Being from the East Coast, I wanted to know what it is like to live in the northwest United States, so I spent a few days touring the naval facilities in the greater Seattle area. Almost to a person, people said, “I was not much of an outdoor person until I moved here.” After finishing my tour of the bases and recreational facilities, I could see why they felt that way. If you’re coming for an active yet relaxing vacation, the Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program has some great facilities to make for a fun trip. Here is a short review of my experience visiting Navy Region Northwest.
NAS Whidbey Island
Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island is about a two-hour drive from the Seattle-Tacoma (SeaTac) International Airport. Along the route, you can find several tribal gaming properties. The end of the drive is the best part of the trip—when you start getting into the old-growth timber areas along the road, the tall and majestic forests of the Northwest will start to give you a sense of grandeur of the area.
Got a patch of bad weather and want to stay indoors? Try the Convergence Zone. As the entertainment hub of NAS Whidbey Island, you can find a wide range of activities such as bowling, cosmic bowling, an indoor playground, toddler play area, billiards, air hockey, foosball, ping pong, shuffleboard, a kids climbing wall, computers with internet access, Wi-Fi throughout the building, Xbox 360s and Nintendo Wii’s. Here is where you will also find General Quarters Paintball, Crescent Harbor Adventures and ITT.
In addition to great food, most of the dining facilities host a variety of special events such as Mongolian BBQ nights, dinner & comedy shows, or can be reserved for private, catered parties. Visit www.navylifepnw.com for more information or to sign up for a bi-weekly newsletter containing upcoming base events.
Naval Station Everett
Naval Station (NAVSTA) Everett is located next to the marina area, 25 miles north of Seattle. There is also Navy Support Complex-Smokey Point located in Marysville, WA, a 25-minute drive from NAVSTA Everett. Between the two, you will pass Tulalip Hotel and Casino as well as one of Seattle’s premier shopping outlets. On NAVSTA Everett, you will find The Commons, a 63,000 sq. ft. building housing the fitness center, pool, food court, Tremors Sports Bar, the Liberty Center, ITT, Grand Vista Ballroom for catered events and more. There is also the All American Restaurant and Pierside Grill for dining options. This base also has its own private marina and mooring facility available to all base patrons, with priority given to Active Duty Sailors.
Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor
Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) is located on the Kitsap Peninsula of Washington state, about a 90-minute drive from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. In the heart of NBK-Bangor, you will find Bangor Plaza Ballroom, Inside Out Café & Lounge, Navy Exchange and Commissary, Olympic Lanes Bowling Alley, Bangor Fitness & Aquatic Center, Chapel, Child & Youth Center, its own post office, a Kitsap Credit Union and more, all within walking distance of the Navy Lodge and Navy Gateway Inns & Suites.
Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton
Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton is located near the Bremerton-Seattle Ferry Terminal, making it a convenient 45-minute drive from the airport to the Seattle Ferry Terminal and then a comfortable one-hour ferry ride over to Bremerton. On NBK-Bremerton, you will find the Bremerton Recreation Center which houses a bowling alley and ITT services, Olympic Lodge for catered events, Concourse West Fitness and Aquatics facilities to keep up with your work out, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Navy Exchange and Commissary all within walking distance of the Navy Gateway Inns & Suites. For on-base dining, Samuel Adams Restaurant & Brewhouse is a unique experience for a military installation. It is a sports bar set up with Samuel Adams beers, other drinks and food like gourmet burgers, handmade pizza, steak and seafood. It’s open for lunch and dinner, and offers dining in or take-out. If you are lucky enough to visit in the fall, plan on attending their annual Oktoberfest celebration. It makes for a memorable and worthwhile trip.
Navy Gateway Inns & Suites
NGIS combines all the comforts of a hotel, while specializing in official business accommodations. Starting at just $50/night, each facility in the Northwest boasts flat-screen TVs with basic cable and a premium channel, complimentary USA today newspaper and snack bag, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, microwave, refrigerator and Keurig™ coffee machines with coffee, condiments and cups in each room, in addition to NMCI computer access, fitness facilities, free Wi-Fi access throughout the facility, business center and free guest laundry. Call to confirm rates. Easily make reservations by calling 1 (877) NAVY-BED or visiting ngis.dodlodging.net.
