Port Orchard, WA
The picturesque community of Port Orchard is located on the Sinclair Inlet of Puget Sound, on the South Kitsap Peninsula between the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. This small coastal town is linked to nearby Seattle by the Washington State Ferries and to Tacoma by Highway 16. Breathtaking views, an abundance of recreational activities and a warm sense of community make Port Orchard an especially desirable destination, especially for boaters. Port Orchard has a large public marina, making it an easily accessible port. Day trips from Seattle and Bremerton are made relatively effortless by a regular passenger-only ferry service.
Known for its generally wet climate, Port Orchard experiences a higher-than-average annual rainfall; at the same time, annual snowfall in the town is typically lower than the national average. The weather in July tends to be mild, while January temperatures generally stay above freezing.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
- Downtown: Bay Street, the downtown area of Port Orchard, is a prime destination with an eclectic mix of gift shops, restaurants, museums, entertainment and galleries. Many of the residents of downtown are government employees.
- East Port Orchard/Parkwood: This inland suburban area is mostly home to families with children. The neighborhood is considered an ideal place to take a walk.
- Manchester: A majority of this much-coveted, middle-income area is set alongside the waterfront. The neighborhood is home to a mix of owners and renters.
- Annapolis: This suburban community is set on the water and is a walkable area that is home to people from a variety of age groups.
- Long Lake Road/Mile Hill Drive: This suburban neighborhood is set away from the water. The residents are primarily families with children.
The Port Orchard Public School system, part of the South Kitsap School District, has several local high schools, junior high schools and elementary schools. The Port Orchard Public Schools are generally rated higher than both the Washington state and national median school rankings. There is one private high school in Port Orchard and one private elementary school.
Two private trade schools, A to Z Computer Office Training and Everest College (formerly Bryman College), are located within Port Orchard.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The Puget Sound Naval Shipyards is in neighboring Bremerton, and many of Port Orchard's residents are either in the armed forces or are employed by the government. Other major industries in Port Orchard include construction, health care, public administration, education, and transportation equipment.
Many of the area's top employers are located in neighboring Bremerton. These include Harrison Medical Center, Lockheed Martin, and Haselwood Auto Group. The largest employer in Port Orchard's city limits is Wal-Mart.
- The Log Cabin Museum: Owned and operated by the Sydney Museum and Arts Association, the museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the South Kitsap area and has more than 100 years worth of artifacts on display. The museum is housed in an original log cabin.
- The Port Orchard Marina: The marina is one of Puget Sound's most popular destinations. It is within walking distance of many of the area shops, antiques malls and restaurants, as well as the library, post office and banks. The marina is also near the farmers market, which is held from May through October. The marina offers a "foot ferry" that connects to Bremerton and the Washington State Ferries.
- Western Washington Center for the Arts: With the goal of promoting and preserving art in western Washington, the Center for the Arts is the top community theater on the Kitsap Peninsula.
This quaint community offers numerous opportunities to enjoy the natural setting of Port Orchard:
- Anderson Point County Park: Access to a saltwater beach, a picnic area and spectacular views of the mountains and water. This park covers approximately 66 acres of land.
- Banner Forest Heritage Park: Roughly 635 acres with walking trails and equestrian trails.
- Cascadia Marine Trail: An inland sea trail with the opportunity to boat to a large number of campsites. Designated as one of only 16 National Millennium Trails by the federal government, this trail is suitable for one-day and several-day trips.
- Manchester State Park: More than 100 acres of camping park complete with approximately 3,400 feet of shoreline on Rich Passage in Puget Sound. This is a thickly wooded area.
- Wynn-Jones Preserve: An estimated 54 acres of saltwater access and walking trails.
- South Kitsap Community Park: Free miniature train rides (including Kitsap Live Steamers, a 7.5-inch-gauge scale outdoor railroad), baseball and softball fields, horseshoe pits, walking trails, batting cages and a picnic area.
- Long Lake County Park: Swimming, play area and picnic facilities.
- Van Zee Park: A 10-hole disc golf course covering more than eight acres of hilly and wooded terrain.
Port Orchard has an array of annual events:
- Seagull Calling Festival: Held in May, this annual event invites visitors and locals to compete in a seagull calling contest. Participants can compete individually or in teams, and many wear costumes. The event also features costumed judges who accept bribes.
- Fathoms O'Fun Festival: This summer festival includes a parade and fireworks show.
- Cedar Cove Days: Named for the fictional town featured in bestselling author, Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove book series, Cedar Cove Days is a week-long event celebrating the town.
- Festival of Chimes and Lights: This event began in 1998 as a way to celebrate the chimes being installed atop the clock tower at the new Port Orchard City Hall. Since then, the event has grown, with the highlight being the lighting of City Hall's Christmas tree, followed by the chiming of Christmas carols from the clock tower.