Gig Harbor, the southern gateway to the Kitsap Peninsula and the Olympic Peninsula, lies just across the dramatic Tacoma Narrows Bridge from Tacoma. This tucked-away town sits on a scenic inlet framing a postcard-perfect view of Mount Rainier. Gig Harbor's strong Scandinavian and Croatian heritage has always influenced its nautical lifestyle and fishing-village character. Today specialty shops, creative boutiques, art galleries and waterfront restaurants add to its appeal and make it a wonderful get-away.
A car is really quite requisite to see the Gig Harbor area as a whole. Gig Harbor is easy to get to by car from the rest of the Puget Sound area. From Interstate 5 take the Washington State Hwy 16 west across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The first four exits after the bridge are all Gig Harbor exits.
The Shoreline Restaurant at the head of the bay and the Tides Tavern toward the entrance offer floats for patrons.
- Jerisich Park, 3323 Harborview Dr, ☏ . This popular guest moorage is about a quarter of the way up the south shore of the harbor. The long guest float extends from the park’s flagpole. Moorage is free, with a maximum stay of 48 hours. On shore are a few picnic tables and restrooms with showers.
- Arabella's Landing Marina, 3323 Harborview Dr (look for black pilings topped with dunce caps), ☏ . Boating accommodations for day excursions and overnight trips including restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, wheelchair accessibility, storage lockers.
- Gig Harbor Marina and Boatyard, 3117 Harborview Dr, ☏ . A full-service boatyard and marina: covered and uncovered slips, haul out/repair facilities in Downtown Gig Harbor.
- Peninsula Yacht Basin, 8913 N. Harborview Dr, ☏ . Slips range up to 85 feet with covered moorage from 36 to 46 ft. Power and water available for all slips
The major bus stations in Gig Harbor for Pierce Transit (Rt #100 & 101) and Sound Transit Rt #595 are at the 1 Purdy Park & Ride and the 2 Kimble Dr Park & Ride, near downtown at Kimbell Dr, off of the Pioneer Way Exit from Hwy 16. The Kitsap Transit Bus only serve the Purdy P&R while the Olympic Bus Lines pick up and drop off at The Inn at Gig Harbor:
- 3 Bremerton-Kitsap Airporter, (scheduled stop) The Inn at Gig Harbor @ 3211 56th St NW, ☏ . Scheduled ground transportation to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to various locations on the Kitsap Peninsula. The most regular and direct and consistent bus between Sea-Tac, Tacoma, Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula.
- Sound Transit, Tacoma Dome Station, E Parking Bldg @ 610 E Puyallup Ave (stops in Purdy and Kimball Dr P&R), ☏ . Express buses up to downtown Seattle from Gig Harbor(Rt #595).
- Rt #595 goes up to downtown Seattle via Tacoma Community College during the morning rush hours and returning to Gig Harbor in the afternoons, no weekend service.
- Rt#590,594 goes from downtown Seattle to downtown Tacoma via the Tacoma Dome Station at all hours during the week and weekends. Take the #1 or 2 bus from Downtown Tacoma to Tacoma Community College (TCC) and transfer to #100 bus to Gig Harbor. Transfer to Greyhound and Amtrak at the Tacoma Dome Station or in downtown Seattle or take the #102 (during weekday rush hours) to Gig Harbor.
- Kitsap Transit, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Kitsap Transit offers limited service to the Port Orchard Ferry Terminal from the Purdy P&R (north of Gig Harbor near the Kitsap/Pierce County line) on the "Purdy Connector". Transfer to other Kitsap Transit buses or the passenger only ferry to Bremerton from the Port Orchard Ferry Terminal. Full fare $2 and is part of the regional ORCA network system.
- Pierce Transit, ☏ , toll-free: . Local routes on buses that run on natural gas and connect with other regional transit systems. Pierce transit can also be tracked with a free smartphone app from One Bus Away that provides easy access to real-time transit information for the Puget Sound region and beyond. They offer service to Gig Harbor from Tacoma. Adult $2, youth $0.75 and is part of the regional Orca payment system.
- Rt#100 Goes from Tacoma Community College (S 19th & Mildred) to Gig Harbor, and provides local service through Gig Harbor (between Point Fossdick Dr & 45th to Purdy P&R).
- 102 Express bus along Hwy 16 to Gig Harbor from downtown Tacoma and the Tacoma Dome. Goes to Gig Harbor during the afternoon rush hour and to Tacoma in the mornings.
- Key Peninsula School Bus Connect, ☏ . The local council in Key Peninsula have arrangements with the local school district to provide public transportation in and around Key Peninsula and Fox Islands with connections to Purdy P&R.
