Gondola to Gondola
Itinerary Suggested Season: Summer
Morning: Get an early start from The Inn at Gig Harbor to head down to the Gig Harbor Marina and Boatyard. It’s only a 10-minute drive (or 45-minute scenic walk down Soundview Drive) to the Marina, where you’ll be met by John Synco and his Venice-style gondola. You’ll enjoy an hour-long tour of Gig Harbor’s tranquil waters, as well as some light appetizers aboard the gondola (or bring your own coffee to blow away the cobwebs), experiencing the other side of the town’s scenic waterfront.
As the gondola pulls up to the pier alongside Netshed No. 9, you’ll disembark and will soon be smelling the aromas of the breakfast to come. Netshed’s well-rounded breakfast menu may seem daunting, but you won’t go wrong with specialties like their chicken and waffles, ricotta and sourdough pancakes or Passion of the Hash. On a nice day, make sure to arrive early (they open at 8 a.m.) and request a table on their patio overlooking the harbor.
Afternoon: After you’ve finished your breakfast at sea level, it’s time for a scenic, two-hour drive along Chinook Scenic Byway (Highway 410), often recognized as one of the most beautiful drives in the state. Winding through forests, small towns and recreation areas, you’ll arrive at Crystal Mountain Resort.
Late afternoon/early evening: Step out, stretch your legs and walk around the resort before you get onboard the Mt. Rainier Gondola. The 12-minute ride to the top in the enclosed compartment will whisk you over meadows of wildflowers (during the summer), as you climb 2,000 vertical feet to the summit of Crystal Mountain at 6,872 feet above sea level. At the summit, you’ll enjoy some of the best views of the iconic Mt. Rainier, and find yourself ready for an early dinner at the highest-altitude restaurant in the state of Washington: The Summit House Restaurant. All that’s left is to wear sunscreen, enjoy your meal and take lots of photos before heading back to Gig Harbor.