Top 20 Washington State Trips

Fort Worden

free admission
Fort Worden

Fort Worden is one of Washington State's most beloved parks, and spectacular places to visit.

Fort Worden is two-hours northwest of Seattle in the Olympic Peninsula, on a breathtaking bluff near the charming township of Port Townsend

Visit a pub inside a military guardhouse, see museums and an aquarium, explore the tunnels and chambers of abandoned military batteries, wander along romantic beach trails, and see the Point Wilson Lighthouse.

Movie buffs can scout locations from the hit movie An Officer and Gentleman (1982) starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger. 

10 best things to do at Fort Worden 

1. Explore or stay overnight in beautiful, historic buildings at Fort Worden.

Fort Worden has an incredible setting on a bluff, overlooking Admiralty Inlet, with rows of Colonial-Revival style military buildings.  This is a picture perfect setting, and it's no wonder it was chosen as a movie location.

It's fun wandering the grounds of Fort Worden to get a close-up look at these buildings, and imagine life on this once isolated outpost.  Pick up a map at the Coast Artillery Museum on Eisenhower Avenue, and do a walking tour of the buildings.

These so much to see in this mini-city, including the Commanding Officer's Quarters, Bandmaster's home, Corporal's home, Engineer's Cottage, Watchman's Cottage, General's House, Steward's House, Sergeant's Home, and balloon hangar.

Parade grounds at Fort Worden.Parade grounds at Fort Worden.

Fort Worden's parade grounds are flanked by the elegant gray houses of Officers' Row on one side (pictured), and white, colonial-style army barracks on the other.  In the early 19th century, soldiers practiced daily drills on these grounds, preparing for a possible invasion that never came.

The Officers' Row has eight gray houses where Officers lived with their families, and one apartment building for bachelors, all built between 1904 and 1915.  Take your pick of houses to stay in, including the Commander, General and Colonel's homes.

Army barracks at Fort Worden.Army barracks at Fort Worden.

The white army barracks along Eisenhower Avenue were constructed in 1904.  These buildings house the Coast Artillery Museum (building 201) and the Park Visitor Center (building 200). 

Fort Worden has an army barracks with a dormitory to rent.Fort Worden has an army barracks with a dormitory to rent.

The dormitories in the army barracks are available for rent, perfect for larger groups.  Building 225 (pictured) has the best coastal views.

Park Visitor Center at Fort Worden.Park Visitor Center at Fort Worden.

This is the Park Visitor Center (building 200) along Eisenhower Way, where you can pick up gifts or maps, or get general information.

Alexander's Castle at Fort Worden.Alexander's Castle at Fort Worden.

Stay overnight in a one bedroom castle at Fort Worden!  Alexander's Castle was built by a local rector in nearby Port Townsend in 1886, for his Scottish fiance.  However, upon returning to Scotland he discovered that she had married someone else.  The bedroom is upstairs in the old water tower, and has soaring views of Puget Sound.

2. Eat a delicious meal inside an old military guardhouse.

Stop by the pub at the Taps at the Guardhouse (300 Eisenhower Avenue), once used as a jail to discipline unruly soldiers.  Dine amongst the jail cells, or sit on the patio.

Another great choice is the Reveille at the Commons (210 Battery Way).  This casual cafe has wonderful pastries and coffee, perfect for breakfast.   If you're down near the beach pier there's also a seasonal canteen.

The guardhouse at Fort Worden.The guardhouse at Fort Worden.

Restaurants at Fort Worden.Restaurants at Fort Worden.

3. Visit the interesting Coast Artillery Museum.

The Coast Artillery Museum (Eisenhower Avenue) has informative exhibits on the harbor defenses at Fort Worden and Puget Sound, covering the period of time from the 19th century to the end of WWII. 

Check hours and admission here (credit cards not accepted, so bring cash or check).

Coast Artillery Museum at Fort Worden.Coast Artillery Museum at Fort Worden.

4. Tour a 19th century Commanding Officers home.

Visit the Commanding Officers' Quarters Museum (Pershing Avenue) at the head of Officer's Row on the Parade Grounds. Wander through three levels of the house with twelve different furnished rooms, and experience what life was like for an officer and their family in the 19th century.  The water views from the east-facing rooms and porch are incredible.

Check hours and admission here

Commanding Officers' Quarters Museum at Fort Worden.Commanding Officers' Quarters Museum at Fort Worden.

Dining room at Commanding Officers' Quarters MuseumDining room at Commanding Officers' Quarters MuseumSitting room at Commanding Officers' Quarters Museum at Fort Worden.Sitting room at Commanding Officers' Quarters Museum at Fort Worden.Bedroom at Commanding Officers' Quarters Museum at Fort Worden.Bedroom at Commanding Officers' Quarters Museum at Fort Worden.

Views of Admiralty Inlet at Fort Worden.Views of Admiralty Inlet at Fort Worden.

Cross the road from the Officers Quarters Museum, to see a beautiful overlook and staircase down to the sandy beach.

5. Explore Fort Worden's most accessible military battery.

If you have limited time, or don't want to do a lot of walking, then Battery Kinzie is the most accessible military battery at Fort Worden. It's super easy to get to.  Just drive north along Harbor Defense Way to the parking lot outside Battery Kinzie. You can also access the Point Wilson Lighthouse from here.

Battery Kinzie at Fort Worden.Battery Kinzie at Fort Worden.

Bring a flashlight and explore the tunnels, secret chambers and stairways inside Battery Kinzie.  Loads of fun!

