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Explore Port Townsend’s maritime charm

Make your home base a former officer’s quarters or a Victorian bed and breakfast

Victorian-era brick businesses and charming homes lead down to the waterfront in downtown Port Townsend. Photo credit: courtesy of Enjoy Port Townsend, Ashley Courter

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At just under two hours by car along winding highways through rural country and forest scenery, Port Townsend is an easy access gateway from Tacoma.

Either the quaint, Victorian-era town or nearby Fort Worden State Historic Park make a great base for further exploring the Olympic Peninsula. Camp out at the park's campsites and beaches or enjoy a vintage hotel in town. With plenty of saltwater shoreline, boating and boat camping are options during your stay, as well.

Throughout the historic seaport town, the charm of grand architecture and turn-of-the-last-century touches blend with artful whimsey, modern culture and finely crafted cuisine to create a perfect romantic or family getaway.

Properly platted, Port Townsend is a city on the Quimper Peninsula in Jefferson County. With a population just under 10,000, it remains a quaint, Victorian-era seaside village as it gains culture and cosmopolitan chic.

"Port Townsend has loads of fun in store for families and kids," according to city marketing director Christina Pivarnik. "There are miles of trails for hiking or bicycling, as well as several stretches of sandy beach at Fort Worden." 

Pivarnik suggested other family-friendly activities such as the historic jail in the Jefferson Museum of Art and History, downtown on Water Street. Across the street, gourmet hot dogs are available through October at Dogs-A-Foot, and ice cream treats are served up at Elevated Ice Cream.

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center ( has an aquarium with touch tanks and a museum with an orca whale skeleton on exhibit.

Those recreational trails Pivarnik mentioned include the Larry Scott Memorial Trail, the trails at Fort Worden and the new Chetzemoka Trail.

The newly dedicated interpretive trail winds its way through Port Townsend in tribute to Chief Chetzemoka, long-ago leader of the local S'Klallam people. The trail features 18 sites in and around Port Townsend that can be divided into three-, six- and 12-mile loops.

As for lodging in town, the Port Townsend Inn has an indoor swimming pool, which Pivarnik said is always popular with families.

For a historic stay, check in to either the 1907 Old Consulate Inn bed and breakfast ( or the Blue Gull Inn Bed & Breakfast (, one of Port Townsend's first homes, built in 1868.

Military History and Historic Accommodations at Fort Worden

Nearby Fort Worden and surrounding Fort Worden Historical State Park are located along Admiralty Inlet. The park today occupies 433 acres originally developed and used as a United States Army installation to protect the Puget Sound.

Some 100 years ago, the site hummed with activity of a thousand troops, and the hidden gun emplacements, expansive parade lawns and restored Victorian-era officers' quarters recall those times. The military closed Fort Worden in 1953.

For a comprehensive history lesson on the former military outpost, check out the Friends of Fort Worden Gift Shop as a starting point. There, you can pick up a map and enjoy a leisurely self-guided walking tour of the grounds.

Highlights include the Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum, Commanding Officer's House, the Marine Science Center, the 1914 Point Wilson Lighthouse and decommissioned coastal defense batteries and gun placements that once protected the Puget Sound.

Following a day of exploring, quench your thirst with a pint and refuel with a meal at the Guard House Pub.

And if you have reserved accommodations at the park, you won't have far to go before getting a good night's rest. Choices for an overnight stay include dormitory rooms, vacation homes, historic officer's quarters and multiple camping options. (See booking information below.)

After your Port Townsend and Fort Worden adventure, you can hop a ferry to Whidbey Island or the San Juans if you want to keep exploring cool Washington maritime towns and coastal communities.

City of Port Townsend tourism information is available at:, 360.385.3000. For accommodations at Fort Worden, contact the Fort Worden Public Development Authority: 360.344.4400 or Campsite and beach shelter reservations are booked through Washington State Parks: 888.226.7688 or Fort Worden Historic State Park information can be found at:

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