A snug hamlet on Puget Sound is known for its quiet bays, old-time ways, and killer views of Mt. Rainier.
You can barely go anywhere in Gig Harbor, Washington, without being treated to a gorgeous water view. Settled by Croatians as a fishing village in the late 1800s, this alluring small town remains simple and quaint, with live music in the park during the summer and a harbor where fishing vessels still bob alongside vintage sailboats and new powerboats. Gig Harbor is nestled amid a series of stunning harbors, bays, and narrow inlets ringed by majestic pines—yet it’s only a 20-minute drive from urban Tacoma.
Tucked in just south of the expansive Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Weatherswood Beach is frequented mostly by locals. With a sandy beach rare in Puget Sound inlets, it makes a great place to walk a dog or sunbathe.
Tides Tavern (left)
Remains the town’s landmark (and the winner of our 2010 Seafood Dives Best Fish-and-Chips award). 2925 Harborview Drive; or tidestavern.com.
Specializing in local fare like seared rockfish, Green.House has brought a fresh, organic flair to Gig Harbor’s Northwest cuisine scene. Sit at the bar and watch the chefs at work making more than 12 daily specials in the open kitchen. 4793 Point Fosdick Drive NW Suite #400; or greenhousegigharbor.com
Land your boat on the deserted sand spit at Cutts Island State Park known as Deadman’s Island, about a mile off the Key Peninsula boat launch. You can also sea kayak in the calm harbor and explore tide pools with the kids at Kopachuck State Park. Or get out of town—Gig Harbor is close to Mt. Rainier’s Alta Crystal Resort for skiing (two hours), and the Bremerton Ferry (a 30-minute drive) is a one-hour voyage that ends up in downtown Seattle near sports stadiums and Pike Place Market.
A quaint B&B owned by a mother-daughter duo, the 15 updated rooms of the Maritime Inn overlook the water at Mt. Rainier. Rates start at $129; 253/858-1818 or maritimeinn.com.
The Cottage at Gig Harbor (left)
Kick back at the spacious 1930s fisherman’s cottage downtown with two bedrooms, one bath, and a full kitchen. Rates start at $129; or gigharborcottage.com.
The Waterfront Inn
Armed with seven rooms with modern amenities in a 1918 historic Craftsman-style fisherman’s home, The Waterfront Inn is located a step away from the shops and restaurants of old Gig Harbor. Rates start at $140; or waterfront-inn.com.