NGIS check-in addresses:
NAS Whidbey Island
1175 W. Midway St.
Oak Harbor, WA 98278
NASTA Everett-Smokey Point
13918 45th Avenue NE
Marysville, WA 98271
Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor
2750 Sargo Circle
Silverdale, WA 98315
Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton
120 South Dewey St.
Bremerton, WA 98314
Although not an MWR facility, the Navy Lodge is another great lodging option when visiting the Pacific Northwest. They are close to the Navy Exchange, Commissary, family housing center, community centers, childcare centers, hospitals, movie theaters, MWR recreation centers and more. Rates start at $66/night, please call 1(800) NAVY‑INN to confirm rates or make reservations.
Navy Lodge check-in addresses:
NAS Whidbey Island
760 Coral Sea Drive
Oak Harbor, WA 98278
Trigger Avenue, Bldg. 2906
Silverdale WA 98315-5000
13918 45th Ave NE
Marysville, WA 98271
Cliffside RV Park
The Cliffside RV Park puts you right by the water, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island, Canada and the Olympic Peninsula. Feel the breeze and get close to the wildlife. They have 57 RV sites with full water, electrical and sewer hook-ups, 10 tent campsites, and, for those of you who want a little more comfort, they have six furnished yurts and 19 ft. camping trailers you can rent. Campers and yurts can be rented by the day at reasonable prices, or you can rent yurts by the month for $520-$630, depending on the season.
Amenities include restroom and shower facilities, coin-operated laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi throughout the park. They also have four covered pavilions, each open to views and furnished with picnic tables and BBQ grills. You can make this your hub for exploration of the Northwest! For more information, you can call (360) 257-2649 or visit www.navylifepnw.com. Call 1-(877) NAVY-BED or visit www.dodlodging.net to make reservations. Their check-in is located in the South Loop of the park.
Crescent Harbor Adventures-Pacific Edge Outfitters-Liberty Outfitters
Each installation offers an Outdoor Recreation/ Leisure Services facility; you can pick up gear for your recreational activities. No matter the activity, they probably have the equipment you need including kayaks, canoes, sailboats, trailers, ski gear, fishing gear, mountaineering gear, crab and shrimp traps, outboard motors, backpacks and camping gear including tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, thermos, coolers and burner stoves, as well as an experienced and knowledgeable staff that can offer helpful advice.
Make sure to visit one of the outdoor recreation facilities where you can also sign up for popular activities such as white-water rafting, rock climbing, snowshoeing and ice-axe arrest.
A favorite activity in this area is sea kayaking. You can see all manner of wildlife, including eagles, otters, maybe even a whale or two if you are lucky! Strap a couple of kayaks to the top of your car and head to a multitude of great kayaking locations within an hour of the base.
For those new to the sport, there is an excellent variety of both classes and trips offered through the installations’ outdoor recreation programs including lessons for stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking.
They offer trips like a Washington Park sunset hike, Wellington paranormal hike, as well as snow shuttles to local ski areas during the winter sports season. For more information, call:
Crescent Harbor Adventures
(In the Convergence Zone)
3535 N Princeton
Oak Harbor, WA 98278
Pacific Edge Outfitters
(next to NEX gas station & auto hobby)
2951 Trigger Ave
Silverdale, WA 98315
(located within The Commons)
2000 W. Marine View Dr.
Everett, WA 98207
Gallery Golf Course
Gallery Golf Course is located outside the NAS Whidbey Island gate and is open to the general public. This 18-hole course has won Best of Whidbey three years in a row. There is a Pro Shop, grass driving range, and offer lessons, clinics and regular tournaments throughout the year. Tee time reservations are available daily. Tee times are every 10 minutes, and starter times are every 60 minutes. Tee time reservations may be made in-person, by calling (360) 257-2178 or online by visiting www.navylifepnw.com. For a bite after the game, visit Duffer’s Deli inside the Pro Shop.
