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The 13 Best Things to Do in Gig Harbor for a Weekend Trip

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Summer has the Pacific Northwest in its grip: warm breezes and outrageously blue skies replace the morose grey and heavy raindrops that fall from the leaves throughout the rest of the year. It’s time to GET OUTSIDE, and every Seattleite knows it.

This is why if you try and call your Seattle friends on the weekend, you get voicemail and a text late on Sunday night, sorry, was out hiking Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula! or sorry, was floating the river in LeavenworthThe pull to be outside and enjoy the good weather is insatiable.

Gig Harbor View

If you’re looking for somewhere new to explore, add Gig Harbor to your list. Nestled into one of Puget Sound’s most safe and secure natural harbors, Gig Harbor embodies #charming and #quaint and #PNW. Not to mention it is blessed with great views of Mount Rainier. It’s the perfect candidate for a day trip, weekend getaway, or even (hint, hint) a long holiday weekend like the 4th of July or Labor Day.

Read on for all you need to know to plan a weekend trip to Gig Harbor, including the best things to do in Gig Harbor, where to stay, where to eat, and more.

Note: I’ve received some nasty comments over the years from Gig Harbor residents who don’t like or want tourists visiting their town; I’ve been accused of being a “leech” during my visits and “ruining” Gig Harbor by encouraging people to visit. I obviously love Gig Harbor and encourage you to visit, but don’t be surprised if some locals are rude – and try not to let it ruin your ability to appreciate this beautiful Washington town.

In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the Coast Salish and Puyallup peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

This post was originally published in July 2016, and was updated in July 2022.

Traveling to Gig Harbor

My first trip to Gig Harbor was decidedly residential; the second was much more immersive in the local economy and all it has to offer. Whether you’re visiting friends with waterfront property or looking for a luxe city center stay, Gig Harbor can oblige.

No matter what though, you’ll have to drive across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to get here. (Unless you have a friend with a boat and are sailing into town… uh, invite me next time?) The Tacoma Narrows Bridge (along Washington Highway 16) is a toll bridge, but only when traveling east toward Tacoma. As of June 2022, the fee is $6.25 for a standard vehicle or truck.

The 45-60 minute drive from Seattle (barring Tacoma traffic) is all highways, but as soon as you get across the bridge it’s apparent you’re now near the Olympic Peninsula (technically, Gig Harbor is on the Kitsap Peninsula, which lies west of Seattle across Puget Sound, in Washington state). Towering trees and deeply fresh air are the norm, and the frenetic pace of life slows a bit.

When To Visit Gig Harbor

Giga Harbor View

Gig Harbor has the same temperate climate as the rest of the region, so there isn’t necessarily a bad time to visit: in late autumn, winter, and early spring you might get rained on. No matter when you plan a trip, it shouldn’t be miserable.

That said, any time between April and October is ideal for a trip to Gig Harbor. Even on my most recent visit in early April, what started as a grey day became stunningly nice and warm by the mid-afternoon. It’s the Pacific Northwest: pack layers, make sure you have an umbrella or raincoat, and you’ll be fine.

The Best Things to Do in Gig Harbor

On a beautiful sunny day in Gig Harbor, my best recommendation would be to walk around. The town is entirely walkable, thanks to nice paved paths that run from one end of the harbor to the other. You’ll get a workout climbing up and down some of the hills, but there’s so much to see that when the weather is good, you should enjoy it all al fresco.

1. Climb to Finholm View

This 100-stair climb from the street level gives you a panoramic view of Gig Harbor in its entirety. You’ll pass people running up the stairs for a workout, and get an appreciation for how well protected the town is, geographically.

2. Take in the View from Bogue Viewing Platform

Speaking of good views, the Bogue Viewing Platform is another great place to appreciate the scenery. This waterfront mini-park is located right off of North Harborview Drive. Sit on one of the benches and enjoy unobstructed views of the harbor under the sun.

3. Stroll in Skansie Brothers Park

This waterfront park in the ‘center’ of town (it’s hard to describe the center of a town when the town borders a body of water on three sides) is great for stretching your legs – there are net sheds to peek into, boats to watch, and plenty of piers to explore. History buffs can also visit the Historic Skansie Brothers House. It was once the home of the four Skansie brothers, who were part of one of the fishing families in Gig Harbor around the turn of the century. 

4. Visit Donkey Creek Park

Situated at the far end of the harbor where Donkey Creek flows into the Puget Sound, this low, flat land offers plenty of trails and ‘beach’ (Pacific Northwest rocky beach) to explore. Mr. Valise and I sat and watched the crows and seagulls here for a long time.

