Today, much of the town is a designated a National Historic Landmark. Its location at the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula makes it a logical gateway to that area, and the town’s handsome architecture, shops, boutiques, restaurants, and pubs attract over one-million visitors annually.
Port Townsend is a good place to visit on foot. While you can drive there (about 100 miles north of Olympia), it’s more fun to arrive via the Washington State Ferry from Keystone on Whidbey Island.
While a number of homes have been converted to inns or bed and breakfasts, most are private residences. The Rothschild house, at the corner of Jefferson and Taylor, is one property open to the public. Operated as a museum by the Jefferson County Historical Society, it provides a good glimpse of the life of a wealthy town merchant. Twice a year, several other homes open their doors to the public during the Victorian Festival in March and the Historic Homes Tour in late September.
Port Townsend celebrates its maritime heritage each September with its annual Wooden Boat Festival. The event, held this year from September 9 to 11, is the largest in the U.S. with nearly 300 wooden boats from schooners to kayaks.