Located just a 10-minute drive from downtown Port Orchard on Puget Sound is Manchester, an unincorporated community in southeast Kitsap County. Established in the 1860s, the town was named after Manchester city in England.
More than 7,000 people currently live in Manchester, which has excellent views of Seattle, Mount Rainier and Blake Island. At one time, a ferry connected the area to Alki Point in West Seattle. Ferry service was discontinued in 1949 and never resumed.
The community is also located just a mile from the entrance to Manchester State Park, a 111-acre camping park with more than 3,000 feet of shoreline and 2 miles of hiking trails, 35 camping sites and great views of ships coming and leaving the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
Manchester State Park was home to a Navy fort created to protect the entrance to the Bremerton shipyard. The fort operated until 1958 before being decommissioned, and a “torpedo” storehouse built in the early 1900s still remains. The famous building now serves as a picnic shelter and event center, with weddings being popular during the spring and summer.
Manchester has its own small business district that includes a public library, Manchester Grill, Manchester Pub, Kitsap County Manchester Stormwater Park, and a public boat launch operated by the Port of Manchester. There are some other businesses located in the downtown area, as well as a multifamily condo project.
The boat launch is only a hop, skip and a jump from Blake Island. The island is a popular destination for people who want to visit Tillicum Village, where they can eat an alder-fired, roasted-salmon dinner prepared by Native American people and then enjoy a wonderful show that includes dancing and storytelling. Many people visit Blake Island by taking a cruise from downtown Seattle on the Argosy Cruise line.
Each year, Manchester Grill hosts a Friends of the Library wine tasting fundraiser to support the local library, and last year’s tickets for the event sold out. For people who want to take a short drive on a weekend morning, the restaurant also serves a great breakfast.
Sonya Montgomery, restaurant manager, said that with the state park and the boat launch nearby, summers in downtown Manchester are very busy.
“Manchester feels like a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone,” she says.
Kitsap County has many wonderful waterfront communities, and Manchester is one of them.