Port Townsend

 Posted by at 12:08 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 122011

We spent yesterday exploring the picturesque and historic waterfront community of Port Townsend, at the very tip of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s one of our favorite towns in all of the Pacific Northwest.

Settled in 1851, Port Townsend was a busy seaport in the late 1800s, with over 1,000 tall ships calling every year, from around the world. The beautiful Victorian homes on the hilltop above the city, as well as the brick buildings in the charming downtown, are reminders of the days when ships put in here from every point on the compass. Today Port Townsend is a popular tourist destination and year round home to an eclectic population that includes affluent retirees, young professionals, fishermen, artists, and boat builders.

The town’s boatyards are busy all year, and the city marina is home to everything from small sailboats to luxury yachts, as well as a popular port of call for recreational boaters.

Boat yard

Docked sailboat

Port Townsend is home to the Wooden Boat Foundation, located at the new Northwest Maritime Center, and people come here from around the world to learn how to build and restore wooden boats. The annual Wooden Boat Festival, which will be held September 9-11 this year, features more than 300 wooden vessels, dozens of nautical seminars and workshops, along with vendors, music, and entertainers.

 Boat frame

Wooden boat hull

Wooden boat in rack

We spent most of the afternoon exploring Water Street, the Main downtown street, which is lined with handsome old buildings that house restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and book shops. All of the shopkeepers are friendly and welcoming, and very helpful if you have any questions. Flowers seem to be everywhere, and many businesses have flower boxes or planters lining the sidewalk.

Corner building

Street scene

Flower boxes

Palace Hotel

The past is never far away here, and many of the old buildings downtown are still adorned with faded signs from bygone days, advertising everything from shoes to tobacco.

Boiler Room

Bull Durham sign

While many cities around the country demolished old buildings in the eternal quest for newer and better, in Port Townsend, they cherish and preserve these old icons that are the very soul of the community. The Hastings Building, built in 1889, is still owned by descendants of Loren B. and Lucinda Hastings, pioneers who came to Port Townsend in 1852 and built the elegant building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as are many of the town’s buildings.

Victorian hotel 2

Visitors to Port Townsend can enjoy a relaxed, laid back day of shopping the downtown area, touring the waterfront, boating, or hiking in nearby Olympic National Park. Back in town, after choosing a dinner that may range from a pizza or sandwich at a sidewalk cafe, to an elegant meal in one of the historic old hotels, they can retire to any of several bed and breakfasts, or stay at one of the local RV parks, including this one next to the marina, with a waterfront view.

Waterfront RV park 2

We have been to Port Townsend many times, staying at the  Escapees Evergreen Coho Co-op RV park in nearby Chimacum, or the Elks lodge campground just a few miles from downtown. We never get tired of this friendly town, and look forward to our next visit. There is a lot left to see and do that we still have not gotten around to yet!

Thought For The Day – If today is the first day of the rest of your life, what was yesterday?

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Nick Russell

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  10 Responses to “Port Townsend”

  1. I always look for those faded signs on old brick buildings. I refer to them as “ghost signs.”

  2. I think you forgot the picture of “this one with water front view”…..the RV park picture.

    I think the RV park pic would be more important than pictures of buildings downtown.


  3. Port Townsend is a favorite of ours, too. Your choices of places to stay included “…or stay at one of the local RV parks, including this one next to the marina…” Was there supposed to be a photo there? Or a link that I missed? We, too, stay either in Chimicum or at the Elks, but wondered how the marina park looked these days (been a few years since we’ve visited Port Townsend). Last time we checked it out, it looked kinda’ run down, so I was curious…

    We’ll be there in a week or so.

    Safe travels,

  4. From your thought: yesterday was the last day of your old life. Today is the day you can choose to live it differently. That’s good for those of us trying to make major changes in our health who may need to restart some days for awhile until we get it right.

  5. My apologies, I forgot the picture of the RV park. I have added it now.

  6. Thank you for adding the picture. It helps to get a feel for the place if there is a picture of your campsite, price of site and a comment of your general feel for the park. Actually some pictures of their office etc…..maybe in place of a building downtown picture if cramped for post space.

    Since a majority of us have dogs….maybe a comment about dog friendliness……..

    Thanks again, Andrea

  7. Andrea, you can find out RV rates and other info by calling the park, or by checking RVParkReviews.com. This blog isn’t an RV park review blog, it’s a travel blog. I want to see and learn about the community so I’ll know if I want to visit it. I like the pictures of the old buildings.

  8. I didn’t include details on the RV park, Andrea, because then every RV park in the area would expect the same coverage. The purpose of the blog was to share a new place for readers to visit, and to show them why we like Port Towensend so much, but giving them a virtual tour.

  9. I have always been kind of an architecture junkie, so I loved the photos of the buildings, especially the Victorian hotel. One can learn so much about a community by walking the byways and studying the various building styles and details. In towns that have preserved the older homes and businesses, it is like a free trip to a large art gallery. Thank you for sharing your travels!

  10. Thanks for the tips…..appreciated !

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