Last Updated on: 6th February 2023, 12:09 pm
Planning a getaway to Port Gamble, Washington? Whether you’re looking to spend a weekend here or stopping by for a day trip, there are so many fabulous things to do in Port Gamble for you to choose from!
Here are the best Port Gamble activities and attractions plus travel tips from my travels to this charming company town.
Whatever you’re interests – from learning Port Gamble history to ghost-busting to outdoor adventures – there’s something here for everyone!
After suggestions for what to do in Port Gamble you’ll find recommendations for where to stay, how to get here, what to pack, and more!
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Good to Know: During this portion of my trip to Washington, I was hosted by Visit Kitsap Peninsula, an organization that promotes tourism to the Kitsap Peninsula and Kitsap County.
We explored many parts of this corner of the Pacific Northwest, including Gig Harbor, Port Orchard, Bremerton, Suquamish, Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island, and Port Gamble.
While VKP hosted the trip, all opinions are my own, including thoughts shared about my visit and my tips for what you should do during your trip to Washington state.
My Favorite Travel Booking Sites for 2023
These are my favorite companies that I use on my own travels.
Protect Your Trip via Safety Wing
Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com.
For English-speaking private airport transfers, book through Welcome Pickups.
For road trips and independent travel, rent a car through Discover Cars.
Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.
For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.
The Best Things to Do in Port Gamble, WA
Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, with friends, or with kids, here are ideas for the best things to do in Port Gamble for every kind of traveler!
Walk around Historic Downtown Port Gamble
After arriving in Port Gamble, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in New England and not the Pacific Northwest.
This is because the town’s architecture was heavily inspired by the town of East Machias, Maine, where the original Port Gamble settlers journeyed from.
Port Gamble was founded in 1853 as a company town operated by the Puget Mill Company, which was formed to produce lumber for US settlers flooding to the West Coast.
Before this, the area was inhabited by the Port Gamble S’Klallam. You can read about the Tribe’s history with the mill company on the Tribe’s website.
The mill operated from the 1850s through the 1990s, and while the mill is closed, the town is still company-owned.
In 1966, Port Gamble was listed as a National Historic Landmark, protecting and preserving the historic buildings downtown.
The Port Gamble National Historic Landmark is bounded by the Hood Canal, Port Gamble Bay, State Road 104, and the town limits.
While it’s not one of Washington’s National Park Service units, the NPS has said that Port Gamble is “the finest example of a nineteenth-century Pacific Coast logging community.”
Many of the individual houses are listed below separately along with information about their importance so that you can see all of them, but you really should walk around Rainier Avenue, the town’s main street, and take in the beauty of the historic downtown as a collective.
A few of the most famous buildings in Port Gamble:
The New York House (The Painted Lady)
The Walker-Ames House
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Michael S. Drew House
Franklin Lodge No. 5
Daniel B. Jackson House
Shop in the Port Gamble General Store & Cafe
An eclectic mix of gifts, souvenirs, books, and groceries makes shopping at the old-fashioned Port Gamble General Store a blast.
The architecture inside the store is beautiful, with a grand sweeping staircase running up to the second floor.
In the back, you’ll find the Port Gamble Cafe, where you can get coffees, teas, pastries, ice cream, and savory snacks.
No trip to Port Gamble is complete without perusing the general store, though you can spend as much or as little time here as your like!
Hold a Ghost Investigation or Go on a Ghost Tour
One of my favorite things to do in Port Gamble is to look for ghosts!
Known as one of the most haunted towns in America, there have been ghost sightings in almost every historic building in town.
Serious ghost hunters come to town for the annual Paranormal Conference or schedule a time to conduct their own paranormal investigation.
Amateur ghost-enthusiasts (and even skeptics) can schedule a ghost tour of Port Gamble through Port Gamble Paranormal.
Good to Know: If you love haunted towns, you can pair a visit to Port Gamble with a visit to haunted Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula.
