Top 20 Washington State Trips

Port Townsend

Port Townsend

Visit the Victorian seaport town of Port Townsend in Washington State.

Port Townsend is only one of three Victorian seaports in America.

This beautiful coastal town is less than 2 hours from Seattle, requiring a short ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, then a drive up the Olympic Peninsula.

Magnificent buildings grace Port Townsend's commercial hub along Water Street, with a grand staircase leading to an uptown district lined with Victorian mansions. A walk along these authentic streets is like taking a step back in time to the 1880s.

Our list of the best things to do, includes:

  • BEST gift shops & boutiques.
  • BEST restaurants & coffee shops.
  • BEST Victorian hotels & B&Bs.
  • BEST kid activities.
  • BEST 2 wine tasting rooms in downtown.
  • BEST 2 wineries.
  • BEST 2 brewpubs.
  • BEST 4 cideries & meaderies.
  • BEST 3 museums.​ 
 

10 best things to do in Port Townsend

1. BEST gift shops & boutiques along Water Street.

Port Townsend's Water Street has a fabulous selection of gift shops, specializing in home goods, kitchenwares, cosmetics and so much more. The whole shopping experience is enhanced by the stunning interiors of these 19th century buildings.

Conservatory Coastal Home (639 Water Street) has a gorgeous selection of nautical themed merchandise, like candles, throw rugs, lotions and cushions.

The Green Eyeshade (720 Water Street) is packed full of every imaginable item, including homewares, handmade jewelry, and toiletries.

Thuja (911 Water Street) has as a trendy selection of unique gifts, and an instagram worthy interior.

Vespertine (914 Water Street) is an adults only boutique, focusing on feminine wellness and self discovery.

Commoner boutique (1034 Water Street) sells classic, natural fiber clothing made by local designers, in a sleek, minimalist store.

What's Cookin! (844 Water Street) is a kitchen homewares store, with a fantastic selection of bakeware, cookware, teapots, crockery, napkins and more! 

2. BEST 4 coffee shops in Port Townsend.

Here are some of the best places to get coffee in Port Townsend.

Velocity (431 Water Street) is steps from the waterfront, in the same building as the Wooden Boat Chandlery. It offers a cosy, northwestern atmosphere complete with local artworks on the wall. Step outside to walk along the pebbly beach or pier, or take a longer walk around the marina to Point Hudson, the site of a historic 1930s quarantine station.

Port Townsend to Whidbey Island ferry.Port Townsend to Whidbey Island ferry.

Better Living Through Coffee (100 Tyler Street) has an equally spectacular setting, overlooking a beach in downtown Port Townsend. The outdoor patio is perfect for watching marine traffic and ferry crossings to Whidbey Island.

The Bishop Hotel's chic lobby is also a cafe and wine bar, and serves delicious coffee and house baked pastries. It's open to everyone, even if you're not at guest at the hotel. There's also a stunning garden with seating in the rear of the building.

Aldrich's Market in Uptown Port Townsend is the perfect place for a coffee and pastry, with ample seating on the mezzanine level, and an outdoor patio with water views.

3. BEST restaurants in Port Townsend.

Best waterfront restaurants: Enoy the seasonal patio at Siren's Pub (21+), with a cosy bar, library and fireplace inside for cooler months, or dine on the patio at the Hawaiian themed Quench Waterfront Kitchen & Bar, complete with a tiki bar.

Best family restaurants: The 1950s inspired Nifty Fiftys Diner is a big hit with kids, serving all the food staples like hot dogs, burgers, grilled cheese, milkshakes and ice-cream. Kids will also enjoy the yummy pizzas from Hillbottom Pie or Waterfront Pizza. 

Best comfort food: There's also plenty of comfort food in Port Townsend, and top of the list is the award winning Tommyknocker's Cornish Pasty.  Their soft Cornish pastys are to die for, stuffed with mashed potatoes and beef. Another casual eatery is La Cocina mexican restaurant, serving margaritas, burritos, tacos and huevos rancheros.

Best gourmet meals: Enjoy a gourmet meal at two notable Port Townsend restaurants. The Fountain Cafe serves delicious food in an eclectic setting, with incredible pasta dishes.  There's also a lot of buzz about the seafood dishes at Finistere restaurant in Uptown Port Townsend, whose chef has worked in high end restaurants in both New York and Seattle. 

