Shutter Journey: A Trip Through Photogenic Pierce County
Are your eyes starving for beauty after a long gray winter? Want your photos to have a backdrop worthy of your social media feed? Maybe you have a photography fiend in your family, or are searching for the perfect place to take announcement photos. Whatever the reason, we’ve created a 3-day feast for the eyes with photo-worthy meals, adventures, sights, and lodging. Better start charging those camera batteries!
Day 1: Gig Harbor
Guess what? Every single bite you take today will be within view of the Gig Harbor waterfront! First stop is Susanne’s Bakery, where Gig Harbor locals have been enjoying freshly-baked treats for over 20 years. Order your coffee just the way you like it, then peruse their pastry case of muffins, cinnamon rolls, morning buns, scones, croissants, fruit danishes, and if you’re lucky, sausage rolls (weekends only). Then take the goods on a quick 4-minute walk to…
Grab a picnic table or sunny spot of grass and enjoy your breakfast with a view of Gig Harbor. Skansie Brothers Park is an important community space for the town; the farmers market is held there on Saturdays all summer long, the tree lighting takes place there for the holidays, and all manner of festivals and events pop up throughout the year. While you’re there, you can visit the historic netshed—one of 17 in Gig Harbor. These rustic structures used to be where netting was stored and mended as far back as 1910.
Put the caffeine and carbs from breakfast to good use and head to Finholm View Climb. You’re just 100 steps away from panoramic views of Mount Rainier and Gig Harbor, i.e. the ultimate photo op! If the coffee hits in a serious way, there’s a restroom at the base of the stairs.
Remember those historic netsheds? Netshed No. 9 is our favorite, because it’s the only one serving some of the best food in Gig Harbor. This restaurant is revered for breakfast, but we think lunch is fantastic too—soak in water views and don’t miss out on the clam chowder. If you’re looking for a flashy food photo, order the skillet of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls.
Most people have to travel to Italy for a gondola experience, but you and up to 5 others can score a ride right here in Gig Harbor. Co-founders John “Cinque” and Greg utilize a “thousand-year-old Venetian style of rowing” to maneuver their beautiful gondola, which is imported from Venice. Enjoy the view, snap some photos, and ask questions about the scenery.
Watching a man row can sure work up an appetite! Dinner finishes—where else?—on the waterfront, except we’re trading your fork for chopsticks. Gig Harbor Thai Cuisine serves up all the classic favorites you’d expect, but we recommend both the Crab Rangoon and Coconut Shell Curry in particular, the latter being served out of a coconut just as the name implies.
After a big day by and on the water, you might have a chill in your bones! Head to your home for the evening at Wurlitzer Manor and Gardens, and make your first stop the hot tub. In the morning, you’ll be able to see the sunrise over Mount Rainier, but for now, enjoy the acres of beautiful gardens under peaceful dusk as deer and rabbits pass through.
Day 2: Tacoma
It may be cliché at this point, but nothing may be more photo-worthy—or Pacific Northwest—than a perfectly-pulled espresso drink. You might have to wait a few extra minutes for this coffee due to its popularity, but we believe it’s worth it. When it’s finally your turn at the front of the line, snap up a kouign amann or croissant from their pastry case.
If you’re lucky enough to visit during the spring, our first stop this morning is the cherry blossoms at the Japanese Garden in Point Defiance Park. Once you’ve been photographed beneath cascading showers of pink petals, swing by Wheel Fun Rentals and pick out a bicycle. From here, you’ll circle the loop of Dune Peninsula with water views and the beauty of the park all around you.
Swing by Boathouse 19…
It’s time for lunch, but we’re taking this one to go. Boathouse 19 has all the fantastic seafood you could hope for—fish and chips, prawn po’boys, crab dip—but they also make a mean cheeseburger if fish isn’t your thing. Whatever your taste, take it to go, because we’re headed next door.