The 4 Tacoma Narrows Airport (FAA LID: TIW) (for general aviation only) is 6 mi (9.7 km) south of downtown Gig Harbor and 11 mi (18 km) from downtown Tacoma. The nearest airport for commercial passenger flights is in Sea-Tac (SEA IATA). The Bremerton-Kitsap Airporter operates a regularly scheduled shuttle connection to Gig Harbor from Sea-Tac (see listing under By bus in the above).
The town name suggests that this is a harbor town. Boaters can moor in the harbor, a part of Puget Sound, and explore the many shops, cafes, and galleries downtown.
Those coming in on four wheels can struggle to find parking in downtown, but once they do, exploring the town by foot is well worth it.
- [dead link] Cushman Trail. This popular paved pedestrian and bike trail connects various points of interest downtown and crosses forested and wetland areas making for a nice varied ride through the area. Also has access to street parking and bathrooms.
- Pierce Transit Rt#100, ☏ , toll-free: . Local service between retail centers at 45th St Ct NW & Point Fossdick Dr NW, Kimball Dr P&R, downtown and Purdy P&R. There's no bus service to most places west of Hwy 16 and Key Peninsula (KPN & KPS). During the summers they operate a local trolley bus numbered #101 along the same route as the #100. Adult $2, youth $0.75 and is part of the regional Orca payment system.
Besides Gig Harbors maritime town center around the harbor, there are many things to see in the nearby area.
- 360 Trails, 10905 144th St NW. As you may have guessed, this is a 360-acre wooded county park near Purdy. A popular loop trail leads around the perimeter with smaller trails crossing through the center. It is popular with mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians.
- 1 Harbor History Museum, 4121 Harborview Dr, ☏ . Experience the history of the Gig Harbor Peninsula including its maritime industries and even a well preserved school house.
- Gig Harbor Lighthouse. At only 15 ft tall, this is certainly one of the smaller lighthouses in the region but nonetheless plays an important roll marking the opening to Gig Harbor. Directions: from Highway 16, exit onto Pioneer Way. When the road tees, turn right on Harborview Drive and continue to its end where you will find a small park from which you can view the lighthouse.
- 2 Joemma Beach State Park, ☏ . Summer 6ː30AM-dusk, winter 8AM-dusk. On the Key Peninsula near Gig Harbor, it's a 122-acre marine camping park with 3,000 feet of saltwater frontage on southeast Kitsap Peninsula. Aside from the natural beauty of park and surroundings, the area is an excellent place for fishing, boating and crabbing. Provides a boat launch and water trail campsites.
- 3 Kopachuck State Park, 10712 56th St. NW. A 109-acre marine park with 5,600 feet of saltwater shoreline on Henderson Bay. One portion of the park, Cutts Island (or "Deadman's Island") is a half mile from shore and reachable only by boat.
- Gig Harbor Rent a Boat, 8829 N. Harborview Dr, ☏ . Rent a kayak, canoe, pedal boat or a power boat to explore the harbor and beyond.
- Horsehead Bay Public Boat Ramp (Horse Head Bay Dr NW & 38th St NW).
- Destiny Harbor Tours, 4430 Holly Ln. NW, ☏ . Harbor tours, sightseeing, charters and eco tours of Tacoma Narrows Bridges, Gig Harbor, Salmon Beach, Point Defiance, Thea Foss Waterway and the Port of Tacoma.
Sea kayaking can be a rewarding way to explore Gig Harbor and the Kitsap Peninsulas nearly 400 miles of coastline allowing the paddler a closer and slower look at their surroundings and making Kitsap one of the most popular areas to kayak in Puget Sound. Thick forests of majestic pine and deciduous trees and hundreds of creeks and estuaries dot the coastline. Or just explore Kitsaps many harbor towns like Gig Harbor that cater to kayakers with shops and restaurants accessible from the water such as the Tides Tavern. With kayak rentals available nearby Gig Harbor is a popular place to spend a few hours exploring or set off or restock on a major expedition.
Organized trails offer overnight camping options and maps of appropriate lengths and scenic travel destinations.
- Cascadia Marine Trail. This inland sea trail is a National Recreation Trail and designated one of only 16 National Millennium Trails by the White House. Suitable for day or multi-day trips, the Cascadia Marine Trail has over 50 campsites to visit including several close to Gig Harbor such as The Narrows Park which is a safe haven at the midpoint of the Tacoma Narrows. At night it's great to watch the vehicle lights on the Narrows Bridges from the serenity of the park. The white dome of Mt. Rainier is visible over Tacoma, especially on moonlit evenings.
