Visit the waterfront Washington State town that resembles a New England village!
Port Gamble is 1.5 hours from Seattle, in a charming waterfront town on the Olympic Peninsula. It has a picture-perfect main street full of historic buildings lined with white picket fences.
Port Gamble is a tiny town, but packs in a lot of activities. There are two restaurants, a cafe, a stylish taproom for wine tastings, and local gift shops with plenty of treasures. There's also a fabulous playground for kids on a large lawned area with picnic tables.
History buffs can do a self guided walking tour of Port Gamble's buildings, or visit the local museum or historic cemetery to learn about its fascinating past. It's also possible to rent a kayak or paddleboard at Port Gamble and explore the local waterways.
To get here from Seattle, take the Bainbridge Island Ferry then drive 30 minutes north to Port Gamble. There's limited accommodation at the charming Port Gamble Guest Houses, or you can stay 35 minutes away at the popular tourist town of Port Townsend.
10 best things to do in Port Gamble
1. Visit the café and gift shop at the Port Gamble General Store.
The Port Gamble General Store opened in 1916, and is the hub of activity for locals and visitors.
There's plenty to browse on the main floor, including gift cards, ceramics, candles, ornaments, toiletries, kitchenware, and clothing. The holiday season is a great time to visit, with festive decorations enhancing its old world charm. It's like stepping back in time to a general store of yesteryear!
This is just one example of the beautifully curated displays at the Port Gamble General Store, with many products sourced from local artisans.
Check out these beautiful soy candles at the Port Gamble General Store, in scents like Milk & Sugar, and Berry Jam.
The cafe is at the back of the Port Gamble General Store, and sells coffee, icecream, milkshakes, baked goods, salads, sandwiches and soups. There's also a lovely seating area overlooking the water.
The cafe sells saltwater taffy in delicious flavors like maple bacon, cotton candy, and raspberry!
Take the stairs up to the second floor of the Port Gamble General Store, to see an interesting (and free) museum with a collection of shells and sea-life from all over the world, like this giant Alaskan King Crab.
This fun shell collection is from Vietnam and Thailand.
2. Eat at two delicious Port Gamble restaurants.
Port Gamble is a tiny town with only two restaurants; Scratch Kitchen (check hours) and Butcher & Baker Provisions (check hours). There's also a drive through coffee stand directly outside Butcher & Baker Provisions.
Scratch Kitchen serves yummy comfort food, and is next door to the Port Gamble General Store.
Savor beautiful water views from inside the rustic interior at Scratch Kitchen, or take a seat outside on the patio.
Scratch Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner (check hours), including breakfast bowls, burritos, sandwiches, salads, seafood and baked goods, and there's also a full bar.
The buzzworthy Butcher & Baker Provisions is just off the main street at Port Gamble, housed inside a historic 1920s gas station.
Butcher & Baker Provisions is a combination of things, including a farmhouse restaurant, bakery and butcher. It also offers small batch artisanal food (check hours).
You can dine inside at Butcher & Baker Provisions or on the patio outside. You can also load up on supplies and enjoy a picnic at the park across the road with picnic tables overlooking a fun playground. Continue walking across the park to the viewpoint with the flagpole at the corner of Rainier Avenue and Walker Avenue, to find some other picnic tables with incredible views of Port Gamble Bay.
Butcher & Baker Provisions has an in-house baker, serving up scrumptious baked goods like peanut butter raspberry jam bars, and chocolate fudge brownies.
There are other temptations, like lemon bars, irish cream cheesecake, chocolate pudding, hazelnut praline cake, and lemon cranberry meringue cake.
Load up on goodies like gourmet cheese, salami, olives, honey, jams and jellies, perfect for a picnic!
There's also a great selection of wines, spices and hot sauces at Butcher & Baker Provisions in Port Gamble.
3. Stop by House 11 Taproom on the main street in Port Gamble.
Choose from a fantastic selection of beer and wine, chocolate boxes, gourmet jam, and swag at the House II Taproom in Port Gamble.
