Man-made history meets serene natural beauty in Port Townsend, the charming Victorian seaport on the northeastern tip of Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Originally recognized as "Port Townshend" by Captain George Vancouver in 1792 and officially settled in 1851, this "City of Dreams" was once envisioned to become the largest harbor on the west coast. That dream was never realized, but Port Townsend remains a city with a rich maritime history, an abundance of Victorian character, and a relaxed outdoor lifestyle that is best appreciated in one of our beautiful vacation rentals.
Scenically situated on the edge of Port Townsend Bay, this historic city of 9,210 residents marks the point where Puget Sound opens into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Port Townsend sits seven miles across the water from Whidbey Island (a route frequently traversed by Washington State Ferries), 47 miles east of Port Angeles, and 98 miles north of Olympia. It's also just 56 miles northwest of Seattle - a roughly two-hour journey by car that includes the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry.
Find your bearings on the Port Townsend waterfront, a bustling commercial district that served as a customs gateway during the mid-19th century. This district has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places, creating a wonderful area to stroll among ornate Victorian homes, visit the fascinating Northwest Maritime Center, or tour the well-preserved landmarks of Port Townsend's maritime heyday.
With an array of annual events that include the Classic Mariners' Regatta in June, the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival in August, and the Wooden Boat Festival in September, you'll always have performances to take in or community gatherings to attend. But this stretch of coastline is also perfect for quiet outdoor adventures, whether you're renting a kayak from Port Townsend Paddlesports, perusing the seasonal Saturday farmers market, or packing a picnic to enjoy on the gorgeous waterfront at Chetzemoka Park.
Outdoor enthusiasts will also find two beautiful state parks within minutes of the historic center. The 367-acre Fort Townsend Historical State Park features more than six miles of wooded hiking trails on the banks of Port Townsend Bay. And Fort Worden Historical State Park, a filming location for the 1982 classic, "An Officer and a Gentleman," sits on a high bluff overlooking Puget Sound, and offers two miles of lovely saltwater shoreline.
With the rugged Olympic Mountains to the west, the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north, and the islands of the Puget Sound to the south and east, Port Townsend is uniquely situated for exploring the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Set sail with the Puget Sound Express, a family-operated whale-watching fleet that offers a variety of unforgettable excursions from Port Townsend. Take a three-hour whale watching tour in March or April, or book a one-day trip to the San Juan Islands between May and September - you're likely to see killer whales, minke whales, sea lions, and porpoises along the way.
Guests at our Port Townsend vacation homes will also enjoy regular ferry service to Whidbey Island, where you can hike along rugged coastal cliffs and explore a spectacular stretch of shoreline in Deception Pass State Park.
Port Townsend also sits to the west of more than one million acres of glacial peaks, verdant rainforests, and sprawling wilderness that make up Olympic National Park. You'll find the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center 65 miles away, as well as the deep, clear waters of Lake Crescent 69 miles west - both of which offer scenic hiking trails and unforgettable vistas.
Come and explore the historic gateway to Puget Sound - our Port Townsend vacation rentals will treat you to the best of the Pacific Northwest.
Photo Credit: cmh2315fl via Flickr