Learn the History of Port Gamble at the Port Gamble Historic Museum
The small Port Gamble Historic Museum packs a big punch! Located behind the Port Gamble General Store, not only is the museum haunted, but it also has beautiful exhibits from the town’s history.
You’ll learn about the history of the Puget Mill Company, a sawmill located right on the water which ran the entire town.
You’ll also see artifacts from the town like garments, presidential documents, and even a replica of the former Hotel Puget.
Set aside 30-45 minutes to see the museum, which is one of the best free things to do in Port Gamble.
Check the museum’s website for the museum’s schedule and hours.
Come See the Former Mill Site & Grindstone
If the museum is closed, it’s still worth venturing behind the General Store to see a few of the landmarks.
You’ll see a grindstone with a plaque that reads:
”This grindstone was used in the mill until 1895 when it was given to Knute O. Vaa by Cyrus Walker when Knute retired. It was then donated by Edwin Vaa at the time of his father’s death.”
If you look out to the low-lying spit of land beneath you, you’ll see where the former mill was located.
While today everything is gone, you can see how the town sat above the mill and get a feel for how everything in the town revolved around the water.
Stop by the State Champion Camperdown Elm
While you’re in this same spot, stop by the tree with the plaque out front that reads “State Champion Camperdown Elm.”
Planted in 1875, this tree is a descendant of the original Camperdown Elm in Scotland:
“It was in 1640 that the “Earl of Camperdown” in Dundee Scotland noticed a branch growing on the floor of his elm forest.
He grafted it to a Scotch elm tree and it took hold producing the first Camperdown Elm. The Scotch Elm is the only root mass the Camperdown Elm will grow on.
The tree is a mutant and cannot self-produce. Every Camperdown Elm tree in the world is part of the original and they must be grafted to a Scotch Elm tree to get started.
When the graft starts to grow, the Scotch Elm branches are cut off leaving only Camperdown Elm.
This magnificent tree depends on humankind to keep it alive as a species.”
Stop by the Of Sea and Shore Museum
For such a small town, there is more than one Port Gamble museum worth visiting.
The Of Sea and Shore Museum is located on the second floor of the Port Gamble General Store and displays a part of one of the largest private collections of seashells in the US.
If you happen to be in Port Gamble on a rainy day, you’ll be happy that you can visit a store, cafe, and two museums all in the same building!
Get a Whiff of New England at St. Paul’s Church
One of my biggest regrets while visiting Port Gamble is that I didn’t have time to stop by St. Paul’s Church (though I did get to see a replica in the Port Gamble Museum).
Dedicated in 1878, this beautiful church was modeled after the Congregational Church of East Machias, Maine, so many of the mill’s New England-born workers would have felt right at home here.
Today the church is only open for Sunday service and pre-booked weddings, so it’s not on any of the town tours, but it’s one of the most beautiful places in Port Gamble to stop by outside and admire.
Address: 31899 NE State Hwy 104, Port Gamble, WA 98364
Good to Know: Considering getting married in Port Gamble? This town is a very popular Washington state wedding destination.
Two of the most popular spots for Port Gamble weddings are St. Paul’s Church and the Hood Canal Vista Pavilion.
Stop by the Port Gamble Theater for a Show – or to Mail a Letter!
If you’re looking for things to do in Port Gamble at night, check out the Port Gamble Theater Company’s performance schedule!
Built in 1906, the Port Gamble Theater building is one of the most prominent buildings in town and originally housed the playhouse, a community center, and the town post office.
Even if you don’t plan to go to a show, pop in to see the town’s diminutive post office complete with early twentieth-century P.O. Boxes.
If you want to mail postcards from your trip, you can pick some up at the General Store beforehand!
Take in the Views of the Hood Canal
Port Gamble is surrounded by water on two sides. On the west side is the Port Gamble Bay, while the north side is bounded by the Hood Canal.