5. Burn off some Energy in Sehmel Homestead Park

At 98 acres, Sehmel Homestead Park is a beloved park and always seems full of families and active youngsters. It offers fun activities for every member of the family. There are softball, soccer, and baseball fields, plus, a couple of tennis and basketball courts. Make sure you take a quick walk on one of the trails to explore the beautiful forest that loops around the park.

6. Play at Crescent Creek Park

Knows as “City Park” by residents, Crescent Creek Park holds an important place in Gig Harbor’s history. It was the first park to open within city limits and its historic landscape still evokes Gig Harbor’s early rural lifestyle. You’ll see families bringing their kids to play in the maritime-themed playground.  

7. Explore Kopachuck State Park

Kopachuck State Park shows off everything that characterizes the Pacific Northwest: lush forests, river valleys, and snow-capped mountains. Take the enchanting hike down to the beach and enjoy sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. It’s also a delightful place for families, featuring little private picnic areas with picnic tables. If you have a boat, bring it! Cutts Island is about a half-mile from the park shore and you can reach it by boat. 

8. Hike Cushman Trail

There’s no reason to abandon your running workouts while in Gig Harbor. Head to the Cushman Trail, a 6.2-mile paved trail that runs through the town’s scenic forests. It even has numerous hills to mix up your routine a bit! There are park benches for walkers and runners to stop and enjoy a quick rest or stretch. It also has a painted center line to help keep traffic moving safely.

9. Visit the Harbor History Museum

Gig Harbor Maritime History Museum

If the weather isn’t cooperating, be sure to check out the Harbor History Museum near Donkey Creek Park. This small-town museum boasts an impressively large collection of items that help bring the history of Gig Harbor to life. They’re also currently working on a boat restoration in the back of the museum.

10. Admire the View from the Old Ferry Landing

In days long past (before the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was built), a ferry ran from Point Defiance to Gig Harbor to bring everything the town needed. Now, the small parking lot offers a great view of Puget Sound to one side, and the entrance to Gig Harbor on the other. A visit to the Old Ferry Landing is the best way to watch the boats come in and out of the harbor.

11. Ride the Gig Harbor Gondola

Gig Harbor is truly enchanting from the water, but it looks even more spectacular from a Venetian gondola. Gig Harbor Gondola offers rides on the harbor aboard their authentic Venetian gondolas. Your guide is a charming gondolier who will share the history of the area and even sign a few Italian classic songs as you meander along the water. 

12. Eat Local in Gig Harbor

Luckily, Gig Harbor is blessed with talented restauranteurs. There is no need to be hungry – in fact, you’ll probably eat too much, like we did (hence walking everywhere!).

Netshed No. 9

I have been to Netshed No. 9 on both of my visits, and it’s definitely among my personal favorites. They do an amazing brunch, including indulgent bacon cinnamon rolls (above) and awesome chorizo biscuit and gravy.

Brix 25°

This luxe little dinner spot was packed when we had our dinner here! Brix 25° seemed like the spot that everyone in town wanted to be seen at. From the pork belly appetizer to the delicious cheesecake brûlée, the meal was spot on – the chef even came out to say hello at our table.

Devoted Kiss Cafe

Situated at the far end of the harbor, we enjoyed sandwiches out on the Devoted Kiss Cafe patio, overlooking the water. My Cuban sandwich was delicious, but I particularly loved the potato salad… It was a perfect flavor of summer.

Tides Tavern

A must-stop for both locals and travelers alike, Tides Tavern is a Gig Harbor institution. Everyone recommends the clam chowder, but Mr. Valise had fish & chips while I enjoyed a burger. We looked out over the harbor as the sun went down and, as became the norm for Gig Harbor, ate way too much.


Craving some seafood? Don’t think twice and snag a table at Anthony’s at Gig Harbor

This local favorite prides in concocting dishes that reflect the style and personality of Gig Harbor. All their dishes are fantastic, with the Copper King Salmon and Clam Chowder as the stars of the show. Being one of the town’s waterfront restaurants, Anthony’s also has beautiful views of Gig Harbor’s cove and marina – and we all know delightful views are one of the complementary pieces of a good meal. 

13. Drink Local, Too

You thought I’d never get there, right? Never fear: I made sure to experience the libations Gig Harbor has to offer too. It wouldn’t be a complete guide without that.

7 Seas Brewing

Increasingly distributed throughout the Pacific Northwest, 7 Seas Brewing calls Gig Harbor home – though their production is moving to another part of the state to keep up with demand. Our eight-beer tasting flight was a great way to sample a big variety of their offering, and the server was wonderful about explaining each beer with her recommendations.

Wet Coast Brewing

I didn’t get a chance to try Wet Coast Brewing‘s craft beers (their tasting room is located a little ways outside town) but they’re making waves among the locals.

