Joseph Becker/ Alamy

Watersports in a waterfront town near Mount Rainier.

September 04, 2012

Set in the shadow of Mount Rainier, Gig Harbor is one of the prettiest and active small towns (population: just over 7,000) in the country. It’s a working fishing village whose sailors spend salmon season in Alaska, but on the shore of Puget Sound, it’s also a launching point for sailors and paddlers. Beyond the water, there are Washington wine festivals, open-air movie nights, and a bustling farmers market.

Gig Harbor Rent-a-Boat

For an aquatic perspective of Gig Harbor, rent a kayak, canoe, paddleboat, or powerboat. For more surefooted types, there's also the relatively newer sport of paddleboarding. Guided and non-guided excursions are available, in addition to lessons and a kayak camp for kids. A guided sunrise paddle educates about local history, while streaks of red and orange often paint the sky as the sun rises. Bring binoculars; it’s not uncommon to spot Great Blue Herons or local harbor seals. Also, pack a picnic for a quick bite on the beach below Gig Harbor’s lighthouse. 

Kopachuk State Park

Paddle out to tiny Cutts Island, keeping an eye out for seals; later, wind down the day with a beach stroll on Kopachuk’s shore, looking for sand dollars.

Tanglewood Grill

This Gig Harbor restaurant specializes in American fare with a focus on Pacific Northwestern ingredients. The dining room resembles a hunting lodge, with taxidermy heads mounted on the walls, a large stone fireplace, and wooden paneling. Menu selections include garlic vermouth salmon, potato-crusted cod, and nine varieties of freshly ground, hand-pressed burgers. Prime rib is popular with locals and served on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; but make sure to arrive early since they often sell out.

The Green Turtle

Have an elegant dinner of Asian-influenced seafood at a water-view table.

Maritime Inn

On the waterfront, the hotel has 15 tastefully decorated rooms named for historic ships that plied the local seas. Some have gas fireplaces and private balconies.

You May Like