Port Washington blends midwestern neighborliness with New England charm. Visitors enjoy walking tours of the harbor and the historic district downtown and the many festivals in Port Washington. Historic downtown storefronts contain boutiques, specialty shops, and great restaurants. Port Washington also offers a variety of adventures for lovers of the outdoors that include fishing charters, golf, the Interurban Trail, and two sandy beaches on Lake Michigan. During one of the many Port Washington festivals, visitors can meet pirates, sail on a tall ship, tour a garden, eat at a community fish fry, or visit a great farmers market.
Port Washington has a humid continental climate with warm to hot and humid summers and winters that can be severely cold. Temperatures in Port Washington range from an average high of 21°C (70°F) in July and August to an average low of -7°C (20°F) in January. Precipitation ranges from a high of ten centimeters (over four inches) in August to a low of 2.5 centimeters (one inch) in February. Humidity levels in Port Washington range from about 87% in August and September to 75% in January. Snow falls in Port Washington from mid-October through mid-May, peaking in January at 35 centimeters (about 13.7 inches).
One of the most popular attractions in Port Washington is the 1860 Lighthouse and Light Station Museum. The facility has been restored to reflect the life of a 19th-Century light keep family. Visitors can tour the light tower and the living quarters. There are museum exhibits in the earlier generator room that display historic Port Washington artifacts. Located at the top of St. Mary's Hill in Port Washington, the museum season lasts from May through October. Hours are 11am to 4pm on Saturday and noon to 4pm on Sunday and Friday, but the museum is open all year for group tour appointments. Admission to this Port Washington attraction is $4 for adults and $1 for children. Special tours are available for $5 for adults and $2 for children.
Port Washington Marina sponsors many events throughout the year. During the May Community Street Festival, downtown businesses move to the street, offering food, beverages, and entertainment. In June, the popular Port Washington Pirate Festival features a Thieves Marketplace, Gruel Gallery, a Buccaneer Bash, and Invasions as well as activities for children, educational exhibits, music, comedy, a pirate ship, a parade, and fireworks. Also in June, the Lake Michigan Single Handed Society sponsors the LMSS Double-handed Sailboat Race from Winthrop Harbor, Illinois, and Muskegon, Michigan, to the Port Washington Marina. In July, fishers arrive to take part in the Great Lakes Sport Fishermen Fishing Derby, and visitors come to enjoy the Port Washington Lions Club Fishing Derby and Festival. On the Fourth of July, Port Washington has a parade and kids' activities, an ice cream social, and fireworks at dusk. The Port Washington Garden Walk takes place in July as does the Port Fish Day.
Port Fish Day has been a popular event in Port Washington since it was established in 1964. Activities include a big parade, a classic car show, arts and crafts show, a carnival, fish and chips, helicopter rides, and fireworks. Fishermen return in August to participate in the Port Washington Lion's Club Fishing Tournament. This annual fishing derby is accompanied by live entertainment. The Clipper Cup Sailboat Race, a 110-kilometer (68.4 mile) run between the Port Washington Marina and Muskegon, Michigan.
Near the end of August, Port Washington celebrates the Maritime Heritage Festival. This award-winning event includes tall ships, an Artisans' Marketplace, music, harbor tours, food and beverage courts, educational and historic displays and activities, children's activities, a cardboard boat regatta, and fireworks.
At the end of August, Port Washington celebrates 110 years of Harley Davidson at a huge downtown block party called "Rock the Harbor."