Port Townsend restaurants.Port Townsend restaurants.

The Fountain Cafe (above) is inside the mint green clapboard building on Washington Street in downtown Port Townsend.

The Fountain Cafe is most charming at night, when draped in fairy lights.

Alchemy Bistro is down the street from the Fountain Cafe, overlooking the Haller Fountain, and is perfect for a romantic, candlelit meal.

4. BEST 2 wine wine bars in Port Townsend.

Downtown Port Townsend has two stunning wine bars, just a short walk from each other.  The first is Vintage by Port Townsend Vineyards, and the second is one block back at the Bishop Hotel.

The Vintage wine bar (725 Water Street) opened in 2019 in the historic F.C.Clapp building (1885). This chic wine bar has both an indoor seating area, and expansive outdoor patio overlooking the Port Townsend waterfront, that hosts live music in summer.

Vintage offers wine by the glass or bottle, with small plate food pairings.

There's also some stylish merchandise, including wine bottle holders, flasks, and glassware.

The Bishop Hotel (714 Washington Street) has a renovated lobby with a wine bar and cafe that opened in 2021, known as the Bishop Block Bottle Shop.

The renovated lobby retains many original features from the 1889 Bishop Block building, including the stamped tin ceiling, brass light fixtures, and exposed brick walls.

Order a glass or bottle of wine from France, Italy, Spain and Oregon, or locally sourced ciders and brews from Finnriver and Propolis.

Each wine is accompanied with a thoughtful note to describe the taste.

Order gourmet plates and sophisticated evening eats at the front desk of the Bishop Hotel's wine bar, which is also the check-in area for the hotel.

5. BEST 2 charming book stores in Port Townsend.

Stop by two great bookstores on Water Street in Port Townsend; Imprint Bookstore and William James Bookstore.

Imprint Bookstore (820 Water Street) has been around for 40+ years.  It's small in size, but does a great job of showcasing the most interesting books, many by local authors (check hours).

The William James Bookstore (829 Water Street) sells an extensive selection of used, new and rare books. It's possible to spend hours exploring the shelves of its large interior, while savoring the historic atmosphere. It's been in business for 30+ years (check hours).

6. BEST photo opportunity for tourists.

Haller Fountain at Port Townsend.Haller Fountain at Port Townsend.

Haller Fountain is located at the bottom of the Taylor Stairs in Port Townsend, and is a bronze sculpture depicting the Greek sea nymph Galatea. It's extremely popular with tourists for photos! The original statue was placed here in 1906, donated by resident Theodore Haller, and cast by J.L. Mott Foundry in New York.  After much wear and tear over the decades, the statue was replaced in 1993 using a bronze mold from the original.  

The original sculpture can now be seen at the Jefferson Museum of Art & History (540 Water Street), just a 5 minute walk away. 

7. BEST access to Port Townsend's haunted Undertown!

Mount Baker Block (1890) was built by the first Port Townsend mayor, intended to hold retail and offices.  This building is full of mystery, with undertown tunnels that connect to the waterfront. Rumor has it that these tunnels were used to shanghai (drug and kidnap) unsuspecting men to work on ships.  

Mount Baker Block building in Port Townsend.Mount Baker Block building in Port Townsend.

Access to Port Townsend's Undertown is on the corner of Water Street and Taylor Street.

Underground Port Townsend.Underground Port Townsend.

Take the stairs down to the subterranean rooms in Port Townsend's Undertown, that lead to the tunnels.  

Today the subterranean area in Port Townsend's Undertown is used for retail space, including a candle shop, frame shop, and photographic gallery.

Chandlery by Naughty Faery Creations, sells candles, oils and stick incense in Port Townsend Undertown, that all smell amazing!

Bad Boys Gallery is also in Undertown, and is a photographic gallery for cars and automobiles.

The retail space connects to tunnels, behind this locked gate.  The first tunnel runs along Water Street, with two other tunnels running perpendicular to it, out to the water.

