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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?