Port Townsend is often called the City of Dreams. In the late 1800s it was set to become a major port on the west coast of Washington. The town is at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula, at the gateway to the Puget Sound. Many beautiful Victorian buildings were built in participation of a boom from a railroad that never arrived. Port Townsend went into an economic decline and the inhabitants held onto properties that would otherwise have been upgraded. The preserved structures have served the tourism boom of the late 1900s well and been recognized as being of historic interest. The many decommissioned military compounds have also been repurposed into appealing public spaces.
1.Fort Worden Historical State Park
© Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
The big guns of Fort Worden, Fort Casey and Fort Flagler once formed the Triangle of Fire that was the coastal defense of the Puget Sound. Around the turn of the 20th century, this 432 acre property was home to 1000 troops and officers. The vast parade lawns are now parklands. Workshops, conferences and retreats are held in the Victorian officers quarters. For overnight accommodation, visitors can choose to stay in a castle, the Commanding Officer's home, the barracks or the camp site. Refreshments will be found in the Guard House Pub and there is a gift shop. Free lunch time concerts are held on Fridays in summer.
In 1904, 6.5 acres of land on the bluff overlooking Admiralty Inlet was set aside for Port Townsend's first community park. Hundreds of volunteers cleared the forest and landscaped the slopes down to the shoreline. The park honors Chief Chetzemoka of the S'Klallan tribe who welcomed the settlers when they arrived. The gardens now contain antique roses, heritage rhododendrons and a trellised walk. The bandstand is a popular venue for wedding photos. Picnic facilities, fire pits, barbecues and a kitchen attract day trippers who can relax and enjoy the sea and mountain views. Shakespeare in the Park is held on weekends, throughout August.
Blaine and Jackson Street Port Townsend, WA 98368
3.The Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC)
© The Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC)
This initiative was started by two teachers and several other volunteers in 1982, with the aim of conserving the marine life in the Salish Sea. The organization is still served by more than 100 volunteers. Through exhibits, education programs, lectures and publications they encourage the youth to form emotional ties with sea creatures and plant life and to become stewards of their habitat. Week-long summer camps focus on topics such as marine biology, coastlands and art. There are regular fundraising dinners and other events. The center is open all year on weekends and weekdays in summer.
532 Battery Way, Port Townsend WA, 98368, Phone: 360-385-5582
4.Jefferson County Farmers Market
Two farmers' markets are held in Port Townsend each week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A further market is held inland at Chimacum. Eighty vendors participate, including farmers, food producers and artisans. The initiative has been recognized by the State of Washington as a leader in large markets. Fresh produce, pasture raised meat, free range eggs and prepared, preserved and processed foods are available in season. A roster of musicians entertains the stall holders and customers. The annual Artisan Food Festival includes cooking demonstrations, wine tasting and children's entertainment. The Power of Produce (POP) program is aimed at introducing youth to food production.
Chester Courtyard, Polk St., Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-379-9098
5.Northwest Maritime Center
© Northwest Maritime Center
After the first Wooden Boat Festival in 1978, the idea took hold to establish a foundation in order to educate people of all ages about traditional and contemporary life on the water. The center has a fleet of sailing, rowing and motor boats. There are also two longboats that are replicas of those used in 1792 by Captain Vancouver. Through summer camps, overnight trips and sailing lessons the center hopes to engender a sense of adventure in would-be sailors. Those trained are encouraged to participate in national and international races and sailing trips.
431 Water Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-385-3628 x104
6.Kelly Art Deco Light Museum
© Cristina Bedia/stock.adobe.com
The light fittings in this museum tell the story of middle- and upper-class lifestyle of the Art Deco era, from 1928 to 1938. This era coincides with the Great Depression, the time of prohibition, gangster rule and the speakeasy. There are more than 400 fixtures in the museum, including chandeliers, wall sconces and table lights. They are all labeled with the history, date and manufacturer details. The variation of design in the style is astonishing and most of them are not to be found elsewhere. There are light fittings for sale as well as antique furniture and other collectibles.
