Visiting Port Townsend with Your Dog
UPDATED: March, 9 2021
I spent last weekend in Port Townsend, WA with my dogs and we had a lot of fun.
Port Townsend is a cute little Victorian port town and a great place to visit with your dog.
A Brief History Lesson
There was early speculation that Port Townsend would be the largest harbor on the west coast of the United States.
By the late 19th century, Port Townsend was a well-known seaport, very active and banking on the future.
Many homes and buildings were built during that time, with most of the architecture being ornate Victorian.
Port Townsend saw a rapid decline in population when the Northern Pacific Railroad failed to connect the city to the eastern Puget Sound city of Tacoma.
By the late 1890s, the boom was over. Port Townsend’s economy was very weak until the 1920s when a paper mill was built on the edge of the town.
Today, Port Townsend is a sleepy little town with an eclectic vibe.
The waterfront retail district has restaurants, services, and tourist destinations.
There are ample recreation activities in the area.
Things to Do In Port Townsend With Your Dog
I split my days growing up between Port Townsend and another nearby town so, as you can imagine, I know the town pretty well.
There are a lot of dog friendly parks, hikes, and activities for you and your dog in Port Townsend.
Here are some of my favorites.
Fort Warden State Park
Fort Warden State Park is a former US Army Coast Artillery Corps Base constructed to protect Puget Sound from invasion by sea during war times.
While many of the structures on site have been restored and now host community events and small businesses, 100 years ago Fort Warden was home to nearly 1,000 troops and officers training to defend the Puget Sound from potential enemy invaders.
Remnants of the military bunkers, and Victorian-era Officers quarters (restored), offer a great glimpse of Pacific Northwest history.
With 432 acres total, over 2 miles of beach, 2.6 miles of ADA hiking trails, and 11.2 miles of hiking trails, it’s a great place to hike and walk with your dog.
Hunt for Sea Glass at North Beach
Dubbed, “glass beach” by locals, North Beach is a great place to visit with your dog.
Several miles west down the beach is McCurdy Point. It’s a remote bluff and the site of an old garbage dump (dumping trash off a cliff to be carried away by the water was accepted practice in the 1960s).
This trash has been rolled around by the sea for decades, including glass bottles, porcelain dishes, and discarded waste from an old marble factory in town, and turned into beautiful sea glass gems.
The waves have spread this trash – or hidden treasure depending on your perspective – up and down the beach.
North Beach is a great place in general to walk with your dog. Finding sea glass is an added bonus.
You can start finding small pieces of glass as soon as you hit the beach but if you want to spend all day, wait until low tide and hike 4ish miles down the beach to where the old dump used to be.
Warning: I am serious about waiting for low tide. Choosing a day when the tide is in the minus is best and head out while the water is still on it’s way out.
Pay attention to the water coming back in and be sure to leave glass beach before the tide gets too high to walk along the beach safely. That’s usually when the tide shifts and is just starting to move back up the beach.
Read this to learn how to get to glass beach in Port Townsend.
Use North Beach As A Base to Explore Other Walkable Areas
North Beach is very close to Fort Warden, mentioned above. You can access Ft. Warden bluff trails from the same parking lot for North Beach (via the North Beach Trail).
While you need a State Park Discover Pass to park inside of Ft. Warden State Park, you don’t need one to park at North Beach and walk in.
The small North Beach parking lot can fill up fast though, especially on weekends.
You can also walk east down the beach to the Fort Warden historic lighthouse (you can actually see it in the distance from North Beach).
The walk is about 2 miles one way.
For an all-day beach adventure, you can keep going past the lighthouse and continue on to Chetzemoka Park.
Chetzemoka is approximately 3 miles one way from the Fort Warden lighhouse and 5 miles one way from North Beach.
If you were really ambitious, you could hike along the beach from North Beach all of the way to the Point Hudson Marina in downtown Port Townsend.
However, unless you have someone who can pick you up at the other end, I don’t necessarily recommend attempting that as the hike would be something like 13 miles round trip.
Not only is that a long distance that will take you all day, you don’t want to get stuck because of a rising (see the warning above).
Chetzemoka Park is one of my favorites in Port Townsend.
The Park sits on a gently sloped hillside and overlooks Admiralty Inlet and the Cascade Mountains.
You can access the beach from the park when the tide is low and there is a walking path that weaves through a antique rose, and heritage Rhododendron, garden.
The grassy park is mostly shaded by mature trees so it’s a nice place to relax on a hot summer day.
A favorite walking route of mine is to park near the historic fountain in downtown Port Townsend at Taylor and Washington streets, climb up the stairs.
