Uncovering the Secrets of Port Angeles, Washington

Photo Courtesy of Visit Port Angeles

The gateway city to Olympic National Park―Port Angeles―holds fond memories for me. I was born there and, even after moving to Seattle at a young age, spent a great deal of time there visiting my grandparents and strolling the downtown streets. Since then, the “port of angels” has transformed from the quiet seaside town I remember from childhood to an exciting destination ripe for new discoveries.

I began my latest Port Angeles getaway by delving into history―in this case, both accurate and bawdy history―with Port Angeles Underground Heritage Tours (portangelesheritagetours.com). My guide, owner Bruce Erlwein, shared the local mysteries and scandals of yesteryear and spiced it all with humorous anecdotes. When the tour ended, at dinner time, I jaunted over to Michael’s Seafood & Steakhouse (michaelsdining.com)―also beneath the streets―for fresh oysters in mignonette and a succulent steak.

After dinner, I got a bonus: It was the second weekend of the month when venues and shops stay open late for the Second Weekend Art Walk. I met artists and gallery owners and even took advantage of some special discounts I couldn’t resist.

The next day, I headed to the pedestrian-friendly waterfront, grabbed a latte at Necessities and Temptations (necessities-temptations.com) and perused their souvenirs, locally crafted wares, clothing and home décor. While on the waterfront, I ducked into the Feiro Marine Life Center (feiromarinelifecenter.org) to spend some time with live sea stars, anemones, a giant Pacific octopus and other marine life from the local waters.

Throughout town, I couldn’t help but notice the Native American influence. Downtown, bilingual street signs have been installed. The second language represents the local Klallam tribe, one of eight with a major presence here. The same tribe created the Elwha Klallam Heritage Center (elwha.org/departments/elwha-klallam-heritage-center), where archaeology, art, artifacts and history meet. I learned that tribal canoe
journeys destined for Canada stop at Hollywood Beach in Port Angeles during the summer, and even the annual not-to-be-missed CrabFest (every October) highlights catching fresh seafood using traditional native fishing methods. Now I have two more reasons to return.

Speaking of seafood, a local tipped me off to the Shipwreck Bloody Mary at H20 Waterfront Bistro. My curiosity piqued, I headed straight there, ordered the Shipwreck and discovered a buffet-in-a-cocktail that included shrimp, a slider, chicken wings, cheese, salami and crab legs, all cleverly perched above the glass. The aptly named Shipwreck was dinner.

Before your visit, you’ll find a wealth of information about Port Angeles at visitportangeles.com.