Most folks, when they visit Poulsbo, just visit the historic downtown district. At a glance the rest may look like chain stores, and other things not of interest to a visitor. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While downtown is a large concentration of the restaurants and shops in Poulsbo, the rest of our city is a vibrant mix of local businesses and chains providing everything a visitor or resident to Poulsbo might need. This is the first installment in the series of posts where we’ll look at what you’ll find in each of the different districts of Poulsbo outside of downtown.
Most visitors to Poulsbo will pass quickly through this corridor on their way downtown or may be staying at one of the two hotels here. There’s a lot to see here. If you forgot you’re comfy shoes we have Poulsbo Running or Harrison’s Comfort Footwear, both locally owned shops provide a wide range of walking, running, hiking shoes and accessories. Not enough food for Fido? Check out Naturally 4 Paws next to Central Market.
Speaking of which, Central Market is a local grocery chain, and is a favorite to locals and visitors alike. This popular store features gourmet grab-and-go foods, a great selection of hard to find beers & wines, a coffee shop, pizza & hot dog counter and a small gift department that is updated seasonally.
If you’re headed to a get-together, don’t go empty handed! High Spirits is a locally-owner specialty Liquor Store located in the Centennial Building. It is in no way your average liquor store, they specialize in local and hard to find spirits, a growler re-fill bar and a wine cellar with an amazing selection of wines. They offer themed tastings most Saturdays, so even if you’re not in the market, check them out to try something new.
Looking for a great brunch spot on the weekend, or what is probably Poulsbo’s most upscale dining experience? The newly opened, family-owned Crabtree Kitchen won’t disappoint. Located in the new Centennial building just off 305, you’ll find a nicely curated menu, excellent cocktails, in a beautiful and airy atmosphere. The focus of this restaurant is sustainability, they source their ingredients locally working with local farmers, and even growing their own herbs in-restaurant.
Need coffee? There is of course Starbucks, a stand-alone location next to CVS and one located inside Safeway. BUT Poulsbo is a town that LOVES its coffee. Be sure to check out the local coffee shops along this corridor, from the little drive-thru Nordic Coffee, to spots that also offer a sit-down experience, including Café Au Lait, Central Coffee (located inside Central Market), and the afore mentioned Coffee Oasis.
This list really just scratches the surface, many more restaurants can be found here, along with retail locations to meet a wide variety of needs. For a full list of businesses in The 305 click here.
Poulsbo has so much to offer this time of year. From traditional Norwegian holiday events to shopping stores filled with unique finds. If you want to win Christmas this year, don’t miss a visit to Poulsbo, a one-stop shop for shopping and entertaining this holiday season!
The Don’t Miss List
November 29th: Poulsbo Tree Lighting This annual tradition features the lighting of the tree’s surrounding Poulsbo’s Viking at the junction of Viking & Lindvig Way. The event offers cookie & ornament decorating, Christmas carols and a visit from old St. Nick! Follow Santa afterwards to a family-friendly after-party at Hudson Auto featuring free photos with Santa, snacks & drinks. http://www.vikingfest.org/poulsbo-tree-lighting-ceremony/
December 3rd: Argosy Christmas Cruise Argosy cruises features a cruise from the Port of Poulsbo featuring stops to listen to the North Kitsap Northern Lights Choir. The first performance is at 6:30 in the waterfront park. Come downtown to view the performance, or check their website for tickets to join the cruise. https://www.argosycruises.com/events/christmas-ship-from-poulsbo/
December 7th: Yule Fest The day kicks off with the Christmas Bazaar at Sons of Norway from 10-4pm. There will be 30 vendors featuring Norwegian & Christmas crafts, foods and gifts. Don’t miss the Lefse and a Norwegian lunch downstairs in the Viking Room. Following the Bazaar is the Yulefest festivities in the waterfront park. The Sons of Norway Viking’s will escort the Lucia Bride and light the bonfire followed by the Viking King’s reading of the Winter Solstice Proclamation. An annual tradition, and must to kick off the holiday season!
December 14th: Tuba Christmas Join the Poulsbo Tuba Players in the Waterfront Park on Saturday December 14th from 3-5pm. They will playing Christmas songs in the pavilion.
