If you're looking for quaint for a few days, I would suggest my new hometown over Friday Harbor. PT was a major port until the 1893 depression and never recovered because the railroad decided that Seattle was far enough to run track. So we still have lots of buildings from that time period. Saturday, there's a great farmer's market. And Fort Warden is nice -- they filmed "Officer and a Gentleman" here.
We spent 4 days on SJI and absolutely loved it. (We moved to PT because wanted something like SJI but less inconvenient.) PT is much easier to get to and opens up the Olympic peninsula to you or just enjoy the PT area which do we -- sometimes our car doesn't move for a week.
How funny! Yes, during our brutal summers, I dream of living in the Pacific Northwest. Then the winter comes along and rudely disabuses me of that notion, LOL!
Port Townsend looks beautiful, and I will definitely consider bunking there instead of Friday Harbor. It doesn't look like we can make a bad decision; it is so gorgeous all around. But yes, if we have to take into consideration travel and ferry-wait times, I am up for all suggestions! I will look into shuttle service from the airport to PT. I can't wrap my brain around not needing transportation! We'd get a taxi to our hotel and then just use bus (rail?) and walk everywhere?
Taking a day trip to SJI sounds like a great compromise.
Thank you!Edited: 1:14 pm, December 07, 2013
Wait! Usually we use the car to get to/from the airport. We have used public transport once and a private bus line another time but for a vacation I would definitely rent a car and drive over to Port Townsend. It's just that living within town as we do, the car doesn't move much for our normal life. Rent a car and drive the two hours.
Right now it's is 28F out there and I'm about to walk down to the Farmer's Market. The sun is out and it will be absolutely beautiful. Last night we walked to dinner. The cold doesn't keep us in doors -- unlike the houston heat.
Here are some photos -- most taken from our house in PT, others taken around town.
Beautiful pictures! So if we split time between Seattle and PT, would you advise splitting time and getting a hotel in both cities or just driving into town from either city for the day? If the latter, which town would you bunk in?
Not sure what you want to do and how physically strenuous (i.e, you want a walk, a hike or a HIKE). But being that you're from houston where I lived for 40+ years (bellaire and rice grad), I would suggest you want to be OUTSIDE. Outside and outside and more outside. Minimize the driving which a houston kind of thing and use those two things called feet.
Personally, I like PT as a base. Hurricane Ridge (and Lake Crescent) are about as far West as you want to go and still have a good outside vs driving time ratio. Others might disagree but the ferry over to Victoria from Port Angeles for a day trip works for us -- done it multiple times. You do have to wake a bit early to make the 8:15am ferry but that time of year, the sun will have already been up for hours so its not hard to get moving early. Going East, Port Gamble is a cute little town with a great tea shop and for me an interesting museum on the logging history.
Within PT, on Saturday there is one of the best farmer's markets in the state. For most of our visiting friends, the walk over to Fort Warden is about as much "hiking" as they feel like doing. The hill where all the gun batteries is a nice little climb and great view. If you (or your 'pre-teen') like exploring, bring flashlights or headlamps and explore the insides of the gun structures. It can be absolutely pitch black in there. Fort Warden also has a tiny marine science museum with touch tanks.
If you in PT on a weekend in August, you can see "Shakespeare in the Park". (I've been an actor in the last two years productions.) Bring a jacket because it gets cold when the sun goes down. Which will be an experience in itself in August. In July, 'Centrum' has music performances that are amazing over at Fort Warden.
PT is a 70 minute drive from this side of the "Seattle - Bainbridge" ferry. (FYI, I like ferries.) I think somebody suggested renting a car in downtown seattle before you leave and then return to the airport. I assume that isn't a problem but don't know personally. Would be nice if you could rent a car on Bainbridge which enable you to walk on the ferry but I've never seen a sign for that.
For Seattle, I really can't make many recommendations. We are amazed at how infrequently we travel into the city. Between shopping locally and amazon, there isn't anything we need from there. We do go to the art museum but you have MFAH. I've done the underground tour 3 times and that is once or twice two many!
BTW, we don't have bugs.
I hope that is helpful. It's a more relaxed approach stressing being outside while passing up some of the wildness of the Olympic peninsula. Don't get me wrong, the beaches on the west coast are fabulous and going out there could be another approach but I'm not the one to ask.
You're so right... this trip is our escape from the extreme heat! We want to be outside, enjoying a different climate and terrain (and NO bugs?!?!). So minimal driving is a must. We would be happy spending most of our time in PT and ferrying out for the day to SJI and Vancouver or Seattle if we could get around easily without a car. I will do some searching.
Congrats on your conference win. Go Owls!
2014rorysmom, you need to do some research about this area. No, you cannot get around easily without a car. In some cases,you can't get around at all without a car. Public transportation is quite good in Seattle. That's it. It is awful to nonexistent on the huge Olympic Peninsula. You also clearly have not grasped how far apart the destinations you want to visit are. There is no single base from which you can comfortable make day trips to the Olympic Peninsula, Seattle, Vancouver, and the San Juan Islands. For your own sake, step away from TripAdvisor for awhile and read a good guidebook to the Pacific Northwest. Then post back once you have a better understanding of the region.
I figured that's what you wanted. The end of our Houston living happened after 4 days on San Juan Island at the end of July 2011 and a two week trip to Switzerland at the end of August 2011. You remember August 2011??
Yup, no bugs. We do get wayward flies and bees in the house because we leave the doors and windows open. Anyway, feel free to ask more questions of me here or as a private message.
Thanks. I have grasped the size. That's why I've narrowed the focus of my very rough-draft trip idea down to PT. Trust and believe, I will not go to another state without having it together. I will continue to do my own research, but it has been extremely helpful to get input from locals. I would not have thought to go to PT without Henry's input! Being able to talk it out, opened me up to alternatives that might better fit what we want to do on this vacation. I would love to do it all, because, well... Washington is no easy jaunt from Texas! Alas...
Thanks, so much! I will definitely take you up on the private-messaging invite as trip time approaches! And yes, 8/2011 was beyond brutal. More than a month of 100+ temps without a drop of rain? We were dying.
* One way Victoria Clipper from Seattle to San Juan Island
* Souvenir Explorer Guidebook to the San Juans
* 1 night Friday Harbor hotel
* 2.5 hour Whale and Sealife Excursion
* WA State Ferry from Friday Harbor to Sidney, B.C. (approx. 2 hours)
* Taxi transfer from Sidney to Victoria (approx. 30 minutes)
* 1 night Victoria hotel
* One way Victoria Clipper cruise from Victoria to Seattle (approx. 3 hours)
Cost: $353-$360 per person - child rates are available.