Settled in the mid-19th century, Port Townsend—once called “The City of Dreams” after early hopes that the area would turn into the largest west coast port—shrank dramatically by the 1890s. Luckily, at least for present-day visitors, the quick rise and decline of the area means that many of the Victorian-style buildings remain untouched and just as glorious as when they were first constructed. The small town of 5,000 people is a two-hour drive outside of Seattle and boasts excellent galleries, bookshops, restaurants and views of the sea.
Just north of downtown Port Townsend in Fort Worden State Park, Taps at the Guardhouse (temporarily closed) was built in 1904 and once housed troublemaker soldiers. Today, it’s a modern industrial-chic pub serving delicious sliders, oysters, charcuterie boards and salads. You can still sit in a jail cell if you’d like to.
With a beer garden right against the water, Pourhouse is the best place to go to if you want to lounge on a sunny afternoon or play a game of pingpong to unwind. The staff keeps 12 beers and two ciders on tap at all times, many of them local.
Drop by the Port Townsend Marine Science Center in Fort Worden State Park, where kids and adults alike can learn about the northwest’s ancient glaciers and underwater flora and fauna systems, including fossils and a touch tank filled with anemone, crab and starfish.
Spend the night in a National Historic Landmark bed and breakfast, the Old Consulate Inn. With a history dating back to 1889, the hotel boasts another draw as well: rooms that look over the Puget Sound and into the Olympic Mountains.
If you do just one thing…
Shop the historic district on Water Street, where you’ll see some of the most impressive 19th century buildings and get to peruse local art and trinket shops.