Information, Tickets & Tours (ITT)
ITT is the place for personalized customer service to purchase discounted tickets for Northwest activities, including sporting events, concerts, special events and local attractions. If planning in advance, visit www.militarymerits.com for a directory of community military discounts. The breadth of what is available will give you some excellent ideas to enhance your trip. Join their email list to find upcoming events and exclusive offers.
NAS Whidbey Island’s ITT is located at the Convergence Zone. (360) 257-2432.
NBK’s ITT is located at the Bremerton Recreation Center, (360) 476-3178.
NSE’s is located at Leisure Services in The Commons. (425) 304-3167.
Pacific Beach Resort & Recreation Center
A two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, you will find one of the military’s truly unique Navy Getaways destinations, Pacific Beach Resort & Recreation Center. Located on the Washington Coast, it is a great place to relax. Set between the Olympic National Forest and the Pacific Ocean, I recommend this place if you are looking to get away from busy city life and enjoy the best of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
It is a great place to bring the whole family, or even a close group of friends, with many activities for the kids. The resort has their own bowling alley, cardio room, theater, teen center equipped with multiple gaming stations each with comfortable gaming chairs, and has recently added The Rec Zone, a multi-use indoor space offering a kids climbing wall, basketball court, gaming stations, toddler playground, ping pong tables and more. These facilities can only be accessed with a room key, so you can feel safe if the kids go play while you enjoy the resort’s 12-person hot tub. The resort also has a gift shop, whale-watching tower, outdoor playgrounds, NCAA sand volleyball court, and horseshoe pit, bikes for rent, business center and free Wi-Fi throughout the resort.
During clamming season, which usually runs from October through May, you might get the opportunity to catch a community clam dig and dig your own clams for dinner. The beaches there are considered a state highway, making it perfectly legal to cruise alongside the ocean, which is a big thrill. You can rent bicycles at the front desk, or visit other local shops to rent carts, mopeds or go horseback riding on the beach. If you are looking for shopping, dining or a little nightlife, the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino is a 30-minute drive down the coast.
This resort also has a great catering program and conference facilities for an upcoming wedding, birthday, reunion or retreat. The resort has three meeting rooms, a large conference center, or you can use the grounds during the summer and enjoy the outdoors. Find their catering guide online or call the Front Desk at (360) 276-8328 for more personalized service.
Lodging at Pacific Beach runs the whole gambit, from a single hotel room to full, five-bedroom cottages on the bluff. Rates are very reasonable, running from $35/night to $220/night, depending on preferred accommodations, rate/rank and season. Cottages run a bit more in price but they are very large, accommodating between 6 and 12 guests, depending on the number of bedrooms, each with their own furnishings, full kitchen and dining area, as well as patio and BBQ grill. For those of you who prefer to camp or bring your RV, Pacific Beach RV Park and Campgrounds offer water, electric hookups, a picnic table, even cable during the peak season at each site. There are single and group tent sites with a fire pit at each site. They all have access to showers, restrooms, a covered shelter with BBQs, guest Laundromat and clam cleaning stations, in addition to all other resort amenities. Pets are welcome in the cottages, as well as in some of the hotel suites.
Pacific Beach Resort & Conference Center check-in:
108 First Street North
Pacific Beach, WA 98571
Visit www.navylifepnw.com for more information or to sign up for their quarterly email newsletter, which includes upcoming special events like their annual Customer Appreciation Month in the spring or summer luau, and exclusive offers for this and other Pacific Northwest Navy Getaways locations. Open all year-round, call 1 (877) NAVY-BED or visit www.dodlodging.net to make your reservations.
Jim Creek Recreation Area
A first-rate Navy MWR facility and Navy Getaways destination, Jim Creek Recreation Area puts you right in the middle of a Washington State Forest. Jim Creek, located just outside of Arlington, Washington is about an hour and a half drive north of Seattle and serves as a Naval Radio Station and a Regional Outdoor Recreation Area. Serving active duty personnel, reservists, retirees, DoD civilians and sponsored guests, Jim Creek offers a broad variety of recreational opportunities, including camping, fishing, boating, hiking, biking and team building programs.
