The Kitsap Peninsula may be best known for its beautiful forests, breathtaking bays and quaint harbors and inlets, but what many residents of Western Washington don’t know is that it’s also home to Peninsula Indoor, the only indoor BMX track in the state of Washington.
BMX took the sports scene by storm in 2008 when riders made their Olympic debut in Beijing. Ever since the world discovered that action-packed, fast-paced cycling sport, BMX has grown in popularity and tracks have seen an increase in rider counts, including kids of all ages. Riders as young as 3 years old can cruise the track on strider/balance bikes, while older kids don 20- or 24-inch wheel BMX bicycles.
Kitsap Peninsula, of course, boasts much more to do than BMX. We've compiled a full itinerary fun-filled fall festivities, from ice cream tasting to pumpkin picking and serious relaxing. And luckily, the peninsula is easily accessible from the Seattle area via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge or a scenic trip on one of our Washington State Ferries.
Brunch and hike at Alderbrook
First up on this day trip is breakfast at Alderbrook Resort and Spa. Located two hours from Seattle, this exquisite lodge rests on the shores of the Hood Canal, a glacier-carved fjord home to eagles and osprey, salmon and seals. Plan on arriving hungry for brunch so you can savor a dish such as Dungeness crab Benedict or kid-approved mile-high strawberry waffles.
After experiencing Alderbrook’s culinary creations, head across the street to wander on one of four trails, lovely all year round but especially spectacular in the fall. Trails vary in length from 0.5 to 3.2 miles, and tiny hikers will enjoy looking at giant fir trees, mushrooms and moss, as well as taking in views of the Hood Canal and Olympic Mountains.
Bonus: Check Alderbrook's events calendar before you go. The resort plans periodic family events, such as a holiday tree lighting on Nov. 24, with Santa arriving via boat on the Lady Alderbrook, as well as fireworks, cocoa, dancing, caroling and more.
Flying pumpkins and corn mazes
Your next stop, located just 4 miles from Alderbrook Resort in Union, is Hunter Farms, with corn and hay mazes, tractor rides, a giant pumpkin patch and much more. In operation since 1889, this family-owned farm also runs a Christmas tree farm, and one of the best general stores on the Peninsula.
Bonus: The Saturday before Halloween, Oct. 29, the skies above Hunter Farms will streak orange during Hunter Farms' annual catapult contest that's part of the annual Union PumpkinFest (see this YouTube video). The harvest event — along with a haunted house — caps a month of food, wine, music and arts-themed happenings in this Hood Canal destination.
Scoop up some of Kitsap’s best ice cream
While at Hunter Farms, make a stop in the general store to enjoy a few scoops of Olympic Mountain Ice Cream. The Shelton-based artisan ice cream maker, which delivers around the Kitsap Peninsula, creates unique flavors such as French apple pie, zesty orange candied ginger, honey lavender, Kentucky pie and caramel coconut.
Bonus: In October, look for Olympic's seasonal flavors such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin praline, spiced pumpkin, and pumpkin cheesecake caramel swirl. (And now that you're hooked, here are other places to find Olympic Mountain Ice Cream.)
BMX ride off into the sunset
Now it's time to work off that ice cream with some fast-paced BMX racing at Port Orchard's Peninsula Indoor, 28 miles northeast of Union. A sport that is as exciting to watch as it is to participate in, families can spend a Saturday evening cheering on racers as they pedal over jumps, sprint the straightaways, whip around the berms and race to the finish line.
Peninsula opens its indoor track for the season the weekend of Oct. 14. The 700-foot-long track at Peninsula Indoor consists of a starting gate for up to eight racers and a groomed dirt race course made of various jumps, turns and rollers. Riders are divided based on age and ability; it’s not uncommon to see moms and dads racing, too.
Beginners are welcome at Peninsula and you don't need fancy equipment: If you're starting out, a simple inexpensive bike and helmet will suffice. Families can attend a free Intro to BMX clinic including on select Saturdays before racing (see website for dates). Loaner bikes and helmets are available for riders to use at no charge.
If you can’t make it to one of the clinics, riders can always practice during sign-up times prior to the races.
What you need to know: BMX practice is on Wednesday nights from 6-8 p.m. and cost is $5 members/$10 non-members. Racing is on the weekends (racing starts when sign-ups close) with Friday sign-ups from 6:30–7:30 p.m., Saturday sign-ups from 3–4 p.m., and Sunday sign-ups from 11 a.m.–noon. The cost is $15/race.
Erin Moore, a BMX mom and resident of Port Orchard, recommends connecting with your local track coach or track operator to find out about local programs and learning opportunities. Moore’s 11-year-old daughter Jacy, and 14-year-old son Trenton spend hours at the track perfecting their skills and ride alongside their dad Joel, who also races. Moore encourages prospective families to reach out to other riders and reminds people frequently that “Every BMX family is willing to help if you ask!”