25 Best Things to Do in Port Townsend, WA

Port Townsend, WA
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Port Townsend is a charming coastal city with grand vistas and rich history.

Located on the Olympic Peninsula, it is known for its vast and verdant forests, diverse wildlife, stunning beaches, historic forts, enchanting lakes, aesthetically pleasing architecture, photogenic lighthouses, and remarkable art galleries.

The abundant natural resources provide access to a wide array of recreational activities, such as camping, swimming, picnicking, diving, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and plenty more.

Explore the ancient forts and learn about the region’s history from its many impressive museums.

The scenic views and tranquil atmosphere make it an ideal place for a romantic getaway or to plan your destination wedding.

Visit Port Townsend and experience nature’s astounding beauty.

Here’s a list of the 25 best things to do while visiting Port Townsend:

Camp at Fort Worden Historical State Park

Fort Worden Historical State Park
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Formerly a US Army base, Fort Worden was built to protect its neighboring regions from potential sea invasions.

It was converted into a state park in 1973 and is currently a frequented site for camping, lodging, hiking, birdwatching, biking, picnicking, and other outdoor recreation.

Its waterfront location offers plenty of scope for beach exploration, swimming, kayaking, diving, and fishing.

Owing to its magnificent vistas, it is an ideal location for organizing weddings, reunions, and other social gatherings.

View of Fort Worden Historical State Park
Edmund Lowe Photography / shutterstock.com

The 400-acre park encompasses the Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum, Marine Science Centre, and Point Wilson Lighthouse.

In addition, it features tennis courts, baseball fields, museums, bonfire areas, ancient artillery batteries, a castle, 12 miles of verdant hiking trails, a pub, and more.

Rental kayaks and bikes are available at the site.

This place is a must-visit in Port Townsend.

See Vintage Fixtures at Kelly Art Deco Light Museum

From 1928 to 1938, the Art Deco era's middle- and upper-class lifestyles are apparent in the museum's light fixtures.

When prohibition, gangster rule, and the speakeasy ruled the roost, this was the age.

You can see more than 400 light fixtures at the museum, including chandeliers, wall lamps, and table lamps.

All of them have inscriptions of their origins, dates, and manufacturers.

Most of the designs in style are unique, and there is a wide variety of antiques and collectibles for sale, including light fixtures.

Check Out the Aircraft at Port Townsend Aero Museum

Port Townsend Aero Museum
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Founded in 2001, this museum has rotating exhibits featuring a multitude of antique aircraft.

It has grown from its humble beginnings with just six aircraft scattered in different airdocks of the city’s airport in 2001 to currently having over 26 exhibits displayed in its facility worth $3.5 million.

They also work on restoring old and defunct aircraft.

View of Port Townsend Aero Museum
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Exhibits currently on display include Travel Air 2000, CallAir A-2, Baby Ace, Rose Parakeet, Baby Albatross, and several more.

The museum is open to visitors from Wednesdays to Sundays between 9 am and 4 pm.

Grab a Good Read From William James Bookseller

The William James Bookseller, which opened its doors in 1987, is a local institution in Port Townsend.

It specializes in high-quality used and out-of-print books in a variety of subject areas.

It's a large, comfortable bookstore with plenty of comfy leather chairs to curl up in after a long day of browsing.

You may also sell your used books on Mondays and Thursdays.

They also have contribution bins outside the door and offer free browsing to the public.

Visit Point Wilson Lighthouse

Point Wilson Lighthouse
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Originally built in 1879, high tides and storms led to the construction of a new lighthouse on the same site in 1914.

Located in Fort Worden park, it overlooks the entrance to Puget Sound.

The former keeper’s residence has now been renovated and is offered for lodging to tourists.

This historic lighthouse offers spectacular views of the ocean throughout the year and is a prime tourist attraction.

Shop Fresh Produce at Port Townsend Farmers' Market

Port Townsend Farmers' Market offers fresh fruits and vegetables, bakery items, poultry products, seafood, dairy products, flowers, plants, nuts, tea, glass art, handicrafts, pottery, furniture, paintings, candles, body care products, and more.

All the goods offered for sale are sourced from local farms, artists, and artisans.

The markets also feature a multitude of diverse and delicious food stalls and live musical performances.

The Port Townsend Farmer’s Market is open on Saturdays between 9 am and 1 pm from April to December.

Travel Back in Time at Rothschild House Museum

This historic building used to be the home of businessman David Rothschild and his family during the 19th century.

It was later converted into a museum and declared as a historical landmark.

Over the years, the building has been maintained to accurately represent how it originally looked like when the family was still living there.

The museum is affiliated with the Jefferson County Historical Society.