Take a seat at the bar, and sample beer, ciders and wine (no kids allowed).
4. Explore a handful of charming Port Gamble shops.
Although Port Gamble is very small, there are some delightful shops along Rainier Avenue. Most of these shops are inside historic homes, enabling you to wander from room to room, and appreciate the architecture as well as the merchandise!
The Painted Lady has two floors of vintage treasures to explore.
The Painted Lady is inside the historic New York House (1863) on Port Gamble's main street.
Wander through the rooms and up the staircase to find vintage decor pieces, like model boats, picture frames, figurines, lamps, kitchenware, furniture, chests and paintings.
Tango Zulu Imports has handcrafted products from developing countries around the world.
You'll find a wide selection of fair trade goods at Tango Zulu Imports, like binga baskets from Zimbabwe, straw hats from Northern Ghana, and embroidered shoulder bags from Nepal.
The Wish gift store is a must-see, with a beautiful selection of truly unique merchandise like books, cards, puzzles, home decor, jewelry, soaps and lotions.
The excellent book section has both kids and adult titles, and a choice of writing journals.
The greeting cards are superb, housed in a light filled room overlooking Port Gamble's main street.
Take a seat and soak up the cosy atmosphere at Wish gift shop.
The quirky dish towels are perfect for gift giving, adjacent to the fun cookbook section.
The Artful Ewe sells a colorful range of wools and fibers, handcolored by the shop's owner. Choose from mohair, wool, bison, camel, mohair and more!
Take a seat in the 'cosy corner' at the back of the shop to knit, spin or weave.
Gamble Bay Textiles sells an ever changing selection of exquisite handcrafted products, like clothing, wall hangings, and mats. There's also a weaving studio next door.
5. Take your kids to the playground at Port Gamble.
The playground has a superb location at Port Gamble, on an expansive grassed area overlooking the town and water. There's also plenty of picnic tables, and you can pick up some snacks or lunch at Butcher & Baker Provisions across the road, or visit the coffee stand outside it.
6. Visit the excellent Port Gamble Museum.
The Port Gamble Museum is in the basement of the General Store, and has been beautifully renovated. Highlights include the reconstruction of the Master Bedroom of Admiralty Hall (1887 - 1940), and the lobby of Hotel Puget (1903 -1963). Check hours and call ahead to set up an appointment to visit the museum.
The Hotel Puget operated in the center of Port Gamble, from 1907 to 1963. This large Victorian building sat atop a bluff, with incredible Hood Canal Views, and had a saloon and billiards room. It was demolished in 1963, after damage sustained by the Columbus Day Storm.
In 1887, mill manager, Cyrus Walker, constructed the Admiralty Hall mansion at nearby Port Ludlow, for his new bride. This was a grand home, taking up a full city block. It was demolished during WWII for scrap, and the Port Ludlow Inn now stands in its place. What a shame that Washington State lost this beautiful, architectural treasure.
The museum has miniature models of some of the local buildings at Port Gamble, like St Paul's Church.
7. Take a self-guided walking tour along historic Rainier Avenue.
Set aside some time for a fascinating one-hour self guided walking tour of Port Gamble's quaint buildings along Rainier Avenue, with big signs clearly explaining the history of each building.
Port Gamble sprung up around the Puget Mill Company, a saw mill founded in 1853 by wealthy industrialists William Talbot and Andrew Pope. Unlike some of the rough and tumble towns in frontier Washington State, Port Gamble was modeled on a charming New England style town back in Maine where Talbot and Pope had grown up. This influence is evident in the white picket fences, steeply sloping roofs and wood siding exteriors of buildings in the town.
Port Gamble also has the unique characteristic of being a fully company owned town. Talbot and Pope encouraged family and friends from back East to become part of this community, and provided them with company housing. Over 150 years later, Port Gamble's buildings are still company owned, but available for lease.
