Rooms with a view: Port Townsend’s sights invite visitors year round

Historic architecture dominates the Port Townsend skyline.
Historic architecture dominates the Port Townsend skyline. Courtesy of Enjoy Port Townsend

With its water views, beach walks and frequent festivals, the quaint Victorian seaport of Port Townsend is well known as a summer destination.

Surprise: It’s a winter paradise, too. January is cold and often windy, but the town is in the rain shadow (19 inches of rain per year compared to Olympia’s 50), so there’s a good chance of sunshine.

If the weather does keep you inside, the views can be just as glorious seen through the windows of the city’s many cozy cafés, restaurants, and shops.

And there’s always the Rose Theatre (235 Taylor St.; rosetheatre.com, 360-385-1089), a cinema so picturesque it hardly matters which movie is playing.

The theater focuses on independent cinema, but currently is also screening “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which it has the option to do because it can seat more moviegoers than Port Townsend’s other theater, the Blue Mouse.

The Rose has three screens — the Rose, with seating for 158; the Rosebud, which seats 79; and The Starlight Room, which seats just 46 — on vintage chairs and couches arranged beneath chandeliers.

“When people come in here for the first time, I want them to go, ‘Wow,’ ” theater owner Rocky Friedman said.

He’s achieved it: The Starlight Room is the place to go if everyone in your party is 21 or older. (If not, try the Rose and sit in the nine-seat balcony.)

Food and drinks — including movie-themed cocktails — are catered by The Silverwater Café, located below the theater. When you order at the counter, you’re given the name of a movie star, so as orders are ready, you can turn around for a glimpse of “James Dean” or “Paul Newman.”

Perhaps the highlight, though, is the view. Before a staffer closes the velvet curtains, the third-floor theater’s tall windows offer a look at Admiralty Inlet and, on a clear day, Mount Baker.

It’s hard for a film to compete with that, although the Starlight does occasionally do late-night screenings of such classics as “Sunset Boulevard” (Jan. 17) and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (Feb. 10).

A word to the wise: Plan your movie or movies first and get tickets in advance. It’s generally full of local regulars.

When you’re not at the theater, visit some or all of the following cold-weather-worthy spots:

Better Living Through Coffee (100 Tyler St.; bltcoffee.com, 360-385-3388): Grab a cup of coffee (perhaps the addictive Café Arancia, a mocha with orange zest) and take a seat. Almost every one has a view of Port Townsend Bay. If it’s warm enough, the view just outside is even better.

Pippa’s Real Tea (636 Water St.; pippasrealtea.com, 360-385-6060): Sit by the fireplace and sip (hot buttered almond tea, anyone?) or try the scones and clotted cream. Pippa’s serves a full high tea at 1 and 3 p.m. Saturdays; reservations are a must.

Blue Moose Café (311 Haines Place; 360-385-7339): You can’t see the water from inside this snug café at the Port of Port Townsend, but you’re likely to be eating with boatbuilders. You can pour yourself coffee while you wait at this longtime local favorite with a sense of humor and servers who treat you like one of the family. It’s open for breakfast and lunch.

Hudson Point Café (130 Hudson St.; 360-379-0592): Located at the Point Hudson Marina, Hudson Point offers great views of the marina and an extensive breakfast and brunch menu.

Owl Sprit Café (218 Polk St.; owlsprit.com, 360-385-5275): Owl Sprit has art on the walls and cute mismatched seating, but the biggest appeal is the food, including soups, homemade baked goods, sweet potato fries and fresh juices. It’s open for lunch and early dinner.

Where to stay

Historic hotels abound in Port Townsend. Among the options:

The Bishop Victorian Hotel (714 Washington St.; bishopvictorian.com, 833-254-2469): This all-suite hotel, built in 1890, is a snug winter choice; rooms have gas fireplaces that invite you to linger with a good book and stay in for continental breakfast, included in the room rate. The elegant lobby, open 24 hours, is stocked with puzzles, board games and a piano. Standard winter rates are $135-$185, with 10 percent discounts for AAA and AARP members.

The Waterstreet Hotel (635 Water St.; watersthotel.com, 800-735-9810): Another historic hotel, in a building that dates to 1889, the Waterstreet offers water views. Some rooms have private baths and others share baths in the hall, and as at the Bishop, there’s no elevator. Standard winter rates are $60-$160, with lower weekday rates available online.