I then take any of the adjacent streets north to Blaine Street, turn right (east) and pass through Chetzemoka Park to the beach.
Once on the beach, I turn right (south east) and walk back into town to the fountain.
The whole route is approximately 3 miles and the beach section is walkable unless the tide of very high.
The Wooden Boat Festival
In September, the Wooden Boat Festival is a beautiful and fun event to check out with your dog.
Note: during my last visit, a local told me they are going to have it again in 2021 (they didn’t in 2020 because of COVID)
You can walk the little marina in town admiring the boats and some of them allow you on-board to check out the inside (some allow you on with small dogs if you carry them).
Other Activities For You and Your Dog in Port Townsend
There is actually quite a bit to do with your dog in Port Townsend if you love to walk and hike.
Besides my favorites mentioned above, other dog friendly places to go are:
- Larry Scott Trail
- Old Fort Townsend Historical State Park
- Go on a self-guided walking tour of Port Townsend
- Kayaking or Paddleboard along the Port Townsend waterfront
The Port Townsend waterfront is a popular place to kayak and paddleboard and offers a unique perspective of this beautiful town.
The most sure way to make sure your dog can go with you is to bring your own kayak or paddleboard. There are several spots in downtown, and around town, to launch from.
In 2016, when this article was originally written, I contacted PT paddlesports, which rents kayaks, stand-up paddleboards during the summer from the lawn across the street from the Fort Worden State Park wharf, and asked about dogs.
I know a lot of rental places in Seattle allow you to bring your dogs with you so I thought I would ask them.
They said, “Yes, we probably would allow a dog, but, it would have to be a small dog to fit in a kayak. We do not rent the sit-on-top style kayaks so it would probably have to be dog that would fit in your lap.”
From my personal experience, paddleboarding with a dog, especially a larger one, is easier than kayaking but most dogs need an introduction to the sport before heading out.
Check out these beginner tips if your dog has never been on a paddleboard before.
Dog Friendly Hotels in Port Townsend, WA
There are several hotels in town that allow dogs.
The Palace Hotel – Stay in a Historic Borothel With Your Dog
We’ve stayed at the Palace Hotel several times.
The Palace Hotel is a beautifully restored Victorian hotel nestled on the edge of the downtown area.
This hotel is actually a restored brothel that operated from 1925 to 1933 and has quite a rich history.
I love the Palace Hotel because of it’s location, it’s quirkiness, and it’s super dog friendly staff.
However, this is not a hotel for everyone. The guest rooms are on the second and third floors and there is no elevator. It’s not a good place if you or your dog have trouble climbing stairs.
Because this was formal brothel, the rooms have a very unique setup. The least expensive rooms usually have a small sink inside but the the bathroom is outside of the room and shared.
All rooms are pet friendly with an additional fee of $20 per pet, per night.
The Tides Inn and Suites – Relive the Movie An Officer and Gentleman With Your Dog
During our recent visit, we stayed at the The Tides Inn and Suites hotel.
The main draws of this hotel are that it’s right on the water, and many rooms have waterfront views.
Also, the love scene in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman, starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger, was filmed here (if you are old enough to remember that movie). You can even stay in the exact same room that scene was filmed in.
A walk from the hotel to the edge of town is about 1/3 of a mile and the walk from the hotel to the end of town and back is just over 1.5 miles.
The old part of the hotel – the Tides Inn – resembles a motel with a single-level building and parking close to the room.
While these “charming” rooms are clean, they are clearly in the old part of the hotel.
However, the majority these standard rooms offer a waterfront view with private deck. Some of the rooms also feature an outdoor private Jacuzzi tub.
Honestly, there are several negative reviews for this part of the Tides Inn hotel. It’s clear that these reviewers were disappointed with their stay.
As long as you are aware that this part of the hotel is certainly “shabby chic”, without a lot of chic, your stay will be enjoyable.
You certainly can’t beat snuggling with your dog while listening to the waves crash at night…..especially for the price.
There is a newer part of the hotel – the Tides Suites. These premium rooms offer an upscale room for guests looking for extra amenities. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed in any of these rooms.
The pet fee is an additional $15 per pet, per night.
The Swan Hotel
As with most things in Port Townsend, The Swan Hotel has quite a history.
The site of the Main Building at The Swan Hotel has had many purposes over the years.
It’s been offices, housing for personnel when Point Hudson was used as a Coast Guard facility, as well as a possible quarantine site for sailors entering the Puget Sound area from the Far East in the late 1800’s.
