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A Dreamy Gig Harbor Day Trip: Things to Do in Gig Harbor

Visit Gig Harbor on your next Washington state adventure! This western Washington town is just twenty minutes from Tacoma and an hour from Seattle. It’s the perfect destination if you’re looking for a dreamy, easygoing day trip in a charming town.

It may be small, but there are plenty of ways to spend a day in Gig Harbor. Pig out on some delicious food, stroll through downtown, and mingle with locals. Tour art galleries, relax by the waterfront, or get out on the harbor. Whatever you choose, your Gig Harbor visit will be entertaining as there are plenty of fun things to do.

I’m lucky enough to have family in Gig Harbor, so I’ve had plenty of chances to see what this cute town has to offer. Keep reading for my guided tour of how to spend a day in this great place called The Maritime City. Oh, and stick around to the end because I’ll include some bonus activities to help you tailor the day to your preferences. 

gig harbor waterfront
Gig Harbor Waterfront and the author

Gig Harbor Day Trip Itinerary

Morning: 9:00 AM: Breakfast at Devoted Kiss Cafe

breakfast at devoted kiss cafe in gig harbor, wa
Yes, these dishes were as delicious as they look!

Come to town hungry. The first place you’ll want to go is Devoted Kiss Cafe. This cafe is a local favorite and it’s the perfect place and type of restaurant that lets its food do the talking. Get here early because there can be a bit of a wait (and for good reason).

The restaurant itself is small but cozy. This no-frills diner has friendly staff and an easygoing atmosphere you’ll find typical of the rest of the town. If it’s not too crowded, ask to be seated next to the window where you’ll have a view of the water.

You’ll be satisfied with whatever you can get your hands on here. On our visit, my husband got the corned beef hash, and I got the DKC Biscuit-wich (their take on a biscuit and gravy sandwich). Both were positively indulgent! I highly recommend either. 

Other options that tempted us were the smoked salmon eggs benedict and the banana bread french toast. We’ll just have to keep returning to try everything on the menu. The hardest thing about coming here is choosing from all the goods!

10:30 AM: Walk and Climb

Once you finish breakfast, you’ll probably want to stretch your legs. Luckily, you don’t have to go far to do so.

In the parking lot across the street from Devoted Kiss Cafe, you’ll find the entrance to the Finholm View Climb. Walk up the steps and stop at several platforms for pretty views across the harbor. On a clear day, you may catch a peek-a-boo view of Mount Rainier! This is a good place to find the best views of Gig Harbor, making it an excellent first stop for first-time visitors.

Afterward, walk down the stairs onto the main road and head south to Donkey Creek Park. This small park has short walking trails that lead to the Gig Harbor waterfront. There’s also a viewing platform beside the creek for salmon spotting during the spawning season.

Take your time meandering through the park until you feel like you’ve adequately walked off breakfast. Your next stop is right around the corner.

11:00 AM: Harbor History Museum

The Harbor History Museum is a well-curated, local museum where you’ll learn about the history of the city and the surrounding peninsula. This maritime museum is completely free to enter and packs a lot of information into a mid-sized building.

Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, WA
The author posing with a statue just outside the museum

I particularly loved the information on Galloping Gertie, the 1800s schoolhouse out back, and seeing the historic Shenandoah ship they’re in the process of restoring.

There’s information on the original Native inhabitants, a rotating art gallery exhibit, and dozens of well-preserved artifacts on display. The Harbor History Museum is a gem of a museum that gives you a lot of background into the place you’ll continue exploring for the rest of your day.

History buffs will love it here! Even if you aren’t a big museum fan, the exhibits are a lot of fun, easy to understand, and interactive (we loved the basket-weaving one). Give the museum a try. If you have any questions, there are enthusiastic staff members who can answer them. 

Oh, and don’t forget to check out their super cute gift shop with a variety of fun knick-knacks for all ages.

The Shenandoah is a historic Gig Harbor ship that’s currently being restored
The Shenandoah is a historic Gig Harbor ship that’s currently being restored

Afternoon: 12:00 PM: Lunch 

Ready for a lunch break? You’ll be satisfied with the range of well-priced offerings in the area. Here are a few of my personal favorites and top suggestions. 

Tides Tavern

The outside of Tides Tavern, one of Gig Harbor’s most popular restaurants
The outside of Tides Tavern, one of Gig Harbor’s most popular restaurants

If a day spent by the water has you craving seafood, check out a local favorite, Tides Tavern. It’s one of the most popular restaurants in downtown Gig Harbor. Tides Tavern has waterfront views and an extensive menu ranging from seafood and sandwiches to pizza.

Two of the best items on their menu are clam chowder and fish and chips. Try these and then wash it all down with a rum punch. Portions here are generous, so you’ll leave full (and maybe even with leftovers).

Tides Tavern is open from 11 am to 9 pm daily. Keep in mind that this restaurant is 21+ only so you’ll want to go somewhere else if you’re traveling with kids.

