Gretel and I spent last weekend in Port Townsend, WA. Port Townsend is a cute little Victorian port town and a fun place to visit with your dog.
A little history: 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 a hippy vibe. The waterfront retail district has restaurants, services, and tourist destinations. There are ample recreation activities in the area.
I split my days growing up between Port Townsend and another nearby town so, as you can imagine, I know the town pretty well. It’s a great place to hit the beach or enjoy a unique stroll through the historic bunkers of Ft. Warden State Park.
In September, the Wooden Boat Festival is a beautiful and fun event to check out with your dog. 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).
Dog Friendly Hotels in Port Townsend
There are several hotels in town that allow dogs.
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.
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, many rooms have waterfront views, and 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.
Other pet friendly hotels in Port Townsend include the Bishop Victorian Hotel, the Swan Hotel, the Aladdin Motor Inn, the Harborside Inn, and some private bed and breakfast accommodations like the Ravenscroft Inn. 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.
We ate at the Courtyard Cafe during this stay. I had to tie Gretel 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).
Dog Friendly Parks, Hikes, and Activities in Port Townsend
There are so many places to go with your pooch in Port Townsend.
Chetzemoka Park is one of my favorites. I am not sure why I like it so much. Maybe it’s the archway you can walk through in the spring with a plethora of blooming flowers; maybe it’s that my friend’s Dad helped build the gazebo and crafted the inlaid star in the center; or maybe it’s that you can get on the beach and enjoy the spectacular view of Mt. Baker as you walk into town.
I also love North Beach and the old military bunkers at Ft. Warden State Park.
After you stroll North Beach looking for sea glass (visiting at low tide is best), you can head up the grassy meadow and walk into Ft. Warden State Park. While you need a State Park Discover Pass to park inside of Ft. Warden, you don’t need one to park at North Beach and walk in.
Walking into the Ft. from North Beach takes you directly to the bunker area. The structures were originally built as part of a US Army installation that protected Puget Sound during World War I. The fort never fired a hostile shot and the guns were later removed for use in Europe. It’s really cool to walk around these cement structures with peeling paint and rusting doors and imagine what it was like back then.
If you do drive into Ft. Warden, you will find nicely manicured grounds, old restored buildings, and a lighthouse.
Other great areas to explore with your dog are Fort Townsend State Park and the Larry Scott Trail along the waterfront. It’s been eons since I’ve visited Fort Townsend State Park but I often walk along the Larry Scott Trail to enjoy the views of downtown from a distance. On clear days, you can see both Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier – two of the largest mountains in Washington State.
I contacted the only kayak and paddleboard rental place in town – PTpaddlesports – and asked about dogs. I know a lot of rental places in Seattle allow you to bring your dogs with you. This is what 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.”
I’ve paddled with Chester and Gretel both in a kayak and on a paddleboard. The paddleboard was easier for sure!
Your dog can also accompany you on a tour of the town on one of Port Townsend’s famous sidewalk tours. The living-history waterfront tour features a few pet-friendly pit stops for when nature calls, as well as a treat and water break spots. Integrate your best friend into an informative activity with Port Townsend’s historic sidewalk tours.
I visit Port Townsend several times a year to visit family and almost always bring Gretel and/or Chester along with me. It’s a town I never get tired of.