While the most obvious city park that you come to as you walk off of the pedestrian-only ferry from Bremerton to Port Orchard is the Port Orchard Waterfront Park, if you turn left and follow the concrete walkway you will quickly come to another small park - or rather two smaller parks that are joined together to form a somewhat larger park.
The playground portion of this park is called "The Mary Ann Huntington Children's Park", while the portion of the park that contains the covered picnic area, a small covered outdoor ampitheatre of sorts, and apparently the beach area has a plaque declaring it the "Port Orchard Marina Park", even though the actual Port Orchard Marina is actually closer towards town and located next to the Port Orchard Waterfront Park.
The playground is small, but at least it is here, and if nothing else it is a place to keep small children entertained if you have just missed your ferry to Bremerton and need to kill half an hour or so. It might also be a good place to go if you get ice cream or some other outdoor summer treat while in town.
The beach is small and rocky, but it is a beach and it does appear to be a bit cleaner than some of the beaches nearby. Also, because it is quite sheltered, you will not find any large waves here unless there is a large local storm.
The covered ampitheatre might also be a good place to spend some time outside, if it is raining. It appears to be arranged so that a band can be playing under the cover of the gazebo / picnic table area, and the crowd can also have the same protection as well.
While there is a parking lot right next to the park, the park is qutie far from most traffic noise, and on a clear day offers a view of the Olympic Mountains.
Westward from the Ferry Pier you will find that there is a very attractive park (especially in the spring when the flowers are in bloom) with open grass and a scattering of picnic tables and other places to relax.
There is a concrete walkway that runs along Sinclair Inlet from the ferry pier all the way behind one of the local banks and to the Port Orchard public boat ramp.
The park is attractive, and far from traffic noise, but it is also very small and except for coming here to relax, there isn't a huge amount to do in this park.
The primary points of interest in the park are:
+ the Port Orchard Welcome Map and Sign. Located close to the ferry pier entrance ramp, you will come face to face with this sign as you walk off the ferry and start to head into town. It has useful information about where to find things in Port Orchard. See my Port Orchard Welcome Map and Sign Tip
+ the "Ha Tu Ba Di" Memorial Totem is located right were the park joins the walkway to the ferry terminal. See my "Ha Tu Ba Di" Memorial Totem Tip
+ the Port Orchard Observation Deck is located in the far west end of the park. See my Port Orchard Observation Deck Tip
The park was dedicated in 1999 to the memory of Nick J. Repanich, who was mayor from 1962 to 1971, and a community leader credited with helping to establish the Port Orchard Marina that is now so important to the recreational fan base of the community.
"Part of the art of bonsai is seeing the potential, and converting a raw and scarred tree into a thing of beauty. In this case I carefully sculpted the scars...."
- Elandan Gardens statement regarding working with a 120 year old Korean Hornbeam tree
While the statement above from the owner and primary force behind Elandan Gardens was regarding a specific tree in his collection, the fact is that it might as well apply to the entire facility of Elandan Gardens. When the Elandan Gardens first started in 1994, the land on which the gardens sit was a horribly abused and scarred pile of material, much of which was waste from surrounding commercial and industrial uses that have since disappeared.
Today, this bonsai collection is reasonably famous throughout the world.
I will warn you ahead of time that there are many people who will not want to visit this garden, however. The gardens are fairly small, and the entry fee of $8 will seem excessive to some for the size of the garden. However, if your interest lies with bonsai, this collection is probably rather a must-see attraction of the Puget Sound region.
Proving that just about any tree can be miniaturized and turned into a bonsai, you will find even the largest of trees (for example, a Coast Redwood) in a miniature form and put into a bonsai planter.
There are over 100 different bonsai trees in this collection, and the garden features them in an environment of beauty, with several poinds (one of which is quite large), a number of rhododendron (mid to late May, depending on the particular year, is a good time to visit while those are in bloom), very large tree snags (Bald Eagles like to visit from time to time) Japanese maple trees, and other appropriate plants.
If you go, don't miss that there are in fact several parts to the garden! Otherwise, the $8 entry fee is really going to seem like a poor deal. There are three sections - the main section featuring the bonsai, the sculpture garden (under complete reconstruction when I visited in May of 2010) and an outdoor area showcasing a few other plants.
NOTE: The address is Bremerton, but it is slightly closer to Port Orchard, and due to Highway 16 being a divided road here it is only possible to get to the shop from the Port Orchard direction. It is highly suggested that you not try walking from the nearest public transit in downtown Port Orchard. The walk isn't too far and basically level, but it is on narrow shoulders on very busy roads with fast traffic, and therefore not a pleasant place to walk, and not especially safe - though people do jog and ride their bikes there.
Hours are Tuesday through Sunday 10 to 5 during the warm months (April to October) and 10 to 5 on Friday through Sunday during the Winter (November through March).
Address: 3050 W. State Hwy 16, Bremerton, WA 98312
NOTE: The address is Bremerton, but it is slightly closer to Port Orchard, and due to Highway 16 being a divided road here it is only possible to get to the shop from the Port Orchard direction.
Just as you step off of the ferry from Bremerton, you will come to a brightly painted totem dedicated to the memory of Gerald H. Grosso:
Garald H. Grosso
"A Native Son"
1932 - 1988
Conservator, Councilman, Journalist
He retrieved and preserved the Ozette artifacts of
the Makah civilization enabling posterity to better
know and understand the righ Indian heritage of
this area. He was given the Makah name
of "HA TU BA DI"
The Makah people are in the farthest remote reaches of the Northwest corner of the Olympic Peninsula.
This totem was carved by Frank Smith of the Makah Indian Nation in 1989.
Scattered throughout Port Orchard, you will find a number of murals on the sides of buildings. Some of these are fairly recent affairs, while others date back quite a few years.
The one that first greets you as you step off of the Bremerton to Port Orchard ferry is the one on the library. The library may look a bit older than it is due to the ornate stone work, but look closer: the fact is the library is a fairly boring structure made from concrete blocks. The only thing that makes it appear to have ornate stone work is a really well done mural that dates from the 1990 celebration of the town's centennial.
There are a small collection of murals in downtown, including several in a gravel courtyard on the north side of Bay Street. Here, not too long ago, a small storefront building was demolished - as of this writing it is still possible to see the roof of the building on Google Map's satellite photography images of the area. One building west of the building on the northwest corner of the intersection with Sidney Avenue, the building is simply gone now. In its place, this gravel courtyard now has several impressive murals on the walls of the two remaining buildings on either side.
Up the hill, the Sidney Art Gallery and Sidney Museum (they share the same building) have a mural on the side of their building showing a history view of the history of Port Orchard.
It is not entirely certain where the tradition of these murals came from, but most likely it was early Port Orchard resident Peder Storseth, who came here from Norway. A few of these murals, which have been described over the years in extremely glowing details, survive, but in many cases they have been painted over. Many of those original murals were on the inside of buildings, but today the effort is to put the murals on the outside of buildings.
In recent years, there was some serious thought put into putting a new mural on a building every year, so that eventually the entire town would be known (once again?) for its murals.
To date, only some of the buildings have been painted, however.
Located along Sinclair Inlet near the Kitsap Bank, this observation deck offers a slightly better view of the nearby mountain ranges than the walkway below. The stairs up to the walkway are somewhat steep, and the observation deck isn't that tall, but thanks to being able to see over the various boats and marina buildings you do get a slightly better view.