Known as the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula thanks to its close access to several state and city parks, the historic waterfront in Gig Harbor includes boutiques and fine dining, and has become a destination sought by visitors all around the country. Located along State Route 16, access to Gig Harbor is found at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, itself a historic landmark. A picturesque place, Gig Harbor offers both visitors and residents all the advantages of the small town but the ability to get to the big city, Tacoma or Washington, in less than an hour.
Discovered by accident during a heavy storm, Captain Charles Wilkes brought his captain’s gig (small boat) into the harbor for protection and loved what he found. Later, he named the sheltered bay, Gig Harbor and staked his claim.
Officially incorporated on July 12, 1946, commercial fishing, boat building and logging dominated the economy until the construction of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Until the completion of the bridge, the primary means of access to Gig Harbor was by steamship. It could be reached by horseback and then automobile, but the trek was long and difficult, so, beginning in 1836, steamships had begun frequenting the waters of Puget Sound and quickly developed a fleet nicknamed “The Mosquito Fleet.”
Now, even though the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is the main method of access, tourists can still go down to the mouth of the harbor at the southeast end of Harborview Drive and see where the old ferry dock used to wait patiently for the ships to come in. The area has been turned into a small park and people visit just to see the majestic view of the Cascade Mountains, Point Defiance and Mt. Rainer.
With the completion of the bridge, Gig Harbor became a suburb, full of families retreating from big city life in favor of tree lined neighborhoods. What once had been summer cabins became primary residences for commuters, traveling over the bridge to their day jobs.
Concerns about handling growth while maintaining the character of the city, eventually, they decided to annex the surround rural areas, converting them into high density commercial and housing districts. This would change the rural character, but assure that very little new development would happen downtown, preserving Gig Harbor’s charm and keeping its history intact.
Attractions & Activities
For a detailed lists of Area Attractions, please visit: www.gigharborguide.com
Parks & Recreation
For a complete list of Gig Harbor Parks please visit: www.cityofgigharbor.net/parks
Gig Harbor supports fine parks and recreation facilities, with parks open from dawn until dusk. Different parks have different uses and they each have their own unique features, including “people” powered boats, skateboard parks and hiking trails as well as wild life parks.
Adam Tallman Park- Passive use wildlife park with walking trails and wetlands
Austin Estuary Park – Picnic tables and human powered watercraft landing.
BMX Park – Bike track and sand volleyball courts.
For a complete list of events, ongoing and annual, in Gig Harbor, please visit: www.gigharborguide.com
Martime Gig Weekend- the first full weekend in June. Whether you’re new to the area or a long time resident, join the Peninsula Art League in June and enjoy the arts all over again.
Gig Harbor Summer Arts Festival – July. Nurtured by a supportive community, visit the festival and see high caliber art work from many professional artists, sculptors, photographers, etc.
Gig Harbor Film Festival - Featuring independent films that use the power of the movie to promote understanding, tolerance and awareness.
For more details about Gig Harbor, WA please visit: www.gigharborguide.com
For More Information on Gig Harbor and Chamber of Commerce