Explore the “upper left” of Washington state in a whole new way
Known as the gateway to Olympic National Park, Port Angeles draws hikers, climbers, paddlers and nature buffs from around the world. But did you know that this scenic town on the Strait of Juan de Fuca has an abundance of foodie experiences, arts and culture opportunities, plus family-friendly adventures? So, the next time you visit, be sure to add one of these 10 fun things to do in Port Angeles to your plans.
1. Go tide pooling and whale watching
Beaches within Port Angeles offer some of the best tide pooling in the Pacific Northwest, including the Salt Creek Recreation Area and Clallam Bay. You can go tide pooling year-round, but the best time to tide pool is at minus tides during daylight hours. Check the tide times for the precise location to identify optimal days and times. Get there at least an hour before the low tide time and follow the tide as it goes out.
Here are a few favorite local spots:
- Freshwater Bay is a great destination for spying sea life from your kayak or the beach. (Note: public tidelands are only on the left side out to Bachelor Rock.)
- Hollywood Beach’s downtown location is wonderful for beachfront picnics or paddles.
- The Feiro Marine Life Center showcases local marine life and you can touch sea stars, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers and more in the touch tanks. See a variety of the region’s fish and animals. Plus, meet the resident octopi. (A visit to Feiro is also a great option if you can’t visit beaches during low tide or want to avoid walking on rocky tidepool ground.)
2. Indulge at the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival
Foodie experiences, live music on two stages, Native American history, and a 5K fun run, plus demonstrations by the Port Angeles Rowing Association and the U.S. Coast Guard Air-Sea Rescue make October’s free Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival a must. After all, eating crab is one of the top things to do in Port Angeles. Fall is a wonderful time to visit: the weather is mild, the crowds are gone and there’s still plenty of daylight.
Love festivals? Mark your calendar for these fun events in Port Angeles: December’s Wintertide Festival of Lights, plus June’s Summertide Solstice Art Festival and Port Angeles Maritime Festival. For a list of Port Angeles events, click here.
Tip: Get ready for your road trip with a AAA Membership. Get peace-of-mind on the road plus member discounts on hotels, rental cars, movie tickets and more.
3. Bike along the waterfront
Looking for active and fun things to do in Port Angeles? Ride an e-bike along the waterfront and (hardly) pedal the 130-mile Olympic Discovery Trail, a paved multi-user pathway. (You can rent an e-bike in town or bring your own.)
When it comes to the pathway, you can roll it, walk it, run it, trot it or pedal to Ediz Hook for spectacular city and Olympic Mountain views. Plan to spend a little extra time at Ediz Hook, a 3-mile sand spit where you can watch seals and sea birds, plus the occasional pod of orca whales.
4. Watch the sun rise or the fog roll in
Photographers have the perfect vantage point to capture the sunrise or fog rolling in from the City Pier’s elevated viewing platform. Bring a fishing rod and drop a line off the pier. It’s also a great spot for whale watching.
If you visit on a Saturday, grab a bite and shop for handmade goods at the year-round Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tip: Port Angeles restaurants are mostly family-run, and many have early hours. Service will end early; plan your dinnertime while the sun is still out.
5. Learn about Native American culture and history
Don’t miss a visit to the Elwha Klallam Carnegie Museum or the House of Learning, a.k.a. The Longhouse. Learn about Native American culture and history, including the ancient tribal village of č̕ixʷícən (Tse-whit-zen, which in the Klallam language means “inner harbor”). It was uncovered under Port Angeles by the Washington State Department of Transportation in 2003 when they attempted to construct a graving dock to repair the Hood Canal Bridge. (Visits are by appointment only—request a time by email.)
6. Go chasing waterfalls
Chasing waterfalls ranks as one of the most popular things to do in Port Angeles, and for good reason. You can visit three extraordinary nearby waterfalls: Madison Falls, Marymere Falls and Sol Duc Falls. Don’t forget your camera for breathtaking photo opportunities.
Tip: Before your road trip, check out all the ways you can save as a AAA Washington member. AAA discounts are available on entertainment, gas and more. Nationally, AAA members who used member discounts saved on average $199 in 2022, which is more than the yearly price of a premier membership.
7. Ride the mountain biking trails
What are the hidden gems in Port Angeles? Mountain biking, for starters. It’s still a secret in Port Angeles. You’ll find some of Washington’s best mountain biking trails in the hills below the mountains, ranging from beginner to double black diamond. Roll around the pump track in town or go dirt jumping at the BMX bike park.
8. Nurture your passion for crafting
Don’t be surprised if you bring home a few bags of yarn from your trip to Port Angeles.
Mark your calendar for September’s Pacific Northwest Fiber Exposition, a fiber-filled weekend for crafters. Learn weaving and felting techniques, spin art yarn and shop the marketplace for crafty finds. Enjoy workshops throughout the weekend and check out local shops for unique products, especially the Cabled Fiber Shop. Crafters will also want to visit the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, which has exhibitions featuring fiber arts and workshops.
9. Catch a show at the new Field Arts & Events Hall
Love music and live events? There are even more fun things to do in Port Angeles than ever before.
A brand-new venue opened in July 2023 on the Port Angeles waterfront: the Field Arts & Events Hall. It hosts local, national and international music and performance artists in its 500-seat auditorium.
Tip: Did you know you can save on hotels with your AAA membership? Find member deals here.
10. Explore underground Port Angeles
Looking for unique things to do in Port Angeles? See a whole new side of Port Angeles: the underground side.
How? In 1914, the residents of Port Angeles devised a plan to elevate the city to prevent flooding. The result was a network of underground tunnels and storefronts that you can tour. Take the guided Port Angeles Heritage Underground Tour to learn about the great feats, scandals and hidden history of the city.
More fun things to do in Port Angeles
With more than 1-million acres of outdoor recreation in its backyard, Port Angeles is an outdoor recreation paradise. There are so many fun things to do in Port Angeles that we didn’t want to stop at 10. So, here are a few bonus ideas for planning a fantastic trip:
- Roam the outdoor art park at Webster’s Woods Art Park next to the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. Try to find all the art pieces intertwined in nature in this 5-acre sculpture park.
- Experience the cobalt blue lake of Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. Rent a paddleboard, kayak or canoe—or bring your own.
- Pedal or walk the Spruce Railroad Trail that winds around Lake Crescent and have a picnic at Devil’s Punchbowl. The trail follows the old Port Angeles Western Railroad grade.
- Walk the Port Angeles Art Mural Trail and spot 12 outdoor murals that depict the town’s maritime history and Native American heritage. The self-guided tour takes you to both hidden and not-so-hidden works of art.
- Make it a two-nation vacation with a day trip to Victoria, B.C. Canada aboard the Coho Ferry. Watch for whales, sea lions and more along the way.
- Visit during the holidays and go skating at the Winter Ice Village Skating Rink. (Fun fact: It converts into a roller rink in summer.)
- No list of fun things to do in Port Angeles would be complete without a visit to Olympic National Park. Wildlife watching is abundant: you might see deer, elk, bears, marmots, eagles and even mountain goats.
Planning to also visit the nearby town of Sequim? Check out our list of fun things to do in Sequim to plan your next adventure.
—Written by AAA Washington staff
—Top photo: Lynnette Braillard/Visit Port Angeles
Road Trip Tips
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