Looking for a bargain getaway to a memorable spot close to home? Don’t forget the historic homes you can rent in Washington’s state parks. Run away on a weeknight before this month is out and get some good off-season rates.
Working on an upcoming story about Fort Flagler State Park, part of a series marking the park system’s 100th birthday (which is March 19), I stayed last Thursday night in the Engineer’s House, dating to the 1890s, the first structure built in the old Marrowstone Island fort that first helped guard Puget Sound during the Spanish-American War. (Hey, are we ruled by Spain today? I guess the fort did its job.)
The two-bedroom house was cozy, and the bluffside view of Admiralty Inlet hard to beat. It even warmed up enough Friday for a picnic in an Adirondack chair on the front porch, with a view of every ship and tugboat going in and out of the Sound. Mount Baker across the way, Mount Rainier to the south. Pretty darn nice.
And the price was right:
$88 on weeknights (plus tax and reservation fee). Rates go up April 1.
Good news: Around the end of April, the Fort Flagler houses are being added to an online reservation system, making them easier to book. (Other park rentals are already online.) Until then, you can reserve by phone: 800-360-4240 or 360-902-8600. (An outdated notice on the parks Website says no reservations for the Flagler houses will be taken March 12-April 25 because of the transition, but that down period has been shortened to April 21-25.) Allow a day for a reservations agent to respond by phone.
Get a look at Fort Flagler’s rentals here (but you have to ask about the Engineer’s House, which is a recent addition to the rentals and for my money has the best location). Click here for vacation rentals in all state parks.
Pets aren’t allowed inside at Flagler rentals (at some parks it’s OK), but park manager Mike Zimmerman told me you could bring a dog and keep it inside the nice white picket fences surrounding some of the houses. (Also — it says “two night minimum,” but they didn’t mind renting out a place for one night when available in the offseason.)
A couple caveats: You have to bring your own linens (sheets, blankets and towels), and they ask that you help clean up when you leave, to keep costs down. But for that you get a great location with miles of trails and beaches, plus some pretty interesting historic sites outside your door. I couldn’t complain.