Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Port Townsend (the locals just say “PT") is a grand little waterfront town, built on speculation.

In the early 1800s, city founders were so sure that it would become a hub of commerce and culture that they invested in building up the small city with a railroad, post office, and courthouse worthy of a much bigger burg. But alas—or perhaps hooray!—the business and people went elsewhere and the town kept its charming Victorian homes and sweet streets.

Today, Port Townsend is brimming with artists and bakers, dreamers and artisan coffee slingers. One of its biggest claims to fame is the setting for several films, including 1982's An Officer and a Gentleman.

1. Fort Worden

In the ultimate “swords into plowshares" example, this former military stronghold from the early 1900s now houses music and art festivals, a yoga studio, and a poetry publishing house. You can camp, stomp around on the beaches and play in the spooky old concrete bunkers. Free.

2. Elevated Ice Cream

House-made ice cream (try the Swiss Orange Chocolate Chip) and all its derivatives are a must for any visit to PT. Kids in tow? Check out the vintage carousel ride in back. Sold by the ounce, a cone is about $3.

3. Port Townsend Aero Museum

Here you will find a collection of vintage planes plus artwork, books, and other aviation memorabilia. Free-$10.

4. Wheel-In Motor Movie

Drive-in movies are nearly extinct, but this one's been going strong every summer (Wednesdays through Sundays) since 1953. $6-$10.

5. Fair Winds Winery

This off-the-beaten-path winery makes unusual varietals such as Lemberger, Blush, Mead, Gewurztraminer, plus your old favorites--Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab/Merlot, Merlot and Port. Tastings cost up to $5, wines vary in price.

6. Rose Theater

The sweetest little art house theater you'll ever find. Top your popcorn with Silverwater Secret Spice (made by the restaurant next door.) Upstairs, the adult-only Starlight Room offers films, food and beverages. Tickets are $8-$10.

7. The Re-Cyclery

These folks are fierce advocates for bikes in the community and offer a rental program on a sliding scale, with helmets and locks included. Day rentals start at $15.

8. Dogs-a-Foot

Each spring, locals welcome the re-opening of a favorite (and one of the only) “fast food" joints in town, which boasts 14 varieties of hotdogs and sausages, plus inventive combinations of toppings. $4.50-$6.50.

9. Concerts on the Dock

Every Thursday evening in the summer, you can catch a band on the water and dance like everyone is watching (there's no “I can't dance" allowed in PT). Also enjoy henna tattoos and food trucks. Free.

10. Lively Olive

Taste premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars and get suggestions on how to pair them—how does blackberry ginger Balsamic sound with Persian lime olive oil? Free.

11. Waterfront Pizza

This mainstay of PT cuisine has served a generation (and then some) of locals with pizza famous for its topping-heavy slices. Cram into the small counter space, eat upstairs, or simply take your food out to the picnic tables on the beach next door. Whole pies start at $11.50. 951 Water Street, 360-385-6629.

12. Key City Public Theater

A PT mainstay, this long-running theater company continually offers up new and classic shows—in the summer, everyone heads to Chetzemoka Park, where the admission is free. Ticket prices vary for other shows.

13. Eaglemount Wine and Cider

A funky barn-turned-tasting-room offers up home-brewed cider, mead and wine. $5 per person for a selection of five.

14. Marine Science Center

Learn about the fascinating and complex life beneath the waves at this center, which features a natural history museum, aquarium, touch tanks, microscopes, and a hydrophone to listen to whales off shore. $3-$5.

15. Farmer's Market

Buy corn fresh off the truck, or browse dozens of vendors' stands selling the freshest vegetables and fruits. There's also coffee, a bakery stall, local crafts, and live music, in case you need to go beyond herbivore. Saturdays April through December. Free.

16. Kelly Art Deco Light Museum

Browse a wide array of rare antique lighting fixtures, the kind that might have adorned Port Townsend's homes from 1928-1938. Free.

17. Rothschild House

Step into a home outfitted in authentic furniture, textiles and housewares from the 1800s. $1-$4.

18. Better Living Through Coffee

This waterfront café boasts locally roasted, organic fair-trade coffee made to order by the cup, as well as an enticing menu of healthy, fun lunch items. And pastries. Man, are there pastries. $2-$4 for a cup of joe.

19. Jefferson Museum of Art and History

In addition to locally significant art by Native Americans and others, this museum lets you see what it was like to be locked up in an old-timey jail cell. $1-$6.

20. Sirens

One of the most beloved local hangouts where you can sip your wine or cocktail on a deck overlooking the water. When the sparkling waters disappear into the night, head in a play a game of pool, or perhaps try your tunes at karaoke. Drinks start at $4.50.

21. Mount Townsend Creamery

Sample tastes of local award-winning cheeses, then pick up a round and head out for your picnic. $6 and up.

22. Spice and Tea Exchange

Here's an easy way to bring home gifts for yourself and those you left behind—peruse a wide assortment of salts, sugars, teas, and herbs and stock up on regular things you might need (allspice or dried basil) and exotic items if you're feeling adventurous (blueberry sugar or Szechuan pepper berries). Starting at $2.

23. William James Bookseller

Breathe in the seductive aroma of old books while browsing through used, vintage, and rare volumes. There's usually a box of free books by the front door.

24. Gallery Walk

The first Saturday of each month, galleries and artists fling open their doors at 5 p.m. to showcase their selections. It's especially festive during the winter holidays and a great way to support local businesses when you shop for gifts. Get there early so you don't miss wine and cookies! Free.

25. Port Townsend Gallery

The cooperative displays local artists' reverence for the area and their take on local landscapes and other two-and three-dimensional pieces. Free to browse.

 

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