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Port Angeles/Port Townsend

Santa Cruz...
8 posts
Port Angeles/Port Townsend

In early May we're planning a 2 week driving trip to the Olympic Peninsula from Northern CA. Like to stay 1 week in PT and perhaps a week in PA/Sequim area with hiking in the Nat'l Park, day trips to the islands and generally checking out the area as a possible retirement location. We enjoy the outdoors however like to settle in a good restaurant with a cocktail or wine at the end of the day.

Any input or recommendations appreciated.

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,693 posts
8 reviews
1. Re: Port Angeles/Port Townsend

Kaleberg lives in Port Angeles and will chime in. I prefer Sequim and will be moving there this year. I am assuming you have been reading recent posts with lots of ideas for places to visit while here. Are you looking for a rental for your visit or a motel? I like the agent we are working with if you want someone to talk with.

Port Townsend...
Level Contributor
3,883 posts
90 reviews
2. Re: Port Angeles/Port Townsend

One week long housing option for the Port Townsend area that can be done fairly economically is to rent a condo/timeshare at Kala Point Village. This would put you 6 miles outside downtown Port Townsend, but you would have 2 bedroom condo with private beach and community pool. If interested, Google "Kala point village homeowners association". They have a rentals section where you contact owners directly.

Fort Worden also rents out units.

Port Townsend: Carefully manages development. No walmarts here! Known for being somewhat eclectic. Sometimes it seems a little extreme and impractical. Good support for community schools and medical care. This is your restaurant destination.

Sequim. Originally focused on agriculture, Sequim's most prolific crop is now retirees. Lavender festival and irrigation festival fun. More shopping choices. Walmart and Costco are here. More of a practical perspective. Has recently not shown community sport for schools, medical care, public swimming pool. Community slightly polarized between older and younger.

Port Angeles. The largest of the three cities. Also struggling a bit more economically. Seat of Clallam County. Closest to most ONP locations and more of a "blue collar vibe". Good health care. Mixed record on support of community organizations.

Edited: 05 April 2016, 07:34
Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,717 posts
21 reviews
3. Re: Port Angeles/Port Townsend

That's a good summary of local politics, Traveler11223.

Skinny, PT is an extraordinarily pretty town, with a beautifully preserved downtown full of great Victorian buildings. PT has many good to excellent places to eat, and there is some good walking/hiking nearby. It's too far from the best park attractions to be a good base for hiking ONP, but it is close enough to Seattle to make day trips into that vibrant, exciting city easy. The Rose Theater, a local rep house, is a true gem. With all these good things come high real estate prices. There is a paper mill, and occasionally, there is a stench. Also, the local hospital has had some serious problems. I would never have surgery there. Strongly liberal politics.

Sequim. Well, this is a bit of a mixed bag. The demographics are depressing. It's not that there is anything wrong with a median age north of 65; it's that Sequim is just so homogeneous. The sight of young people in downtown Sequim elicits the same squeals of delight that my husband and I reserve for tufted puffins. Some of the housing developments, although not sleazy, are awfully boring. Watch the water and sewage situation if you buy a house. Septic systems are having problems in Sequim, and water is under great pressure there. Much of the Dungeness River water is spoken for in terms of agricultural or salmon preservation purposes. You may think of this area as having lots of water, but it doesn't. Summers here are desert like, and droughts are a real possibility. The air in Sequim can sometimes be subject to inversions. This is not a problem near the sea, but it is a problem inland.

On the other hand, Sequim has come a long way over the last 20 years. It has been well led. There are a few good restaurants and one great one, Alder Wood Bistro. Shopping is largely confined to Big Box, but the downtown, although very small, has a nice look. One of the best independent grocery stores in the state, Sunny Farms, is just west of town. There are some lovely farms in the Old Town Road area, along with a terrific farm store, Nash Huber's place. The nearby Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is beautiful, with great bird watching. There is good steelhead fishing in the Dungeness River. Sequim deserves its reputation for sunshine, even in the winter, as the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains makes it less rainy than Seattle, or even Port Townsend. Politics are more conservative than in PT, or really than those in Port Angeles, with the older demographic refusing to support schools, in particular.

Port Angeles, my home town. What a dump, but what a wonderful place to live (if you have a job). There are parts of this town so ugly that they are almost a local joke. Some of the population still believes that the UN designated the Hoh Rain Forest a World Heritage Site as a prelude to invasion. Right now, we are in the midst of a culture war over flouridation. I kid you not. Town leadership is comically inept. The local jobs picture is poor. We have a nonviolent crime problem due to meth. Nobody is getting hurt, but there are car breakins. We are almost 2 hours and 45 minutes from Seattle, so we are remote. You have to charter a flight if you want to fly from PA because we have no scheduled service. Forget shopping for clothing or sheets or anything but food, hardware, and wine (lots of good wine here; good hardware, too). You have to go to the big boxes in Sequim or to Silverdale or to Seattle.