Both bodies of water are part of the larger Puget Sound, a fjord system with many offshoots.
Looking out across the Hood Canal offers views of the water, the Hood Canal Bridge connecting the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas, and potentially (depending on the weather) a glimpse of the Olympic Mountains!
Enjoy the Hood Canal from Salsbury Point Country Park
If you want to spend some time on the Hood Canal instead of just taking a quick peek, you can head to Salsbury Point County Park.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset and has a boat launch, a playground, picnic tables, and walking trails.
You can enjoy a picnic here while watching the water. It’s also a great place to get photographs of the Hood Canal Bridge.
You might even get to watch the bridge open for ships to pass!
Get Out on the Water on Port Gamble Bay
If you want to go kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding in Port Gamble, Port Gamble Bay is a great place to get out on the water.
You can find a few suggested routes here.
Don’t have your own gear? You can rent kayaks, canoes, and whatever else you need from the Olympic Outdoor Center, housed in the Old Fire Station next to the Port Gamble Theater.
They even offer lessons for those wanting to learn while you’re out here!
If you are interested in bioluminescence, you can go on a Port Gamble Bay Bioluminescence Tour through the Olympic Outdoor Center.
Good to Know: I didn’t go on the bioluminescence tour in Port Gamble, but I did one a couple of months earlier in Holbox, Mexico, and I highly recommend it!
Or Get Your Adrenaline on Land via Mountain Biking!
If you want to spend some time mountain biking, you can go on a portion of the local trails or complete the entire Port Gamble loop which is over seventeen miles of connected trails.
Need to rent a mountain bike? You can rent bikes from the Olympic Outdoor Center.
Visit During Cherry Blossom Season
I was lucky enough to get to enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms in Port Gamble in late April, and it made our time in Port Gamble extra special.
Cherry Blossom season in Washington state runs from mid-March to mid-April, though we still had blooms to enjoy in late April.
Or Come for the Fall Foilage
If you’ve dreamed of seeing the autumn colors in New England, you can get a taste by spending a few fall days in Port Gamble, where the maple-lined streets and New England architecture make for an amazing autumn escape!
Enjoy Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park
One of the largest county parks in the US, the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park includes over sixty miles of trails and over a mile of shoreline.
Trails here can be used for walking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and even mushroom hunting!
Dig into Delicious Port Gamble Restaurants
For a town as small as Port Gamble, you’ll be surprised at how many choices you have at mealtime when you want to visit some of the restaurants in Port Gamble.
Scratch Kitchen – a restaurant that focuses on local ingredients and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Butcher & Baker Provisions – a farmhouse restaurant that looks for local ingredients with a butcher and bakery attached
House 11 Taproom – a beer and wine taproom with a full bar, kitchen, and bottle shop
Port Gamble Cafe – this cafe located at the back of the Port Gamble General Store offers coffees, teas, ice cream, pastries, and sandwiches
Galloping Gamble Espresso – a charming drive-thru (or walk-up) espresso and spritzer that also serves wraps
Good to Know: Not every restaurant is open every day, so check each one’s hours before you arrive!
Take in the Beauty of Heronswood Garden
For those who want to get outside but prefer gardens to wooded trails, plan a visit to Heronswood Garden.
Located just outside Port Gamble across the southeastern part of Port Gamble Bay, it’s just a twelve-minute drive from downtown.
The botanical gardens are a great family-friendly activity, and they are also pet-friendly as long as you keep them on short leads.
The garden is owned and managed by the Port Gamble S’Klallam Foundation and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.
Visit Historic Buena Vista Cemetery
I love visiting old cemeteries. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to add a stop at the Buena Vista Cemetery to my Port Gamble getaway, but you should make sure to stop by!
A favorite of ghost hunters visiting Port Gamble, you can come for the ghost stories or for the solemn beauty of the place.