…to land at Narrows Brewing Company
The tasting room at Narrows Brewing Company is glowing and warm, and the deck outside has great views of the Narrows marina so you can watch the boats go in and out. Their beer, marketed as “Damn Drinkable,” delivers on their promise. The only thing you could want for at Narrows Brewing is lunch—fortunately, you already have that covered. Order a freshly-poured beer, dig into your fish, snap a picture, and enjoy the afternoon on the Tacoma waterfront. Bliss.
Don’t have too many pints, because after lunch we’re hitting the pavement of the Point Ruston waterfront. Stroll the two miles of paved waterfront paths, or get your steps in at one of the many shops nearby. With these panoramic water views and perfect lighting in every direction, this is the pinnacle of photo-worthy spots.
Ok, maybe we spoke too soon; the best photo of the day might actually be at Fireman’s Park, where the sun sets over a stunning view of Tacoma. Natural beauty of the waterfront meets the smart design of the city, and over everything, the glow of golden hour. Did you just take your new profile picture? We think so.
Your camera roll is bursting with outdoor beauty, but we know you’re hungry for interesting interiors, just as you are hungry for dinner. Over the Moon satisfies both. Sink into big armchairs with colorful throw pillows, surrounded by polka dot curtains, mismatched lamps, and scarlet-red walls. Then you’ll dig into gnocchi, pork chops, or their famous lasagna. Of course, no trip is complete without a quirky bathroom selfie—just wait til you see the purple checkerboard facilities.
Tonight, you’ll be retiring to a room covered in garish rose wallpaper and lit by multiple chandeliers. “Visually stimulating” fails to capture what you’re in for. The Geiger Victorian hotel verges on gaudy, and we are here for it. Pose in front of a black marble fireplace and cascading lace curtains, and if you have a fancy robe, now would be the time to wear it. When people see these photos, get ready for the question: “Where are you staying?”
Day 3: Puyallup and Sumner
After a night immersed in the Victorian age, be prepared to crash back to the present once you lay eyes upon the giant glazed donut sign reading “Happy Donuts.” We’re in Puyallup, and you’re about to indulge in a local favorite. What’s your favorite donut?
Don’t get chocolate on your shirt, because we’re headed to Knutson Farms. If it’s the right time of year, we highly recommend visiting the tulip fields for a dreamy photoshoot in a pastel-colored field of flowers. If tulip season has passed, Knutson Farms still has rhubarb for days—in fact, they’re one of the largest producers of the cheerful stalks in the nation.
Head from the farm to the nostalgic Main Street Dairy Freeze, a burger joint straight out of the 1950s. The floor is checkerboard and the furniture is chrome and shiny red, so now is your moment to have a burger and milkshake like the kids in Grease—and pose accordingly.
The Sumner Link Trail scales just over five miles along the White River, but depending on how you plan it, you could end up seeing wildlife, flowers and plants, and Downtown Sumner. We recommend a combination of all three, but you can plan the specifics of your path using this map.
Photoshoot in Downtown Sumner
Take advantage of the fantastic vintage shops and boutiques in Sumner and buy a wild new hat or outfit at Kissed by Chloe or Inta Vintage. Then take your new look on a walk to Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse, where their vintage furniture is just begging to be lounged upon for your photoshoot. Think Mad Men or Golden Girls.
You’ll know it’s time for dinner when you see the giant iconic windmill in downtown Sumner. Windmill Bistro serves Northwest food and ingredients with an Italian influence, including bruschetta, butternut squash pappardelle, and ciabatta with garlic herb butter. You’ll definitely want to get some shots of the food before people dig in—if you can keep those forks at bay!
Basecamp is a hotel designed for explorers and adventurers, but after the weekend you’ve had, you’ll probably feel just as glad to crawl under the covers as someone returning from a lengthy hike. As you scroll through the photos you’ve taken—a veritable mix of natural beauty; incredible food, coffee, and beer; quirky small businesses; and, of course, you and your friends or family—you’ll notice you have an amazing collage of what makes the South Sound so great. Go ahead and post some, and tag @traveltacoma so we know you took the Shutter Journey.