Gig Harbor is a maritime city on the southern end of the Kitsap Peninsula that offers visitors a perfect mix of history, amenities and stunning views.
Mt. Rainier looms large on the horizon and the impressive Tacoma Narrows Bridge provides easy access for a late fall or holiday getaway. Hundreds of pleasure craft and a fleet of 35 active commercial fishing boats bob prettily in the harbor, a testament to the city’s nautical heritage and a scene straight off a picture postcard.
The downtown business district curves around the water and offers a sophisticated mix of art galleries and shops that sell rare books, beachy home décor, designer clothes, stand-up paddle boards, fishing flies and more. Here’s a shopping guide by the Downtown Waterfront Alliance.
Spend an hour or two at the beautiful Harbor History Museum to learn about the region’s indigenous people, its first settlers and its enduring connection to the sea. You’ll find a group of devoted volunteers at work restoring the 65-foot Shenandoah fishing boat and a one-room schoolhouse complete with a schoolmarm.
As you wander the Harborview Drive corridor, look for the city’s 17 netsheds, the largest collection of the historic structures in the Puget Sound region. The simple wooden buildings date back to 1910 and were built over the water so fishermen could dry their heavy cotton nets to prevent rot. Seven of the buildings are still used by fishermen today, although cotton nets have long since been replaced with synthetics. A self-guided tour is available here.
Pier into the Night, Harbor Wild Watch – See creatures that live under the water while you stay warm and dry at this family-friendly event on Maritime Pier. Each first Friday, SCUBA divers set up a live feed with an underwater camera and lights so visitors can observe Puget Sound at night. The next event is 6 p.m. Nov. 5.
Tides Tavern – This 21-and-over restaurant is considered one of the best seafood shacks in America and is a popular summer destination because of its dock service and roomy deck. But, fall and winter are just as appealing, thanks to steamy thyme-infused clam chowder, crispy fish and chips, and a cosy interior reminiscent of a well-loved beach house. Other popular eateries include Green Turtle Restaurant, Brix 25 and Morso, a wine bar and arts venue.
Skansie Brothers Park – This waterfront park is the site of frequent city festivals, a summer farmers’ market and the only publicly-owned net shed in town.
Heritage Distilling Co. – Gig Harbor’s craft distillery has won the most awards of any North American distillery 2014-16. Its downtown tasting room offers flights of 4 samples for $5-$10 and a cask club program that allows you to age your own spirits. An advent calendar is stocked with 24 tiny bottles of such popular flavors as brown sugar bourbon, coffee-flavored vodka and blood orange vodka.
7 Seas Brewing – This popular brewery has a spacious, family-friendly taproom a few blocks from the water and offers a large selection of beers in a number of styles, including Rude Parrot Single IPA and seasonal ales and stouts. There are no televisions so that patrons will engage in conversation. Bring in your own food or try the 7 Seas food truck, parked out front Thursdays through Sundays.
First Saturday Art Walk, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Nov. 5 – Nine galleries participate in this monthly event, offering artist demonstrations, displays and refreshments.
Girls Night Out, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Nov. 10 – Goodie bags with maps, door prizes and coupons from participating retailers are on sale now for this popular annual event by the Downtown Waterfront Alliance.
Turkey Trot, 8-11 a.m. Nov. 24 – You’ll feel virtuous during the feast, if you start the day with a 5K or 10K race along the waterfront. The event starts in front of the post office on Judson Street, where non-perishable food donations are will be collected.
To plan you Gig Harbor getaway, visit the VKP website for a wide variety of lodging options and more things to do.