If you haven’t experienced the stunning town of Port Townsend just yet, it’s time to add it to your list. It’s a magical sea town with historic architecture, stunning views and many shops and restaurants. If you’re planning a trip to the area, use these ideas to help guide you.
A Cozy Town
Cozy is my thing. Exploring a town on foot, dipping back down narrow side streets and into obscure shops hidden underground (yes, underground, you’ll see…) is how I prefer to take a place in. By now, you’re surely familiar with the concept of ‘hygge’– a Danish word (pronounced hoo-ga) that has no direct English translation, but generally means all the cozy things.
Evenings with the fire going and a hot cup of tea and a book is hygge. Hot stews and cookies made from scratch are hygge. A warm blanket and a good film are hygge. And sometimes even entire places can be hygge. Port Townsend is one such place.
Port Townsend is a Victorian seaport village chock-full of artists and craftspeople, with pockets of rain forest scattered about, a cacophony of seagulls (and sometimes eagles) overhead and seawater lapping all around… here on the Quimper Peninsula, inspiration and beauty abound.
And while there are plenty of festivals and loud sunlit patios if that’s your thing, today I’m going to take you along with me for a walk around town to delight in some of the more subtle pleasures of this inspiring maritime town.
But first, coffee.
At the top of my list is Better Living Through Coffee, which sits right on the sea where you can watch the boats go sailing by while you sip a delicious hot cuppa.
At the other end of Water Street, tucked into the Northwest Maritime Center and facing the Wooden Boat Foundation (which you’ll definitely want to meander through), is Velocity Coffee. If you have a book to read or some online tasks to complete, I recommend perching beside one of the big open windows and letting the sea breeze waft across your face. It’s common to hear the sounds of wooden boats being worked on next door.
The main strip of downtown Port Townsend is Water Street. From the ferry all the way to the shore at Point Hudson lie several little shops worth dipping into and exploring.
The Northwest Man offers all sorts of great gifts for outdoorsmen in your life, with a distinctly Pacific Northwest woodsy vibe. Thuja is a delight of a shop, with curated vintage clothing, homewares, body products, and a whole lot more. Whoever is in charge of ordering obviously has fine taste.
And what kind of a hygge stroll would this be if we didn’t potter around a bookshop? For this, William James Bookseller is the place for used and out of print books, with an older feeling and a dim-lit ambiance. I especially love the Alaska and Washington sections!
Eats and Sips
Port Townsend is chock-full of cozy places to grab a good meal, but for the sake of hygge I’ll point you toward Lehani’s Deli & Coffeehouse on Taylor Street (still downtown), and if you have time be sure to see what’s playing next door at the Rose Theatre, which first opened as a vaudeville house in 1907! Ready for a Bloody Mary or a glass of wine instead? The bar at Siren’s has a Victorian-Pirate-Old World feeling with good sea breeze rolling in.
Before leaving downtown and making your way uphill, you must visit Pippa’s Tea. It’s one of the most hygge places in Port Townsend, quite frankly. And you must order a proper scone, complete with clotted cream and jam. Trust me on this. A hot or cold cup of Great Expectations tea finishes things off well.
Now let’s head over to Taylor Street again, taking the stairs that lead underground into Undertown which is, quite literally, underneath Port Townsend. Follow the walkway all the way back until you get to The Candle Store on your left where you can shop for candles and incense in a cozy stone cave-like setting. Then, come back up into the light and walk up Taylor Street, away from Water Street, toward Haller Fountain.
At Haller Fountain, take the stairs up, up, up until you hit Jefferson Street where you’ll hang a left. Soon you’ll see the old Fire Bell Tower on the bluff to your left. Make sure to walk back behind it for a picturesque view looking down over Port Townsend and the sea.
Now make your way past St. Paul’s Episcopal Church – a Gothic Revival church that was built in the 1860s and moved to its present location two decades later in the 1880s by horse!
You’re now in “Uptown” Port Townsend. Continue along the sidewalk, stopping into Pane d’Amore Hearth-Baked Bread to get a loaf of artisan bread for the pantry. If it just so happens to be Saturday between 9AM and 2PM, you’re only a block away from the Farmer’s Market with all the flowers and kombucha, live music and fresh veggies your heart could hope for!
When you reach Lawrence Street, be sure to check out Bear Root Apothecary for all things holistic health and wellness. And if it’s time for another cuppa to round out your walk, step into Seal Dog Coffee Bar.
Ready for a proper meal? You’re in tremendous luck! Across the street is Finistére where you can enjoy real food like lamb tartare, local oysters, and strawberry gazpacho.
Watch The Sunset
Before you leave Port Townsend, watching a beautiful sunset is a must. Drive or walk to Fort Worden to see the Point Wilson Lighthouse. If it’s a clear enough day, the alpenglow will be cast on Mt. Baker in the distance behind the lighthouse. Cozy up with a blanket as the sun sets yet again over this magical little seaside village.