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Gig Harbor is a boaters' town. Up and down the length of the town's waterfront, marinas are crowded with sailboats and powerboats, and shops along the waterfront cater primarily to the boating crowd. However, all the boats, and the backdrop of Mount Rainier, also make this a very pleasant town for a leisurely stroll. You can also rent a boat and head out on the water.

On the waterfront, you'll find Gig Harbor Rent-a-Boat, 8829 N. Harborview Dr. (tel. 253/858-7341; www.gigharborrentaboat.com), where you can rent a powerboat or sea kayak. Rates range from $12 an hour for a single sea kayak to $100 an hour for a 26-foot powerboat.

Most visitors to Gig Harbor come because of the boating opportunities, but landlubbers can stroll the town's main street, Harborview Drive, enjoy the view of the harbor, and stop to browse in dozens of interesting little shops and art galleries. Toward the south end of the waterfront, you'll find Skansie Brothers Park, which has a public dock and is a good place for a picnic. At the north end, after the bend in the bay, you'll come to the Finholm area. Across from the water here stands the Finholm View Climb, a flight of 90 steps that lead up a steep hill. At the top of the hill, you'll find the quintessential Gig Harbor view of the bay and Mount Rainier.

Within a short drive of Gig Harbor, you'll also find three waterfront state parks -- Penrose Point, Joemma, and Kopachuck -- all of which have beaches and campgrounds. Of these, Penrose Point (tel. 360/902-8844) is the prettiest. This park is situated on Mayo Cove and has more than 2 miles of shoreline. To reach this park from Gig Harbor, drive north on Wash. 16 to Purdy, take Wash. 302 west and then follow signs to Key Center and the park. In both Joemma (which is about 4 miles beyond Penrose Point) and Kopachuck (from Wash. 16 in Gig Harbor, follow signs for the park), there are good spots to watch sunsets, with a nice sandy beach at Kopachuck.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.