Port Townsend: A Seattleite’s Guide to Her Seaport Hometown
Seattle magazine's assistant art director Katie Kowalski shares her favorite restaurants, recreation spots and more
By Katie Kowalski May 3, 2020
Editor’s note: Due to the COVID 19 health crisis, we recommend you save this trip for a time when it’s safe to leave your house. Many of these businesses are not fully operational, and some of the more rural areas we write about in our travel coverage don’t need an influx of Seattleites right now. But it’s fun to dream, isn’t it?
Port Townsend is a vibrant, interconnected community of artisans and thespians, farmers and poets, shipwrights and chefs. Having grown up in and around this seaport arts town, I’ve developed my own sense of place on the Olympic Peninsula’s northeastern tip, and I encourage visitors to find theirs, too. Let your journey unfold with this walkable guide to some of my favorite local spots.
COFFEE. I’ve logged many hours at Better Living Through Coffee, drinking caffè Chetzemochas (a spicy mocha named for a 19th-century leader of the local S’Klallam tribe) while watching the waves from this waterfront spot. It serves as a haven for local creatives, who come here to write or work. The simple modern vibe of Northwest Maritime Center’s Velocity coffee bar is equally lovely.
MARKET. The flourishing Saturday Farmers Market is easily accessible from the Terrace Steps on Washington Street downtown. Toss a penny into the beloved Haller Fountain and head up the 136 steps to Uptown. At the market, I love the velvety Americanos from vintage-wagon-housed Java Gypsy, the Mac Mamma sandwich (with handmade pecan sausage) from Bob’s Bakery and honey-drenched cinnamon rolls from Pane d’Amore Artisan Bakery.
WANDER. Downtown on Water Street, Northwind Arts Center curates breathtaking mixed-media installations by Northwest artists in its contemporary, sunlit space. Nearby Conservatory Coastal Home is close to my heart. I’ve spent hours working behind the counter and answering “yes” to the often asked question: “Was this building once the Town Tavern seen in An Officer and a Gentleman?”
LUNCH. Hole-in-the-wall Waterfront Pizza makes flavorful pies with a chewy crust; order a pesto with fresh tomatoes and eat outside on City Dock. Hillbottom Pie crafts sophisticated thin-crust pizzas and rotating soups. Get the mulligatawny, the white pizza and the rich Caesar salad.
HAPPY HOUR. I learned to love craft beers at the Pourhouse’s waterfront “impound lot,” and have delighted in wild-crafted herbal ales at nearby Propolis Brewing, both less than a mile’s walk from downtown. On my next visit home, I’m looking forward to sipping wines at Port Townsend Vineyards’ new downtown location.
DINNER. Owl Sprit, a snug café serving organic fare, is my favorite spot for enjoying locally sourced meals—the bahn mi is incredible. For a fancier night out, splurge on dinner at Silverwater Café; with its tall windows and plant-covered brick walls, it’s an elegant place to indulge in cocktails and Northwest clams, or steak and wine.
ENTERTAINMENT. The Rose Theatre is the place I’ve missed most since moving to Seattle last year. See a film—any film—at this beautiful cinema, or in its magical Starlight Room upstairs. If you order popcorn, you must sprinkle it with nutritional yeast. At the end of Washington Street, Key City Public Theatre produces shows year around; its Shakespeare in the Park productions at Chetzemoka Park are a late-summertime treat.
EN ROUTE. Stop in Chimacum on your way home, and treat yourself to rosemary shortbread from the charming Chimacum Corner Farmstand. Nearby Finnriver Farm & Cidery is a dreamy spot for sipping a lavender black currant cider and watching the sun set over the pastoral paradise.