Port Townsend, settled in 1851, was called the "city of dreams" because of the potential for its excellent harbor. With the Depression came shattered hopes, and Port Townsend never quite reached the size and wealth its settlers had expected. At the tip of the Olympic Peninsula is Port Angeles, who’s surrounding forests provided logging material for cities up and down the west coast. Bremerton is home to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, which was a leading force for the west coast in repairing and building ships in both World Wars. In the early 1900s, the shipyard was the largest employer in the region. By the 1960s, everything from small battle ships to nuclear submarines were being repaired in its docks.
Port Townsend has remained a sleepy, charming town filled with beautiful historic buildings and lovely surroundings. Vashon Island thrives on the arts with its frequent gallery showings and music events. With about a half hour commute to downtown Seattle on the ferry, Vashon is an option for downtown workers who don’t need a car. Bremerton holds the largest shipyard on the west coast, providing plenty of military jobs.
Many loyal residents of Port Townsend have lived in the area for decades, and it is primarily made up of families and retired persons. Vashon Island has younger families and professionals commuting in to downtown Seattle, but still has a strong, close-nit community. Port Orchard’s scattering of suburban apartments brings more younger families and professionals. A large amount of Bremerton’s 36,000 residents work at the shipyard.
Large, beautiful Victorian homes line the streets of Port Townsend. Very few apartments are located in the area, but some of the older houses have been renovated in to duplexes or small multiplexes. Many charming bed & breakfast inns offer rooms that can be rented weekly. The majority of Vashon Island’s houses have amazing views at an affordable price. Port Orchard, located across from Bremerton, has many of the same older homes as the other western cities in its downtown area, but its suburbs have a more apartment buildings and ramblers, as well as chain stores & restaurants.
One of this area’s greatest outings is spending a day on Blake Island. On the island, Tillicum Village offers an Northwest Coast Indian cultural experience with native dancing, art and food in a beautiful longhouse. Scenic trails weave through the state park, and small camp grounds are available. A summer farmer’s market, art museums, charming shops & cafes and quaint B&Bs abound in Port Townsend, while Port Angeles is known for its excellent outdoor activities - everything from hiking & snow-shoeing in the Olympic Mountains to surfing along the coast. Port Orchard’s antique mall and delightful shops are fun to wander.