2000 W Sims Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-379-9030
7.The Jefferson Museum of Art & History
© Jefferson County Historical Society
There are 3 sites under the auspices of the Jefferson Museum of Art and History, namely the old City Hall, the Rothschild House and the Commanding Officer's Quarters. The museum tells the history of the Native Americans, early settlers and maritime activities. The City Council still meets on the second floor of the 1892 City Hall building. The lower floors house the museum, and the jail cells in the basement are invariably a talking point. The courthouse is now an art gallery of regional artists' work. Monthly and rotating exhibits fill the other spaces. From May to October the museum offers historic walking tours around Port Townsend.
540 Water Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-385-1003
8.Fort Townsend Historical State Park
Fort Townsend was a US Army base from 1856 until a fire destroyed the barracks in 1895. The parade lawn, officers' row and World War II torpedo tower are still recognizable. Most of the old buildings have been reclaimed by nature. The 413 acre state park is now a camping ground and picnic area with 6 miles of trails through Douglas Firs and Cedar trees. There is more than two miles of shoreline and visitors enjoy boating, fishing and diving offshore. The Friends' Barn, a replica of the stables, is available for hire for private functions.
9.Port Townsend Aero Museum
© Port Townsend Aero Museum
This museum came into being in 2001, after aircraft restorers, Jerry and Peggy Thoutte, received a donation of six antique airplanes. Several young adults in the area volunteered to work on the restoration project. The Youth Mentorship Program grew out of the initial project. The museum has collected several more aircraft which are all airworthy and are flown regularly to events during the airshow season. There is also an extensive library and artwork collection. In 2008, sufficient funds had been raised to erect a building suitable or the museum. The building is hired out for private functions and additional funds are raised by repairing and restoring aircraft.
191 Airport Cutoff Rd, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-379-5244
10.Rothschild House Museum
DCH Rothschild was a local businessman who owned Rothschild and Co. Mercantile, a marine-based business. He had the family home built in 1868, on a bluff overlooking Port Townsend Bay. Only the Rothschilds have occupied the house. His widow remained in the house until 1918 and their daughter occupied the house until her death in 1954. In 1962 it was donated to the public and is maintained by the Jefferson County Historical Society. It is intact and depicts life as it was in the late 1800s. It has remained largely unchanged for more than a century. Roses and herbs planted by the family still grow there.
418 Taylor St, Port Townsend, WA 98368
11.Port Townsend Brewing Company
© Port Townsend Brewing Company
In 1997, the company started operating with two labels, Pale Ale and Brown Porter. By 2003, they were bottling 10 ales. The beer garden acquired a bandstand, additional seating and outdoor heating. A long list of musicians play live music on several days a week. There are often fundraisers and benefits held at the venue. The brewery also sponsors events such as the Wooden Boat Festival, and the Film and Blues festivals. There is a Dog of the Month award. Kegs, taps, tubs and glasses can be hired and branded merchandise is sold on site.
330 10th Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-385-9967
© Propolis Brewing
Piper Corbett and Robert Horner started brewing botanical beers in 2012 in a 1 Bbl micro brewing house. For three years they tested demand for their beers by selling at farmers' markets in the region. In 2016 they opened a 15 Bbl taproom in an old lumber building in the port district, with space for a retail outlet and outdoor seating. They produce small batches of fewer than 50 cases at a time to capture the seasonal flavor of the ingredients. The beer is sold in 375 ml and 750 ml bottles. Propolis has received several awards for their innovative, farmhouse ales.
2457 Jefferson Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-344-2129
13.Northwind Arts Center
© Northwind Arts Center
The mission of the Northwinds Arts Center is to connect arts and the community. They foster appreciation for, and diversity in the visual, literary and performing arts. The non-profit organization is run by volunteers and operates out of the ground floor of an historic downtown building. It houses an art gallery, exhibitions, artist showcases and the archives. Artists' works are also displayed in local libraries and hospitals. The art is for sale, at the artist's discretion. The education program includes lectures, readings, workshops and presentations. Fields of interest include film, photography, songwriting, and book binding, printing and illustration.