- [formerly dead link] Key Peninsula Marine Trail. A 40-mile Peninsular Marine Trail near Gig Harbor with 14 legs between 15 points of interest during a paddling journey around the Key Peninsula
Scuba diving the cold waters of Puget Sound takes a bit more gear and training than other warm water locations, but the rewards are incredible. The area contains some of the best diving in the world and many areas are accessible from the Kitsap Peninsula. Many dive sites are completely covered with colorful sea creatures that defy description. Giant Pacific Octopus are common, along with friendly wolf eels. Colorful sponges, sea cucumbers, sea stars, soft corals, anemones and fish can be seen on nearly every dive. The state has offers a guide to parks with launch sites.
- 1 Colvos Passage Marine Preserve Area, 10015 Sunrise Beach Drive Northwest (accessible from Sunrise Beach Park). This protected marine area is considered one of the best shore accessible diving areas in Puget Sound. Known for its many friendly Wolf Eels and its 25-foot-high rugged rock wall that runs along the shoreline for about 200 feet. There are also sightings of Giant Pacific Octopus, Ratfish, Copper, Brown, and Quillback Rockfish, Lingcod, Greenlings, many varieties of sculpins, Green Sea Urchins, scallops, Rock Sole, Starry Flounder, countless sea stars, warbonnets, gunnels, and different varieties of nudibranchs.
- Well-known to regional scuba divers, Z's Reef Marine Preserve is a designated conservation area on the shores of Fox Island just south of Gig Harbor. A variety of fishes typically associated with rocky habitats congregate at the site and in such quantities that are unusual for southern Puget Sound. The dominant fishes include copper rockfish, brown rockfish, and quillback rockfish. Other common fishes include lingcod, kelp greenling, painted greenling, wolfeel, and striped seaperch. Pregnant rockfishes are observed at the site during the spring indicating that at least some fishes use the site for reproduction. Other marine organisms include sea stars, encrusting organisms such as giant barnacles, red sea cucumbers, shrimp, and red rock crabs. Seastars are common including sunflower seastar and gumboot chitons are also frequently observed.
Shellfish are prized resources of the Puget Sound, the cool, clean waters provide some of the finest shellfish habitat in the world. Washington State is the nation’s leading producer of farmed bivalve shellfish (clams, geoduck, mussels and oysters) and with Kitsap Peninisulas dozens of Public Clam and Oyster Beaches and miles of coastline it is a popular place for individuals to find these elusive and sought after shellfish. Maps of public shellfishing areas and health warnings and updates can be found online at the state's Fish and Wildlife website as with all fishing in Puget Sound permits are required and can be purchased online or in some sporting goods stores.
Public shellfishing area
- Sunrise Beach Park, 10015 Sunrise Beach Drive Northwest. Open year-round for clam and oyster fishing. Colvos Passage Marine Preserve lies south of the County Park. Marine preserve restrictions do not apply within Sunrise Beach County Park.
Gig Harbor has many locally owned and operated shops in its downtown area, ranging from dress shops to music stores and jewelry studios. There are quite a few art galleries and other stores that sell art of various types. There are other major stores, banks, clinics and small locally owned stores around the Hwy 16/NW Olympic Dr junction:
- Gig Harbor Farmers Market, Uptown location: 4701 Pt. Fosdick Drive F 1-5PM; Downtown: Skansie Brothers Park 3207 Harborview Drive, W & Su noon - 5PM. mid-Apr thru mid-Oct. Fresh flowers, produce, plants, baked goods, food, handmade crafts, expert advice from master gardeners, a kids' tent, free guitar lessons, live entertainment.
- 1 No Dearth of Books, 7803 Pioneer Way (behind the Nazarene Church), ☏ . One of three bookstores in downtown Gig Harbor, No Dearth of Books specializes in unique local interest books: maritime fiction & travel accounts, boating know-how, military, naval & aviation history, and the Pacific Northwest. The store also stocks a wide range of other genres, from classics to recent bestsellers.
- 2 Olympic Towne Center, 5118 Point Fosdick Dr NW (North of Point Fosdick & Olympic Dr). Olympic Towne Center hosts Fred Meyer, PetsMart, Ocean 5 & Table 47, AutoZone, Gadget Fix and other numerous other shops, banks & restaurants in the mall and in the immediate surrounding areas not part of the mall (Harbor Greens Supermarket, Les Schwab, Anytime Fitness, etc). Unlike a traditional mall where everything is under one big roof, in a single building, this mall consists of several smaller buildings spread further out from each other in a huge parking lot.
- 3 Point Fosdick Square, Along Point Fosdick Dr NW south of Olympic Dr. Point Fosdick Square hosts Safeway, Kohl's, Galaxy Theatres, Marshalls, Multi-Care Medical Center and numerous other shops, banks & restaurants in the mall and in the immediate surrounding areas not part of the mall (Moctezuma Restaurant, Mud Bay Pet Supplies, among others) along Point Fosdick Dr between Olympic Dr & Harbor Country Dr. Unlike a traditional mall where everything is under one big roof, in a single building, this mall consists of several smaller buildings spread further out from each other in a huge parking lot.