Of historical note, Gustave Englebrecht’s grave is located here. Englebrecht, who served on the USS Massachusetts, died in 1856 and was the first US Navy combat death in the Pacific Ocean.
Find the Best Port Gamble Photo Spots & Instagrammable Places
If you love sharing your travels on social media, here are a five of the most popular Instagram spots in Port Gamble:
The Walker-Ames House from the backyard
The Port Gamble Historic Museum Sign (especially during cherry blossom season)
St. Paul’s Church
The Green Port Gamble Water Towers
The Wooden Staircase in the Port Gamble General Store
Shop ‘til You Drop for Gifts & Souvenirs from Port Gamble
Port Gamble shopping is way more fun than you might expect in such a small area. That’s because there is a variety of stores, many of which specialize in artisanal and locally-made goods.
We’ve already mentioned the home decor and gifts you can find at the Port Gamble General Store, so here are a few more shops in Port Gamble you can drop by:
The Artful Ewe – wool and locally-made textiles and yarn for knitting, spinning, and weaving
Wish in Port Gamble – a gift shop with a little bit of everything
Quilted Strait – fabric and quilting accessories
The Painted Lady – antique & vintage goods
Tango Zulu Imports – housewares and apparel
House 11 Taproom – local beer from the bottle shop
Gamble Bay Textiles – handmade textiles
Port Gamble Historic Museum Gift Shop – postcards from Port Gamble history
Plan Your Trip Around Special Port Gamble Events
Besides the annual Ghost Conference, Port Gamble holds several annual events that would be great to plan your trip here around.
Old Mill Days, the Summer Faire, the Maritime Music Festival, and Country Christmas are all special times in Port Gamble.
There are also ghost walks, planned paranormal investigations, mountain biking races, and cruise nights in addition to the theater performances I mentioned above.
Check out Port Gamble’s Upcoming Events calendar to help decide your Port Gamble travel dates.
Plan a Day Trip from Town or Enjoy the Best Things to Do Near Port Gamble
If you plan to be in Port Gamble for a long weekend, you may want to see a few additional things to do nearby.
You can check out other important spots on the Kitsap Peninsula:
Kitsap Memorial State Park (10 minutes)
Ludlow Falls in Port Ludlow (17 minutes)
Downtown Poulsbo (20 minutes)
Point No Point Lighthouse & Park (20 minutes)
The Bloedel Reserve (25 minutes)
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial (35 minutes)
Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Port Gamble, Washington
These are the topics visitors planning a trip to Port Gamble most want to know.
What is Port Gamble known for?
Port Gamble is famous for being one of the best-preserved mill towns in the US.
Do people live in Port Gamble?
Yes, people live in Port Gamble! The buildings are company-owned, and residents rent from the company.
Who owns the houses in Port Gamble?
The Olympic Property Group is what remains of the company that owns the town now that the mill is closed.
Is Port Gamble open?
Yes, you can visit Port Gamble!
What is the population of Port Gamble?
There are fewer than one thousand permanent residents in Port Gamble.
What are the most popular things to do in Port Gamble?
The biggest must-sees in Port Gamble are walking Rainier Ave, stopping by the Port Gamble General Store, and seeing St. Paul’s Church from the outside.
When is the best time to visit Port Gamble?
If you want to come to see the cherry blossoms or autumn leaves, then plan your trip around these events.
If you want to experience the paranormal, plan your trip during the Paranormal Conference or a scheduled paranormal investigation.
Otherwise, spring and autumn are great times to visit the Kitsap Peninsula. The crowds aren’t as big as they are during the summer, and the cool weather makes walking around town a treat.
How to Get to Port Gamble, Washington
Port Gamble is easy to reach from Seattle and Tacoma.
You will want a car to get here as well as to get around once you’re here. If you are flying into SeaTac before heading to the Kitsap Peninsula, reserve your rental car early.
Once in town, streetside parking and public parking are available.
You can take the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge or from Edmonds to Kingston.