December 14th: 50th Annual Lighted Boat Parade Each year, Rudolph (the red nose reindeer) leads Santa through the local waters of Puget Sound with greetings to those along the parade route (Click the link below to view the route). The lighted boats arrive in the Port of Poulsbo a little after 5:00, be sure to get to the waterfront park or other waterfront locations on the route early to get a good spot to view the boats as they pass by! https://www.visitpoulsbo.com/event/50th-annual-lighted-boat-parade/
November 30th-December 22nd: Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides Through Downtown Poulsbo Enjoy a free, festive carriage ride through the historic downtown shopping district of Poulsbo. A fun, family friendly event! While the event is free, they do encourage donations of shelf-stable foods to support NK Fishline.
NEW! December 6-22nd: Holiday Carousel Located in the center of town is the Christmas Carousel, $3 per rider. Available M-Th 3-7pm, Fri-Sun 11-7pm.
This month’s spotlight features one of the most iconic local businesses in Poulsbo, Sluys Bakery. Possibly one of the most well-known bakeries in all of Washington State, their famous Poulsbo Bread was sold nationally for years. No trip to Poulsbo is complete without a visit here. Locals get to the bakery early to beat the crowds and to grab their favorites before they sell out. They have a wide range of baked goods including traditional Norwegian pastries, donuts, breads, cakes and cookies. Some of the most popular items are the Viking Cups (a cinnamon bun made in “cup” form and filled with cream cheese frosting), their Viking Donut – a super-sized chocolate glazed donut, and a favorite of the little ones, the Dough Boy – a donut shaped like a gingerbread man. Whatever you choose, you really can’t go wrong here.
Dan & Stephanie Sluys currently own and operate the bakery, a family business for the past 53 years, started by Dan’s father. Stephanie filled us in on a little more history of the bakery, and some interesting facts a lot of folks may not know. Enjoy!
Business Name: Sluys Poulsbo Bakery
Type of Business: Retail Bakery
How long have you been in business: 53 years on May 30
What was the inspiration to start this business? Marion Sluys, a baker in Bellingham, came to Poulsbo with his wife, Loretta, and children on a trip and thought Poulsbo was beautiful. Marion met with Edith ‘Babe’ Schaeffer, owner of Bauer’s Bake Shop downtown Poulsbo, inquiring to purchase the bakery. Babe was a little reluctant to sell the bakery as she had sold the bakery 3 times previously only to receive it back again from the purchaser as the reality of the baker’s life started in for them. Babe was impressed with Marion and the quality product he produced so she sold him Bauer’s Bake Shop. Together Marion and Loretta developed Sluys Poulsbo Bakery and, along with their Son, Dan, built what it has become today.
What do you love most about doing business in Poulsbo? We love the Poulsbo Community where everyone contributes to a common goal of making Poulsbo the best place to live. There is a lot of community involvement in Poulsbo with different events, fundraisers, activities, etc. Those all take people coming together, it doesn’t just happen by itself. It’s great to be in a town that is active and alive!
We, also, love our regular customers that come in to the bakery daily for their donut, the families that came here as children and are now bringing in their children or grandchildren, or the visitors that come to Poulsbo and walk into the bakery for the first time. The expression on their faces is priceless as they smell the scents of bakery. We are truly honored and blessed to be a part of so many people’s memories of the past as well as the ones they are making today.
What’s one thing visitors to your business might be surprised to know? All of our product is made from scratch and by hand. All of our donuts are hand cut and fried in small batches, currently on weekends we are producing upwards of 5,000 donuts a day, plus all of our bun dough and pastries.
“Giv Os idag Vort Daglige Brod” above the backbar means “Give Us This Day our Daily Bread” in Norwegian.
Anything else you’d like to add? In 1974 Marion developed Poulsbo Bread, which is a forerunner to the many multigrain breads you see on the market today. Marion sold the recipe rights to create a mix for Poulsbo Bread to the Lucks Company, which became Franz Bakery, with a contract that while the mix was being produced, Sluys Poulsbo Bakery was the only place that could make it from scratch. Poulsbo Bread was produced and sold in grocery stores from 1980’s to 2010 when the contract did not get renewed on our end. We are currently the only bakery that makes Poulsbo Bread and makes it from scratch, grinding our own seeds. in 1988, 20 million loaves of Poulsbo Bread were sold across the United States by Lucks/Franz Company.
