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Puget Sound/coastal islands, Washington

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Personality Types that Like it Best

 Did You Know … ?

  • Tacoma’s Harold LeMay amassed the world’s largest private car collection (nearly 3,000).
  • The Washington capitol building was the last great domed structure built in the U.S. (1928).
  • The Great Peninsula is the correct name of the place best known as Kitsap Peninsula.
  • The Oregon Trail ended in what is now Olympia’s Sylvester Park.
  • Boeing constructs aircraft in the world’s largest building by volume (472 million cubic feet).

A Sound choice

A relatively small portion of Washington State’s real estate, Puget Sound and its shores encompass or give ready access to as much touristic variety as most visitors could wish for.

The sound, in northwest Washington State, is an oblong body of water extending about 100 miles north to south. It separates major Washington cities — Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia plus their suburbs on its eastern shores — from the smaller towns and fishing villages found on the narrow Kitsap Peninsula to the west. The sound also is dotted with islands boasting their own attractions for tourists.

Clearly, in the Puget Sound neighborhood, travelers have choices, whether their tastes run to cities or to small towns and water-based outdoor activities. But, because the area is relatively small, visitors to Puget Sound can have it all during the same week or two of vacation.

Seattle is at one end of the spectrum, with the diversity visitors seek in urban places. Go to http://besttripchoices.com/us-cities/seattle-washington  for the BestTripChoices.com report.

At the other extreme are the small towns with unique features, such as Port Gamble, a historic logging town, and Poulsbo, a Norwegian settlement dating from 1892, both on Kitsap Peninsula, and two towns on the National Register of Historic Places, Snohomish and DuPont, on the east and mainland side of the sound. Or consider Coupeville, a magnet for artists located inside Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve on Whidbey Island.

As their names suggest, places like Gig Harbor, Port Ludlow and Port Townsend — the first on Kitsap Peninsula and the latter two on Olympic Peninsula — invite visitors to sail on the sound or enjoy the water at even closer range, whether on the surface in a kayak or down under in scuba gear.

Other options at ports on both sides of the sound include boat trips that highlight whales and other marine life or manmade attractions such as lighthouses.

Visitors savor the area’s fresh seafood and farm produce at local restaurants. Towns and cities host numerous annual festivals that celebrate these local foods; other festival themes include music and the arts.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Rent a sailboat at the Port Ludlow Marina, and undertake self-guided explorations in Puget Sound. Look for historic lighthouses.
  • For a unique birding experience, observe birds in migration at the February Snow Goose Festival at Port Susan on Camano Island.
  • Plan a multiday trip following the Cascadia Marine Trail on Kitsap Peninsula, traveling by boat from campsite to campsite. There are more than 50 campsites to choose from.
  • Sample mead in the tasting room at Sky River Meadery in Redmond. Buy a bottle or two of mead — an alcoholic drink based on honey — to take home (in your suitcase if air transport is involved).
  • Skydive at Snohomish, either in tandem with an expert or solo.
  • At Port Townsend, rent a kayak or wooden rowboat for the day for a view of the sound at close range. Or, get still closer in scuba gear.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Take full advantage of the 30 miles of hiking and biking trails at DuPont. The first European settlement in Puget Sound, the entire city of DuPont is on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Join a tour to see the Boeing plant, where the famed aircraft are built, and to visit the Future of Flight Aviation Center. Such tours, which offer the only look at a jet assembly line in the U.S., are available from Seattle.
  • Get revved up over vintage cars at the LeMay: America’s Car Museum in Tacoma. Or get artsy: Attend the summertime Arts and Crafts Festival in Coupeville, a historic town and art colony inside Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve on Whidbey Island.
  • Cycle the 17-mile Centennial Trail between Snohomish and Arlington.
  • At Gig Harbor or another port on the sound, charter a boat for personalized touring and a chance to see bald eagles, seals, sea lions and more.
  • Take a ferry across Puget Sound from Seattle to Winslow on Bainbridge Island or Bremerton on Kitsap Peninsula.

Things to do for Authentics

  • In Bellevue, shop at Nordstrom and Eddie Bauer, both of which originated there. Or, shop for antiques in Snohomish, a town on the National Register of Historic Places and home to more than 450 dealers.
  • Travel back in time to the Nisqually Living History Museum, a restored 1855 Hudson Bay fur trading post at Tacoma.
  • Join one of the Third Thursday Art Walks in Edmonds, a noted arts community right on the sound and host to arts and jazz festivals.
  • Stroll the scenic waterfront at Everett, the West Coast’s largest public marina. In summer, take the free ferry to Jetty Island for the beaches. Or try your luck at fishing.
  • Attend a production at the Bremerton Community Theater in Bremerton on Kitsap Peninsula. The theater is said to be haunted. Or, head to the Broadway Center in Tacoma for entertainment.
  • Sign on for sightseeing at sea, at Port Townsend, in order to look for puffins, seals and whales. In addition, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center lets you touch marine life and see animals that can be hard to find otherwise.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Washington Tourism Alliance at www.experiencewa.com