8. BEST 3 museums in Port Townsend.

Port Townsend has two great museums; the Jefferson Museum and Rothschild HouseIt's an easy 5 minute walk between them.  You can also drive 10 minutes south to visit the Port Townsend Aero Museum.

Rothschild House (418 Taylor Street) is on a bluff on the corner of Franklin and Taylor streets in Uptown Port Townsend. This beautifully preserved home was constructed in 1868 by Port Townsend merchant D.C.H Rothschild, and kept in the family until his daughter died in 1954.  Rothschild House was then donated in 1962 to Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.  Check tickets & hours (open May to Sept).

Rothschild House Museum living room.Rothschild House Museum living room.

Rothschild House offers a unique insight into a typical 1800s home, because it's furniture and interior remain largely unchanged. The owner D.C.H Rothschild raised five children with his German wife in this house, and ran a successful mercantile store above the site of today's Nifty Fiftys Soda Fountain on Port Townsend's Water Street. Unfortunately he ran into financial problems when he branched out into a riskier shipping business, and in 1886 took his life on the beach between Point Hudson and Point Wilson.

Jefferson Museum of Art and HistoryJefferson Museum of Art and History

Jefferson Museum of Art and History (540 Water Street) is a must-see, enabling visitors to explore three floors of Port Townsend's authentic 1890s City Hall. Everything is beautifully preserved, including the original courtroom, jail and council chambers. Check tickets & hours

Take the stairs down to the creepy jail.

In the early 1890s Port Townsend had a seedy, crime-ridden waterfront, with a passing parade of sailors, merchants, and hustlers all looking for a good time in the dozens of brothels and saloons. Many would end up in this jail cell for public drunkness, assault, or even murder.

The subterranean jail cells were miserable for prisoners, with a cold concrete floor, basic bed, and bucket for a toilet. You can also peer into an isolation cell that housed the worst criminals, complete with a ball and chain so they couldn't get too far if they escaped!

The original courtroom is on the main floor, and there's a theatre in the room next door with videos on Port Townsend's history.

This old Port Townsend carriage once operated as a 19th century taxi service.

Check out the dramatic black plumes of ostrich feathers on the roof of this horse drawn Victorian hearse.

Take the stairs to the upper floor to see the council chambers, and the offices of city officials like the mayor, harbor master and surveyor. 

The council chambers looks exactly like they did in the 19th century!

The list of key city employees is displayed at the entrance to the building.

Port Townsend Aero Museum (105 Airport Road) is 10 minutes south of town, right next to the airport. This is a smaller museum, but packed full of vintage aircraft that are still in flying condition!  Check tickets & hours.

9. BEST Victorian hotels in Port Townsend.

Port Townsend has four authentic Victorian hotels in downtown, all with colorful histories.

Belmont Hotel (1889) is on the waterfront along Water Street, and has stylish, renovated rooms with water views.  There's also a project underway to transform the lobby into an incredible marketplace, restaurant and coffee shop (book here).

Waterstreet Hotel (1889) is also along Water Street, in the prominent N.D. Hill Building, and started out as a pharmacy, before becoming a hotel in the 1920s, then a tavern from the 1930s with long term apartments upstairs. Most of the rooms offer water views. Movie buffs will recognize this hotel from the fight scene in the 1982 movie Officer and a Gentleman (book here).

Bishop Hotel (1891) is one street back from Water Street, and has a gorgeous new lobby that doubles as a coffee shop and wine bar.  Guests can also enjoy the stunning garden and patio area at the back of the hotel. The hotel was originally used for office space, storage, and long term apartments (book here).

Palace Hotel (1889) started out as billiard parlor and saloon, and the upstairs rooms eventually became a brothel in the 1920s to mid-30s. The rooms still bear the names of some of the original prostitutes; like Miss Simone, Miss Lilly, and Miss Ruby. The hotel is apparently haunted, with an eerie painting of a Victorian woman in a blue gown at the top of the stairs, who guests claim has roamed the hotel (book here).

10. BEST Victorian Bed & Breakfasts in Port Townsend.

Commanders Beach House at Port Townsend.Commanders Beach House at Port Townsend.