One thing that was historically a constant Downtown Poulsbo was shops that strictly catered to the tourists visiting Poulsbo. But times have changed and proof of that is Northwest Land & Sea, opened by Jessica & Mario Avalos ust over a year ago. You’ll find a little bit of everything in the Pacific Northwest inspired shop, but the unique thing you’ll find is clothing for men! That’s right, this shop carries a great line of menswear from jeans and tee’s to hats and even a line of hair and beard grooming products. They also carry a great line of women’s wear as well. Tourists will love this spot for the decor, housewares, gifts and unique tee’s, but locals will love the selection of apparel. Something close to home – no need to head to the box stores the next town over. So whether your just a visitor, or a local that avoids downtown thinking its only for tourists, stop by this shop and see why our lovely downtown is for eveyone!
Business Name: Northwest Land and Sea
Type of Business: Gifts and Apparel (Retail)
How long have you been in business? November 23rd marked our one year!
What was the inspiration to start this business? My husband and I have always thrown around the idea of opening our own business, but it wasn’t until I got the experience of managing another local shop downtown for about 4 years, that I was able to learn what it would be like to run a shop. I got to know other local downtown merchants, and learned what customers where asking for, things that our town was missing, or didn’t have a lot of. Which is what inspired us to really work on bringing in merchandise for men, and that local passion for the Pacific Northwest. We also carry a lot of fair trade and sustainable eco-friendly products from around the world.
What do you love most about doing business in Poulsbo? I grew up in Port Townsend WA, I’ve always loved small town living. Poulsbo is such a special town, and it’s starting to become more up and coming. My husband and I are very excited to be a part of Poulsbo’s growing community and future.
What’s one thing visitors to your business might be surprised to know? We are a Northwest shop, in the sense that we love our wilderness and PNW inspired merchandise, but the products in our store are from all over the world. We like to bring awareness to fair trade and eco friendly companies. We don’t specialize specifically in these products, but we are constantly researching to find more sustainable items that compliment our store. There are so many great companies out there helping amazing causes, and we would like to be a part of that.
Anything else? I always had a dream of doing something of my own, something creative that I could shine through. Both my husband and I are artists in different ways, and we compliment each other very well when it comes to picking out merchandise and figuring out how to arrange our store. I’m the one with the artsy flair, and he’s the designer user friendly one. I feel so blessed that we can go on this journey as business owners together, in such a wonderful community that we are proud to call home.
Poulsbo’s shops are loved by visitors and locals alike. There’s a wide array of things to find that most tourist town’s just don’t have, from actual locally-made art & crafts, to clothing you actually want to wear!
One shop, though, is uniquely special to Poulsbo – Nordiska. Owner, Kristin Klassert, opened the doors a little over a year ago, and sells all things Scandinavian. The shop is filled with Nordic housewares, kitchen gadgets, decor and gifts, from traditional to quite modern. A carefully curated mix of must-haves for any Scandinavian home, including the Christmas Candelabra that you see in the windows of nearly every home on Fjord Drive, or the fun, brightly colored Dala Horses. There’s something for everyone in this warm and inviting little shop, be sure you stop in and say Hallo! next time you’re in Poulsbo.
Business Name: Nordiska
Type of Business: Scandinavian Housewares and Gift Shop
How long have you been in business? 1+ year
What was the inspiration to start this business? The Nordic heritage of both myself and the town of Poulsbo. I loved growing up with many Norwegian and Swedish traditions in my family, as well as attending a Swedish college and getting a degree in Scandinavian Studies. My career has been in sales: both retail and wholesale, with housewares being my passion. When the opportunity arose to fill this void in Poulsbo, it seemed like a perfect fit.
What do you love most about doing business in Poulsbo? I have been amazed by the amount of local support for small business in Poulsbo. We love the wonderful tourists who frequent our quaint town, and we are extra appreciative of our regular customers who shop in the off-season. This inspires me to constantly improve and enhance the shop so there are new surprises every time a customer visits.
What’s one thing visitors to your business might be surprised to know? While I carry many traditional Nordic items, I love seeking out unique, current products from or inspired by Scandinavia.
Anything else? Building and owning Nordiska is a dream come true. To exist here on Front Street, among so many beautifully-curated, independently-owned shops, is an honor. Tack så mycket!
Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, Poulsbo holds its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Locals and visitors alike congregate at the intersection of Viking & Lindvig Way to partake in the holiday festivities. Under tents, people mingle and children decorate cookies and ornaments to hang on the trees. Nearby the local “royalty” including Miss Poulsbo & Miss Viking Fest, lead caroling with the attending children. Santa and Mrs. Claus ride by in their “sleigh” and around 6:00pm the crowd cheers as the trees in this small park all come aglow with twinkling Christmas lights. Its a brief but special gathering that kicks off the holiday season. To follow, our local car dealership Hudson Auto graciously throw’s an “after-party” where folks can come in and get warm, snacks and drinks are available as well as craft-making activities for kids and an opportunity to get their photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Throughout the month of December there are many family-friendly events taking place in Poulsbo, including Julefest, Carriage Rides through downtown, a visit to Father Christmas and a lighted boat parade. For details and a list of all the holiday happenings, click here.
Nestled half-way up Finn Hill Road you’ll find this little gem, Caffe Cocina Coffee Roasters. A local favorite, its a great place to grab an amazing cup of coffee, a snack, breakfast or lunch. They offer a drive-thru for those on the go so its easy to grab a bite on the way.
Caffe Cocina also offers home made pastries and a full array of menu items serving breakfast and lunch from 11-7pm Monday thru Sunday. Their Chef works tirelessly behind the scenes to perfect each recipe and instill consistency in all their offerings.
Here we interview Caffe Cocina owner, Eric Mahler, to find out a little more about this great little spot!
Business Name: Caffe Cocina Coffee Roasters
Type of Business: Cafe/Manufacturing
How long have you been in business? 6 years
What was the inspiration to start this business? I spent time in my early career as a banker and personal finance representative, specializing in small business. I saw an insurmountable line of passion from the people I had the privilege to work with, and that alone was inspiring. To put everything on the line for something and see it through to the end.
What do you love most about doing business in Poulsbo? Poulsbo has something special. Not knowing the unique business community that lived within this city I was spoiled right off the bat. It wasn’t until I ventured out and saw the support options (or lack there of) that other cities and towns offered that I connected the dots. Poulsbo has a thriving Chamber of Commerce, an exemplary Mayor, and an amazing community of selfless volunteers. This city is capable of anything, and so are the businesses that live here.
What’s one thing visitors to your business might be surprised to know? We are an education based third tier coffee house. We source our beans directly from the best quality farms all over the world. Our staff is trained from the ground up by myself, a SCA certified roaster and expert extraction artist. We believe that nothing is capable without passionate educated team members. From the kitchen where we bake our very own pastries from scratch, to our hand crafted coffees, we believe in quality over anything else.
Anything else? This is an exciting time for our great little company. We started as a humble cafe that wanted to provide an exceptional product. In 2018 we are tasked with adding our first attempt at vertical integration. Manufacturing an array of products for wholesale and consumer purchase. We have completed a full rebranding and are excited to hit the ground with our new expansion. We offer coffee education classes for future baristas and also coffee education date nights. We love everything coffee, from talking about it, to teaching its science. Hope to see you all soon.
Welcome to the first edition of our Poulsbo business spotlight. Each month we will ask a few simple questions to one of our amazing local businesses to get a better understanding of who they are and why you shouldn’t wait to visit them on your next visit to Poulsbo!
Today we pose those questions to the owners of Western Red Brewing, Denver & Marianna Smyth. Western Red Brewing (WRB) is the newest of Poulsbo’s five breweries. But don’t let the newness fool you, they have a state of the art brewing facility and beer that rival’s the guys that have been doing it for decades. Their taproom decor is a nod to the logging industry that was such a major part of the area’s past economy. Its warm and inviting, and pared with their beer selection, you may never want to leave.
WRB Taproom is open 2:00-8:00pm Monday-Thursday, and 12:00-9:00pm Friday-Saturday. They are located at 19168 Jensen Way NE – just down the street from the Post Office. There is ample free street parking with additional parking lots nearby.
Business Name: Western Red Brewing (WRB)
Type of Business: Craft Brewery
How long have you been in business? Our team opened WRB on August 31, 2017.
What was the inspiration to start this business? Our love for craft beer is where it all began for us.
