Got a house full of visitors this holiday season who are looking for a fun day trip?If you’re looking for somewhere new to explore in the Seattle area, pack up the family and head South to Gig Harbor. The charming town has a waterfront packed with shops and restaurants and is always fun to explore. For kids and families, there are now two new reasons to check it out; a new Harbor History Museum and the brand-new Discovery Village; an enrichment center/play cafe for kids.

Harbor History Museum
While geared for all ages, this recently opened Harbor History Museum (right on the Gig Harbor waterfront) is especially family-friendly. Children will enjoy hands-on experiences such as “rowing” a boat around the bay via an interactive screen, hoisting the sails of a kid-size sailboat, reigning in a net with toy fish, tying knots, creating a harbor scene at the magnet wall, and exploring the one-room Midway Schoolhouse circa 1893. Starting in January, be sure to check out a family backpack during your visit. The backpack, full of games and activities, is meant to enhance the museum experience. The first Tuesday of every month is Family Fun Time (at 3:45pm, free for members, $1.00 for non-members) with stories, crafts, or games.  Open Tues-Sun, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  $6 adults, $4 Youth 7-17, FREE for kids 6 and under.

While you’re on the waterfront, be sure to explore the shops and grab a bite at one of the many restaurants. Harbor Kitchen, Kelly’s Café, and Suzanne’s Bakery are all good places to nosh with the kids in tow. If the weather cooperates, explore the Austin Estuary Park-right next door to the museum with a trail to the waterfront.

Discovery Village – Children’s Enrichment Center
After a morning of downtown shopping, reward the kids with a trip to Gig Harbor’s brand-new Discovery Village (free open house weekend is December 18 & 19). Approximately a 5-10 minute drive from the Gig Harbor waterfront (near the Costco), Discovery Village is part play café/part children’s museum. Discovery Village has fun play exhibits such as a market, train station, vet clinic, pizza parlor, and a moon sand station. Kids can also get the wiggles out on the big play structure or search for gems in the geo-zone. The full-service café (with wi-fi) offers the opportunity to get a light meal or snack before you hit the road back home.  Admission: $8.50 for children 12mos-12yrs, Siblings are $6.00, Supervising adults are free.

—Angie J. Ballas