This Guest Blog is written by Travel & Lifestyle Journalist Valerie Hansen. You can find more of her work on her website at: https://MapleLeopard.com, or follow her on Instagram @mapleleopard, or on Facebook.
The city of Gig Harbor is a vibrant lil gem; located on the west side of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It’s known to some as the “Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula.”
This maritime town is one of the most picturesque small cities in America. A few sailor boys back in the 1840’s arrived here with the Wilkes Expedition. The 3 men came into the harbor on a longboat called a “Captain’s Gig.” These explorers were visiting from British Columbia and liked it so well they decided to stay.
I have been visiting Gig Harbor for years, it is a favorite daytrip destination. Here are the best things to do and how to spend one amazing day:
Ride The Trolley
The Gig Harbor Trolley runs between the waterfront, Harbor Hill and Uptown every 30 minutes. Tickets are fifty cents for each ride, or you can purchase an all-day pass for a dollar!
The trolley is a fun nostalgic ride and is a fantastic way to sightsee through the city of Gig Harbor. Where else can you ride all over one city for one dollar?! The ticket is good all day and you can get on and off the train as you please. There are three main stops on the route.
Just a heads up: the Trolley only runs in the summer months.
The Cushman Trail
If you are up for a long walk, bike ride or jog along side of Highway 16; the Cushman Trail is worth the effort! The trail ends at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and you will be in awe of the jaw dropping scenery.
The best way to maximize the views is to walk the entire length of the bridge, to the Tacoma side. We walked across 3 years ago, it was an epic experience I won’t soon forget!
Downtown Gig Harbor on the waterfront has beautiful sweeping views of the sound. Grab yourself a seat at Skansie Park near the marina. Here is an epic spot to take in breathtaking scenery and panoramic views.
Skansie Brothers Park hosts exciting events throughout the year: Maritime Gig Festival, Holiday Tree Lighting, the Summer Concert Series and many more community gatherings.
Next up; take a coffee break at the Java Clay Café . This isn’t your average coffee shop, it’s also a pottery studio. The coffee shop often hosts ladies’ night out, and kid parties too. If you are a fan of lavender, the lavender iced tea here is a “must try!”
Fabulous eateries and unique boutiques await you! Arrive early in the day and you can eat your way through downtown. Devoted Kiss is a popular breakfast spot. The Boatyard Trolley is a market grille restaurant near the waterfront, and offers the ultimate “harbor” experience.
After your morning fuel, go shopping at Tickled Pink. This 3-chain boutique offers stylish apparel, bath/body products, items made locally and much more!
For lunch take a short walk around the bend to Tides Tavern. This is a destination eatery to enjoy seafood of the PNW, with stunning views for a backdrop. Tides Tavern is super popular with locals and tourists alike. The wait for a table can be long; call ahead or arrive early! Anthony’s on the Bay is also a wonderful choice for a seafood dinner.
Uptown Shopping Center
Uptown Gig Harbor is a premier shopping destination in the west sound. This is a fabulous place to shop, dine, relax and unwind. Exciting events such as summer concerts, a lighted car parade during Christmas, and other community gatherings like the local favorite – Gig Harbor Beer Fest.
If you love Mexican cuisine, make a stop at Blue Agave. The food is authentic and very reasonably priced. National chain retailers as well as local merchants offer the latest in chic fashion trends and home goods.
Chico’s, The Loft, J. Jill, Home Goods are stocked with amazing styles and treats. Everything you need for retail is at your fingertips in Uptown Gig Harbor. If you’re looking for local boutique shops, you’ll find that here, too with Frankie and Paper Luxe.
A visit to Uptown really can be a day trip all in itself! There is so much to do, see and eat. When I lived in Kitsap County, I made weekly trips to Uptown. It is an amazing destination to escape the busyness of everyday life and work.
Gig Harbor Gondola
The Gig Harbor gondola ride is an epic experience with Venice vibes! John does his best to make the experience as authentic as possible. He can sing well and serenades his guests with a rendition of ” O Sole Mia.” You will also hear interesting facts about the history of the harbor and its beautiful homes.
Nothing compares to views of the Puget Sound from the water. Get ready for eye popping views and panoramic eye candy from every turn. Beautiful homes big and small line the shore. The gondolier navigates the coves and shares stories about old landmarks Gig Harbor is known for.
You may also bring food and drinks aboard to enjoy during the ride. The Gig Harbor General Store offers a broad selection of eats and is close by. The Gondola is available year around, and even when it rains! Washingtonians have webbed feet and we don’t let the weather stop us from having fun.
Gig Harbor is truly the “best kept secret” of the West Sound. This list is a scratch on the surface of things to see. In addition to a day trip, Gig Harbor would be an ideal location for a weeklong vacation. Go after work. And indulge.