Come visit Port Townsend WA, a Victorian seaport and cultural center in the Pacific Northwest near the Olympic NP and the San Juan islands, with many diverse attractions.
The City of Port Townsend, WA, is the Jefferson County seat and is situated in the famous Pacific Northwest rain shadow at the northeast tip of Jefferson County. (Google map is below.)
Port Townsend is located about 40 miles
northwest of Seattle. It looks across the Puget Sound toward Whidbey Island,
Mount Baker and the Cascade Mountains, and on a clear day, even as far as the
Canadian Cascades north of Vancouver, BC.
Originally named "Port Townshend" by Captain George Vancouver in 1792, for his friend the Marquis of Port Townshend, this waterside town was incorporated in 1851.
In addition to newly arrived European-Americans, numerous Native American tribes lived in the area: the Chimakum, Hoh (a group of the Quileute), Klallam, Quinault and the Kilcid band known as the Twana, or Quilcene.
Port Townsend was also called the "City of Dreams," with the hope that it would be the west coast's largest harbor, and it did enjoy a great deal of commerce with overseas vessels frequenting its port for the shipping of goods and timber harvested from the area.
The town grew into a booming shipping port and a major city.
However, by the late 1890's, when plans for the northwest extension of the Northern Pacific Railroad failed to materialize, Port Townsend experienced a rapid decline in population and the boom was over.
Decades passed with Port Townsend just maintaining its economic stability, buoyed by the development of artillery fortifications at Fort Worden.
When the Port Townsend Paper Corporation built the mill south of town in the 1920's, Port Townsend's fortunes began looking up. By the 1970's, new residents with fresh ideas began to arrive, giving the town a new vision.
Because the area's economy had declined so rapidly, the lack of industry preserved Port Townsend's now iconic Victorian buildings for nearly 100 years.
In 1976, its downtown area became the Port Townsend Historic District and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1977, downtown Port Townsend WA was designated a National Historic Landmark District.
Today, Port Townsend is one of only 2 preserved Victorian ports in the USA.
Port Townsend's picturesque setting and welcoming attitude make it an ideal host for numerous annual cultural events, such as:
Opportunities abound for beachcombing, boating, sailing, bicycling, whale watching, hiking, fishing, shell-fishing, kayaking and much more. Located nearby are the Olympic National Park, Hood Canal and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
With two marinas, it is the perfect location for the recently developed Northwest Maritime Center, offering various maritime educational programs for adults and youth.
Spend a day, or two, along Water Street, where you can browse quaint bookstores, antique stores, clothing boutiques, and galleries featuring works by local and native American artists.
Relax in waterfront restaurants while you savor delicious dishes made from locally grown produce, and then obtain sweet creations from local bakeries.
For sips you'll find heavenly coffee shops, and local wineries, cideries and breweries. Catch a film at the Rose Theatre while the night is young (or at least still kicking), then retire to your comfy hotel or B&B.
whatever piques your interest, floats your boat or gets your creative instincts
flowing, Port Townsend will satisfy a yearning for culture, nature and art, in you and your family.
The Washington State ferry terminal is located right downtown, making it easy to catch the ferry to Coupeville on Whidbey Island, and onwards to points north and east. Ferry reservations are highly recommended.
Additionally, depending where you'd like to travel next, visitors to Port Townsend WA might instead catch a ferry at Kingston (to Edmonds), Bainbridge Island or Bremerton (both to downtown Seattle). Walk-on passengers to Seattle pay one way; the fare TO Seattle is free. Traveling on the ferry by car will cost you both ways.