7.4 out of 10

Port Townsend

48.1191060223914 -122.797162635147
Great for
  • Clean & Green
  • Cost of Living
  • Eating Out
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Parks & Recreation
Not great for
  • Nightlife
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • LGBT+
  • Country Lovers


4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5

"Destination waterfront town for tourists and retirees"

Port Townsend, on the northeast point of the Olympic Peninsula, is a Victorian-style tourist and retirement destination town known for art, festivals, shopping, and beaches.

Port Townsend is made up of 3 main parts: downtown, uptown, and Fort Worden.

Downtown is a collection of art galleries, clothing stores, and other retail. Dispersed in between these are plenty of small restaurants to break up your shopping. Once a month, there’s a gallery walk, where the galleries are open late, and pass out champagne and treats while you meander around drooling over the art. And I have to mention the marina, where the annual Wooden Boats Show is held. People come from all over the country for this.

The town’s economy is mainly based around tourism, which is why so many (but not all) art galleries and gift stores can survive.

Uptown is a smaller collection of the same thing, just higher on the hill.

Fort Worden, north of downtown, and making up the tip of the peninsula, is an old military fort that has been turned into a casual resort. The main feature is hosting events--it’s a popular place for weddings, especially in the old blimp hanger. They also do a really tasty Sunday brunch, which is the only time the restaurant is open to the public outside of events. If you like exploring, bring a flashlight to find your way through the old batteries. It can be pretty spooky. And of course there’s the lighthouse, and the beach that wraps around the northeast point, with a view of the Cascades. There’s a small campground near the beach too, as well as officer’s houses you can rent out.

Every summer, Fort Worden has a week-long Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, which is one of the best violin events in the country. Outstanding violinists come from all over the world to teach workshops and give concerts.

There are lots of other events and festivals in this artsy town, too many to list. This town is seriously in love with community get-togethers. One fun one that I’ve been to a couple times is the annual Rhody festival and parade. The costumes are ridiculous, in a good way.

Who lives in Port Townsend?
Port Townsend is well-known as a retirement community, particularly for retired professionals. It is also a draw for artists and musicians. Overall, the atmosphere here trends towards very liberal, when compared with the cultures of nearby rural towns on the peninsula.

Of course, this is over-generalizing, and there’s also a wide mix of middle class people who are here making it all run. The paper mill south of town employs quite a few people. You can often see it’s milky clouds of steam gushing into the air, spreading the sulfurous smell around the area.

Cost of living:
There’s not much available for rent here (check the local paper’s classified section), but what is available is very affordable. For example, most 2-bedroom apartments (most are condos) run around $850. About half the price of Seattle. Not bad.

There is abundant land for sale, as well as a few houses on the market. And with the geography of the Port Townsend area, being on a hilly peninsula, much of the land has a view, either of Puget Sound, or of one or two (or both!) of the mountain ranges.

Transportation is always hard in rural areas, but there is one public and one private bus that connects the Olympic Peninsula, and Port Townsend, to Seattle. I once took public transit all the way here from Spokane, so it can be done, but it’s not pleasant. And then of course there’s the ferry to Whidbey Island. Make sure to reserve your ticket ahead of time for summer weekends, because it will be sold out.

A few recommendations:
--The Starlight room in the Rose Theater: This is the upstairs screen at the Rose Theater, and it’s filled with big fancy armchairs and chandeliers. You can order food from the restaurant and they’ll bring it in for you.
--The aforementioned brunch at Fort Worden
--Bayview restaurant: This is definitely an all-American style diner, with hearty, greasy food. The clam chowder is the best.
--The Boiler Room: This is a café made mainly for teens, though everyone is welcome. They do coffee, tea, snacks, and free soup once a week. Pretty awesome to have a place like this for teens, because most of the rest of town is not at all designed for them.
  • Lots of events
  • Low cost of living
  • Great views
  • Lack of public transportation
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • LGBT+
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers

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