This is the Clarence R and Lulu Cranmer House (1894). Lulu sadly died at the young age of 32 and is buried in the Port Gamble Cemetery.
The Community Hall & Post Office (1905) is where Port Gamble residents once socialized, with movie nights, dances and plays. Other services also operated out of here, like the doctor, dentist, barber and telephone operator.
The Walker Ames House (1888) is the grand dame of Port Gamble, owned by the master mechanic, resident manager and then general manager of the mill, William Walker.
The Leo and Goldie Hammersmith House (1918-1919) was once owned by mill manager Leo Hammersmith who retired in 1958, and is now a taproom.
The Daniel B Jackson House (1871) was owned by the third postmaster of Port Gamble.
The Eugene and Ann DeFord House (1873) was owned by WWII veteran Eugene DeFord, who eventually rose to plant manager at the mill at Port Gamble, and retired in 1985.
The David and Joyce Olson House (1870) was owned by an employee who worked at the mill at Port Gamble for nearly 40 years.
The James and Sarah Thompson House (1859) in Port Gamble, is the oldest continuously occupied dwelling in Washington State.
The New York House (1863) was once occupied by resident physicians.
The Franklin Lodge (1871 to 1872) in Port Gamble, is the oldest Masonic Lodge in Washington State.
8. Book a kayaking tour at the Olympic Outdoor Center, or catch a show at the theater next door.
The Olympic Outdoor Center is along the main street of Port Gamble in the red building, and offers kayaks and bike rentals in 1, 2 or 3 hour blocks, or for the entire day. There are also kayaking tours of the local waters, and advice on the best places to kayak to. Always call ahead to check conditions.
The yellow building next door to the Olympic Outdoor Center is the Port Gamble Theater, with a regular schedule of theatrical performances by locals.
9. Hold your wedding or special event at Port Gamble.
Port Gamble offers two wedding venues that are in high demand.
St Pauls Church provides a New England style church setting for weddings and adjacent reception area, and The Hood Canal Vista Pavilion is on a bluff with superb water views.
One of the most beautiful buildings in Port Gamble is St Pauls Church (1878-79), popular for weddings. It has the original pews, and eight dramatic cathedral windows. As an added bonus, couples can also ring the original bell in the steeple! There's an outdoor terrace next door, with a tent for receptions.
The Hood Canal Vista Pavilion has breathtaking water views over Hood Canal, and is surrounded by lush gardens.
10. Search for early pioneers in Port Gamble's Buena Vista Cemetery.
The historic Buena Vista Cemetery is just a short walk up the hill from Port Gamble's main street, and was established in 1856. Tourists are definitely encouraged to stop by the cemetery, and a lot of effort has been put into preserving the headstones, and providing information boards where the words on the headstones are not clearly legible.
All 170 graves are from Port Gamble's earliest pioneers, with many dying in infancy or early childhood. Adults didn't fare much better, with dates on the headstones indicating that they died aged in their 30's or 40's. It's fascinating to see the far flung countries that many of these pioneers were born in, like Austria, England, Finland, Ireland and Germany.
On a sunny day, the cemetery has incredible views over the Hood Canal, Floating Bridge, and Olympic Mountains.
Can I stay overnight at Port Gamble?
Stay at the Port Gamble Guest Houses and choose from two beautifully renovated 3-bedroom guest houses, or a suite. There is easy beach access from these guest houses.
Fun things to do near Port Gamble
- Point no Point Lighthouse - 13 miles NE
- Finnriver Cidery - 17 miles NW
- Bremerton - 26 miles south, with the USS Turner Joy warship to tour
- Wilderbee Farm - 27 miles northwest
- Port Townsend - 28 miles north
- Fort Worden - 29 miles north
- Dungeness Spit - 44 miles NW
- Olympic Game Farm - 43 miles NW
- Hurricane Ridge - 71 miles west
- Lake Crescent - 74 miles west