701 Water Street, Port Townsend, WA, Phone: 360-379-1086
14.Key City Fish Company
In 1994, the Key City Fish Company owner / operator was the only employee. Now there is a team of 32. Initially, the company traded in seafood only. Now meat, poultry and a range of Italian and German sausages are also sold. The company partners with fishermen, farmers and ranchers across Washington. They have a retail outlet at a market from Monday to Saturday each week, and on Sundays in summer. They also have an online shop. Their refrigerated trucks deliver to restaurants and food markets. They also ship to retailers across the nation.
307 10th Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-379-5516
15.Key City Public Theatre (KCPT)
KCPT was formed in 2010 with the aim of fostering artistic expression through relevant, visually stimulating and thought provoking theatre. Annually, they entertain and educate 15000 patrons, mostly locals, through their 200 performances, events, classes and workshops. Their youth program has reached over 1000 scholars from kindergarten to post-secondary school. They rely extensively on volunteers but have created a number of jobs since their inception. KCPT is integral to the annual Shakespeare in the Park production. Throughout the year, the company scouts for new playwrights and acting talent. There are also opportunities for apprenticeships and internships in all fields of theatre production.
419 Washington Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-379-0195
16.Port Townsend Vineyards
© Port Townsend Vineyards
There are five zones in the Port Townsend Vineyards experience. The vineyard is on Portuguese Hill, a place that is geographically and climatically suited to the growing of the unique grape varieties required for the wines. Sheep dot the landscape, eating weeds and fertilizing the organic vineyard. The winery and tasting rooms are on the south end of Port Townsend. The hand-harvested grapes are crushed and stored in this restful environment to mature. A new vintage wine bar and plaza has been added in a renovated building downtown.
Northwest small plates are paired with wine in the new restaurant. On Saturday evenings in summer there is live music.
2640 W Sims Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-344-8155
17.Fair Winds Winery
© Aerial Mike/stock.adobe.com
The owners of this winery have a maritime background. The name is derived from the greeting, 'Fair winds and following seas …'. The ship on the bottle label conjures up images of exotic cargo and their hope is that there will be pleasure in every bottle. They partner with local growers in the Yakima Valley. The wine, made form the hand-picked grapes, is fermented in small lots. Fair winds produces around a thousand cases of red and white wines each year. There are tours, tasting and events thought the year, such as the Harvest Tour.
1984 Hastings Ave W, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-385-6899
18.Olympic Peninsula Wineries
© Olympic Peninsula Wineries
Nine wineries form the Olympic Peninsula collaborate on promoting their wines and tourist attractions. A brochure outlining the self-guided Wine Trail can be found at the Peninsula Visitor Bureau and participating outlets. The trail leads visitors to the vineyards, wineries, cider houses and restaurants. En route, there are several non wine-related destinations to be explored as well, such as shops and lodges. The Wine, Cheese and Cider Tour and the Harvest Wine Tour are examples of annual events undertaken by the network. August is Washington Wine Month. Events are planned at individual establishments throughout the month.
19.The Fountain Cafe
© The Fountain Café
The Fountain Café is situated in the entertainment district, close to the controversial Haller statue, a block away from the busyness of downtown Port Townsend. The Café is in the quaint, mint-coloured Mary Webster building, a double story, two-room wide house built in 1889. The café is small, casual and intimate. There is bound to be something for everyone on the gourmet lunch, dinner and dessert menus. It is open 7 days a week. Lunch time is between 11 and 3 pm. Dinners is from 5-9 pm and booking is advised.