Battery Kinzie.Battery Kinzie.

6. Get close-up views of the Point Wilson Lighthouse.

After visiting Battery Kinzie, take a stroll along the gorgeous beach at Point Wilson to see the Point Wilson Lighthouse.  It's still an active navigational aid and therefore not open for tours, but wonderful to see up close.

Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden.Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden.

Point Wilson Lighthouse is an imposing sight, standing 51-feet tall, making it the tallest lighthouse in Puget Sound.  In 1879 it started out as a light on top of the lighthouse keeper's building.  A new structure was built in 1913, with a 46-foot octagonal tower.

Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden with beach.Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden with beach.

The lighthouse is on a finger of land that juts out at Point Wilson, flanked by sandy beaches on either side. This beach west of the lighthouse was featured in the jogging scene in An Officer and a Gentleman.

This beach is south of the Point Wilson Lighthouse, with piles of artfully strewn driftwood and make-shift shelters. Snow-capped Mount Baker is visible in the distance.

These windswept pines behind the lighthouse are evidence of the fierce winter storms that roll through here.

Driftwood on beach at Fort Worden.Driftwood on beach at Fort Worden.

Windswept pines at Fort Worden.Windswept pines at Fort Worden.

7. See starfish and an octopus at the Marine Science Center.

Visit the Marine Science Center on the pier at Fort Worden, along Harbor Defense Way.  The aquarium has fabulous touchpools with starfish and sea anemones.  There's also a tank with a Giant Pacific Octopus, and fun activities for kids. 

Walk across the road to a second building that houses some fascinating marine exhibits, with lots of hands-on activities for kids. There's also a seasonal snack bar if you need to load up on refreshments. 

Check hours and admission here.

Marine Science Center aquarium at Fort Worden.Marine Science Center aquarium at Fort Worden.

The Marine Science Center is the yellow building at the end of the pier at Fort Worden.

Aquarium at Fort Worden.Aquarium at Fort Worden.

Check out that gigantic starfish!

Cross the road to see other marine exhibits, like a gray whale's skull and an orca's skeleton.

8. Relax on sandy beaches at Fort Worden.

Fort Worden has an abundance of sandy beaches, perfect for those long summer days.

Popular sandy beach at Fort Worden.Popular sandy beach at Fort Worden.

The most popular beach at Fort Worden is north of the Marine Science Center. There's also a convenient kiosk with snacks and drinks across the road.

Beach at Fort Worden with Artillery Hill behind it.Beach at Fort Worden with Artillery Hill behind it.

This more dramatic and secluded beach is directly west of the Point Wilson Lighthouse. 

9. Walk up Artillery Hill to see more military batteries.

Artillery Hill is up the back of Fort Worden, and contains the majority of the abandoned military batteries.  This raised vantage point was an obvious choice for a military defense system, perfect for firing on enemy ships.  It takes about 10 minutes to walk from the main Parade Ground to Artillery Hill. Here's a trail map.

Fort Worden bunkers.Fort Worden bunkers.

Exploring these decaying batteries is like entering a secret world full of tunnels, chambers and walkways, with something new around everyone corner.  Let your imagination run wild!

There is so much beauty in these decaying structures, gradually being reclaimed by mother nature.

It's fascinating trying to guess the purpose of each of these chambers.

Artillery Hill is also popular with cyclists.

The batteries on Artillery Hill are named after notable military figures, with names like Battery Ash, Quarles, Randol, Tolles, Walker, Powell and Brannon. 

Your best photo opportunity is at the Point Wilson Lighthouse Overlook, near Battery Ash on Artillery Hill at Fort Worden. 

10. Find filming locations from An Officer and a Gentleman (1982).

Nearly 40 years later, Fort Worden still attracts fans of the popular movie an Officer and a Gentleman (1982) starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger.  Most of these locations are relatively unchanged from nearly 40 years ago and include:

  • Graduation scene on porch of building 204.
  • Haircut scene on ramp of building 203.
  • Fight scene in balloon hangar (McCurdy Pavilion).
  • Dance scene in USO Building 326.
  • Jogging scene along the beach near Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden.
  • Training scene on Battery Kinzie – where Richard Gere says "I got no where else to go".

Travel a few minutes to Port Townsend to find other interesting locations, including:

  • Motel scenes at Tides Motel (1807 Water Street).  Remodeled, but original section is still there.
  • Bar scene at the N.D. Hill buillding (639 Water Street).

Stay overnight at Fort Worden.

Both camping and vacation rentals are available at Fort Worden.  You can also stay at the charming seaport town of Port Townsend just a few minutes away.

  • Check here for Fort Worden Vacation Rentals in historic military buildings like the Officer's Quarters, Alexander's Castle, Engineer's Cottage and Steward's Cottage.  
  • Check here for Fort Worden Camping Reservations.  Camping is available at the lower and upper campgrounds, however the lower campgrounds are by the water and have much better views. 

Fort Worden guarded Seattle from sea invasion.

Fort Worden was the site of a U.S. Army Base from 1902 to 1953. It was established as part of the Ring of Fire in the early 20th century to guard the entrance to Puget Sound, and protect cities like Seattle and the naval shipbuilding town of Bremerton. 

The Ring of Fire consisted of Fort Worden, Fort Casey, and Fort Flagler, and had the combined weaponry of 100 canons.   The first troops arrived at Fort Worden in 1902, and construction of the permanent post buildings occurred from 1904-1915.  In all those years, no cannons were ever fired outside of practice sessions.

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