The Commander's Beach House is a colonial-revival style bed and breakfast at Point Hudson in Port Townsend, with water views from every room.  It was constructed in 1934 for the Commanding Medical Officer of the U.S. Quarantine Station. What a fabulous place to stay! (book here).

Old German Consulate at Port Townsend.Old German Consulate at Port Townsend.

The Old Consulate Inn (1889) is a bed and breakfast, sitting atop a bluff in Port Townsend with incredible views.  Home builder Frank Hastings constructed the home in 1889, but it wasn't completed until 1907 when the Olsen family moved in.  They took in boarders to make ends meet. One of their boarders, August Dudenhausen was an acting German vice-consul (book here).

11. BEST 2 wineries near Port Townsend.

Visit two destination wineries in the local area; the Port Townsend Vineyards and Marrowstone Vineyards. Kids are welcome at both wineries.

Port Townsend Vineyards (2640 W Sims Way) is 5-minutes west of downtown, and has a gorgeous tasting room inside a barn. There's ample outdoor seating on the covered patio, with a large lawned area beyond this area with more seating and seasonal games. The winery has an incredible setting, at the site of the old Portugese Hill cattle ranch. Check hours.

Port Townsend Vineyards serves award winning reds and whites, with guided wine tastings. Some of the grapes are sourced from Eastern Washington and Oregon, but others are grown on the 11.5 acre vineyard here. The locally sourced grapes were first harvested 2017, and used to produce sparkling wines that are best paired with the region's abundant shellfish.

Marrowstone Vineyards (423 Meade Road, Nordland) is an easy 15-mile drive from Port Townsend, across a bridge that connects the mainland to Marrowstone Island. This charming property has a patio area with breathtaking water views of Whidbey Island and the Cascades. There's also a large lawned area with plenty of room to roam, and a cosy firepit for winter days. An unexpected surprise is the rustic art gallery upstairs, hosting rotating exhibitions from local artists. Check hours.

12. BEST 2 breweries for an afternoon of beer drinking.

Both Propolis Brewing and the Port Townsend Brewery are in the port district of Port Townsend, just 5 minutes south of downtown.

Propolis Brewing (2457 Jefferson Street) has been producing award winning handcrafted herbal ales since 2012, using 100% local organic ingredients, like wild nettles, elderflower, lavender, salmonberries, strawberries, brewed in the tradition of old world European ales (check hours).

The taproom and brewhouse is inside an old industrial building, with plenty of cosy seating to relax and sample the ales.

Port Townsend Brewing Company (330 10th Street) brews over 10 ales, served in a cheerful taproom with a small beer garden outside (check hours, must be 21+).

13. BEST driving loop to see 4 cideries & meaderies.

The Olympic Peninsula is at the forefront of a cider and mead boom, with popular cideries like Finnriver, Alpenfire and Eaglemount, and the Wilderbee Farm meadery.

Finnriver Cidery (124 Center Road, Chimacum) is located at an old 1950s dairy on a spectacular piece of farmland, 15 minutes south of Port Townsend.  There's so much to do here!  Enjoy a meal or live music in the rustic pavilion, sample cider flights or drafts in the taproom, check out the gift shop, or relax on the lawned area overlooking the orchard (check hours).

Choose from a wide array of ciders, made from apples homegrown at Finnriver's orchard or at other Washington State orchards. There are also fortified fruit wines that are distilled at Admiralty Distillers in Port Townsend.

Wilderbee Farm (223 Cook Ave Ext) is in a bucolic, country setting, 7 minutes west of Port Townsend's downtown (check hours).

The gorgeous tasting room at Wilderbee Farm is housed in a barn known as the Meadery, and serves a variety of meads, also commonly referred to as honey wine. There's also a gift shop a short walk away, selling exquisite woodwork, and lavender products distilled on the premises. The best time to visit is during summer, when the fields are open for u-pick flowers.

The meads are available in a tasting flight, glass or bottle.

Eaglemount Winery/Cidery (1893 South Jacob Miller Road) is a 10 minute drive southwest of Port Townsend (check hours). Eaglemount is at the site of a historic 12-acre farm and orchard, and includes a tasting room, event space and the Arcadia Inn (1908).  The fruit for the cider comes from an 1880s homestead orchard, and the wine grapes are sourced from Eastern Washington.