- The Tides Tavern. This Gig Harbor restaurant has been a local institution for many years. The smoke-free, 21 & over (it's a bar in the Washington State Liquor Control Board's eyes) environment is set on pilings over the harbor and is the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine or beer, a tasty meal from an extensive menu. Perfect for kicking back, while looking the Sound wildlife, boat traffic, and locals coming in and out of The Tides.
- Anthony's Restaurant. Part of a chain of Northwest-centric restaurants in the Puget Sound area and Gig Harbor's is one of the jewels in the chain's crown. Fairly upscale seafood fare shares the menu with traditional beef, chicken, and salad items. The restaurant's location is fantastic. at the head of the harbor with a drop-dead gorgeous view of the marinas, the homes clinging to the sides of the hill, and Mount Rainier. A bar downstairs features happy hour 1/2 price appetizer options and the same spectacular view.
- Dexter's Drive-In, 6701 Tyee Dr NW, ☏ . Classic hamburger and fries type drive-in.
- Brix 25°. A fairly new dining establishment in the Harbor, but has quickly become one of the favorites. While this eatery doesn't have a view of any sort or even a very nice structure to call home, the menu and presentation is fantastic. Meals are exquisitely prepared and feature daily specials. The fare is primarily continental with a Northwest twist. Expect halibut, salmon, some shellfish, along with a filet mignon, or a duck breast on the menu most nights. Their wine selection is impressive and has won several awards, including the 2008 Washington Wine Restaurant of the Year.
- 1 Floatation Device Pub & Grill, 14511 Sherman Dr NW (Sherman Dr NW north of its intersection with NW 144th), ☏ . This popular maritime themed pub is close to the water and has good food options.
- 2 Heritage Distilling Company, 3207 57th St Ct Nw (Harborview & Pioneer), ☏ . The Pacific Northwest's premier Destination Distillery. Free samples of custom made spirits - whiskey, gin and vodka. Plus, the first and only Craft Distillery in the US to offer patent-pending programs for customers to legally make their own distilled spirits and/or have them custom aged to individual specifications.
There are several lodging choices in Gig Harbor from hotels, to bed-and-breakfasts, to motels, to vacation rentals.
- 1 The Inn at Gig Harbor, 3211 56th St (N end of 56th from Olympic Dr), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. One of the newest and most well known choices. The Inn features upscale lodging close to the city center with many amenities within the hotel. The construction is of a Northwest lodge style. One of the drawbacks to this lodging, though, is its location. It is a bit outside of the loop for exploring the area by foot and is set right against busy Highway 16.
- 2 The Maritime Inn, 3212 Harborview Dr (south of the Harborview Dr & Rosedale Ave intersection in downtown Gig Harbor), ☏ . A small hotel right in the center of town, an excellent location to enjoy the many restaurants, galleries, and shops by foot. This is Gig Harbor's only major lodging choice right along the waterfront. Rooms have fireplaces and many enjoy views of the harbor.
- 3 The Best Western Wesley Inn, 6575 Kimball Dr, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Not your typical Best Western. This is quite a nice lodging choice perched above the center of the town, convenient to some restaurants and freeway access. Rooms are nicely appointed including some with fireplaces and bay windows.
- 4 The Waterfront Inn, 9017 North Harbor View Drive (north of the Harborview Dr & Peacock Hill Ave intersection, north of downtown), ☏ . A small B&B right on the water in downtown. This is a perfect spot from which to explore this maritime village. The Inn was built in 1918 as a private residence and retains much of its exterior charm. There are three rooms in the waterfront area and three "Captain's Quarters" rooms that are not waterfront. Each room is outfitted with modern conveniences and is clean and uncluttered, unlike so many B&Bs.
- 5 Olde Glencove Hotel, 9418 Glencove Road Kp N, ☏ . Built as a resort, this turn of the century facility offers Victorian ambiance through out overlooking a quiet bay.
- 6 YMCA Camp Seymour, 9725 Cramer Road Kp N, ☏ . Summer camp, family camp, outdoor and environmental education, conference and retreats
Additional camping and moorage options are available at nearby Kopachuck and Joemma Beach State Parks.
Gig Harbor is 6.8 nautical miles to Cedrona Cove on Fox Island. It is also a launch to visit Eagle Island on Balch Passage north of Anderson Island which is 12.5 nautical miles. Penrose Point State Park is 13.8 nautical miles due south after passing underneath the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle 24 nautical miles away.
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