Tips for the Sustainability Tourist

May 31, 2012 by

Tips for the Sustainability Tourist

I’m an advocate for promoting Port Townsend as a destination for sustainability-minded tourists. We can welcome people who want to test-drive a sustainable community, even if just for a few days. Maybe we can convince them to move to our scenic Victorian Seaport and join the cause!

Well, one of these tourists contacted me for advice a few days before the Memorial Day weekend. He gave me permission to turn our e-mail exchange into a blog post.


Hi Shelly,

I found your blog about a year ago and have been following it since. I’m a Seattle native, have really bought into the Sustainability movement, and I really enjoy Port Townsend.

In the back of my mind it’s a hope/dream that one of these days I’ll move to Port Townsend. It’ll be a big change of gears, but I’m intrigued by the idea of being more intimately involved with a smaller community.

My girlfriend and I will be spending five days in Port Townsend over the upcoming holiday weekend. I’m curious if you have any sights and/or experiences that you recommend we soak in while we’re there? Part of the intent of the trip is determining if we can really see ourselves living in Port Townsend.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts! And, keep up the great work on your blog and sustainability efforts.



Well, I have been published in Northwest Travel magazine, back when my freelance focus was maritime culture. Here is my travel writer’s reply, with a few additions for the blog:



What fun to receive your e-mail! If my family wasn’t leaving town for Memorial Day weekend ourselves, I’d offer to meet up with you.

You’ve asked an interesting question, and I’ll try to answer it in brief without knowing your transportation situation or fitness level.

PT is so walkable, I encourage you to look into taking public transit from the Bainbridge ferry terminal (see Jefferson Transit’s handy schedule). The upsides: it costs only $7 round trip and takes not much longer than driving yourself. The downside: the service is aimed at commuters, not weekenders—there’s no bus on Sundays and only two runs on Saturday. So come on Friday and leave on Monday!

1)  We all have to eat. DEFINITELY hit the Saturday Farmers Market in Uptown PT, open 9-2. (Try a pastry from Anca’s booth or Pane d’Amore!) Check out Aldrich’s Market while you’re there—it’s my neighborhood’s gourmet corner grocery store and we’re very proud of it. On Sunday the Chimacum Market is open 10-2, right next to the exciting new Chimacum Corner Farmstand (more than just a stand—it’s a storefront). I will forward you the Farmers Market Association‘s e-news. I see from reading it that there is a cheese festival in Port Ludlow (called Fete du Fromage) on Sunday—could be fun!

2)  Visit/shop at The Food Co-op, our amazing whole foods/local goods grocery store and community hub. Sit in the deli for a bit and chat. I’ve visited food co-ops all around the country and ours, while small in footprint, is superlative in its impact on PT. My housemates encouraged me to join when I first moved to town in Jan. 2000 and I’ve seen the Co-op grow exponentially as a food source and a healthy, connected lifestyle resource. It’s now an $11M operation with 8,000 members!! (This in a town with a population of 8,500.)

3)  Check out the extensive listing of events for the weekend at This is a well-used community calendar; every population center should be so lucky to have one like it. (Quite simply, it’s good enough that every event planner and teacher takes the time to submit their event/class on PTguide.) Scroll the (selected) Upcoming Events on the homepage by topic or click on the Events Calendar in the left sidebar for events listed day-by-day.

Sustainable Together TIPS

TIP:  Join the PTguide mailing list (subscribe box in upper righthand corner on the homepage) and receive an e-mail every Thursday with a well-organized synopsis of what’s coming up for the weekend and week ahead. It might be the arm-twist you need to get over here for the weekend!

Sustainable Together TIPS

TIP:  Speaking of event e-mail announcements, you can also subscribe to Local 20/20’s mailing list and receive an e-mail every Monday with upcoming sustainability events that have either been submitted to our secretary or suggested by Local 20/20 activists. The geographic area covered is the North Olympic Peninsula, with occasional listings from the wider region. Send an e-mail requesting to join to Local2020 @


Back to what’s happening this weekend:

–If you’re into boats, take the tour of the downtown Northwest Maritime Center (Fri.-Sun. at 2 p.m.) and walk around the shipyard at the other end of town. Friday there’s a “sunset sail” on PT Bay on the schooner Suva ($100).