Nestled in the foothills of the North Cascades, Jim Creek is open year round, with regular weekend activities from May-September. Rain or shine, Jim Creek is a great place to spend your time outdoors in the beautiful Pacific Northwest or inside snuggled up by the wood burning stove in one of our rustic cabins. There are several options for lodging:
Cabins: There are 25 one- and two-bedroom cabins in the woods. These cozy cabins feature wood-burning stoves, beds, a small table and bench. Ideal for any time of year, the cabins provide plenty of shade in the summer and cozy warmth in the winter! Each unit comes with a picnic table, fire pit, grill and space for a tent if you have young ones that want to rough it. Prices are $37–$55. Now that is pretty reasonable for a cabin that will sleep six people!
Jim Creek Lodge: The Lodge is a fully-equipped rental facility with 11 bedrooms, large open-seating area with gas fireplace and picture windows, commercial kitchen and dining room. With its rustic charm and old log cabin-style furniture, it can sleep up to 50 people and is perfect for family reunions, small weddings or workplace retreats. During peak season, individual rooms can be rented out and hold between 2–6 people for $43–$63. If you have a family of six, you can room at this retreat for $68 a night—try that at the Marriott or Holiday Inn!
Bear and Bobcat Den: These are apartment-style accommodations that offer more comfort and amenities, including bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchens and linens. Bear Den, a one-bedroom apartment, is the only place at Jim Creek that has air conditioning. Prices run $87–$117 and accommodate up to five people. Bobcat Den, a two-bedroom apartment, sleeps five. It includes a dishwasher, washer and dryer. Both are located near the group campsites.
RV and Camping Sites. There are 16 sites with electricity and water hook-up. Some sites also have sewer and phone hook-up. Prices range from $25–$28 a night. You can put down roots for a month at $450 to $500. There are 15 tent campsites available, with restroom and shower facilities close by. Prices are $18 per night.
Jim Creek’s Twin Lakes are known for great fishing, boating and wildlife viewing. The area flourishes with fish, wildlife and northwest flora. Group facilities are ideal for command functions, retreats, reunions and seminars. Jim Creek boasts a beautiful lodge and two large group campsites with covered picnic pavilions where deer are a common site. All types of campers can be accommodated; from the rugged backpacker to a large family needing the comforts of home. Offering a variety of accommodations, including cabins, RV sites, tent sites, remote hike-in sites and apartment style “dens”, sure to meet your needs.
If you are looking for something to do, other than camping or hiking, they also have plenty of activities and amenities to keep you and your family busy; including Wi-Fi, three playgrounds, disc-golf course, a general store, outdoor sports court, 50-foot and 35-foot climbing towers, a giant swing, and six miles of hiking trails along with much more.
Naval Radio Station Jim Creek is listed as a national historic site and is just miles from scenic Mountain Loop Highway. Stay in clean, comfortable accommodations and take advantage of the excellent value and the safety of the military-gated community. Use Jim Creek as a one-stop shop that provides a weekend full of outdoor recreation and entertainment.
One of the most impressive things from my tour was the customer service of the Navy MWR staff. These installations have many patrons that are young sailors. What comes through in speaking with the MWR staff is their primary goal is serving these young sailors and making their lives better.
This was just a short review of what is available with Navy Region Northwest’s MWR to make a great family vacation. We did not have room to highlight all the dining and recreation facilities but we encourage you to get all the details or learn more by visiting their website www.navylifepnw.com.
Sign up for their email newsletter or follow any of their installation Facebook pages to keep up to date on special events and exclusive offers. For tickets and vacation ideas, visit www.militarymerits.com.
If you have any additional questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributed by RJ Crawford, President, Military Living® Publications
* All Photos courtesy of Navy Region Northwest Fleet and Family Readiness
Reprint from Mar–Apr 2014 • Volume 44, No. 2