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Best Puget Sound Towns To Visit From Seattle

by
Dec 29th, 2023

From Scandinavian villages to old forts to maritime centers and artistic getaways, check out these must-visit towns in the Puget Sound close to Seattle. 

6 must-visit towns in the Puget Sound

Gig Harbor

Gig Harbor on the Kitsap Peninsula offers a picturesque setting with a vibrant downtown, stunning waterfront views and a variety of activities for visitors. 

Gig Harbor boasts a rich history dating back to the mid-19th century, and the charming downtown scenery certainly reflects that. Quaint stores and cafes line the cozy streets, and historic buildings house local history museums and antique stores.

If there’s one thing you absolutely have to do in Gig Harbor, though, it’s eat. From fresh seafood caught right off the coast to innovative dishes prepared with local ingredients, the town offers a diverse range of restaurants to choose from. So, head over there to enjoy a romantic dinner with a breathtaking view of the water, savor delicious pastries at a charming café or grab a quick bite at a casual eatery. 

Must-do’s in Gig Harbor:

  • Shop at the Gig Harbor Antique Mall: Find unique treasures and vintage finds at this charming mall.
  • Hike or bike the Cushman Trail: Experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest on a scenic trail along the water and through picturesque scenery.

Hansville

Nestled on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington, Hansville offers a peaceful and scenic escape for visitors seeking a relaxing getaway surrounded by nature. With its beautiful beaches, lush forests, and charming community, Hansville provides a perfect blend of outdoor adventure and small-town charm.

A visit to Hansville wouldn't be complete without exploring the iconic Point No Point Lighthouse. Built in 1879, this historic landmark stands watch over the Strait of Juan de Fuca and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding coastline. Climb to the top of the lighthouse for breathtaking vistas, and explore the interpretive exhibits to learn about its history and the maritime heritage of the region.

Must-do’s in Hansville:

  • Explore the Hansville Greenway Nature Preserve: Hike through the woods and enjoy the stunning peace and quiet just minutes from town.
  • Relax on the beach at Double Bluff County Park: Enjoy the sand, sun and stunning views from this pretty beach. 

Langley

If you’re a fan of art and creativity, then Langley on Whidbey Island is the place to visit!

Langley's delightful downtown area is packed with local businesses and artistic energy, a real haven for art lovers. For a truly unique experience, visit the captivating Callahan's Firehouse, a historic landmark transformed into a vibrant art center showcasing contemporary art exhibits and hosting workshops. 

The main street is lined with unique shops featuring handcrafted goods, art galleries showcasing local artists' works and cozy cafes offering delicious treats and coffee. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at a waterfront restaurant, admire the stunning views of the harbor and experience the warm, welcoming atmosphere of this charming island town.

Must-do’s in Langley:

  • Hike or bike the Whidbey Island Loop Trail: Enjoy scenic views of the island from this gorgeous loop through hills, farms, along coasts and over bridges!
  • Attend a local festival or event: Throughout the year, Langley hosts a variety of festivals and events celebrating art, music, food and more.

Oak Harbor

Nestled in the crook of Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor's waterfront is a central hub of island activity and a must-visit for any island hopper. 

Stroll along the scenic waterfront trail, admire the breathtaking views of the harbor and peek through the clouds at the Cascade Mountains in the distance. Then, sample fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants while enjoying the salty air and bustling atmosphere. The city-owned Oak Harbor Marina is a haven for boaters and offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, sailing or simply watching the boats come and go.

All in all, it’s a great spot for a quick getaway and some scenic views!

Must-do’s in Oak Harbor:

  • Attend the annual Oak Harbor Music Festival or the Whidbey Island Fair: Both these events draw attendees from all over Washington!
  • Visit the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum: Learn about naval aviation history at this museum just south of the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

Port Townsend

Port Townsend boasts a rich history dating back to the mid-1800s, which is evident in its beautifully preserved Victorian-era architecture. Once a military fort, the historic town has plenty of military history and artifacts of the bygone era, all of which can be explored at the Fort Worden Historical State Park. 

Keeping with the historic theme, take a quick walk down the residential streets around downtown to admire the colorful Victorian houses, some now housing charming shops and galleries. Be sure to check out the Point Wilson Lighthouse, too — an iconic landmark offering breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. 

Port Townsend is a thriving arts community, too, attracting artists and enthusiasts from around the world. Explore the numerous art galleries showcasing diverse mediums, from paintings and sculptures to ceramics and jewelry. Attend a live performance at the historic Port Townsend Opera House or the Rose Theatre, or immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the annual Port Townsend Film Festival. Be sure to check out the annual Wooden Boat Festival hosted by the Northwest Maritime Center — the largest festival of its kind in the country!

Must-do’s in Port Townsend:

  • Explore the historic downtown district: Admire the Victorian architecture and browse the unique shops and galleries.
  • Dine at a local waterfront restaurant: Savor the diverse culinary scene of Port Townsend accompanied with a stunning view.

Poulsbo

Nestled on the shores of Liberty Bay on Washington's Kitsap Peninsula, Poulsbo offers a unique blend of Scandinavian charm, maritime history and outdoor beauty, all surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery. 

Affectionately known as "Little Norway", Poulsbo is known for its strong Scandinavian heritage due to an influx of Norwegian immigrants in the 1880s. These early settlers sought to recreate their home environment, leading to the establishment of Norwegian traditions, customs and architecture that are still very present today! Poulsbo residents are proud of their Scandinavian heritage and actively identify with it, a pride that is reflected in the town's motto "Little Norway, Big Fun" and the use of Norwegian flags and symbols throughout the community.

Stroll along the charming Front Street, lined with colorful buildings adorned with traditional Norwegian flags and murals. Browse through unique shops offering Scandinavian handcrafted goods and souvenirs, indulge in delicious pastries and coffee at cozy cafes and experience the vibrant Scandinavian atmosphere in the heart of Washington’s Puget Sound.

Must-do’s in Poulsbo:

  • Visit the SEA Discovery Center: Learn about Poulsbo's maritime history, shipbuilding, fishing and ocean life. 
  • Attend the annual Viking Fest: Celebrate Norwegian traditions with food, music, crafts and activities.

These are just a handful of the many quaint towns in and around the Puget Sound near our luxury Seattle apartments, so start with these and see where else your adventures take you!

Enjoy!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/jrbotkin777

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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