Port Townsend, sits on the tip of the Quimper Sound, just outside of Seattle and has been delighting visitors for decades. Visiting this funky little town is very easy to do and easy to get to; via ferry and then a short drive. When heading to Port Townsend, prepare to savor some great eats, and take in some of the best sights in the Pacific Northwest.
On the drive into town, stop at the Chimacum Café between Highway 101 and Port Townsend. While it may look like your average roadside café, this local pearl offers much more. The breakfasts here win awards year after year; from locals, and visitors alike. Don’t fret over which menu item is the best, as all of their meals are sure to please. The portions are enormous and far too good not to finish or bring along.
Once you arrive in town, find a spot on Water Street, because this Victorian seaport is best explored on foot. The best part of walking on Water Street are the little shops and cafes tucked inside alleyways that you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.
If I could only suggest one place to visit for a delectable treat in Port Townsend, it would be the Tyler Street Coffeehouse. The baristas know exactly what they’re doing when they pour each cup of Caffe Vita espresso. Each and every pastry is handcrafted on site. Two of the best bites are the lemon curd Danish, and the chocolate chip walnut biscotti. The lemon curd is the perfect mix of sweet and sour and made the proper English way. The biscotti have the ideal essence of orange, and the best consistency for dunking in a finely crafted brew.
Next, head across the street to Twigs store, specializing in imported goods from England. It is connected to a fantastic yarn store, a cute kitchen shop, and a crafty bead store. You can pick up new or used books, souvenirs, art, games, and more as you make your way down Water Street.
There are some things in Port Townsend that you won’t soon forget – one of which is the delectable aroma wafting out from Waterfront Pizza where you can buy a slice, or a whole pie. Seating is limited, but there are fantastic views of the sound from the elevated seating area above the shop.
Folks flock to the Elevated Ice Cream Co. & Candy Shop also located on Water Street. The treats here earned the shop the honor as one of the seven best ice cream parlors in the nation, by the Travel Channel. The ice cream is made with organic milk and a lot of care. You can never go wrong with the mint chip, but they have new flavors all the time. If you don’t feel like ice cream, they also sell imported and handmade chocolates.
Port Townsend is filled with history, uptown and downtown. Hop on a Jefferson County bus or drive to Fort Warden. Built in 1897, the fort was then fully equipped to defend the United States for both world wars. Remnants of artillery structures can still be seen on site. Acquired by the state parks in 1971 it has been an active state park since 1973.
Visitors can rent homes on Officer’s Row, pull in an RV, or put up a tent and enjoy the beach surroundings. Visitors of all ages are welcome at Olympic Hostel in the WWII Army barracks, offering affordable accommodations in a sometimes expensive town. The park also operates the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, and was the site of filming for the movies “An Officer and A Gentleman” and “The Ring.” Don’t miss the forts interior, there are spooky, dark, and dank walkways that will lure even the most curious of minds. (Make sure you wear shoes you don’t care about, and bring along a flashlight!)
While uptown, visit Aldrich’s Market. Before the original structure burned down in 2003, it was the oldest market in the state. Aldrich’s carries unique foods, catering to the gourmet food-lovers in the city. You can pick up fresh produce or seafood, spicy sauces, teas, or an interesting beer (they often have over 100 different microbrews on hand.) If you’re staying uptown, leave the delivery to them – as they still offer this service to locals in the neighborhood. On your way out, make sure you pick up a gift basket to take home; they’ll fill it for you with many of their local bests.
Across the street is the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation building. Throughout the year, you can find street or craft fairs, a farmer’s market, or arts gathering at this site. From here you can start another self-guided walk. There are many historic and beautiful Victorian homes to be toured in uptown Port Townsend. Many of these homes have been turned into Bed and Breakfasts and one of the most popular is the Ann Starrett House. This home was built in 1889 by George Starrett as a gift for his wife, Ann and has been a guest house since 1986.
Should you choose not to stay in a bed and breakfast, you can select a one of the independent hotels downtown. Try the Manresa Castle on the corner of 7th and Sheridan, known worldwide for its haunted rooms and exquisite customer service.
But, before you turn in for the night, enjoy a gratifying meal at one of Port Townsend’s many fine restaurants. An excellent choice for a sit-down meal is the Water Street Brewing & Ale House. Their classic pub fare includes burgers, soups, and seafood; a favorite here is the halibut and chips. You may even be lucky enough to arrive on a live music night. Afterwards, join the locals for an independent film just down the road at the Rose Theatre on Taylor Street. This cinema specializes in art house and independent films that are unavailable in much bigger cities.
Whether you are staying in Port Townsend for a day trip or longer, you will not run out of things to do. The city has its share of museums, galleries, eateries, and historical sites. There’s nothing like a day well spent in a lively city that never fails to amuse.
What & Where:
The Rose Theatre (235 Taylor St; 360-385-1039)
Elevated Ice Cream Co. & Candy Shop (631 Water St; 360-385-1156)
Waterfront Pizza (951 Water St; 360-385-6629)
Twig’s (100 Tyler St; 360-379-0301)
Olympic Hostel (272 Battery Way; 360-385-0655)
Tyler St. Coffee House (215 Tyler St; 360-379-4185)
Chimacum Café (9253 Rhody Dr, Chimacum, WA; 360-732-4631)
Ann Starrett Mansion (744 Clay St; 360-385-3205)
Aldrich’s Market (940 Lawrence St; 360-385-0500)
Manresa Castle (7th & Sheridan Ave; 360-385-5750)
Water Street Brewing & Ale House (639 Water St; 360-379-6438)
For more information on Port Townsend walking tours call 360-385-1003
For more information on Port Townsend contact the Olympic
Peninsula Visitor Bureau at 800-942-4042, or visit www.olympicpeninsula.org