by J.K. Fox
Practice the art of strolling this fall in charming Gig Harbor. Tailor-made for day tripping, the town lies tucked between salt water and evergreens 44 miles south of Seattle. It’s a traveler-friendly, family-oriented place where you can still find free street parking and lattes for less than $3.75.
The best way to enjoy the waterfront downtown is by foot. Structure your day with an easy walk around the perimeter of the Harbor. Since the route is punctuated with plenty of parks, activities and watering holes, it doesn’t matter where you start.
If you arrive in the morning hit downtown first for coffee and pastries at Suzanne’s Bakery & Deli (3411 Harborview Drive). This is a favorite local haunt so get there early to bag a place on the deck overlooking the water. From this location you can enjoy the neighborhood’s variety of pocket-sized stores. You’ll find everything from clothes to health food to paint-your-own-pottery. Gig Harbor has more than one bookshop, including the popular second-hand store No Dearth of Books (7803 Pioneer Way), so come with time to browse.
If shopping isn’t your thing, explore the water by kayak. The harbor is sheltered so this is a leisurely, child-safe way to enjoy a duck’s-eye view of the town. There are several places to rent a variety of crafts, like Gig Harbor Rent-a-Boat (gigharborrentaboat.com), a company that also provides paddleboards and canoes. For something educational and engaging, try the Harbor History Museum (harborhistorymuseum.org). The building currently houses the Shenandoah, a historic fishing boat under restoration by boat builders and community volunteers. The museum is also right next to Donkey Creek Park, equipped with public toilets and information about the latest events in town, from the Donkey Creek Chum Festival (September 19, 2015), to the Cider Swig (September 26, 2015), to the Gig Harbor Film Festival (October 15-18, 2015).
Gig Harbor likes its restaurants, and there’s a lot to like. Simply stroll the town to find pizza, Mexican and more formal options. If you have packed a picnic, head to the mouth of the harbor that overlooks Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park. For beer or a cocktail with a water view, head to Tides Tavern (tidestavern.com). This harbor favorite has been delighting locals with its brews and atmosphere since 1973 and is the perfect place to wind down your fall outing.
Go to gigharborguide.com to find out more about a visit to Gig Harbor.