Welcome to Our City!
Gig Harbor offers something for everyone
By Abigail Thorpe
Our small city boasts an impressive amount of outdoor spaces to adventure, take in the beauty of the area and celebrate what makes Gig Harbor the incredible place to live and visit that it is. Fall in particular is the best time to capture the unique spirit of the city and its parks, while taking in the beautiful changing colors.
“As we round out the summer and the leaves begin to light up our sky, the Gig Harbor area is the perfect backdrop to enjoy the change of season,” says Chuck Cuzzetto, marketing specialist for Peninsula Metropolitan Park District. “Whether it’s bundling up and heading downtown to visit the local merchants or taking in the fresh autumn air in one of PenMet’s parks, you can really escape in your own ‘backyard’ to explore the sights and sounds of the season.”
From skateboard parks and volleyball courts to incredible views and secret, tucked-away parks by the waterfront, there are so many adventures to explore. Grab an adventure buddy or fur friend, and head out to explore all that Gig Harbor has to offer.
The Sand Volleyball Courts on Vernhardson Street by the entrance of Crescent Creek into the Harbor offer the prime opportunity to get some exercise while enjoying some healthy competition. The two courts are free to use and do not require reservations, and there are restroom facilities nearby.
If BMX riding is more your style, it’s just right next door at Crescent Valley Drive. The BMX Park near Crescent Creek Park offers trails for riders of different skill levels and is open dawn to dusk seven days a week. Or grab your board and head over to the skatepark across the harbor on Grandview Street, where you can drop into the large concrete bowl for that adrenaline rush, or try your hand at the climbing wall.
Next door to the skatepark sits the Civic Center Green, a large grassy space where families can play or picnic while downtown. It’s the original location of Harbor Heights Elementary School, and in addition to the skatepark and climbing wall, offers a tot lot for kids to play.
For a lesser known secret adventure perfect for families, head over to the viewing platform at the Tacoma Narrows Airport and watch planes take off and land while you enjoy the cool breezes off the water. Then head on down for a stroll at nearby Narrows Park. “The leaves changing at that park against the water are breathtaking,” says Cuzzetto. “After all, it’s not often one can see folks take to the sky and then hop down to sea level for a stroll on the beach.
“For couples, grabbing your favorite hot beverage from a local coffee shop and heading downtown is always fun,” he adds. “You can walk from one end of the harbor to the other in no time at all while stopping along the way to read a little about the history of Gig Harbor.”
While you’re downtown, don’t miss the Finholm View Climb across from Anthony’s Restaurant. The half-mile, 100-stair climb offers the view of a lifetime from the top, with view landings along the way. Enjoy panoramic views of Mount Rainier from the top—and don’t forget your camera!
Just a stone’s throw away from the Finholm View Climb is the Bogue Viewing Platform on North Harborview Drive. This mini-park urban plaza offers excellent views of the harbor and even won the American Public Works Association Project of the Year award in 2006 for its innovative, environmental design and use. While you’re there, stop in at the Harbor History Museum for some background on Gig Harbor.
For shoreline access, wander down to Austin Estuary Park along the waterfront, which is the former location of the Austin Mill. Almost one-and-a-half acres of developed uplands and over 7 acres of open space tidelands make this a beautiful spot to explore the harbor, and you can even walk the gravel path that extends under the bridge to Donkey Creek Park.
For a more remote, peaceful setting, head inland to the Adam Tallman Park on Wagner Way. This almost 12-acre natural park consists of wetlands and wildlife, with interpretive signs and viewing platforms scattered throughout its trail system. Take some time to explore via the trail that loops through the park, or stop and relax for a bit and take in the sights and sounds of nature.
Back down at the waterfront, the Old Ferry Landing marks the spot ferries used to dock to pick passengers up until the landing closed after the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, nicknamed “Galloping Gertie,” fell in a windstorm in 1940. The area now serves as a scenic viewing spot at the entrance of Gig Harbor, offering 180-degree views of the sand spit, Colvos Passage and Mount Rainier.
Outside of downtown, Kenneth Leo Marvin Veterans Memorial Park offers a family friendly recreational space with a variety of facilities including a baseball/soccer field, half-court basketball court, a play structure and picnic facilities. The park is named after a local resident who fought in the marines in WWII, and the park is home to a monument honoring local residents who gave their lives in service to their country during the war.
Whether you’re exploring downtown waterfront parks and learning the area’s history, wandering the trails of the many inland parks or enjoying the more than 6 paved miles of the Cushman Trail system, there are a multitude of options to get out and enjoy fall in Gig Harbor.
“I would venture to say getting outdoors is one of Gig Harbor residents’ favorite pastimes,” says Cuzzetto. “PenMet’s mission is to enhance the quality of life in our area, and we accomplish this in many ways. But by providing gorgeous park settings with wonderful topography through our parks system, we have something for everyone.”
Active outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy kayaking and other water sports (if they’re willing to brave the colder temperatures and have the appropriate gear) or find a more challenging trail system to explore.
“If you’re looking for a more leisurely pace, take a walk on the Cushman Trail system. This hard-surface trail is great to take a brisk autumn stroll while waving to any passerby,” adds Cuzzetto. “No matter what you choose, our area has something for everyone. It’s a true gem in and of itself.”
For a full list of area parks and recreations, visit PenMetParks.org or WA-GigHarbor.CivicPlus.com. PenMet Parks and the City of Gig Harbor are always happy to help you plan your next adventure. Visit their website or reach out to PenMet Parks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253.858.3400, and the City of Gig Harbor at 253.851.8136.