Leben in Gig Harbor, WashingtonIyna Bort Caruso
Gig Harbor sits along the south end of Puget Sound in Washington, just enough removed to give it a faraway feel. Yet downtown Tacoma is only 15 miles away from this pretty maritime city. Seattle, across the Sound, is 23 miles by ferry.
Smithsonian Magazine once named Gig Harbor one of the top five, “Best Small Towns in America.” Low crime, good schools and natural beauty bolster the case. Its historic downtown waterfront has parks art galleries, restaurants, wine bars and a winding wooden staircase, Finholm View Climb. Those who negotiate the steps to the top are rewarded with panoramic views of the bay and Mount Rainier.
Nine golf courses are within a half-hour’s drive including the highly touted Chambers Bay Golf Club, site of the 2015 U.S. Open, just across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. In addition to golf, all things water-related keep residents occupied including kayaking, sailing, powerboating and fishing.
Fishing and boatbuilding are Gig Harbor’s legacies. Starting in the mid 19th century and lasting for more than one hundred years the two industries fueled the economy and influenced the lifestyle. The city’s founding families hailed from the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. Simple structures called netsheds, built to store nets and fishing gear, are part of the area’s cultural inheritance. The 17 netsheds that remain in Gig Harbor make up the largest collection in Puget Sound. Aggressive grassroots efforts have made headway in preserving these historic buildings, many still in use and serving the commercial fishing fleet.
Residents, including active retirees, are attracted by the quiet yet engaging year-round active lifestyle. Gig Harbor offers country acreage, equestrian estates, turnkey condominiums, country club residences, buildable land and, of course, waterfront options. Perks include deep water docks and breathtaking views of Mount Rainier.