As legend has it, the four cottages on the property were originally brought in by railcar to house railroad workers near what is now the Port Townsend Paper Mill.
When the port lost favor over the more convenient one in Seattle, cottages were dumped alongside the unfinished rails and left behind.
Sometime later, the four cottages were carefully transported to their current location to serve as housing for some of the local working girls on the waterfront.
Dogs are allowed in the lobby and in ground floor suites and Cottage 4.
The Swan Hotel allows two dogs of any size for an additional fee of $20 per pet, per night.
Treats, beds, bowls, and tennis balls are available at the front desk for no additional fee.
There is no grassy area for pet relief on the property, but Pope Marine Park is right across the street.
Other Places to Stay in Port Townsend With Your Dog
Other hotels in Port Townsend that allow you to stay with your dog include:
Most of these don’t allow pets in all of their rooms so it’s a good idea to book early and you may need to call to make sure they know you are coming with a pet.
I would also assume there is also a per night pet fee.
Dog Friendly Restaurants in Port Townsend
Since most of the dog friendly restaurants in Port Townsend close their outside seating in the colder months, it can be hard to find a place to eat with your dog sometimes.
In the summer, the Sweet Laurette is great place to eat.
Located in the uptown neighborhood, it has a fairly large patio and friendly staff.
The delicious menu items go beyond what you find at most restaurants.
Waterfront Pizza is a Port Townsend icon and a great year-round option.
The pizza is pretty good but the little hole-in-the-wall, walk-up counter where you can order pizza by the slice, and see them baking in the ovens, gives it a ton of charm.
There is an upstairs seating area but dogs are not allowed up there so your options are to sit on the bench right outside if it’s available or one of the many other benches around town.
Be aware that you will have to leave your dog outside while you are ordering at the counter.
I often eat at the Courtyard Cafe during our stay in Port Townsend.
Since I mostly travel alone, I have to tie my dog up outside to order but there is a bit of year-round seating outside.
The Courtyard Cafe serves light breakfast, sandwiches, soup, and salad. I had Natalie’s Sandwich and it was delicious!
I’ve also heard that you can order inside (without your dog) and the Nifty Fifty’s Soda Fountain and Diner and eat outside (with your dog) on one of the picnic tables right next to the restaurant (they have an actual deck in summer that dogs are allowed on).
Another option if you want to take your dog to a dog-friendly brewpub in Port Townsend is the Pourhouse.
They have a great selection of beer, wine, and ciders and non-alcoholic drinks.
Several of the outdoor picnic benches have little heaters underneath to help keep you warm.
There is an excellent view of the waterfront so it’s a great place to go at sunset.
While the Pourhouse does offer some light bar snacks for purchase, they do not serve food. They encourage you to bring in your own food and even have a library of local take-out menus at the bar.
If they’re not to busy, 123 Thai Food across the street will even deliver your order to your table at the Pourhouse.
I visit Port Townsend several times a year to visit family and almost always bring my dogs along with me. It’s a town I never get tired of.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.
Great review. I’ve always wanted to travel again with our dogs (we took one local trip), but now that we have four, I stick close to home. It would be fun to take two of them on a trip locally and just have some fun. Rodrigo and Sydney would love the break from the puppies.
I’ve been really bad about being “fair” but I always try to take Chester and Gretel separately to do things. It’s easier having only one dog for some things (I know I couldn’t manage 4) and it gives them each some more quality time with me. I think you should do it! 🙂
I have four and travel solo extensively; we drove all the way to Homer AK. They loved it! The challenge is finding off leash beaches/areas, because four dogs on leashes really is difficult. It sounds like North Beach might be an option if I get there early enough…
You had a sunny day, how awesome. It was a fun town to visit, if we get to that area again I would go to Port Townsend again.
I was thinking about you the whole time I was there. Did you guys see that little RV park RIGHT on the beach at the end of town too?
What a beautiful spot to be at. Bummer the better part of the hotel doesn’t allow dogs, but as long as the part that does is clean, that is the main thing.
I went to Port Townsend for a very special reason this time. I wanted to splurge and get Gretel and I a really nice room. I really looked around. Unfortunately, all of the really nice rooms are not dog friendly. That bed and breakfast may have been quite a treat but I looked at their calendar and it looks like the rooms are booked weeks, if not months, in advance. I settled for a mediocre room with salt air and an amazing view of the sunset and sunrise 🙂
I love traveling and hope to do more with my dogs this year. I like Victorian style towns. It looks and sounds like a great place to visit. I appreciate businesses becoming more and more accommodating to people traveling with pets.
There are SO MANY restored Victorian houses in Port Townsend. It’s quite beautiful.