What do you love most about doing business in Poulsbo? We love the community in which we get to serve. The residents of Poulsbo are a great bunch of people.
What’s one thing visitors to your business might be surprised to know? We are kid and dog friendly. WRB strives to create an atmosphere where family, friends, and neighbors can come together and celebrate Historic Downtown Poulsbo.
Anything else? We have a spacious tasting room and we also have an even larger banquet space. Both areas are available to rent for your private parties. In addition, we have a mobile beer truck that can be brought to a location of your choosing for your events. WRB is truly your full beer experience!
Viking Fest is Poulsbo’s annual tradition, celebrating 50 years this year! For the schedule of events click here.
Viking Fest is a mix of two celebrations originating with “Syttende Mai,” commonly known as the 17th of May festival or the Norwegian Constitution Day which has been celebrated by local Norwegians for over a century. In the early days Poulsbo residents would travel to Ballard & Seattle to join in the celebration. In 1903 Poulsbo decided to partake and throw its first celebration. Through the years and changing times the celebration shifted to later in May.
In 1960 local artists and photographers started the North Kitsap Arts & Crafts Fair. Over the years they attracted national artists and the event drew large crowds.
Due to the popularity of both events in the late 1960’s it was decided to combine the events into one new festival “Viking Fest” which would be held the weekend following the 17th of May. The first 3-day event was a huge success and the tradition was born.
What Goes On?
Over the years the festival has grown and added a number of new events, but some original ones have stayed including the parade, lutefisk eating contest and carnival. These days you will also find live music and performances throughout the weekend, demonstrations by Vikings, a road, bike and paddle board race, donut eating contest, booths with food and crafts – all in a magical small-town setting. This year’s schedule of events can be found here: www.vikingfest.org
Carnival wristbands are available for pre-sale at the Poulsbo Safeway & Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce.
Check out this video courtesy of the North Kitsap Tourism Coalition on Viking Fest:
What motivates you to get out and run? Is it the challenge of beating your best time, the rush of pushing yourself to the limit, the peace of the open road, or just the love of being outside?
For many in this area, the surrounding beauty is enough to get you out and to move. Poulsbo has plenty to show off; from beautiful neighborhoods to waterways, to vast stretches of green pathways.
We asked one of our well-known and loved runners of the area, Suzie Banzar, to give us a few of her top areas to run.
Fjord Drive; One of her favorite routes would have to be along our downtown route; through downtown Poulsbo, onto Fjord, with stunning views of the water, and turning into Lemolo. This route has it all and can be as long or short as you wish.
Liberty Bay Boardwalk; With plenty of parking around our Poulsbo Rec Center, it’s a perfect starting point. An easy run along Front Street, or cut down through Nelson Park to run the boardwalk, which follows the shores of Liberty Bay. Stunning views of the mountains, water, and our Poulsbo Marina. Past the Marina, head back up to reach Fjord for more waterfront views. Fjord turns into Lemolo, and along with it brings the trees and some shade.
A local neighborhood, which the locals lovingly call Skittleville, is stunning this time of year. The colors of the changing of the leaves can be breathtaking. Add this neighborhood onto your Fjord/Lemolo route for a lengthier run.
Our local Clear Creek Trail, as you head into the Silverdale, is a fun 3-5 mile run. It winds through pathways of wooden bridges, over the wetlands, and beautiful open field spaces. These trails are perfect for all ages; many moms with strollers and children on bikes, in tow, can be found on these paths each day.
Poulsbo’s Fish Park provides a perfect little jaunt through Liberty Bay Estuary and viewing spots of Dogfish Creek, over the wooden pathways. Add on some mileage along the wide sidewalks of Viking Way.
Port Gamble Trails provides fun for everyone. Mountain bikers and horse-riders share the paths with runners, and provides some of the best trail runs around! On any given day, you will find groups of all sorts enjoying nature out there. But be careful, downloading a map is a must, or you may get lost.
For more serious runners, check out the Roots Rock Racing series, sponsored by our very own Poulsbo Running. From the Spooky 12k on Halloween to a 5k and trail half marathon race, there is always a great race to join in on!
In addition to Suzie’s love for running, she has a passion for her volunteer work with Girls On The Run (GOTR). GOTR sessions run through Spring and Fall; building girls’ self-confidence and a love of running.