On the other hand, we are right at the foot of Hurricane Ridge, 25 minutes from Lake Crescent, and only 8 minutes from the Elwha Valley. You can take a ferry right from downtown to Victoria, BC. The air is some of the best in the United States, except for a small number of very cold winter days when we do get inversion from wood stoves. You can buy a beautiful, waterfront house for $500K. Schools are good, and the local kids are polite, in an old fashioned way. The hospital is very good and is affiliated with Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. There's a great, year round Farmers' Market and excellent grocery stores, both conventional and organic. Politics range from strongly Democratic/unionist to wacko conspiracy theorist.

I suggest renting a house in Port Angeles if you choose to stay here. Look in Freshwater Bay, Lake Crescent, Place Road, or Louella/Blue Mountain. Bring a sense of humor.

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,693 posts
8 reviews
4. Re: Port Angeles/Port Townsend

I think that Traveler and Kaleberg have given you pretty accurate info. I. Spent a month house sitting in Sequim last Summer and found many great country roads all over the Sequim. I road my bike every day exploring the area. If Port Townsend had as much sun as Sequim and was closer to my favorite places in Olympic that is where I would settle.

Port Angeles to It's credit is the place that has changed the most. It was mostly about logging when I first visited back in the early 70's and people were very leery of strangers. Talk about ultra conservative. It has come along way. My problem with Port Angeles is the ugly drive getting through town. Too many billboards, stop lights and strip malls. It may not be an issue with you. I will not move until we find a house in a private location. We have that now in Poulsbo so we are in no hurry. The more remote the better.

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,717 posts
21 reviews
5. Re: Port Angeles/Port Townsend

Glaciermeadows, how about Lost Mountain area?

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,693 posts
8 reviews
6. Re: Port Angeles/Port Townsend

Funny yo u mention that. The views at the top are outstanding! I love it up there. We almost bought an acre up there years ago, but it was not really a good building site. If I could afford a view home up there trust me that would be my dream property.

Another thing I like about Sequim is that there are so many lovely roads you can take to get to Sunny Farms or a bank or whatever avoiding the hwy. altogether!

Edited: 06 April 2016, 01:05
Santa Cruz...
8 posts
7. Re: Port Angeles/Port Townsend

Thanks for your posts, and not pulling any punches, extremely helpful. Based on the comments we'll be steering more to the PT area!

Regards,

Skinny

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,693 posts
8 reviews
8. Re: Port Angeles/Port Townsend

Again Port Townsend is by far the nicest town, but ,coming from California if sunshine is an issue remember of the three PT gets less of it out of the Summer months. That is of course why so many Californians have retired to Sequim. I highly suggest you return in Winter and spend some time in this area. For many people it is not about the rain, it is about the long stretches of grey. I personally love the fact that we do not have the extremes of cold and snow and heat and humidity.

Port Townsend...
Level Contributor
3,883 posts
90 reviews
9. Re: Port Angeles/Port Townsend

I live in Port Townsend and work in Sequim so I get to see the weather in both places on a daily basis. There is hardly any difference if the truth be told. We still get a rain shadow effect in Port Townsend. The biggest difference weather wise is more the amount of wind. Port Townsend is more prone to wind than Sequim.

Victoria, Canada
Destination Expert
for Victoria, Port Angeles
Level Contributor
1,479 posts
71 reviews
10. Re: Port Angeles/Port Townsend

By "Islands", presume you mean the San Juans -- to visit them you would take the [Keystone] ferry from PT to Coupeville, then drive to Anacortes.

From Port Angeles you can visit Victoria as a walk-on to the Coho (Blackball) ferry. Overnight is best but a day trip is practical in the high season.

For good restaurant with a cocktail or wine at the end of the day, try the outdoor deck with a view at Wildfire Grill in Port Angeles, or Lake Crescent Lodge although I am not fond of its restaurant ... not that familiar with best places farther east.

Agree with glacier and kale: also visit in winter and see our grey ceiling for yourself; and rent before buying if possible. Personally i think that PA is the little city that could -- come through tough times, have sculptures on its streets downtown, have a pretty good bus system, impressively redevelop its waterfront, and someday even restore commercial air service (it was set to start March 1 but that got hung up ... see peninsuladailynews.com/article/…301289988 ).

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