Why Port Townsend
Irresistibly charming, Port Townsend is one of only three Victorian Seaports in the United States. As such, it is one of the few cities to have two National Historic Landmark Districts. Originally planned to be the “New York of the West,” the city went through a building frenzy in the late 1880s and early 1890s, only to have the railroad head up the east side of Hood Canal to Seattle instead.
But that left gorgeous architecture gracing Port Townsend, both with its commercial buildings downtown and lovely, elegant mansions uptown. Many are now Bed and Breakfast Inns to be enjoyed by visitors.
With its maritime heritage, Port Townsend boasts a working waterfront with two marinas at either end of town as well as the newly constructed Northwest Maritime Center at the end of Water Street, adjacent to Point Hudson Marina. This venue is the home of the annual Wooden Boat Festival.
Shops and galleries abound both downtown and uptown. It’s easy to spend a day sauntering through the stores and discovering treasures you’d never find elsewhere. As an artists’ community, the creativity of the locals is celebrated at every turn. It’s also a haven for artists to come and spend time honing their art, whether that’s as a writer, musician, painter, sculptor, dancer or actor, this is a place to nourish your creativity.
Throughout the summer months, Centrum, based at Fort Worden State Park, hosts a variety of arts-based workshops and intensives with participants coming from around the world. Many of these culminate with public performances, such as Fiddle Tunes, the Jazz and Blues Festivals, Dance This! and a Writer’s Conference.
Over the past few years, Port Townsend’s culinary scene has come alive with Sunset Magazine touting it as the “Paris of the Northwest.” What makes it so awesome is the abundance of farms and local growers throughout Jefferson County, especially in the Chimacum Valley. Dairy, vegetable and fruit farms proliferate with wineries and, most recently, cideries offering opportunities for up-close visits and tastings.
Port Townsend is a great destination for eco-travelers too. With a network of biking and hiking trails intersecting across the city you’ll enjoy miles of natural beauty. Bicyclists can arrive via ferry from Whidbey Island, stay in Port Townsend and continue on toward Port Angeles via the Olympic Discovery Trail. Since water surrounds Port Townsend, it’s ideal for kayakers. From May through September, both bicycles and kayaks are available to rent.