–Take a movement class at Madrona MindBody Institute at Fort Worden (I love their Nia teachers!), or Prosper BodyWorks near downtown, or there’s always Community Yoga by donation on Saturday mornings at Room to Move Yoga Studio uptown.

–For nightlife, hit The Undertown, Sirens Pub, and/or The Upstage. All are local hang-outs, often with live music. Take in a movie at The Rose Theatre, or a play at Key City Public Theatre. Visit the art galleries. Fancy Feathers downtown is my favorite consignment clothing shop.

4)  Stop in at the visitor information center (behind Safeway) and ask the same question you asked me. I volunteer there sometimes; you might get lucky with someone knowledgeable about sustainability in PT. Ask for a walking trails map (PDF here), and try exploring on foot, using some of our rights-of-way trails. You can walk to/from Fort Worden on the beach one way and over Morgan Hill the other way. Or bring your bike or rent one from one of our bike shops—if you don’t mind a hill here and there. Or try riding the bus around town.

5)  Drive on the newly established Olympic Culinary Loop. There’s a two-day itinerary exploring PT and the nearby pastoral Chimacum Valley. “Meet the farmers who provide the ingredients for flavorful local menus. Enjoy fresh local cider, goat cheese, blueberries and more,” says the website. Additionally, here’s a PDF of the Olympic Culinary Adventure Map (#5-12 are in Jefferson County).

6)  Just talk to people. We’re all pretty friendly. We love our town.

I hope you have a great vacation here!

All best,



P.S. When my husband and I are in traveling mode, we always pick up a copy of the local paper (in our case, that’s The Leader—it publishes Wednesdays and costs $1) and visit the library. (Our Carnegie building in Uptown is currently under restoration, so our library has temporarily relocated to a city-owned building nearby. Half the books, all the services—yep, wireless, too). You can tell a lot about a community by those two institutions.

P.P.S. While here, you can listen to our new and truly local radio station, KPTZ, 91.9 FM. Heck, you can stream it live anywhere in the world. The station just celebrated its one-year anniversary!



For a city of festivals, it’s a bit surprising there’s nothing big going on in PT over Memorial Day weekend—probably because we’re all exhausted from participating in three parades, the bed and trike races, the carnival and the 12-k run that constitute the Rhody Festival the weekend prior!

If you are planning to visit PT this summer, here’s my pick of festivals and events that promote or celebrate sustainability and/or community. These are 2012 dates. (See more festivals by month at

 June 30:  Rat Island Regatta—Rowers, kayakers, and open water paddlers make the 6.8 NM run from Fort Worden to Rat Island and back. 10 a.m. start, fun to watch from the downtown waterfront.

July 1-8:  Festival of American Fiddle Tunes—My favorite of the Centrum summer music festivals, in part for the late-night called dances that draw locals in addition to all the fiddle students and their families.

July 11-15:  Port Townsend Pedalpalooza—The first annual bicycle festival, promoting getting around by pedaling. Website should be updated as event draws near.

July 14:  Jefferson Solar Homes Tour and Celebration—Self-guided tour of homes powered by renewable energy. Solar basics workshop, live music, local food. Organized by Power Trip Energy Corp, which should post info on their Events page soon.

Aug. 3-19:  Shakespeare in the Park—Outdoor evening performances of “Twelfth Night” by Key City Public Theatre at Chetzemoka Park.

Aug. 10-12:  Jefferson County Fair—Small but sweet. Typical fair fare.

Sept. 7-9:  Wooden Boat Festival—The largest gathering of wooden boats on the west coast, and a showcase of the local marine trades and talent. Wind is free fuel for marine transport!

Sept. 16:  Jefferson County Farm Tour—Up to 15 local farms on a self-guided tour. Crops, creameries, cideries, and livestock, too.


Recurring events:

Third Thursday: Jefferson County Energy Lunch, 12:30-1:30 p.m., PT Community Center. Free. A public presentation on sustainable energy with rotating speakers, attended by energy officials and aficionados.

Most every Friday: Outdoor concert at noon at Fort Worden, featuring Centrum performers. Free.

First Saturday: Port Townsend Gallery Walk, 5:30-8 p.m. Free. See schedule in The Leader newspaper the Wednesday prior.

