Pencils out! Pop quiz time. Where can you visit a historic Navy destroyer, a kid-friendly museum, and an awesomely dynamic spray park an hour outside of the city, totally car free? If you guessed the Bremerton Marina, you earned a gold star. Read on to find out how to get this daycation off on the right foot!
This footloose and fancy-free day trip starts at the Bremerton ferry landing downtown. Drive over and park the car for the day, or better yet, leave the car behind completely and use public transportation to make your way to the ferry landing. Walk-on passengers don’t need to worry about passage being oversold the way cars do, but do check the online departure schedule before heading out. Then, arrive at least 15 minutes early to get tickets squared away and watch the ferry unload. No matter how many times you’ve seen it, this is big juju for the tot lot. The hour-long passage between Seattle and Bremerton is one of the most scenic in the area. On a sunny day, Mount Rainier really struts her stuff, so bring your camera to get some post-worthy pics. Beyond that, the travel time is easy to pass. Bring some activities, a couple of snacks and you’ll be there before you know it!
Once docked, navigating the marina is a piece of cake, as everything’s centered around the ferry and can be spotted from the landing. There are three main attractions that are worth the ferry ride, but even wandering around the marina is worthwhile. There’s a little beach to play on, dancing fountains to giggle over, and sculptures too. Bottom line, there’s lots to do and no wrong way to do it. Expect a very full and fun-filled day.
The USS Turner Joy
Get on board to explore the USS Turner Joy, a destroyer museum ship that makes its historic home in the Bremerton harbor. It’s one seriously awesome maze to travel, as you weave in, out and around the many layers of the ship. Just when you think you’ve gotten to the end, there’s another nook just around the corner. The ship’s self-guided tour is easy to follow, and the many well-placed placards explain the nitty-gritty details that will enthrall the adults, but maybe not the kiddos. They’ll be much more interested in the hands on experience this ship has to offer (Oh the buttons they’ll push!) It’s totally climbable and most virtually accessible in every direction. Below deck, above deck, it’s a whole different kind of playground.
Our not to miss kid faves include the engine room/boiler room found below decks and the bridge/pilot house. The ship is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with the last ticket sold at 4:30 p.m. during the summer months. And admission is pretty reasonable, too. Just $12 for adults, $7 for kids ages 5-12, and those 4 and under are free.
Good to know: Keep the Littles close by while navigating the expansive ship. Expect lots of tight spaces, steep stairs and hiding places. Also, it’s not a stroller friendly zone, but babies can be worn while exploring.
The Puget Sound Navy Museum
The Navy Museum is another great pit stop on this walkable day. It houses artifacts and documents that chronicle the history of the Navy in the Pacific Northwest. For Navy buffs or those who dig ships, it’s a definite must. There’s plenty to keep the kiddos occupied, and you just can’t beat a free museum. The Family Discovery Room is filled with books, puppets, seaworthy dress up gear, and coloring books to keep everyone from the littlest littles to the bigs busy. During the summer, the set SAIL program promises fam-tastic times, too. Preschoolers through fifth graders will explore the Navy Shipyard & Maintenance Facility’s shops and codes using science, art and interactive learning at this weekly program. Check out the online schedule to see what’s next on deck. The program runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Fridays through August 29, 2014. Get on board for this one!
Wading pool meets spray park at the splashtastic Fountain Park, located just behind the Navy Museum. It’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day, or stop for a picnic interlude. There are plenty of tables and chairs, not to mention (dry) grassy spots. So bring the swim gear and sunscreen, and plan to play for quite a while. The coolest thing about this water feature is the volcanic-like eruptions of water that go off quite often. Truly, the anticipation is half the fun for the kiddos at this squeal-worthy water park. Splash on!
Grab Some Grub
All this walking is sure to work up an appetite. Luckily the marina has plenty of places to refuel so families can go the distance. Take your pick of familiar chains like Subway and Taco Del Mar, or branch out to try the Bremerton Bar & Grill or the Fritz European Fry House. If you’re looking for a view to go with your meal, Anthony’s has a prime spot overlooking the water. Take a load off before heading out for the next adventure.
Do you plan to ferry over to Bremerton this summer? Share your experiences with us in a comment below.
–Allison Sutcliffe, words and pictures