Poulsbo | “Little Norway” in Washington
On our way to a weekend getaway in Port Townsend, Tim and I made a short pit stop in Poulsbo. The small town is unique because it’s Scandinavian-themed (much like Leavenworth‘s Bavarian-theme), and it’s only a quick drive or ferry ride from Seattle on the Kitsap Peninsula. Since I lived in Norway a few years ago and have Scandinavian roots in my heritage, I was excited to spend some time exploring what many affectionately call “Little Norway.”
Poulsbo is a small city located about 20 minutes from the ferry dock on Bainbridge Island. A little more than 9,300 people live there, and the downtown strip is only about three to four blocks. A Norwegian immigrant founded Pouslbo in the 1880s, and it’s been a destination spot for Scandanavian immigrants ever since. We were told the Puget Sound and view of the Olympic mountains reminded the founders of the fjords of Norway, so that’s why they chose the name Poulsbo (the name of an old Norwegian village). For many years, Norwegian was the only language spoken in the town. While English is the language spoken today, the Norwegian and Scandinavian cultures are still very much present.
All of the historic downtown shops and restaurants in Poulsbo scream Norway. The outside of the buildings are similar to Scandinavian architecture and many of the shops have a Norwegian names, like the Nordic Maid and Thor’s Hammer and Needle. Even the small details are Norwegian. There are lots of Norwegian flags, benches that have Viking details, buildings with murals depicting Scandinavian culture, and signs reading “Velkommen til Poulsbo!” (“Welcome to Poulsbo”) when you enter the city.
Tim and I were itching for coffee when we rolled into Poulsbo. There were several options, but we were sold on Sluys Poulsbo Bakery (18924 Front St. NE) and saw all their pastries through the window. There was no question, we just had to stop and check it out. Sluys is especially known for their “world famous” Poulsbo Bread, but since it was the morning, Tim and I skipped the bread and went for something that worked better for breakfast (though, we will be back soon to try the bread). Our mouths were watering at the pastry selection, and it was definitely hard to just pick one treat to eat. Tim ended up getting a Viking Cup (which is essentially a cinnamon bun filled with delicious frosting), while I got a Pecan Roll (also similar to a cinnamon roll, but decked with pecans). They were so good!
It’s important to note that the coffee at Sluys Poulsbo Bakery is delicious as well. It’s also cheap. You can buy a 16 ounce latte for less than three dollars. Living in Seattle, it is hard to find any coffee drink for under three dollars, let alone a grande latte!
We spent the rest of our time roaming the streets of Poulsbo, exploring and taking pictures. There are many other shops in downtown “Little Norway,” including wine tasting rooms, cafes, a chocolate shop, boutiques (many sell Scandinavian souvenirs), a pottery painting studio and lots of restaurants. The downtown area is located just a block or two from the bay where the docks are full of sailboats.
Tim and I loved walking through Poulsbo! While it was a short visit, it was fun to explore “Little Norway.” It was raining the day we visited, so I can only imagine what Poulsbo is like on a warm, sunny day in the summer. The town hosts a weekend long celebration around Norway’s Independence day, Syttende Mai (literally translating to May 17th). I think we will have to go back and really experience the true culture of Poulsbo then.
Have you ever been to Poulsbo? What did you think of “Little Norway?” We’d love to hear from you. You can leave us a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. You can also find us on Pinterest and YouTube. Don’t forget to check out Seattle Bloggers for more great Seattle getaways!