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 best things to do while visiting Port Townsend:
Camping at Fort Worden Historical State Park
Formerly a US Army base, Fort Worden was built to protect its neighbouring 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 scope for beach exploration, swimming, kayaking, diving, and fishing. Owing to its magnificent vistas, it is an ideal location for organising weddings, reunions, and other social gatherings. The over 400 acres 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.
Check out aircrafts at Port Townsend Aero Museum
Founded in 2001, this museum has rotating exhibits featuring a multitude of antique aircrafts. It has grown from its humble beginnings with just 6 aircrafts scattered in different airdocks of the city’s airport in 2001, to currently having over 26 exhibits displayed in their own $3.5 million worth facility. They also work on restoring old and defunct aircrafts. 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.
Visit Point Wilson Lighthouse
Originally built in 1879, high tides and storms led to the construction of a new lighthouse on the same site in 1914. Located in the 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.
The farmer’s markets offer 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 9am and 1pm from April to December.
Chimacum Farmer’s market is open on Sundays between 10 am and 2pm from June to October.
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 to the Jefferson County Historical Society. Tours of the historic uptown start from this museum on Sundays at 2pm from June to September.
Port Townsend Vineyards is known for its delicious wine. They offer tours of their vineyards and educate their visitors of the process of wine making and harvesting grapes. They have a wide collection of wines that you can taste.
Fairwinds is the oldest winery in this city. They also offer daily tastings of their of their several collections of fine wines. Additionally, you can sample their mead during the tours.
Enjoy a Picnic at Chetzemoka Park
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, colourful 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 alike. 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 mesmerising 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
Established in 1976, this museum exhibits ancient artillery used by the US military guarding the coasts of Port Townsend and neighbouring 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 11am to 4pm. The entry fee ranges from USD 2 to USD 4 depending on your age and admission is free for kids under the age of 6.
Explore Fort Townsend Historical State Park
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 amphitheatre, picnic tables, and beach access. There is plenty 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.
De-stress and Revitalize
Soak on the Sound is a very popular bathhouse and spa featuring, private saltwater soaking tubs, saunas, salt therapy, and more. Salt therapy is known to be 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 pm. Art works 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.
Ferry Ride to Fort Casey
Take a ferry across to Whidbey Island from Port Townsend to reach Fort Casey. The fort dates 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 organising social gatherings. 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.
Go on a Cruise
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 denizens. They also host educational beach walks, wildlife cruises in the sea, lectures, and other events.
Water Adventures at Fort Flagler Historical State Park
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. 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 breath-taking views in all four seasons.
Tour the Jefferson Museum of Art and 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 music at Concerts on the Dock
This summer event takes place in July and August every year. Free musical concerts are organised 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 colourful sea glass and agates on this beach
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 10 delicious varieties. Their popular ales include Hop Diggidy Ipa, Bitter End Ipa, and Peeping Peater Scotch Ale. Live musical performances are organised 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.