Heritage Distilling

Last, but certainly not least, you can’t visit without taking the time to visit Heritage Distilling Company. They have two tasting room locations: one next door to the Inn at Gig Harbor and one right in the center of Gig Harbor. We had the chance to take a tour of the distillery, as well as sample way too many of their spirits.

My recommendation? The BSB-Brown Sugar Bourbon is easily the best thing I’ve drank in a long time. Their flavored vodkas are a really fun way to create interesting cocktails, too (each made with the actual ingredient, rather than any flavors or fake stuff).

Where to Stay in Gig Harbor

Gig Harbor Accommodations

Gig Harbor has four main hotel/inn options (plus Airbnb reports several dozen choices ranging in price from $80-$500 per night). I have had the pleasure to enjoy the hospitality of two properties first-hand.

Inns/B&Bs in Gig Harbor

The Maritime Inn hosted me during my recent stay, and I loved being right in the heart of town. Directly across from Skanskie Brothers Park, Mr. Valise and I had a wonderful water view from our window, and a luxurious queen room to relax in after a hard day’s sightseeing and walking. The building is a bit labyrinthine, but the room more than made up for the staircases we had to navigate to get there.

The whole staff of the Maritime Inn was welcoming, and someone was available whenever we came and went, and when we had questions. Breakfast was a conservative spread of basic continental breakfast items – in our case that worked well since we needed to rush off to catch a ferry home.

Waterfront Inn is another option, similarly situated right on the water, but in a different part of the harbor. They also have a large deck that guests can enjoy.

Rooms at the Maritime Inn start from $159 per night, or at the Waterfront Inn start from $199 per night.

Local Hotels in Gig Harbor

I also had the pleasure to enjoy the hospitality of the Inn at Gig Harbor. This interesting property caters to conference and business travelers but still had some wonderful touches. Our room had an in-suite jacuzzi and was huge! We affectionately dubbed the second part of our suite “The Board Room” due to the large table in the room. The lobby and staff were wonderful, and I loved looking at the historic photos on the walls throughout the property.

Rooms at The Inn at Gig Harbor start from $169 per night.

Now you know the best things to do in Gig Harbor and other travel tips, you’re ready to plan a weekend trip! Have other questions about visiting Gig Harbor? Let me know in the comments!

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I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


  • gayshooter

    It is a great place to visit.

    Another fantastic restaurant for dinner is JW’s near the Harbor History Museum. Tiny place, you’ll need reservations, but fresh, seasonal NW cuisine. (And no, I’m not related, don’t work for them nor get anything for saying that).

  • Lacreesha

    Gig Harbor looks & sounds amazing & is on my bucket list! Have you been to Oak Harbor, WA? That is another place on my bucket list.

  • Tanya Butler

    We’re planning a family trip to Washington with our adult children and spouses for my 60th birthday this summer. Although I’d like to visit Seattle at some point, forth this five-day trip I’d like to see the beautiful outdoors, eat some fresh seafood, hike some moderate trails, and visit a winery or two. Does Gig Harbor meet those criteria? I’d love any advice/suggestions you could give!

  • Jon Beckman

    The hotel hosted you? In other words you leeched off our local economy for a free stay. GH doesn’t need bloggers. We have more than enough visitors and it’s overcrowded. You can barely drive downtown. Plus it rains 9 months out of the year in Washington so please, travel bloggers with your selfie sticks, go elsewhere.

    • Valerie

      No, Jon, you’re mistaken: my hotel was provided for free as part of compensation for the *work* I did to promote Gig Harbor. Just because you don’t like the way my business works doesn’t mean I “leeched” off of anyone. Seems like you need an education in the goals of the community you live in *which works to promote tourism*, since your issue is with them and not me.

    • Terry

      Rain….ah just what I’m looking for. Thanks for Confirming it rains 9 months out of the year. And Since you have a hidden secret, I’ll be there in October! Hoping for more rain. Thanks for posting and I found this and more information on Gig by my google search…..Gig Habor Blogs.

  • Anne Harper

    This is the problem with reading a bloggers view of a place: They only cover the tourist spots and not the good ones at that. The Tides Tavern is disgusting. Years back I dropped my keys off the deck and ended up wading in raw sewage under the deck where people eat.

    Downtown Gig Harbor is a crowded mess.

  • jim isom

    Well, it is true that nothing ruins a local hidden gem like too many tourists, although the local vendors may disagree. The Tides used to be a dive tavern, but it’s up scale now. The Gig Harbor waterfront is still cute, it hasn’t been ruined by over development. Uptown Gig Harbor contains the chain stores. The water front parking may be lacking and it may be a bit of a hike, but at least the views are scenic.

    • Valerie

      That’s very fair, but those are local issues, not tourism issues. If people in Gig Harbor don’t want development or chain stores, that’s something the city council needs to hear – not travel bloggers’ websites.

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