A swell time in Gig Harbor, Wash.

ArtArts and Culture

Let's get lost in the Pacific Northwest, and I don't mean in Seattle or Vancouver, Canada. Little Gig Harbor — for most of the last century accessible only by boat — is a working fishing village ringed by tall pines on the ragged western edge of Puget Sound. Think sailboats, beachcombing, art galleries, a blessing of the fleet festival, fresh salmon, Washington state wines and the occasional glimpse of Mt. Rainier on the eastern horizon. At the far end of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge — famous for the collapse of its first incarnation four months after it opened in 1940 — Gig Harbor isn't easy to get to, about a 45-minute drive from Sea-Tac Airport. But it's worth it, as I discovered recently.

The bed

It has to be at the Maritime Inn (3212 Harborview Drive; [253] 858-1818). Built a dozen years ago, it has 15 handsome guest rooms, all differently configured and decorated, some with private terraces, water views and gas fireplaces; rooms for two from $129, including a breakfast buffet. It's next door to Java & Clay Cafe, a coffee house cum ceramics workshop, and across the street from historic Skansie Brothers Park on the harbor.

The meal

Guess what's on the menu? Fish, of course, done with a Pacific Northwest flair at Brix 25° (7707 Pioneer Way; [253] 858-6626). But don't turn your nose up at the meat; boeuf bourguignon is a Brix signature, luscious with a Washington state Pinot Noir. Before you take a table, stop at Morso (9014 Peacock Hill Ave.; [253] 530-3463) to see whether a free wine tasting is in the works.

The find

Saturday mornings. That's when the village is at anchor with festivals, art walks, runs, regattas and hands-on lessons for shipwrights at the Gig Harbor Boatshop (3805 Harborview Drive; [253] 857-9344). You also have to see chunks of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge dredged up from their watery resting place and on display at the Harbor History Museum (4121 Harborview Drive; [253] 858-6722).

The lesson learned

It may rain. It often does in Gig Harbor. But don't let that stop you, because the cove looks swell even in shades of gray.

The tab

Two for a weekend, figure $600, airfare aside (about $208 round trip from L.A.). That includes about $350 for accommodations, a blow-out at Brix; a two-hour cruise with Destiny Harbor Tours ([253] 225-6306, $32 for adults); and a little of this and that.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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