Did you know you can ride an authentic Venetian gondola right here in the Pacific Northwest! Keep scrolling for my full Gig Harbor Gondola review and tips for families!
In partnership with Travel Tacoma
When I was in high school, I was lucky enough to go on a school trip to Italy. We visited Venice and all the kids hopped into gondolas, but since they each only held 6 passengers, 3 of us were left out.
So, I never got to ride a gondola in Venice and it’s been on my bucket list ever since.
Flash forward to 20 years later and I finally got my chance to ride in an authentic Venetian gondola practically in my backyard.
Gig Harbor Gondola has been operating on the Gig Harbor waterfront for the past few years. They are the only authentic Venetian gondola company in the Pacific Northwest.
My family (myself, my husband, our 7 year old, and our 4 year old) climbed aboard earlier this month and if you keep scrolling, you’ll find out exactly what to expect.
Gig Harbor FAQs
Gig Harbor is located South of Seattle and just across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Driving from Seattle to Gig Harbor will take about 45 minutes.
Gig Harbor Gondola Boat Rides
Where is it located?
Gig Harbor Gondola operates out of the Gig Harbor Marina, which is on the waterfront. It’s a pretty small marina and your gondolier will meet you at the little trolley out front.
Since the Gig Harbor waterfront is fairly small, it’s easy to walk to from most places.
What is the ride like?
After we met our gondolier (and co-founder) John at the trolley, he grabbed life jackets for the kids and led us to one of his beautiful gondolas.
The kids didn’t need to wear life jackets during the trip, but they were on board just in case.
He talked a bit about safety and then helped us climb into the gondola. After a few minutes, we were cruising!
I couldn’t believe how smooth the ride was. We seriously glided on the water. It wasn’t choppy and the boat didn’t rock or anything.
Over the course of our hour-long excursion, we got a narrated tour of the stunning Gig Harbor waterfront. We learned a bit about the history and even found out where some famous people live!
John was super friendly and answered all the questions my husband and kids asked during our trip.
We learned that the gondola was used in Venice for years and then was shipped to the West Coast down and around through the Panama Canal.
He also showed my 7 year old how to use the oar to adjust the speed and to stop. It was all really fascinating!
Another cool thing about this Gig Harbor boat ride is that we got to see seals! John spotted them and easily navigated us over there for a closer look.
The whole boat ride was so peaceful and relaxing and we couldn’t stop smiling the whole time.
John also offered to take a family photo of us that he texted right after the ride was over.
And as a special treat, our gondolier even serenaded us with an Italian song near the end of our boat ride!
I think this is one of the most unique Gig Harbor boat tours out there!
It’s definitely worth the trip from Seattle because you can’t do anything like it anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest. It would also make a super cute date night activity.
How to get tickets
You can get your Gig Harbor Gondola tickets online HERE. It’s super important to reserve them ahead of time because space is limited.
They have a 60 minute tour as well as a 90 minute tour. We did the 60 minute tour and it was the perfect amount of time for our kids. I think the 90 minutes would be really nice for a date night.
Oh, and kids ages 5 and younger ride free.
Tips for families
I always like to include a few tips so that families know what to expect and can plan accordingly.
You can bring your own food/drinks
We all know kids get hungry for snacks ALL the time. So, it’s really awesome that you can bring along your family food items to eat on the boat.
They also let you bring alcoholic drinks and even have a wine opener and cups on board. That makes it extra easy to grab a bottle of your favorite wine on your way to the marina.
Or you can order an appetizer platter from Gig Harbor Gondola. They get them from the Harbor General Store.
Wear a jacket
Being on the water is always chillier than being on land. We went in early May and we all wore warm coats.
I’d still suggest a jacket for families going in Spring or Fall. Or, just make sure to wear layers to stay warm.
You can have up to 6 people
The pricing for the gondola ride is for 2 people. Each person after that is only $25.
I think this would be a fun thing to invite grandparents to do with your family.
They operate rain or shine
Gig Harbor Gondola runs year-round, even when it’s raining. But, living here in the PNW, we’re used to a bit of rain.
It’s a great opportunity to throw on a rain jacket and grab some hot drinks to sip on board. Plus, they have blankets available for days that are chilly.
Other Things to do in Gig Harbor
If you’re heading to Gig Harbor as a day trip, there are plenty of cool kid-friendly Gig Harbor activities to pair with a Gig Harbor Gondola ride.
Here’s what to do in Gig Harbor with kids:
Get breakfast or lunch in Gig Harbor
If you’re doing a morning or afternoon tour, you’ll probably want to enjoy a meal before or after your Gig Harbor boat ride.
Java & Clay Cafe offers coffee, tea, and smoothies that are perfect for morning. Plus, they have a bunch of pastries for an easy grab and go breakfast.
We really enjoyed eating BBQ at Brimstone PNW Smokehouse just up the street from Gig Harbor Marina. They have a few outdoor tables and very generous portions.
If you’re going for a date night, Brix 25 is a higher end Gig Harbor waterfront restaurant and their menu looks incredible. They have a lot of outdoor seating and even offer food to go.
Shop the Gig Harbor Farmers Market
During the Summer months, the Waterfront Farmers Market is a nice place to grab some fresh produce, baked goods, or flowers.
It’s held on Thursdays at Skansie Park, which is just steps away from the Marina.
There’s usually live entertainment, too.
Ride the Gig Harbor Trolley
A fun way to explore Gig Harbor is by hopping on the Gig Harbor Trolley. It went on hiatus in 2020 but it starts up again June 1, 2021.
The trolley runs every 30 minutes and goes all over the waterfront, Harbor Hill, and the Uptown shopping district.
As it’s only $1/person for an all-day ticket (and kids ages 5 and younger are FREE), this is a cheap thing to do in Gig Harbor with kids!
If you’re looking for a super cute town to visit this summer, head to Gig Harbor, Washington.
There are plenty of Gig Harbor activities (especially the Gig Harbor Gondola) that will delight families of all ages. It’s a perfect way to make special summer memories this year!