Port Townsend, Washington


Just before US 101 North becomes US 101 West, take the turnoff that leads to Port Townsend, Washington.  The Victorian town is one of the oldest in the state.

Boats at Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend (or simply PT, for those in the know) is right on the water, near where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets Puget Sound. The business district lines up along Water Street, which appropriately enough, is along the waterfront.

Haller Fountain, Port Townsend Washington

Haller Fountain stands at the foot of a long staircase (the Terrace Steps) which connects the upper and lower parts of the town.  Climb the steps to reach many of PT’s historic Victorian homes.

Haller Fountain, Port Townsend

Belmont Hotel, Port Townsend

This is the Belmont Hotel, one of several historic inns in Port Townsend.  I stayed in room #2 (the upstairs window just above the streetlight).  More on that experience in just a moment.

Public House Restaurant, Port Townsend Washington

PT offers plenty of simple yet trendy restaurants along Water Street.  I enjoyed a burger at the Public House, just a short walk from the Belmont.

WA Rte. 20 begins at US 101, but doesn’t end at Port Townsend.  Load your car onto a ferry for transport to Whidbey Island, where Rte. 20 continues, all the way to Idaho.  It’s the northernmost road across the state, and leads to North Cascades National Park.

The Belmont Hotel, Room 2

Belmont Hotel, Port Townsend, Room 2

Don’t bother with traditional motels in Port Townsend.  The city is packed with Bed and Breakfasts and other historical hotels.  I chose the Belmont Hotel on Water Street.

  The Belmont was built in the 1880’s, and claims to be the oldest waterfront restaurant and saloon in town.  And for about the same price as a traditional room (I paid $79), I stayed in Room #2, one of only four rooms at the Belmont.

The room can sleep four people, thanks to the cool loft area above the bathroom.  If you have kids, they’d love it.

Belmont Hotel, Port Townsend, Room 2

This is the view from the loft.

There are a few things you should know before you stay here.  For one: you won’t have air conditioning, which isn’t really a problem since the air is cool most of the time.  In my room, one window had a flimsy screen, the other was stuck open with no screen.  And another thing: there’s no TV, even though there’s a cabinet that looks like it should have a TV inside.  Turns out, it’s just an armoire.

Overall, though, this unique experience is well worth it.

You can see the Belmont’s other rooms, and check on availability, by visiting their website.  There are plenty of other historic accommodations in PT, including the Waterstreet Hotel, which has similar rooms and prices. 

Day 2 Begins

Historic Courthouse, Port Townsend Washington

Before leaving Port Townsend on Day 2, take a little time to explore the town’s upper level, which includes an historic courthouse, that’s a bit spooky when set against cloudy skies.

Port Townsend, Washington

Jefferson Street looks down on Water Street, and out over Puget Sound.

Port Townsend, Washington Bell Tower

Another prominent PT feature rising above the town: this bell tower, built in 1890 to call volunteer firefighters in an emergency.  It’s the last remaining tower of its kind in the U.S.

If you have more time to explore Port Townsend, you’ll find plenty to do, including Washington’s smallest state park, Rothschild House.  The home has been well preserved, and provides a good look at PT life in the late 1800’s.

Note: This trip was first published in 2004.

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