920 Washington Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-385-1364
20.Silver Water Cafe
The Silver Water Café started in an old brick building next to the old ferry block. Cooking was done inside and the food served outside from an old wooden cart. Deliveries were made from a basket lowered down to customers working on their boats. This was fine for summer but in winter, the cafe moved indoors a short distance away. The clientele appreciated the warm fire and the hot soup. After five years, a multi-story building was bought and refurbished. Downstairs had the same atmosphere as before but the mezzanine remained open for late night dining. Next, the top floor was turned into a 45 seat movie theatre with armchairs, a bar and light snacks.
237 Taylor St., Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-385-6448
21.Doc's Marina Grill
© Doc's Marina Grill
The first Doc's Marina Grill was established on the waterfront in the Bainbridge Island marina, close to Seattle. On summer, patrons sit on the deck watching the boats. In winter, the area is enclosed and heated. Sports events are shown on a large screen television. In 2012, the second venue was opened in Port Townsend in a building that housed military nurses in the 1940s. It has been refurbished and offers the same level of hospitality as the first venue. The company's philosophy is to be family-oriented and customer focused. There are lunch and dinner menus and late night bites available.
141 Hudson St, 98368 Port Townsend, Phone: 360-344-3627
22.Khu Larb Thai
© Khu Larb Thai
The food at this restaurant is Thai but with Chinese, Malaysian and Indian undertones. The Thai tradition is to sample a number of dishes together. Each complements the tastes, flavors and textures of the others. Aromatic herbs such as lemon grass, lime leaves and basil are commonly used. The restaurant serves poultry, meat, seafood and vegetarian options. The signature dessert is coconut ice-cream, the ideal way to cool the palate after the chillies and curries of the main course. In the interests of the environment, it is suggested that you bring your own reusable container for take-outs. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.
225 Adams Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-385-502
23.The Cup Restaurant
The Cup Restaurant is on a hill overlooking the Port Townsend Bay. It is a small, quiet diner that sells classic American and local cuisine, from Angus beef to Cape Cleare Salmon. They make the finest, freshest food from scratch using locally sourced ingredients. There are breakfast, lunch and dinner menus and a long list of beverages to choose from. Half portions are also available. Diners can choose to sit indoors, with a view of the bay or outdoors among the flowers in the garden. The friendly establishment has been compared to the TV sitcom bar, 'where everybody knows your name'.
600 West Sims Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368, Phone: 360-379-9059
23 Best Things to Do in Port Townsend, WA
- Fort Worden Historical State Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Chetzemoka Park, Photo: Linda/stock.adobe.com
- The Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC), Photo: The Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC)
- Jefferson County Farmers Market, Photo: heysooooos/stock.adobe.com
- Northwest Maritime Center, Photo: Northwest Maritime Center
- Kelly Art Deco Light Museum, Photo: Cristina Bedia/stock.adobe.com
- The Jefferson Museum of Art & History, Photo: Jefferson County Historical Society
- Fort Townsend Historical State Park, Photo: Tom/stock.adobe.com
- Port Townsend Aero Museum, Photo: Port Townsend Aero Museum
- Rothschild House Museum, Photo: Rattanachat/stock.adobe.com
- Port Townsend Brewing Company, Photo: Port Townsend Brewing Company
- Propolis Brewing, Photo: Propolis Brewing
- Northwind Arts Center, Photo: Northwind Arts Center
- Key City Fish Company, Photo: hacohob/stock.adobe.com
- Key City Public Theatre (KCPT), Photo: lapandr/stock.adobe.com
- Port Townsend Vineyards, Photo: Port Townsend Vineyards
- Fair Winds Winery, Photo: Aerial Mike/stock.adobe.com
- Olympic Peninsula Wineries, Photo: Olympic Peninsula Wineries
- The Fountain Cafe, Photo: The Fountain Café
- Silver Water Cafe, Photo: Carlos/stock.adobe.com
- Doc's Marina Grill, Photo: Doc's Marina Grill
- Khu Larb Thai, Photo: Khu Larb Thai
- The Cup Restaurant, Photo: vasanty/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: adonis_abril/stock.adobe.com