About Port Angeles (Washington)
Port Angeles perches on the northern shore of the mountainous Olympic Peninsula, across the water from Vancouver Island. The town sprawls out behind the dock, the busy waterfront curving round into a long, thin spit; the urban area quickly giving way to dense forest and the snowy Olympic mountain range. The whole region has been inhabited by the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe for thousands of years, and you'll see Native American art and artifacts for sale in some of the galleries in town.
You can walk from the pier to the downtown area in minutes; most of the shops and restaurants are spread along two streets, Front and First, as well as the waterfront. At first glance, the town looks slightly grungy, but there are some spots worth seeking out. Among them, some decent antiques and vintage stores and -- if you're in the market for organic wines from Washington State, Oregon and California to take home -- the enormous Country Aire Natural Foods emporium. A marked waterfront trail has pleasant views out over the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, while fans of the "Twilight" movies can seek out locations used in the films (pick up a leaflet from the very helpful Visitor Center by the dock).
Port Angeles has an unusual history; in 1914, the two main streets were raised 12 feet to escape tidal flooding, effectively burying the ground floor of the buildings. Some of the old buildings are connected by underground passages, with the original storefronts -- rather creepily -- still visible. Port Angeles Heritage Daily tours (except Sunday) will take you on a subterranean adventure to learn all about it, for $15. The real beauty of Port Angeles, though, is its hinterland of snowy ridges, mountain lakes, dense forest and cascading waterfalls.
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