Adventure, Destinations, exploring towns and cities, Pacific Northwest United States, road trips, United States, Western United States

Destination Washington State: Port Townsend

We fell in love with Port Townsend and it's charming, yet sophisticated ways.

If ever there was a beautiful, must-visit American town, Port Townsend, Washington has to be it. If you’ve yet to land in this historic seafaring village, you’re in for a treat.  It’s been awhile since we visited, but I can still taste the salty air and the incredible food. I can still picture the beautiful, summer gardens, the quaint, Victorian-era cottages, and the hundreds of boats and fisherpeople that continue to make their livelihood on these coastal waters.  If you’re headed to the West Coast of the USA, here are some reasons why you should include Port Townsend in your travel plans.

Port Townsend

Crossing the Puget Sound by ferry – with a stout wind in your face, this journey will set the stage for your visit. The Washington State Ferry System is the largest system of ferries in the country. They make hopping around from peninsula, to island, and back to the mainland a breathtaking and invigorating adventure. You’re likely to spot several porpoises, waterbirds, and other seafaring creatures on the ride over — maybe even a pod of elusive orcas (if you’re lucky).

Waterfront Pizza – Located on Water Street in the center of town, this is arguably the best pizza you will ever taste outside of Manhattan— get your enormous slices to go and it it on the little beach right next to the counter where you placed  your order.  The lines are long, but believe me, the pizza is well worth the wait.

 William James Booksellers– Rainy day on your hands? This is the place to waste an hour or even a whole day. With an amazingly diverse collection of floor-to-ceiling books for prices cheap enough to make you wish you brought another suitcase, this is the bibliophile’s secret paradise. Check it out, and be prepared to fill a bag or two.

Khu Larb Thai – Superb, authentic Thai food can be yours without leaving the shores of the United States. The Olympic Peninsula’s first Thai Restaurant has been wowing foodies for more than 23 years. No matter what you order, you’ll be delighted with the food, the service, and the ambiance.

Elevated Ice CreamSwiss Orange Chocolate, Blind Love, and Marionberry –these were our favorite flavors, but there are dozens and dozens to choose from. They’re all original, all homemade, and all delicious. No matter how full your belly is from all that Thai food and pizza, do not skip the ice cream!

The Wooden Boat Festival  – The biggest and most inspiring wooden boat festival in the whole world —  if you’re headed this way in September, you have to put this on your bucket list. You’ll be inundated with music, demonstrations, pirate plays, and sailing regattas. The incredible and historical craftsmanship of the wooden boat takes center stage during this popular weekend event.

The Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend - awesome!

The Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend. Photo by Arthur Davis

Chetzemoka Park –  This little waterfront park is a treat to visit on a sunny afternoon or evening. Bring a picnic and stroll through the expansive gardens of donated tropical gardens and the trellis-covered rose promenade. There arebotanical secrets here that are just waiting to be discovered.

Fort Worden State Park – First off, you’ve got two hip and friendly campgrounds near sandy beaches that are really close to town. Next, you’ve got our kids’ favorite part of the whole Port Townsend experience — the turn-of-the-century bunkers nestled in the bluffs overlooking the Straits of San Juan de Fuca and the Puget Sound. Take heed that these bunkers are massive, unsupervised concrete structures without any of the safety precautions or oversight you might expect in a historical landmark. Filled with unlit tunnels and chambers, rail-less stairways, vertical ladders, and the sense that once entered, these “catacombs” (as our kids coined them) could become labyrinths without escape. The bunkers are a treat for adventurous or imaginative souls, and would make a great setting for the next big horror flick.

Marrowstone Island – Not actually in Port Townsend, but close enough to make it worth the trip, Marrowstone Island is a hidden pastoral retreat with a population of just under 1,000 people. Biking, hiking, and boating opportunities abound, but you’ll also find a thriving little community of fishermen, sailors, and farmers. This is the perfect little getaway from your getaway!

Marrowstone Island is the the perfect getaway.

There’s plenty of reasons to head to this beautiful corner of the Pacific Northwest. Whether you’re hitting up some urban culture in Seattle, or making a pilgrimage to Olympic National Park, your road trip will be so much more colorful with an extended stop in this unique and hip seafaring town.

Want to learn more about this beautiful part of the world? Here are a few more of our favorite PNW posts.

Olympic National Park: The Sol Duc Valley

Camping and Hiking in North Cascades National Park

A Walk Through the Quinault Rainforest

And if you’re on Pinterest, I’d love it if you would share this post:

This secret town in the Pacific Northwest stole our hearts. Here's why you should visit Port Townsend, Washington


  1. Another blogger recommended this town. Wish I would have visited while I lived in Oregon.

  2. Simple living and back to nature…this is my kind of road trip! 🙂
    Vet Leow recently posted…Bejeweled Review: An Organic Foot Spa Treatment & Gel Manicure [+CNY Promo]My Profile

  3. This sounds like a great itinerary! I love to travel and you’ve made a great case for visiting Washington! (I think you had me at Thai food…)

  4. Port Townsend is so cute!! Even though I only live in Seattle, I really need to get out there more. They actually just taped a Ghost Adventures in one of the old hotels there too!

    • Cool, Angie. Funny – they just taped one here in Vermont last month. How far is Port Townsend from Seattle?

  5. Sounds like a fun day. I’d like to visit the bookstore and ice cream shop. 😉 I crossed the Puget Sound via ferry on a day tour of Seattle but cannot remember if we went here or not.
    melody pittman recently posted…Disney Spring’s Portobello Country Italian TrattoriaMy Profile

  6. Port Townsend sounds like a lovely place!! I’m looking forward to exploring more of Washington State this year, Waterfront Pizza sounds like a delicious stop along the way.

  7. Tara you had me at summer gardens and Victorian-era cottages! Then I read William James Booksellers. I love nothing more than browsing through a bookstore 🙂 I’m moving to Vancouver in August so will definitely make a trip down at some stage 🙂

  8. The boat festival looks awesome. I’m hoping one day I can learn to sail and make it a part of most of my vacations. I really need to get to the Northwest and do some exploring though! Seems like I am really missing out.

  9. That wooden boat festival looks so cute! Great tips (especially food tips)!
    Laura @ Grassroots Nomad recently posted…Visas for Russia and China: Booking the Trans-SiberianMy Profile

  10. I’ve heard such great things about the PNW area – that part of the country is just so beautiful! The boat festival sounds fun too 🙂

  11. Looks like a great place! I love all the sailboats and Marrowstone sounds like fun!

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