14. MOST SPECTACULAR beach setting for beer or wine in Port Townsend.

The Pourhouse (2231 Washington Street) has one of the most awe-inspiring settings, with a large patio area known as the "Impound Lot" overlooking a dramatic beach in the port district of Port Townsend. Check hours (21+ only).

The Pourhouse is both a taproom and bottleshop, serving 12 types of beer, 2 ciders, and a large selection of wines. There's also a bar snack menu. 

15. BEST 3 specialty food stores in Uptown.

There are three specialty food stores in a charming cluster of shops in Uptown Port Townsend. 

Uptown Port Townsend is easy to get to, just a 10 minute walk past Haller Fountain and up the stairs to Taylor Avenue.  It's where the well to do ship captains and merchants once built their Victorian mansions, to get away from all the riff raff at the Port Townsend waterfront!

Lawrence Street Provisions (1031 Lawrence Street) is in a chic neighborhood space inside an old gas station in Port Townsend Uptown. It's next-door to fine dining restaurant Finistere, and is the brainchild of the restaurant's chef, who was forced to sell pasta and sauces out of her bistro due to 2020 COVID restaurant shutdowns. The concept was a hit, and gradually expanded to the space next door.  

Lawrence Street Provisions sells the very best food provisions, handpicked by a top notch chef who has worked in top restaurants in Seattle and New York. Shop for limited release cheeses, charcuterie, divine pastries from Sweet Lamb Baking Co, and the chef's favorite cookbooks, spices, seasonings, and gifts. You can also enjoy the charming patio area next to the store. 

There's also a great selection of wine and spirits at Lawrence Street Provisions.

Pane D'Amore Artisan Bakery (617 Tyler Street) in Uptown Port Townsend is around the corner from Lawrence Street Provisions.  

This European-style bakery sells fresh baked bread and pastries. The weekly baking schedule for breads includes cinammon raison, cranberry walnut, fig anise, 100% rye, and calamatta olive.  There's also some mouth watering pastries, like morning glory muffins, bread pudding, triple ginger scones, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate croissants, apple danish, and cinnamon rolls.

There's also a great selection of cheeses.

Aldrich's Market is one of the oldest markets in Washington State, with an incredible range of specialty foods, wines and gifts in Port Townsend Uptown.

Aldrich's Market has locally sourced products, and specialty foods from around the world, like pickled peppers, black truffle olive oil, sundried tomatoes, asparagus in tasty brine, tuna in olive oil, organic fruit spreads, and chocolate fudge.

16. BEST art galleries displaying the work of local artists.

Northwind Art is the biggest gallery in Port Townsend, and is a collaboration between the Northwind Art Center and Port Townsend School of the Arts.  The stunning exhibition space features a variety of mediums, including oils, water colors, photography, drawings and prints. 

The main gallery is at 701 Water Street (check hours).

A second gallery is just a short walk away, in a more intimate space at 236 Taylor Street.

17. BEST self care experiences at Port Townsend.

Soak on the Sound (242 Monroe Street) offers the Pacific Northwest's only saltwater soaking tubs, in either private rooms or a community pool. Each tub contains 10 to 20 pounds of salt, with reputed health benefits like improved circulation and pain relief. You can also book finnish sauna rooms, and therapeutic massages (check hours & admission).

18. BEST scenic walk in Port Townsend.

One of the most scenic walks in Port Townsend, is from the downtown area to Point Hudson, at the northernmost tip of Port Townsend. Enjoy incredible vistas over Admiralty Inlet, Whidbey Island and the Cascades on a wild beach with a spit.

Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.

Start at Velocity cafe inside the yellow Wooden Boat Chandlery building (431 Water Street), where you can pick up your morning coffee. The red Northwest Maritime Center is next door, and runs sailing, navigation, and boat building classes specializing in wooden boats.

Port Townsend BayPort Townsend Bay

The courtyard out of the front of the Northwest Maritime Building has enviable water views, and overlooks a beach and pier.

Port Townsend historic waterfront.Port Townsend historic waterfront.

Walk out along the pier for a panoramic viewpoint across the historic waterfront at Port Townsend.  Not much has changed in 100 years!