NetShed No. 9

This breakfast, brunch, and lunch joint is another good option. NetShed No. 9 is a waterfront restaurant with an eclectic menu of New-American eats. The restaurant is clean and modern and the food is tasty. Their Bahn Mi is a popular lunch choice, but also consider their Pantheon Veggie Sandwich and the Texas chili with a PNW twist.

NetShed No. 9 is open Thursday-Monday from 8 am to 2 pm.

Susanne’s Bakery and Deli

For simple and delicious cold or hot sandwiches and a variety of baked goods, try out Susanne’s Bakery and Deli. The bakery is located in the main downtown drag, and they’ve been keeping the neighborhood in baked delights since the ‘90s. Their pastrami sandwich is always a winning choice. I also recommend getting a muffin, cinnamon roll, or another pastry to finish off lunch with a little something sweet.

Susanne’s Bakery and Deli is open Wednesday through Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm. 

1:30 PM: Downtown Gig Harbor Washington Exploration

For the remainder of the afternoon, spend time exploring the awesome downtown Gig Harbor Washington. Gig Harbor is walkable, especially in the downtown area which is full of small businesses, art galleries, and rental shops to help you get out on the water. 

Here are a few must-try Gig Harbor experiences, and a few things we love to do when we visit.

Gig Harbor Gondola

One of the coolest things you can do in Gig Harbor is ride an authentic Venetian gondola! If you want something romantic to do on this day trip, this is pretty much a must. 

Gig Harbor Gondola is a small, one-person operation. Your gondolier will take you out on a private tour of the harbor and serenade your group too. You’ll love seeing the beautiful scenery from this point of view, and may even spot some curious harbor seals bobbing around in the water while you ride.

Rides start at $90 for two people for one hour. Purchase a snack plate for $15, or bring your own food and drinks.  Make sure you call, text, or book your ride online to find a good date and time. While this is best done during warmer months, they offer gondola rides year-round.

Java & Clay Cafe

Some fun options to paint at Java & Clay
Some fun options to paint at Java & Clay

A rainy day in Gig Harbor necessitates a visit to Java & Clay Cafe. This fun spot is both a cafe with coffee, beer, and wine and a pottery-painting studio.

Order your drinks and snacks, and then get ready to get artistic. Java and Clay Cafe has tons of pottery pieces like trays, mugs, bowls, spoon rests, vases, and more to choose from. Select what you want to decorate and they’ll set you up with all the paint and brushes you need to customize your piece. 

When you finish painting, they’ll fire and glaze your piece for you. Expect your creation to be ready within a week. Even if you don’t live nearby, you don’t have to worry about leaving your piece behind because they can ship it to you. 

This is a fun, relaxing activity to do with a loved one or with kids. Even if you’re convinced you’re not artistic enough, give this a try – you may be surprised by what you create.

Lost Star Tabletop Gaming Outfitter

Let out your inner nerd at Lost Star Tabletop Gaming Outfitter! This small shop is relatively new to the downtown Gig Harbor scene. I suggest checking out this sweet family-run establishment, especially if you love board games and RPGs.  Browse their board games, and get recommendations for new ones. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Gig Harbor if you’re visiting with your family.

Their goal is to connect the gamer community of the town and peninsula, and they do a great job of just this. Along with a sign-up sheet for people searching for other gamers, they also host in-store gaming events.

If this is your sort of thing, make sure to look up whatever drop-in games they’ll be running on the day you visit so you can show up to play a game with fellow game enthusiasts.  

Browse Art Galleries and Local Shops

Gallery Row features painters, ceramicists, fiber artists, jewelers and so much more!
Gallery Row features painters, ceramicists, fiber artists, jewelers and so much more!

If you like browsing and buying local art, you’ll get your fill of it in Gig Harbor. There are several art galleries downtown which feature local artists who work in a variety of mediums. 

Whether you’re visiting during an art event, or just dropping by on a weekend, you’ll have plenty to see. One of my personal favorites is Gallery Row, which updates its well-curated displays every month. Make sure you also check out places like Ebb Tide Co-Op, and Birdnest Gallery and Framing. 

Shopping in the downtown area is also fun. You’ll find home goods and clothing stores, bookstores, a specialty yarn store, and a tea and spice shop to name a few. This is a great way to get some unique, local gifts and support the small businesses that make the community so special.

Evening: 5:00 PM: Grab a Drink

The author at Hop Pharm -  I really loved the complex taste of this beer from Buoy Beer Company
The author at Hop Pharm –  I really loved the complex taste of this beer from Buoy Beer Company

After you’ve made your way through downtown, get ready to grab some drinks! Downtown Gig Harbor has plenty of places for beer, wine, or cocktails, so you’ve got lots of options. One of our recent favorites is the Hop Pharm Tap Room.

This newer joint sells beer and wine from a variety of local and regional breweries. The taproom is clean, the bartenders are friendly, and they have a great covered and heated outdoor patio.

