DescriptionFive miles northwest of Tacoma via the Narrows Bridge, Gig Harbor is a picturesque city with a bayfront that manages to retain the flavor of a small fishing village. Washington's “Maritime City” centers on its namesake body of water, a long, narrow inlet of Puget Sound. Seeking refuge from a storm in 1841, members of the Charles Wilkes expedition discovered the bay by chance and named it for their gig, a type of sailing longboat. After the turn of the 20th century many immigrants from islands off the Croatian coast formed the nucleus of the town's fishing industry.
Boats still fill the harbor and marinas, and docks line the shore. Downtown businesses cluster along the southern half of Harborview Drive, which runs along the west side of the bay for just over a mile. Finholm Marketplace, a second business district at the north end of the bay along N. Harborview Drive, is the site of Gig Harbor's original location.
Net sheds are an architectural legacy of the early days. Sixteen historic net sheds dating from 1910 to the 1950s still stand along the city's west shoreline. Built out of rough, hand-hewn fir, they were used to store fishing nets and gear.
Skansie Brothers Park, 3207 Harborview Dr. at Rosedale Street, includes a fishermen's memorial, the classic 1910 Skansie Netshed, the 1908 Andrew Skansie House and Jerisich Dock, a pedestrian-only pier and public boat moorage. The park is a venue for outdoor summer concerts. The Eddon Boat Building, 3805 Harborview Dr., is where the Thunderbird sailboat was developed. The yard still builds and repairs boats and offers activities relating to Gig Harbor's maritime heritage.
Ferry Landing Park, at the southern end of Harborview Drive, overlooks the narrow harbor entrance. Finholm View Climb, next to Finholm Market at 8826 N. Harborview Dr., rewards exertion with a quintessential view of the bay (plus Mount Rainier as a backdrop). The 1.5-mile Waterfront History Walk, paralleling Harborview and N. Harborview drives, features 48 interpretive markers. A brochure outlining the walk is available at the chamber of commerce and local businesses.
Check around town for skippered charter sailboat outings as well as pleasure, fishing boat, sailboat, sea kayak, paddle boat and jet ski rentals. Destiny Harbor Tours offers 90-minute and 2-hour sightseeing trips departing from Gig Harbor Rent-a-Boat at 8829 N. Harborview Dr.; phone (253) 225-6306.
Visitor InfoGig Harbor Chamber of Commerce 3125 Judson St. GIG HARBOR, WA 98335. Phone:(253)851-6865
ShoppingDowntown along the waterfront, Harborview Drive and Finholm Marketplace feature specialty shops and art galleries. There are more shops and galleries in the Kimball Business District, on Kimball Drive just off Pioneer Way. April through September a farmers market is held Thursdays 3-7 in Skansie Brothers Park off Harborview Drive, Saturdays 8:30-2 at 5503 Wollochet Dr. N.W. and Sundays 11-4 at 4701 Point Fosdick Dr. N.W.
Things to SeeHarbor History Museum