Marina at Port Townsend.Marina at Port Townsend.

Continue around the marina to the cluster of historic, white buildings scattered around Point Hudson.

Point Hudson was once used as a quarantine station in the 1930s, with a hospital, detention barracks and disinfectant building, and was the first port of call for anyone entering the United States through Puget Sound. The old quarantine buildings are now mostly used for restaurants today.

Beach at Port Townsend.Beach at Port Townsend.

Continue past the restaurants to see the long stretch of sandy beach that ends at the Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden.  Always check tide levels before walking on this beach.

Point Hudson at Port Townsend.Point Hudson at Port Townsend.

The sandy spit at Point Hudson is covered in sand flats that house crabs, shrimp and fish.

It's an amazing area for bird watching, with double-crested cormorants, harlequin ducks, and sanderlings.

On a clear day, snowcapped Mount Baker is also visible from Point Hudson.

Point Hudson was first discovered in 1792 by Captain George Hudson, who identified it as a safe harbor with good access to freshwater. Unfortunately the Native Americans who had used this area as a campground for 8,000 years, were gradually displaced after Port Townsend was settled.

19. BEST playground in Port Townsend.

Chetzemoka Park (1000 Jackson Street) is on a bluff with magnificent water views over Admiralty Inlet. This 6.53 acre park was established in 1904 by local residents, and dedicated to Indian Chief Chetzemoka who was held in high esteem by townsfolk.

 Chetzemoka Park at Port Townsend. Chetzemoka Park at Port Townsend.

This is a great place for adults and kids alike, with a swinging bench and gazebo for adults, and swing set and play area for kids.  Don't forget to take the stairs down to the small strip of secluded beach below.

 Chetzemoka Park picnic table and gazebo. Chetzemoka Park picnic table and gazebo.

20. BEST movie theater experience in Port Townsend.

Rose Theater (235 Taylor Street) is a charming independent cinema in Port Townsend's downtown, that originally opened in 1908.  It has an exclusive viewing room on the third floor, known as the Starlight Room, complete with soaring water views and a plush interior.  Order some small plates and wine, and cosy up in a comfy chair to watch a movie.

Rose Theater at Port Townsend.Rose Theater at Port Townsend.

21. BEST place to find cool antiques in Port Townsend. 

Port Townsend Antique Mall (802 Washington Street) has two floors full of treasures, and is an absolute delight to browse. It's more museum than mall, with fascinating collectors' pieces harking back to earlier eras. 

22. BEST place to see vintage autos & memorabilia.

Bergstroms Antique and Classic Autos (809 Washington Street) is inside a 1917 garage, and is chock full of restored vintage cars, and fun memorabilia like old car ads, gas pumps, car magazines and rare car parts (check hours).

23. BEST film locations from an An Officer and a Gentleman.

Many film buffs come to Port Townsend to identify filming locations from the hit movie An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger.  The film was done on a shoestring budget, but achieved tremendous commercial success.

Scenes were filmed at The Tides Inn & Suites (1807 Water Street) and N.D. Hill Building (639 Water Street) in Port Townsend.  Diehard fans should also visit nearby Fort Worden, for other filming locations. 

Officer and a Gentleman room at Tides Inn.Officer and a Gentleman room at Tides Inn.

Stay in the exact same hotel room at the The Tides Inn & Suites, that Richard Gere and Debra Winger filmed in.

24. BEST State Park near Port Townsend.

Fort Worden is 5 minutes north of Port Townsend. It has incredible scenery, including wild beaches, a lighthouse, two museums, an aquarium, and 12 miles of forested trails with gorgeous water views.  Finish off the day with a meal at the Taps at the Guardhouse pub, which was formerly a military jail.

Fort Worden is a decommissioned 19th century military defense fortress that once guarded Puget Sound. Many of the historic buildings are intact, like the army barracks and Officer's Quarters, overlooking a large parade ground.

You can book overnight stays in many of these historic buildings, including the popular Alexander's Castle, apparently the site of many wedding proposals!

The 19th century Commanding Officer's Quarters is open to visitors, with three floors to explore (check hours).