Tours of the historic uptown start from this museum on Sundays at 2 pm from June to September.

Enjoy a Picnic at Chetzemoka Park

Chetzemoka Park
Sue A Dunning / shutterstock.com

This is a picturesque hillside park with magnificent vistas of the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade mountain range and deep blue ocean waters.

It features verdant lawns, colorful flower gardens, a playground, picnic tables, barbeques, bonfire areas, a gazebo, and access to a pristine beach.

This is an ideal place to enjoy a nice picnic against a spectacular backdrop.

Watch a Play at Key City Public Theatre

This award-winning theatre presents various plays, concerts, musicals, and other live performances consistently all year round.

It attracts several thousands of visitors annually, including both tourists and locals.

It supports regional artists by creating new employment opportunities for them and also offers educational programs for the local youth.

Popular performances include Shakespeare in the Park, Alice in Wonderland, Hamlet, Spirit of the Yule.

This is a perfect place for a wonderful evening’s entertainment.

Enjoy Nature at Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park

This park features verdant foliage, a mesmerizing lagoon, and a broad array of birds.

It is a popular spot for bird viewing, picnics, biking, and hiking.

Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and head out for a refreshing stroll at this park.

It is open daily from 8 am till sunset.

Visit Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum

Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum
Nadia Yong / Shutterstock.com

Established in 1976, this museum exhibits ancient artillery used by the US military guarding the coasts of Port Townsend and neighboring regions from sea invaders during the World Wars.

It also has exhibits depicting the history of Fort Worden, its role in the wars, and its journey to becoming a state park.

The museum is located in one of the former barracks in Fort Worden State Park and is open daily to visitors from 11 am to 4 pm.

The entry fee ranges from $2 to $4 depending on your age, and admission is free for kids under 6.

Go Whale Watching With Puget Sound Express

Do you want to see some whales and dolphins while exploring the breathtaking waters of Port Townsend?

Puget Sound Express is a family-owned and operated cruise company.

Check out these whale-watching options that don't require a full day at sea! Its whale-watching cruise is ideal for visitors and tourists with a hectic schedule.

Majestic gray whales move northward each spring from the southern seas of British Columbia and the Yukon.

They migrate through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound in March and April, offering a fantastic opportunity to see and learn about these whales.

During October, a 4-hour whale viewing trip leaves Port Townsend at noon.

You can spot whales on the San Juan Islands or in the waters surrounding them.

No tour may take off without at least 15 people on board.

A snack bar and bathroom are also on hand for those who choose to stay indoors.

You may also see bald eagles, California and Steller sea lions, harbor seals, tufted puffins, and many other types of marine life.

When whales are "talking," you can hear them using a hydrophone while a certified marine scientist shows you around the various locations.

Explore Fort Townsend Historical State Park

Fort Townsend Historical State Park
Angela Dukich / shutterstock.com

Constructed in 1856, this former US military base is now a popular site for camping and social gatherings.

It features dense forests, hiking trails, a defunct torpedo tower, an amphitheater, picnic tables, and beach access.

There is plenty of scope for boating, crabbing, fishing, beach exploration, diving, and other water adventures.

The picturesque views and calm atmosphere make it an ideal location for planning your wedding.

View of Fort Townsend Historical State Park
Angela Dukich / shutterstock.com

De-Stress and Revitalize at Soak on the Sound

Soak on the Sound is a famous bathhouse and spa featuring private saltwater soaking tubs, saunas, salt therapy, and more.

Salt therapy is beneficial for your respiratory hygiene, and soaking in saltwater rejuvenates and heals your skin.

Treat yourself and spend a relaxing day at this spa.

Port Townsend Art Walk takes place on the first Saturday of every month from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

Artworks by various regional artists are displayed in local galleries of Port Townsend, and visitors can walk in and interact with the artists while viewing their works.

The exhibitions rotate regularly, and hence there’s always something new and fresh every.

The galleries that take part in this event include Gallery 9, Northwind Arts Center, Jaqua Gallery, Pippa’s Real Tea, Port Townsend Gallery, and more.

Go on a Cruise to Port Townsend Marine Science Centre

Port Townsend Marine Science Centre aims to research about and conserve the marine life of the Salish sea.

It consists of a museum and an aquarium.

It features a wide array of marine flora and fauna, a sand lab displaying sands from various locations across the world, a microscope for viewing various sea items, hands-on activities, and more.

You can view fishes, octopuses, sea otters, starfishes, anemones, and several other marine residents.

They also host educational beach walks, wildlife cruises in the sea, lectures, and other events.

