Ferry Tips & Tricks

Photo c/o WSDOT

Photo c/o WSDOT

If you’re traveling to Port Townsend, chances are you’re going to be taking a Washington State Ferry (WSF). It is one of the loveliest ways to travel and commute. The WSF is the largest ferry system in the United States (and 4th largest in the world!) with nearly 25 million people riding the ferries last year.

Ride aboard on one of the state’s largest icons and attractions. Enjoy the 30 minute ride with a beer or cup of chowder from the galley with sweeping views of Puget Sound. If you’re headed on the Seattle/Bainbridge route, expect amazing views of the city and on a clear day you can see Mt. Rainier.

To ensure that your travel experience goes smoothly, here are a few tips & tricks to riding the Washington State Ferries.

Getting to Port Townsend

There is not a direct ferry from Seattle to Port Townsend. The only direct ferry to Port Townsend is from Whidbey Island (Coupeville).

Most likely you’ll be taking the Edmonds/Kingston or Seattle/Bainbridge route so after your leisurely boat ride, enjoy a beautiful, ~1 hour drive up the Olympic Peninsula to Port Townsend. 

Arrive Early

No matter the time of day, day of the week, or which route you’re taking, get to the ferry early. There is nothing worse than missing the ferry by just a couple of cars. If you want to see if a how busy a sailing is, you can check the ferry cameras.

The busiest times to ride the WSF are Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July, Labor Day Weekend, Thanksgiving, and around the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in early September.

Best Times to Travel

WSF has a feature on their website that provides the best times to travel. Each route has its own typical vehicle traffic conditions to give you a better idea of which ferry times are most trafficked.



Port Townsend/Coupeville


The Port Townsend/Coupeville ferry accepts and encourages passengers to make reservations. Even with a reservation you will need to arrive to the terminal 30-45 minutes before the scheduled sailing.

You cannot make reservations for the Seattle/Bainbridge or Edmonds/Kingston routes.