The Point Wilson Lighthouse is also at Fort Worden, and is the tallest lighthouse in Puget Sound. Unfortunately it's not open for tours.

Explore miles of sandy beaches at Fort Worden, like this beach west of Point Wilson Lighthouse.

Kids will love exploring the myriad of tunnels and chambers inside the concrete military batteries.  Don't forget to bring a flashlight!

There's also an aquarium on the pier, with a marine center across the road (check hours).

The Coast Artillery Museum has fascinating exhibits on the harbor defense system at the entrance of Puget Sound. It was designed around a "ring of fire" with three fortresses that could fire on enemy ships, to protect downstream cities like Seattle and Bremerton. Fort Worden was one of these fortresses, and was operational from the early 19th century until the end of WWII (check hours & admission).  

25. BEST whale watching tours at Port Townsend.

Port Townsend has a breathtaking waterfront setting at the convergence of Admiralty Inlet with the Strait of Juan de Fuca, best explored by booking a kayaking tour or sailing adventure.  Whale watching tours are also popular.

Port Townsend whale watching tours.Port Townsend whale watching tours.

26. BEST day trip from Port Townsend.

Take the 35-minute ferry crossing from downtown Port Townsend to Whidbey Island (check ferry schedule).

27. BEST walking tour of Port Townsend's Water Street.

Pick up a map of Water Street at the Jefferson Museum (504 Water Street) once home to brothels, saloons and secret tunnels!

Cast your mind back to the 1880s when Port Townsend was a rough and tumble port, full of merchants, sea captains, sailors, and lumber barons. Wealthy investors poured money into ornate buildings along Water Street, and elaborate mansions on the hilltop. With its deep harbor and easy access to Asian ports, they were betting that Port Townsend would become the biggest port on the West Coast.  The only thing they needed was a railway.

However, despite the best efforts of the town's wealthiest men, the railroad never came to fruition. The financial crisis of 1893 sounded the final death knell on Port Townsend, leading to a period of long economic decline. Port Townsend has since re-invented itself as a major tourist town.

Hastings Building in Port Townsend.Hastings Building in Port Townsend.

Hastings Building (1889) is a blue romanesque-style building, still owned by original descendants of the Hastings Estate Company. 

James and Hastings Building in Port Townsend.James and Hastings Building in Port Townsend.

James & Hastings Building (1888-1889) was built in the italianate style at the site of the first log cabin in Port Townsend, constructed in 1851.  Its first tenant was a merchant selling apparel, footwear, and dry goods.  

The Palace Hotel in Port Townsend.The Palace Hotel in Port Townsend.

Palace Hotel (1889) originally housed a rowdy billiard parlor and three saloons, with apartments for rent on the upper floors.  During the 1920's to the mid-1930's the upper floors operated as a brothel to cater to all the sailors and merchants, until they were abruptly shut down!

The N.D. Hill Building in Port Townsend.The N.D. Hill Building in Port Townsend.

N.D Hill Building (1889) was constructed to house a pharmacy, by pharmacist Nathaniel Davis Hill.  It subsequently became the Deville Hotel in 1928, then long term apartments with a tavern on the ground floor from 1929 to 2001. Do you recognize this building from the fight scene in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)?  Most of this movie was filmed around Port Townsend and nearby Fort Worden. 

The McCurdy Building in Port Townsend.The McCurdy Building in Port Townsend.

McCurdy Building (1887) was built for the widow of Port Townsend's first doctor.

Pioneer Building in Port Townsend.Pioneer Building in Port Townsend.

Pioneer Building/ F.W Pettygrove Building (1889) housed the Bank of Washington for one year until the bank collapsed in 1890.

Bishop Building in Port Townsend.Bishop Building in Port Townsend.

Bishop Building (1891) first operated as an insurance and law firm, and the upper floors were rented out as apartments.

The Swan Hotel in Port Townsend.The Swan Hotel in Port Townsend.

These four cottages were transported to Port Townsend to house railroad workers, just prior to the economy collapsing in the 1890s. You can now stay overnight in these cute cottages.

28. BEST mansions to see in uptown.

Pick up a self guided walking tour map of Uptown at the Jefferson Museum (504 Water Street), to see the gorgeous homes and buildings that grace Uptown Port Townsend.