This sounds like such a lovely place to visit! Maybe one day Barley and I will make it out to the West Coast!
What a gorgeous place! I really want to travel to Washington in the next year or two, and I’ll be putting this on my “places to visit”.
You better let us know you’re coming 🙂 I can make other suggestions too if you need.
Chevy Chase Beach Cabins are also dog friendly, and they have a private beach! We had a doggie dream vacation there.
I’m glad to know you liked it. As I said, I’ve been going to Port Townsend for years and that is one place I’ve never been. I am sure readers will appreciate your suggestion. For this article, I wanted to stick with places to stay in Port Townsend proper. Those cabins are in Discovery Bay, 7 miles south of Port Townsend. Sounds like we should pay them a visit though 🙂
We almost want visit Port Towsend even it is too far away from us. But we love reading about it 🙂
I’ve had my three dogs visit Port Townsends pet friendly coffee roaster and brewery as well. I love the Sweet Laurette patio even with some to-go snacks in winter! Fort Worden is best off-season since I have found it to be less dangerous for dogs. Constantly avoiding foxtails, broken glass, and trash during the busy season makes for an extremely exhausting three dog park hike. We have stayed in town and outside of town on Discovery Bay and both are great ways to visit the area with pets.
I remember you talking about how bad the foxtails were are Ft. Warden. In all of the years I have been going there with Chester, I’ve not had a problem even once. I know some of it is luck but I also figured out it’s because my dog’s feet aren’t as furry as yours are 🙂
I think I’ve been in that coffee shop I think. I thought I remembered them saying I could bring Chester in. I didn’t have time during my last visit to re-confirm so than’s for letting me know.
Mom and I would love to visit Port Townsend someday! She loves any place that has the same name as her, but it does look like a really cool place and very dog friendly. Mom used to think that maybe some of her Townsend ancestors ended up in Wash. but probably not. But a great uncle did move his family to Oregon and she has lots of cousins there.
Thanks for the great tour! Love Dolly
I would be happy to show you around Port Townsend if you ever come out this way again 🙂
I am sorry to say that The Ravenscroft Inn at Port Townsend does not have any pet friendly rooms any longer.
Thanks for the update Pauline. I will remove that from the article.
I love Port Townsend. Me and my parter have been visiting there for years specially to spend time at north beach. We rescued a dog last year that is large and lovable to all humans, but he does have issues with other dogs. We’ve had him in training and he minds very well except around other dogs. To protect him and other dogs when in public he wears a muzzle and we try hard to stay away from others. He was being a good boy laying beside us and watching the seagulls. Other dogs walked by and he was doing great. Then a women came onto the beach with what looked like a healer mix that was not on a leash. As we we’re sitting there, her dog charged over to us. I held on and yelled at the lady to call her dog (50’ away). She did and after my partner through some sand, it went to her. Then she had the nerve to come over and inform us that we were on an “off leash” section of the beach. This was news to me and I’ve looked everywhere and nowhere does it say it’s off leash. Even if it is, doesn’t she need to be in “control” of her dog? If it is off leash we can make arrangements to leave him home. Is there anyway if it is, to get it posted or for that matter, get it posted to leash only?
Hi Tracy. I’m sorry that happened to you. First, leash laws or not, a dog must always be under a owner’s voice control and not bother other people or dogs. Unfortunately, many people that walk with their dog off leash have a poor understanding of that and/or manners. She was in the wrong there. With that being said, you can’t control other people. In cases like that, I am very watchful of other dogs approaching and aggressively chase them off before they even get a chance to get close to my dog (clapping, yelling, stomping, etc). It makes the other owner angry sometimes but I don’t care. My priority is advocating for my dog (not saying you guys didn’t – you clearly did – just saying it’s ok to be more aggressive about it). Secondly, I have been going to Port Townsend for over 20 years, many times a year, and am not aware of any beaches where the official rules say your dog can be off leash. But sometimes there is a local culture that is different than those rules. In Port Townsend, many people consider the beach between downtown and North Beach to be off leash. It is very common to run into off leash dogs there. This local cultural understanding would trump any sign erected – people will do it anyway. Since it is not officially an off leash beach, the City would not want to post a sign saying that it is to warn people. I’m not sure where you are from but leash laws are commonly ignored in the Pacific Northwest. The only way to really know which areas it is more ignored is to visit them yourself. Even then, how many off leash dogs you run into on any given day will vary. As an owner of a reactive dog, it is frustrating. But, like I said, I just learned to watch out very diligently and be very proactive when it comes to fending them off. Good luck to you.