Second Saturday: Contra dance with caller and live music at Quimper Grange, 7:30-10:30 p.m. $6 adults, $3 children (I think).

Every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday: Substantial farmers markets in PT and Chimacum. There are smaller markets in Port Ludlow on Fridays and in Quilcene on Saturdays, too!


If, like Cameron, you’re thinking of relocating (ideally, bringing your job with you!), definitely contact the Local 20/20 action group lead in your area of interest: energy, food, waste, transportation, local economy, etc. Ask about sitting in on the action group’s regular meeting. If you’re interested in touring community gardens, for example, or joining a trail-building party, the action group lead should be able to set you up with a true PT sustainability experience!

Note:  Although this post, like all my others, has been exhaustively researched (!), please doublecheck dates and times at the source if you are planning a trip here and don’t want to miss an event.

See you in PT!

Sustainably yours,



Photos by Shelly Randall ~ Map from ~ Poster graphic from PT Pedalpalooza


  1. Debbi Steele

    Great info to Cameron – and to me! It just reinforces how fortunate we are to live in this wonderful community. Thanks, Shelly

  2. When I asked Cameron how he found my blog, he replied:

    “I think I found your blog through a Google search [yay! -SR]. I figured that finding a few Port Townsend bloggers to follow would be a good way to get to know the town. I’ve been really involved with the sustainability group in my neighborhood. So when I found your blog, it seemed like a great one to follow!”

  3. Cameron


    Thank you so much for your ideas for our trip to Port Townsend! We had a great time. In addition to your suggestions, was super helpful in identifying all kinds of things to do.

    We made it to both the Port Townsend Farmer’s Market (which was really impressive!) and the Chimacum Farmer’s Market and Corner Farm Stand. We also stopped by the Food Co-Op for a few things we couldn’t get at the farmers markets. -It was really nice, and I could see myself being quite happy shopping there on a regular basis.

    On the day we visited Chimacum, we also took the opportunity to stop by Finnriver Farm and a couple of other cideries on the Quimper Peninsula. It’s nice to see this cottage industry getting a foothold in the area.

    We spent some time exploring Fort Worden. -The bunkers are interesting, and the walk from North Beach around to the lighthouse is quite nice. We also drove to a hike, Miller Peninsula and Thomson Spit trail, which was about 45 minutes out of town on the way to Sequim. It was nice, but not exceptional. The trail was confusing and a good portion of it was abandoned road; not that serene. Although, the beach and scenery at the end of the trail made it worth the trip. I wish we would have had time to get up in the Olympics mountains, but we didn’t. Next time for a closer-in hike I’d like to give Fort Townsend a try.

    We patronized a good number of the local restaurants during our stay. Upstage and Sirens both gave a very comfortable and real feeling of the local culture. Sweet Laurettes’, Hudson Point Cafe, and Public House all provided very nice culinary experiences. A trip to Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock was fun, although it was exceptionally busy and a bit chaotic. Suffice it to say that we ate very well, and there were a good number of places that we didn’t make it to which we’ll have to try on our next visit.

    We visited the Northwest Maritime Center, although we missed the times when tours are provided. For being such a large part of Port Townsend’s identify, I would like to have spent more time exploring the maritime side of the town. Although that just provides another reason to make another visit!

    All and all it was a great trip. I feel like we left with a good feeling for the town. We were there for five days, two of which were travel days. Although, in that amount of time we certainly didn’t exhaust all of the things to do either… Both this and the quality and diversity of culinary experiences all in a town of 8500 was impressive!

    Thanks again Shelly!


    • Thanks so much for sharing your itinerary, Cameron. Sounds like Port Townsend both intrigued and kept you busy. That’s what we like to hear!

      Glad you explored the Chimacum area — the local food economy is buzzing out there, isn’t it?

      Thanks again for inspiring this blog post, and hope to see you back here soon!

  4. Shelly, I’d like to remind you that typewriters are ultra-sustainable. In fact there was a pretty decent old Smith Corona at the thrift shop in Ellensburg. I’m sure Soren would have loved it. And just by the way, I discovered Port Townsend when I lived in Montreal, about 28 years ago. I thought it was great then!