chihuly Garden and Glass. There are so many things to discover in Seattle – more blog posts to come.
  • Tacoma is an easy destination, just 45 minutes away. Tacoma is a thriving city with a great downtown to explore, as well as the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. The zoo provides a full day worth of entertainment visiting leopards, elephants, penguins, seals, polar bears, lemurs, meerkats and more. Other sights include the Museum of Glass, America’s Car Museum and the Washington State History Museum.  
  • Port Townsend is a great day trip, located about an hour from Poulsbo. The seaport town is home to Victorian-era mansions, a classic Main street with mom and pop shops, restaurants and some interesting military history. Take the family to Fort Worden Historical State Park,  a former Army Coast Artillery Corps base. You can explore the abandoned fort and tunnels, while taking in the surrounding nature. Fun fact – this is where they filmed “An Officer and a Gentleman.” 

Eat + Drink

  • Washington state is nothing short of great beer. As of 2019, there were more than 400 breweries. Kitsap County’s beloved Silver City Brewery has both a taproom and a restaurant in SIlverdale, and  is a local favorite. For a full list of Kitsap County breweries, click here.
  • Likewise, Washington state wine is world-renowned. Just behind California, Washington state is the second largest wine producer in the United States, with more than 1,000 wineries and 14 designated wine regions. Explore the nearby Puget Sound AVA, with thriving wineries in Woodinville Wine Country, Seattle’s downtown core and even Bainbridge Island. Mark your calendar for the annual Kitsap Wine Festival held every summer!
  • The Oak Table Cafe is Silverdale’s most recommended breakfast spot. A family owned restaurant serving specialties including the apple pancake, 49’er flapjacks, thick cut bacon cut “extra thick” just for this cafe. 
  • Smokin Robinsons Cafe is the place to go when you’re looking for southern style BBQ. From brisket to pulled pork  to catfish they have all the BBQ goodness you could desire.  
  • If Indian food is a family favorite, try out Mehfil Indian Cuisine and Bar that prides itself on its authentic menu. 
  • Downtown Poulsbo is home to some great restaurants and eateries. There’s the infamous Sluy’s Bakery, a Norweigian family operated bakery specializing in homemade recipes. The Loft is the place to go with fantastic waterfront views, outdoor dining, and a menu full of variety. 

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