Back in the day the more affluent citizens lived in the Uptown District, away from the rough elements of downtown Port Townsend.

Taylor Stairs at Port Townsend.Taylor Stairs at Port Townsend.

To get to Uptown Port Townsend, climb the Taylor Stairs behind Haller Fountain.

Starrett House at Port Townsend.Starrett House at Port Townsend.

Starrett House (1889) is one of Port Townsend's grandest residences, constructed in the Gothic and Stick style.  It was occupied by Henry and Ann Starrett.  Henry was a contractor from Maine, hoping to take advantage of Port Townsend's booming economy in the late 1880s.  The mansion has an incredible, spiral staircase, capped with a 70-foot dome, with a mural of a solar calendar.  

Frank Bartlett House at Port Townsend.Frank Bartlett House at Port Townsend.

Frank Bartlett House (1883) is at the top of the Taylor Stairs, with magnificent bluff views and a french-style mansard roof.  This 14-room mansion was built by young entrepreneur, Frank Bartlett.

House on Fillmore Street in Port Townsend.House on Fillmore Street in Port Townsend.

Fillmore Street house was built in 1862.

Frank Wilcox James House at Port Townsend.Frank Wilcox James House at Port Townsend.

Frank Wilcox James House (1891) was built by an English immigrant, who was head inspector for the Customs House, and later amassed a fortune as a merchant. The Queen Anne-style residence has three distinctive chimneys, bay windows, and a shingled facade on the upper floor.

Harry Barthrop House at Port Townsend.Harry Barthrop House at Port Townsend.

Harry Barthrop House (1880) has the appearance of a Swiss chalet, complete with flower boxes.  Harry Barthrop was killed in a hunting accident, but his wife Bertie lived in the house until 1947.

Landes House at Port Townsend.Landes House at Port Townsend.

Landes House on Franklin Street, was built in 1871 by Colonel Henry Landes, who expanded this grand house in 1888.  Landes was a prominent citizen, and launched the First National Bank of Port Townsend, also serving as a State Senator.

Captain DeLion House at Port Townsend.Captain DeLion House at Port Townsend.

Captain DeLion House (1883) is an italianate style house, built by Captain DeLion who invested in a shipping business.  He took his own life after suffering divorce and a bankruptcy.

Horace Tucker House at Port Townsend.Horace Tucker House at Port Townsend.

Horace Tucker House (1867) is an italianate style house on Franklin Street. It was built by Horace Tucker, who was both mayor of Port Townsend and a prominent home builder.

Jefferson County Courthouse at Port Townsend.Jefferson County Courthouse at Port Townsend.

Jefferson County Courthouse (1892) was designed in the romanesque-revival style, and is one of the most striking buildings in Port Townsend, with an 143 foot clock tower, and jail in the basement. No expense was spared on this government building, when it seemed certain Port Townsend would become the next major city.

US Post Office and Customs House at Port Townsend.US Post Office and Customs House at Port Townsend.

The US Post Office and Customs House (1893) on Washington Street in Port Townsend was constructed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.  It took eight years to build, designed by two Chicago architects.  Construction started during a period of great prosperity for Port Townsend, before the economy collapsed.

Trinity United Methodist Church at Port Townsend.Trinity United Methodist Church at Port Townsend.

Trinity United Methodist Church was established in 1854, and constructed in 1871.  It's the oldest church in Port Townsend.

St Paul's Episcopal Church at Port Townsend.St Paul's Episcopal Church at Port Townsend.

St Paul's Episcopal Church was built in 1865, in the gothic revival style.  It's on the corner of Jefferson and Tyler streets in Port Townsend.

Old Parish Hall at Port Townsend.Old Parish Hall at Port Townsend.

The Old Parish Hall on Jefferson Street, was built in 1865.

What's near Port Townsend?

Port Townsend is surrounded by things to do.  Some of the best attractions include historic Port Gamble, the 5-mile Dungeness Spit at Sequim, spectacular Hurricane Ridge with soaring views across the Olympic Mountains, breathtaking Lake Crescent, and the unique Olympic Game Farm, where elk, bison and zebras roam freely in a safari-like setting.

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