Once you have arrived in Kitsap County, make your way to State Highway 104 which goes right through Port Gamble.
Both routes take between seventy-five and ninety minutes unless you run into long ferry wait times or traffic leaving Seattle.
If you don’t want to deal with ferry wait times, drive south through Tacoma and cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge then drive north through the Kitsap Peninsula.
This route takes ninety minutes without traffic.
From Tacoma, take Highway 16 across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and up to Highway 3 and then Highway 104.
The drive time for this route is about an hour before traffic.
Pro Tip: Don’t leave without a full tank of gas just in case you get stuck in traffic! This goes for your return from Poulsbo to Seattle as well, as ferry lines and highway traffic can be bad in both directions.
Where to Stay in Port Gamble
The most popular place to stay in Port Gamble is the Port Gamble Guest Houses.
Guests love having access to their own kitchen, fireplace, and patio. Plus the location on the water in the heart of Port Gamble really can’t be beaten.
However, these ultra-popular accommodations are hard to get since they sell out very early, especially during the wedding season.
If you want to stay in Port Gamble proper, reserve your house asap!
If you don’t want to stay in Port Gamble (or it’s fully booked), we stayed in two different hotels in Kitsap County that I can recommend:
About twenty minutes away from Port Gamble, the Suquamish Clearwater Resort is a popular hotel on the Kitsap Peninsula that’s packed with amenities and located right on the water.
Our rooms were comfy and cozy, with epic views of Agate Pass.
The restaurant on the property was nothing short of scrumptious, and the atmosphere in the lounges was a perfect blend of Pacific Northwest traditional architecture and modern comforts.
The resort is owned by the Suquamish Tribe, so staying here is a great way to give back to the people from whom US settlers took so much.
During our time on the Kitsap Peninsula, we also stayed at The Marshall Suites on Bainbridge Island, which is about thirty minutes from Port Gamble.
This comfy hotel features kitchenettes, onsite laundry rooms, and free Diet Cokes for guests, so I was essentially in my element.
This is a great option for those who want to see more of Bainbridge Island with day trips to other Kitsap towns like Poulsbo and Port Gamble.
5 Things to Pack for Your Trip to Washington State
A Packable Down Jacket – everyone in our family has one. They’re light and easy to keep in your backpack or car, but they’re warm enough to make a huge difference if the weather turns cold.
A Lightweight but Durable Backpack – My Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack was a steal for the price. It’s survived 17 national parks as well as trips to Mexico and El Salvador!
It won’t last forever, but it has more than proved its worth so far.
A Pair of Binoculars for trips where I’m going to be looking for wildlife – like whale watching. I use these binoculars, and my husband has a separate pair.
A Portable Charging Bank in case my phone dies. Having a portable charger for your phone is crucial.
This is a safety issue as my offline maps may be the only way to navigate where there’s no cell phone data available, as well as the convenience of being able to use my cell phone camera.
I relied on this heavily during my time on the Kitsap Peninsula, as cell phone coverage was spotty in places, which drains the battery.
A Basic First Aid Kit to handle minor issues while you are out. Don’t let a hot spot on your foot turn into a blister, or leave a small cut open to the elements.
I keep a small first aid kit in my backpack at all times when we are on the road.
More Washington State Resources
Here are all the resources I have written about travel in Washington state.
Washington State Guides
Olympic Peninsula Guides
Kitsap Peninsula Guides
Tri-Cities and Southeastern Washington Guides
Before You Visit Washington – Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Whenever I go on a trip, I always make sure to get travel insurance!
The company Safety Wing is the travel insurance company I always look to first, and I happily recommend them!
I always make sure to get travel insurance whenever I’m going to be over one hundred miles from home, in large cities where tourists can be the target of pickpockets, and anytime I’ll be doing outdoor adventure or beach activities.
It makes my life easier knowing if something should happen, I’ll be able to take care of it!