Alert
Close

Top the Treasure Hunt leaderboard by 5 p.m. Friday to win a $100 gift card! Learn more

Highlights

Close
AARP Games Tournament
Technology and Innovation

 

 

Rock Your Finances $50K Give Away Sweepstakes

 

 

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

 

 

Military and Veterans Discount

 

 

AARP Real Possibilities

 

New Book

Dating After 50: How to get back in the game

Dating After 50 For Dummies

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

Webinars

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

 

Home & Community Webinars

Family & Caregiving Webinars

Popular Articles

Viewed

FREE FUN!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Poll: Are You a Real Techie?

Best Places to Retire 2012

Great Quirky Places to Retire

10 funky and artsy cities that free spirits will love

AARP list of quirky places where you can retire- A road to Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend is less than two hours north of Seattle and is a hotbed for retirees. — Photo by Mark Scott/Getty Images

Port Townsend, Wash.

Looking for a small town with a big sense of adventure, top-shelf boating right from town and majestic mountains a short skip away? If so, Port Townsend is calling. Even after 12.7 percent growth since 2000, fewer than 10,000 people live here year round, although the population swells during summer tourist season. And while Port Townsend is less than two hours north of Seattle by car, the town gets very little rainfall because the massive Olympic Mountains to the west wring the moisture out of Pacific storms.  (Full disclosure: While the “rain shadow” keeps Port Townsend relatively dry, it doesn’t block all the clouds. So overcast is the norm here.)

Downtown had the feel of a time warp: Well-preserved and restored Victorian buildings remain from the town’s original construction boom, around 1890. When the bust came a year or so later, the town meandered along, essentially frozen in time, for the next 90 years. Had any industry come along during those tough years, Port Townsend most likely would have been razed and rebuilt, like so many former boom towns in the United States. As it stands, today’s locals and tourists reap the aesthetic rewards of the century-long stall.

And the pace has clearly picked up: Among myriad annual festivals and side-stream events are a wooden boat festival, kinetic sculpture race, festival of American fiddle tunes, naturalist-led bird-watching walks and traveling exhibits, such as a recent showing of 1960s surf photography. A handful of bars in town keep the live music flowing, augmented by casual and social Thursday-night concerts on the dock at Pope Marine Park during summer. The Saturday farmers market draws chatty crowds from early April to Christmas.

Art lovers have a dozen galleries to browse, and you can sample them with like-minded locals on Saturday gallery walks. All of this has attracted retirees: Almost a quarter of the population is age 65 or older.

Port Townsend enjoys proximity to remarkable outdoor recreation: The Olympic Mountains rise on one side, with trails, streams, lakes and towering, snow-capped peaks. On the other side of town, Port Townsend Bay extends like a silken blanket, beckoning kayakers, sailors and power boaters. The parks in town include two with waterfront access and a third — Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park — with a sizable lake.

There are no higher education institutions in Port Townsend, but nearby towns such as Everett, Lynnwood and Shoreline have community colleges. Port Townsend lags the national average in doctors per capita, but residents tend to be healthy, with low rates of diabetes, obesity and hypertension. With so much to do and so little to worry about on this little peninsula, the health numbers aren’t surprising.

Also of Interest:

See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Video Extra

$100 A Day: It's not only the inexpensive living. These lovely places have culture, greenery, and friendly, welcoming communitites for retirees on a budget.

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Cheryl's

Members save on custom baked goods packages arrangements from Cheryl’s.

Movies Unlimited

Members save 10% on purchases of DVDs & Blu-ray discs from Movies Unlimited.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

This program is supported by a generous grant from Toyota to AARP Foundation.

*Upon completion, you may be eligible to receive an auto insurance discount. Other restrictions apply.

Consult your agent for details.