For cocktails, try out Animarum, a tiny speakeasy-style cocktail bar with a variety of drinks and small plates. Try their yuzu mezcal margarita and louisiana crab croquettes. Animarum is definitely on the pricey side, but the quality of the drinks more than makes up for it. Just make sure you get there early since spots are limited.

6:00 PM: Dinner

From casual, family-friendly eateries to upscale fine dining choices, Gig Harbor offers a great variety of places for dinner. Here are a few to get you started:

Millville Pizza Co

Millville Pizza Co serves delicious, classic pizzas with fresh, high-quality ingredients and tasty flavors. The restaurant is small, cozy, and traditional. Choose to eat in, or take your pizza to go and eat it by the waterfront. Try the Westland pizza (with prosciutto, arugula and parmesan) or the Sea Comber pizza (with crimini mushrooms, shallots, and pine nuts). Both have well-balanced flavors and chewy, foldable crusts.

Millville Pizza Co is open daily from 11 am to 8 pm.

Brimstone PNW Smokehouse

Perfectly-crusted meats, spicy greens, and mac and cheese = a great dinner!
Perfectly-crusted meats, spicy greens, and mac and cheese = a great dinner!

Want something meaty and delicious? Head to Brimstone PNW Smokehouse and peruse their selections. This is a BBQ joint that adds a PNW spin to the classics. Make sure you try their pulled pork, ribs, and delicious spicy greens. They also serve BBQ-inspired tacos and a fun nacho plate. If you’re craving dessert afterward, it’s not far away. Right out back you’ll find the Iscreamery, one of the best places for ice cream in Gig Harbor.

Brimstone is open Thursday through Saturday from 4 pm to 8 pm and Sunday from 12 pm to 8 pm. 

Brix 25

If fine dining is what you’re looking for on your trip, go to Brix 25. Here you’ll find high-quality Pacific Northwest fare. Try their octopus and potatoes, roasted squash salad, and spicy Thai curry mussels among tons of other mouthwatering options. They even offer you a complimentary pour of champagne to set the mood when you come in.

Brix 25 is open Thursday and Sunday from 4 pm to 7:30 pm, and Friday and Saturday from 4 pm to 8:00 pm.

More Things to Do in Gig Harbor, Washington

A view of the harbor from the lookout at Skansie Brothers Park
A view of the harbor from the lookout at Skansie Brothers Park

Here are a few additional things to do in Gig Harbor. Some of these are seasonal, and some will take you outside of the downtown area. Some are located near the downtown waterfront, and others are outdoor activities for the more adventurous out there! They’re all equally wonderful options for those who have more days in Gig Harbor or want to know what else there is to do there.

Skansie Brothers Park: This historic park in downtown Gig Harbor is great for picnics and has lots of community gatherings, particularly in the summertime.

7 Seas Brewing: This brewery is a Gig Harbor staple. This Gig Harbor tap room has a wide range of tasty beers and their taproom is spacious and family-friendly.

Destiny Harbor Tours: During spring and summer visits, you can book a harbor tour with Destiny Harbor Tours. Your guide will take you out on the water, and give you a fun lay of the land.

Kayak and Paddleboarding: Kayaking and paddleboarding are also great warm-weather activities in Gig Harbor. You can rent gear from Gig Harbor Watersports or Lee’s SUP + Kayak Rental.

Milkvue Donuts: Outside of Gig Harbor’s waterfront area in Uptown you’ll find Milkvue donuts. Milkvue Donuts specializes in Japanese-style mochi donuts in yummy flavors. Try these out for a unique, sweet treat!

Hiking: If you have some time for outdoor excursions to your visit, there are several great options getting you out in green space. Go to McCormick Forest Park for an easy walk through the forest. Try tide-pooling at Kopachuck State Park. Bike, walk, or run along the popular Cushman Trail.

And now you know what to do on a day trip to Gig Harbor, Washington. Are you ready to make plans for your next adventure? Let me know what you’re most excited to do in the comments!

Chelsea Booker

Chelsea is a Seattle-based freelance writer with an adventurous spirit and a passion for all travel, whether it takes her across the globe or down the street. She enjoys writing about her trips, whipping up articles on health, wellness, and personal development, and working on her novel. When she’s not traveling or writing, she’s reading any fantasy book she can get her hands on, tending to her rapidly expanding houseplant collection, and honing her strategy skills so she can always beat her husband at board games.

READ ALL OF CHELSEA’S ARTICLES HERE.

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2 Comments

    1. I would add Morso to your list of nice restaurants to visit for dinner or happy hour. It has a great view of the Harbor and Mt. Rainier, plus wonderful PNW food including small plates for sharing as appetizers.
      Visitors could also venture across the Fox Island Bridge to check out this hidden gem with beach parks and a family-friendly pub, Zogs. This popular gathering spot has an indoor game room, outdoor deck and patio, limited food menu, and a big selection of beer and wine with daily Happy Hour specials.

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