March 12th, 2012
For those of you who are Victoria-based like yours truly, I'm going to guess that you've at one time or another stared across the Straight of Juan de Fuca at the Mordor-esque mountains of Washington's Olympic Peninsula. What are the chances you've never taken the MV Coho across and spent some time in 'The Gateway to Olympic National Park', Port Angeles? Fairly high, I'd guess. So, without further ado, let me fill you in on what you're missing.
Port Angeles, Washington, is the largest city in Clallam County, with a total population (including the surrounding area) of approximately 40,000. Where did the name come from? In 1791, Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza coined it Puerto de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles, or to the common ignoramus, Port of Our Lady of the Angels...Hence Port Angeles.
Port Angeles was built on the boom and bust economy of the logging and fishing industries. 100 years ago, these industries flourished, but in modern times, both have slowed down considerably. These days, the fame attributed to the Twilight Series, and the natural wonders of Olympic National Park are what brings visitors to Port Angeles.
Aside from hiking and vampire-envy, what's there to do in this town, you ask? From my personal experiences, I'm pleased to report that there are some great restaurants to check out, and a slice of small-town nightlife that is worth experiencing yourself. In terms of dining, Bella Italia would be my top choice, serving traditional Italian fare with a Pacific Northwest Twist. I've tried the crab, prawn & pesto pizza, which was a real treat. The Nextdoor Gastropub, a newcomer on the scene, serves up gourmet burgers, and a variety of local microbrews. As a benchmark, I sampled their straight-up burger with white cheddar - Wow!
What to do in P.A. (local handle for Port Angeles) when the sun goes down? Head to Bar 9 of course! The classiest of the local drinking holes, Bar 9 is nothing but fun, with different themed nights every day of the week. Their Wednesday Karaoke is not to be missed, and the thursday open mike reveals a nice cross-section of local talent, including an underground favourite: Sean, the local barber/stand-up comic. In Canadian terms, some of Bar 9's specials are too good to be missed, including $5 burger + fries, and $5 jugs of beer! I had the pleasure of meeting co-owner Galen Hammond on my last visit, and he was a most cordial fellow.
Looking for a place to stay? I'd highly recommend P.A.'s Downtown Hotel, which offers a real 'home-away-from home' experience, at very affordable prices. Proprietor Tim Chamberlain is your man on the other end, and he's waiting for your call.
In short, Port Angeles is a remarkably close getaway for Victorians, with some decent attractions, and a nice 'I'm not in Canada, look at this green money' type vibe, not to mention overall affordability. Get over there today in less than two hours time at a total cost of $16.10 on the Coho! An extra perk: it's pretty fun to sit up on the hill behind town and stare back across at Victoria. Locate the 'Art Forest' back there; it's really cool!
There you have it Executives. Get yourselves over to P.A, and give me a wave from the other side. I'll wave back, I promise.