How refreshing...historic batteries kids can still play on! In an era when it seems everything is closed to the public due to safety restrictions, kids can still access the Fort Worden barracks and batteries, perfect for playing 'army' or even hide-and-seek. You can walk to several via short hikes, or access the most popular one right next to the beach and light house.
Camping is on-site, but we stayed in the Fort Worden officers' housing, which now serve as home rentals. These houses are 'rustic' in that they're historically accurate, and haven't been updated in a while, but they're spacious and comfortable, and right on a big sports field where kids can play. They're also within easy walking distance of the beach and batteries. The officers' lodging have full kitchens, and 1 and 1/2 bathrooms. No wifi , however, unless you head to the check-in building, where there's a lobby and a coffee shop and dining hall.
My family has been going to Fort Flagler for over 20 years so this year I took my family across the water to Fort Worden. The batteries were amazing and easily to hike to, even for my husband who walks with a cane. The beach is perfect for playing in the water and searching for shells. The only downside was that you have to pay to see the museum unlike Fort Flagler but other than that it was a place we will visit again!
If your kids think the exploring old military bunkers, playing on the beach, and watching wildlife all sound like fun than a visit to Fort Worden is definitely in order. This former military installation is now a popular spot for families to come to stay for a week, weekend, or just the day. Old military barracks and officer's quarters have been transformed into lodging (which is quite popular and books up early) but those staying the Port Townsend area will still find Fort Worden to be an ideal place to spend the day.
My kids could have literally spent all day playing army inside the old concrete bunkers. They loved exploring the dark depths and discovering secret hiding spots,climbing up ladders, down stairs, and behind old gunner stations. I have to admit that it didn't take my long to get into the spirit of the game as well. There are a couple different bunkers, including one which involves a half mile hike or bike ride through the forest to reach,but the day we visited that bunker was closed due a bald eagle nesting.My kids were sad that they couldn't explore yet another bunker but we very excited to discover a juvenile bald eagle sitting in its massive nest, waiting for mom to return with lunch.
There are a few different places to grab food on Fort Worden, including a small food stand with darn good chili. The beaches aren't exactly what us Southern California locals are used to but they are quite beautiful and still great for exploring.
We stayed at Fort Worden for a family reunion in August. The old barracks are a bit rustic and not the place to be if you like plush towels and room service, but for a few days with our daughter and her cousins it was fantastic! Our barracks had a huge kitchen and dining area and room for 20+ people. This used to be a military base, and the old batteries that were home to huge guns and cannons are still there. My 5-year-old daughter loved exploring the dark nooks and crannies of these old concrete installations (I did too!). On a clear day you get a great view of puget sound. We happened across a group of old hippies playing music in a huge underground tank on top of the hill the size of half a soccer field that used to hold water - they said once or twice a year they actually hold a concert in the tank and pipe the sound to the meadow above - how cool! The nearby town, Port Townsend, is very quaint and friendly with small shops and an old pier with faded displays recalling the boom town days when this place was going to be the next big thing.
My family has been family reunioning here for a number of years. It's great fun and totally inline with our traveling virtues. An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed here. It looks pretty much the same now. A mile of wild Washington beach front. Forts (with the completely dark mousetrap mazes - if you're from the Seattle are you probably know what I'm talking about) good for hours of exploring. Brings the kid out of mom and dad and grandpa alike. Our family stays in old soldiers barracks which is just fine with me.