RETREAT! Historic Fort Getaways

by Adam Sawyer and Allen Cox  

Have you stayed at Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington? The deactivated army base where “An Officer and a Gentleman” was filmed has transformed itself into a recreational haven that includes explorable artillery batteries, miles of hiking trails, a guardhouse turned taphouse and military housing of all sorts turned into boutique lodging. And that’s not the only place that offers historic fort retreats.   

Similar overnight opportunities exist at the Fort Casey Inn on Whidbey Island, Fort Stevens on the Oregon Coast and Fort Langley in British Columbia. They are places that provide unique Northwest getaways along with some uncommon insight into history. Sometimes, even in the military, a retreat is a good thing.  

Fort Worden, Washington   

Fort Worden Historical State Park and its stunning natural setting at Port Townsend—once dubbed “the Paris of the Pacific Northwest”—is the kind of destination that stays with you for a lifetime. Originally designed as a military base to protect Puget Sound, Fort Worden has evolved into an iconic and cherished state park and lifelong learning center with Fort Worden Hospitality operating accommodations, venues, restaurants and catering services on site. Fort Worden’s magnificent setting encompasses 434 acres with 12 miles of forested hiking trails, two miles of walkable saltwater beaches, and commanding views of the Olympic and Cascade mountains as well as views across the Strait of Juan De Fuca to the San Juan Islands. Dating from 1904, the Fort features 73 historic buildings with four museums and creative spaces for art and educational programs, yoga, woodworking and more.    

Guests can choose from a variety of lodging types that originally served to house soldiers and  officers and their families. The Cottage & Loft Collection at Fort Worden, perfect for couples and small families, includes rentals from a historic castle to one- and two-bedroom cottages and apartments.   

The Officers Row Collection and the Courtside Collection feature historic quarters with Victorian details and stunning views. These homes and duplexes range from two to six bedrooms, perfect for families and small groups. Barracks dormitory rooms and a 14-bedroom home offer plenty of flexibility for individual travelers and larger groups and reunions.    

Book your stay at fortworden.org. Learn more about Port Townsend, Washington, at enjoypt.com.   

Fort Casey Inn, Washington   

The Fort Casey Inn, located near Coupeville, Washington, on scenic Whidbey Island, was built in 1909. The homes comprising the inn are former Non-Commissioned Officers’ Quarters for neighboring Fort Casey, once an active military installation.   

The inn is adjacent to Fort Casey State Park with its bunkers, lighthouse, 10 disappearing guns, beaches and hiking trails. Nearby, take in spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges and the San Juan Islands. Most units overlook Crockett Lake, a natural bird sanctuary, and Admiralty Bay on Puget Sound.   

Each two-bedroom unit has a living room, upstairs bathroom, spacious kitchen, secure back porch for bikes and other outdoor gear, front porches with seating and the tranquility of no televisions. The furnished kitchen comes equipped with full-size appliances and all the basics a cook requires.    

The inn is centrally located on Whidbey Island and a short walk to the Port Townsend Ferry and the historic Crockett Blockhouse (1855). Both the historic town of Coupeville and the quaint town of Langley are a short drive or a pleasant bike ride away. Whether you are a birder, a cyclist, a hiker or simply wish to chill for a few days, this location provides a perfect retreat.    

Book your retreat at fortcaseyinn.com. Learn more about exploring Whidbey Island at whidbeycamanoislands.com 

Other Army Fort Retreats   

Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon: Strategically located at the mouth of the Columbia River, Fort Stevens was in service from the Civil War to World War II. Today, it is a 4,300-acre Oregon State Park just made for exploring ocean beaches, hiking trails, abundant wildlife, a freshwater lake and even its own shipwreck. As a former army fort, it houses a military museum where visitors can learn more about the history of the site. And the park is home to the only Civil War-era earthen fort on the West Coast. Guests can rent campsites, RV spaces, cabins and yurts. Book your stay at oregonstateparks.reserveamerica.com. Learn more about Fort Stevens State Park at stateparks.oregon.gov.    

Fort Langley, British Columbia: Initially, a Hudson’s Bay Company site, Fort Langley National Historic Site looms large in British Columbia history. Inside the fort walls, fur traders and gold prospectors went about their business. Today, visitors to this important interpretive site learn about life in the 19th-century western frontier, and can even stay within the fort walls in one of five oTENTik units—a cross between an A-frame cabin and a prospector tent mounted on a raised wooden floor. Reserve your Fort Langley oTENTik at reservation.pc.gc.ca. Learn more about Fort Langley at pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/bc/langley.