There’s no better time to visit Port Gamble than fall, when the chill air crowns the maples and elms in vivid reds, oranges and golds, highlighting the New England heritage of this quintessential Pacific Northwest destination.
And for those seeking chills up their spines, Port Gamble also has a spooky side. Visitors who dare can go on ghost walks, attend a three-day ghost conference or take part in special investigations at the imposing Walker-Ames House. There’s also a weeklong Spirits & Spirits Fest that combines boos and with some of the region’s best booze.
It’s no wonder some see the paranormal in this Hood Canal town. It dates back to the 1850s and was home to the oldest continuously operating lumber mill in the United States. Now, the perfectly preserved buildings house shops, restaurants, museums and a community theater. Port Gamble is also a popular wedding venue and outdoor enthusiasts prize its mountain biking trails.
- Of Sea and Shore Museum – One of the quirkiest attractions in town, this free museum on the second floor of the Port Gamble General Store started as a high school biology project. It now includes shells from more than 40 countries and is thought to be one of the world’s largest private shell collections.
- Port Gamble Historic Museum – Look for the original Port Gamble land grant deeds signed by Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson in this museum in the basement of the general store. “This is where western Washington started, this was the beginning,” said Pat Verd, museum assistant. The collection includes artifacts from the early lumber industry and a Native American dwelling from the 1800s.
- Butcher & Baker – This restaurant sells elevated comfort food, plus picnic supplies and culinary gifts. Try the gourmet grilled cheese, spicy fried chicken sandwich or veggie-filled hash topped with a poached egg. And, don’t even think about skipping the mouth-watering array of cakes, pastries, muffins, scones and cookies.
- Port Gamble General Store –This is the place to find penny candy, ice cream, wine and an amazing selection of unique gifts. For a relaxing meal made with care and fresh, local ingredients, try Scratch Kitchen. You’ll love the view of Hood Canal, the hearty breakfasts, the delicious baked goods and the sandwiches on homemade bread.
- Olympic Outdoor Center – Rent kayaks, mountain bikes and gear year-round in the historic firehouse across from the general store. Paddle Port Gamble Bay and Hood Canal for views of the Olympic Mountains or bike the popular 4,000-acre Port Gamble-Stottlemeyer Trails for lots of single-track fun. The store is closed during inclement weather. Call 360-297-4659 for information.
- Craft Shops – Quilted Strait offers a rainbow of fine quilting fabrics and The Artful Ewe showcases natural hand-dyed fibers and tools for spinning, weaving and knitting.
- Gift Shops – The many choices include Tango Zulu Imports, Mrs. Muir’s House paranormal shop, Wish & Rainy Day Antiques, Painted Lady vintage and the Port Gamble General Store, which stocks unique housewares, souvenirs and old-fashioned candy.
- Clue – The Musical – Everybody’s favorite mystery game comes to life with a fun-filled musical that runs at the Port Gamble Theater weekends from Oct. 7 to 23. Was it Professor Plum in the drawing room with a lead pipe? You’ll have to buy tickets to find out.
If you love the historic feel of the town, relax and stay a while at one of Port Gamble’s charming guest houses. Other nearby lodging options include Poulsbo and Silverdale hotels, as well as the Suquamish Clearwater Resort. Click here for Port Gamble directions and maps.