Are you looking for a unique day trip while visiting Port Townsend, Wa.? Here are five reasons to visit Fort Worden Historical State Park, which includes batteries to explore, military and historical museums, a marine science center with touch tanks, and a new restaurant with a jail. Best of all, the new electric taxi and economical bus fare make spending an entire day at this historic destination a breeze for boaters to visit.
Five Reasons to Visit Fort Worden
1. Artillery Hill
It’s hard to get bored with history when you can climb atop gun emplacements and walk through unlit batteries at Fort Worden. Construction began in 1898, and in 1904, it became the headquarters for the Harbor Defense of Puget Sound. With nearby forts, Fort Casey and Fort Flagler, they formed the Triangle of Fire, whose goal was to protect the Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.
For those on foot, (cars need a Discovery Pass) all that’s required to explore Fort Worden Historical State Park is a sense of adventure, a good pair of shoes and a flashlight to explore inside the batteries and bunkers. Informative signs along the trails help you understand its history and a walking tour pamphlet is available at the Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum. On Saturdays at 1 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day, is a free guided 2-hour walking tour of Artillery Hill.
2. Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum
The Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum focuses on coast artillery history and emphasizes the harbor defenses of Puget Sound “as they existed and functioned from the late 1800s to the end of WWII,” and the history of Fort Worden. There are artifacts, photographs, documents, maps, uniforms, models and DVD presentations.
Hours: Daily from 1 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend Friday and Saturday is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Adults $4, Children 6-12 $2, Children 5 and under and active duty personal free (partners and dependents of active duty half price), Family $10.
3. Commanding Officer’s Quarters Museum
Get a glimpse into the life of top ranking military personnel at the Commanding Officer’s Quarters. The 5,000 square foot home built in 1904 is at the far end of the Parade Grounds and with views overlooking Admiralty Inlet. The house is decorated with furniture and artifacts from the late Victorian and early Edwardian era which recreates the lives of those that lived here.
Hours: Daily May through September from 12 to 5 p.m., during the months of March, April, October, and November, open on weekends only.
Admission: Adults $6, Seniors $5, Children $1.
4. Port Townsend Marine Science Center
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center is in two buildings. The Natural History Exhibit has fun, interactive displays to learn about the marine life in Puget Sound. With sleuthing savvy, you can uncover how an orca skeleton can talk, learn about conservation, and how to be ocean wise. The Marine Science Center is on the dock and has an orca listening station, large aquariums. public feedings and touch tanks with sea life gathered yearly from under the dock. Both are within walking distance of each other.
Hours: Spring, Friday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Summer, Daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesdays), Fall, Friday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Winter Friday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Natural History Exhibit Only, the building on dock is not open)
Admission: Adults $5, Kids $3, Members free
5. Taps at the Guardhouse
After exploring Fort Worden wrap up your day with dinner and drinks at the property’s newest restaurant‒Taps at the Guardhouse. The restaurant serves locally inspired light fare, like Dungeness crab cakes with local herb remoulade and local greens ($16), spicy chicken wings with Mt. Townsend cheese dip and celery ($13), and apple galette with cinnamon ice cream and caramel sauce ($7). Best of all you can enjoy your meal and creative cocktail, local brew or cider on the outdoor patio or inside the jail.
Hours: Open daily from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Three Ways to Get to Fort Worden
The newest mode of transportation in Port Townsend and the first electric shuttle in Washington State is the PTeRider. This eco-friendly service is available April through October and gives historical tours and taxi rides. Taxi Fares per ride: Inside historic district $5, historic district to port district $7, north to Fort Worden $10. Special Shuttle: Through September 4 a shuttle runs at specific times to and from Port Townsend to Fort Worden at a rate of $5 per ride/person. Please check their website for more details.
2. Jefferson Transit
The most economical way to get to Fort Worden from downtown Port Townsend or the port district is to catch Jefferson Transit’s #2 Fort Worden bus. Fare: Adult $1.50, Seniors $1.00, Youth 7-18 $1, Children 6 and under free. Be sure to bring exact change.
3. Fort Worden Marine State Park
There are five mooring buoys in Fort Worden Marine State Park. First come, first served. Cost is .70 per foot with a minimum of $15. Pay at the station on the dock.
Check out our other Port Townsend articles.
- The Swan Hotel
- Cocktails, Popcorn and the Rose Theatre
- Don’t Miss These Two Eateries Near Port Townsend’s Boat Haven
Lara Dunning is a member of the Waggoner Cruising Guide team and has made one trip up the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, AK. She is enthusiastic about small town living, and you can read more about her discoveries at Small Town Washington. She has been published in Bainbridge Island Magazine, Experience Anacortes, and Whidbey Life Magazine.