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A day in Port Townsend

Victorian stays and antiques galore

Victorian home in “uptown” Port Townsend. Photo credit: Jason Squire

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Port Townsend is a Victorian seaport with a rich maritime history located on the Olympic Peninsula. On a sunny day, panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca compete with those of the Olympic mountain range.  It is no surprise, with the natural and historic beauty surrounding Port Townsend, that it has become an arts community known for its many cultural events.  Port Townsend is an easy day trip from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord area.

Get an early start and begin your day with breakfast at the Spruce Goose Café, located at the Jefferson County International Airport right before you come into town.  This gem is where the locals eat.  Named the best pie at an airport restaurant by the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association, visitors love it, too.  It serves up good, hearty breakfasts and burgers, and social media reviews rave about it. Don't forget the pie.  The Spruce Goose Café is worth the detour.

Spruce Goose Café, daily, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., 302 Airport Rd., Port Townsend, 360.385.3185,

After a hearty breakfast, head over to the Port Townsend Aero Museum and learn about aviation in the Pacific Northwest.  The museum has an impressive collection of antique aircraft, many which can still be flown. You may luck out on your visit and see one flying.

Port Townsend Aero Museum, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday, 105 Airport Rd., Port Townsend, 360.379.5244,

Head into Port Townsend onto Water Street and find a place to park.  Make sure you check the signs because the time allocated varies from two to 24 hours.  Most spots on Water Street have a two-hour limit.  Washington Street one block over offers parking places from four to 24 hours.

In 1976, areas of Port Townsend were designated a National Historic Landmark District.  It consists of the waterfront district known as "downtown" and the Victorian homes on the bluff known as "uptown."  For your first stop, explore the Jefferson Museum of Art and History.  Take the time to watch the video about the history of the area. The museum has rotating exhibits as well as its permanent collection.  Children will enjoy looking at the jail and going into the cells.

Jefferson Museum of Art and History, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily, 540 Water St., Port Townsend, 360.385.1003,

Next, stroll down Water Street until you reach Taylor Street. It will give you a route to walk "uptown" and explore the Victorian architecture that lines the bluff.  As you head up Taylor Street, you will start to see the famous Haller Fountain.  The restoration of the fountain was a work of love by the community of Port Townsend, which worked together to raise the money.

After viewing the fountain, head up the Terrace Stairs to "uptown," which are Victorian sized.

"When you walk up the steps from the Haller Fountain to uptown, they have little steps for today's feet. This is because they were built for the ladies in their Victorian dress who walked daintily," said Christina Pivarnik, director of marketing for Port Townsend.

As you wander, you'll see streets lined with vintage homes embellished with the characteristic "gingerbread" of the Victorian era; it is if you stepped back in time.

There are more restaurant options for lunch in "downtown." A fun place to eat is Nifty Fifty's Soda Fountain.  It is a 1950s-style diner with a soda fountain and brightly colored booths. It serves typical burgers, hotdogs and fries, but where it really shines is with its ice cream desserts. They even have fried ice cream.

Nifty Fifty's Soda Fountain, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sundays-Fridays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays, 817 Water St., Port Townsend, 360.385.1931,

Finish the day exploring "downtown" and its many shops before heading home.

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