Tour the Jefferson Museum of Art & History

This museum is affiliated to the Jefferson County Historical Society and is located in the historic 19th-century city hall building.

It features a permanent collection as well as rotating exhibitions.

The museum educates its patrons about the local history and culture of Port Townsend.

Works by local artists are featured on the rotating displays.

The city’s police station, jail, and fire station were all formerly located in this building in the 19th century.

The ancient jail cells and firehall attract several visitors.

The museum is open from Wednesdays to Mondays from 11 am to 4 pm.

Groove to the Music at Concerts on the Dock

This summer event takes place in July and August every year.

Free musical concerts are organized every Thursday from 5 -7.

30 pm and myriads of music lovers flock to the Pope Marine Park Plaza to enjoy the music and dance along.

Apart from concerts, it features local food stalls and a biergarten.

The waterfront venue offers fantastic views of the Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound.

Experience the local culture and be a part of the festivities.

Watch the Sunset at North Beach County Park

This beach is a perfect place to enjoy a refreshing stroll or hike.

It is known for its gorgeous sunsets and scenic views.

Being a dog-friendly beach, it is an ideal place to walk your pet.

You can find colorful sea glass and agates on this beach.

Beer Tasting at Port Townsend Brewing Company

Port Townsend Brewing Company is one of the most renowned breweries in Port Townsend.

They started off with just two kinds of beers in 1997, and currently, they are bottling ten delicious varieties.

Their popular ales include Hop Diggidy Ipa, Bitter End Ipa, and Peeping Peater Scotch Ale.

Live musical performances are organized at the Biergarten, and their tasting rooms are open Tuesdays to Sundays.

Various events in the city are sponsored by this company, such as the Wooden Boat Festival, Port Townsend Film Festival, and others.

Learn the City's Boating History in Northwest Maritime Center

View of Northwest Maritime Center
Washington Our Home, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Following the inaugural Wooden Boat Festival in 1978, the concept of establishing a foundation to teach children and adults about classical and innovative life on the river took root.

Officially established in 1982, the center offers fleets of rowing, sailing, and motorboats.

Two longboats are also on display that are exact reproductions of the ones used by Captain Vancouver in 1792.

The institution intends to instill a feeling of adventure among would-be sailors through summer programs, overnight trips, and sailing courses, among other activities.

Those who have received training are encouraged to compete in local and international contests and sailing expeditions.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Ferry Ride to Fort Casey

Fort Casey
Edmund Lowe Photography / shutterstock.com

Take a ferry from Port Townsend to Fort Casey.

The fort dated back to the late 19th century and was formerly a US army base meant for guarding the Puget Sound.

Together Fort Worden, Fort Flagler, and Fort Casey formed the “The Triangle of Fire,” which was the strategically placed coastal defense system in Puget Sound during the World Wars.

Like Forts Worden and Flagler, Fort Casey was also converted into a state park meant for camping, biking, hiking, and organizing social gatherings.

View of Fort Casey
Edmund Lowe Photography / shutterstock.com

The Fort Casey state park also features the Admiralty Head lighthouse, defunct cannons, ancient gun displays, and beach access.

You can find a wide range of wildlife at this park, such as chipmunks, otters, elks, hummingbirds, coyotes, hawks, eagles, salmon, sea cucumbers, scallops, and several others.

Popular water adventures include boating, swimming, and diving.

The views from the park are spectacular in all seasons, and you can spot the Cascade Mountains and Port Townsend from here.

View of Fort Casey
Dmitry Kovba / shutterstock.com

Try Water Adventures at Fort Flagler Historical State Park

View of Fort Flagler Historical State Park
Eric Michael Teitelman / shutterstock.com

Constructed in the late 19th century and located in northern Marrowstone Island, this historic fort guarded Puget Sound during the World Wars and the Korean War.

Encompassing nearly 1500 acres of land, the coastal site is now a state park used for various recreational activities, such as hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, crabbing, boating, camping, paragliding, bird viewing, and plenty more.

Guided tours offered here take you through the ancient military weapon emplacements and the century-old army hospital.

View of Fort Flagler Historical State Park
Eric Michael Teitelman / shutterstock.com

The historic buildings at the site are used for lodging and reunions.

Additionally, it features a museum, bonfire areas, and a concession stand.

The park offers breathtaking views in all four seasons.

Final Thoughts

In addition to its early Native American roots, Port Townsend is rich in Victorian architecture and maritime history, as shown by the city's designation as one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States.

From the beaches to the Olympic National Park, there are several opportunities for outdoor activity.

In addition to having an artistic character, this picturesque city by the sea is home to world-class culinary establishments and is the ideal location to leave the ordinary behind and experience the remarkable.

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