Puget Sound Life

If you win HGTV Dream Home 2018, you'll be surrounded by water, from the Pacific Ocean to Seattle's Lake Union. See how water shapes Pacific Northwest style and culture plus must-dos in Gig Harbor.

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: iStock; JTobiasonPhoto

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: iStock; SeaStock

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: iStock; GregoBagel

Photo By: iStock; RaminTalaie

Photo By: iStock; Nikon Photog

Surrounded By Water

Given the landscape and Scandinavian, nautical roots, Seattle and neighboring cities along the Puget Sound are all about water. Being surrounded by lakes, the sound and the open ocean is relaxing and energizing. If you win HGTV Dream Home 2018, you’ll win a home but you’ll also win a lifestyle. Here’s a Pacific Northwest coastal life primer.

Gig Harbor

Gig Harbor is both a bay on the Puget Sound and a harbor town. There’s a friendly small-town vibe here that’s almost been forgotten by much of the world. Life is peaceful, the people are very friendly, and the houses are Pinterest-perfect with most waterfront homes sporting patriotic bunting. The best view can be found on the north side. You’ll get a pretty scene with yachts and sailboats in the harbor plus Mount Rainier in the background.

Downtown Waterfront

Gig Harbor’s waterfront is a great way to spend an afternoon. Stroll along Harborview Drive and pop into cafes, book shops and antique stores along the way. There are several public docks and decks along the walk, perfect for taking photos or hanging out with a good book. If you get tired of walking, the town has an old-fashioned trolley you can hop on for 50 cents.

Coastal Style

The coastal style here isn’t preppy nautical. It’s more shabby-chic with lots of light blues, grey and white. Harborview Drive has several fun and funky boutiques with coastal decor. Pop into Bella Kitchen and Home for great homewares or The Weathered Cottage for one-a-kind vintage finds. And Sea Hags has fun coastal-inspired art and gifts.

Net Sheds

In the early 1900s, net sheds dotted the coast and were used by fishermen to store nets and equipment. Most have been torn down for new development but Gig Harbor has the most sheds remaining on the Puget Sound. Several of these historic net sheds have been converted and today serve as different businesses such as restaurants with open water-front decks.

Whale Watching

The Puget Sound is one of the best places to spot whales in the world. You can spot humpbacks, gray whales, orcas and the solitary minke whale. The Puget Sound Express, a family-owned whale-watching tour company, features the fastest passenger commuter ship on the West Coast. This boat can take guests to the San Juan Islands and back in just four hours from the port of Edmonds, Washington. The cruise also features a naturalist on board to explain what you’re seeing, from whale behavior to other wildlife in the area.

Marine Wildlife

The Puget Sound boasts more than 200 species of fish and 15 species of marine mammals such as the California sea lion, the Stellar sea lion and the giant, sad-looking-yet-totally-adorable elephant seal.

Sea Birds

Birders flock to the Puget Sound every year to see more than 100 different species of birds. When you see a new type of bird you’ve never seen before, you add it to your life list, a journal bird watchers keep.

Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium also features Pacific Northwest wildlife with exhibits highlighting species from the Puget Sound such as rockfish and salmon. But the show-stopper exhibits are the Tufted Puffins and, of course, adorable otters.

Commuting Via Ferry

Traffic around Seattle is a nightmare at rush hour but there’s another way to commute: by ferry. Getting to Seattle from Gig Harbor is an easy ride via the Bremerton Ferry. And you can even drive your car onto the ship and stay in your car for the ride. But it’s better to get out and walk around the deck for incredible views. Beats sitting in traffic!

Seattle Harbor Cruise

One of the best views of the Seattle skyline is by boat. Argosy Cruises offers a one-hour harbor cruise tour that includes famous waterfront buildings from pop culture and Seattle’s freight ships. It’s mesmerizing watching the cranes lift and move giant shipping containers like Tetris blocks.

Pike Place Waterfront

The iconic farmer’s market downtown just opened a waterfront expansion this year featuring more vendors, sea-themed public art and modern, public viewing decks of the Puget Sound, Elliott Bay and the Seattle piers.

Sailing

Sailing is big here and Gig Harbor is a great place to learn. Lessons start at a young age. The Gig Harbor Yacht Club has a junior sailing program for kids as young as six years old. In the summer when the rain goes away and the sun comes, Seattle’s Lake Union is dotted with white sails making a beautiful scene.

The Center for Wooden Boats

A landmark of Lake Union, this floating museum is dedicated to old-school sailing. The center offers classes, boat rentals and on most days you can see master carpenters working on a hand-crafted wooden boat.

Electric Boat Rentals

No boating or sailing experience? You can cruise Lake Union on an electric boat with The Electric Boat Company. Rentals require no boating license and are incredibly easy to operate. As the boats are electric, they’re quiet which makes a peaceful cruise around the lake. Each boat can hold up to 10 people and you can bring your own food and beverages, making it a popular choice for people to celebrate birthday parties.

Kayaking and SUPing

Gig Harbor, Lake Union and Lake Washington are hot spots for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding or SUP. These water sports are so popular that you'll spot even the nicest luxury cars outfitted with kayak racks on top.

Sea Planes

Since the area is enclosed, Gig Harbor is an easy place to kayak or SUP--especially for beginners. Lake Union is also a hot spot but the cardinal rule is: Stay out of the middle of the lake. That area is used by commuter seaplanes to land and take out. It’s incredible watching these crafts maneuver so close to so many ships. Eat outside at one of the seafood spots along Lake Union such as Chandler’s Chowder House or The White Swan to see these planes fly right above your head.

The Ballard Locks

The Hirem M. Chittendam Locks, or the Ballard Locks, in Lake Washington is one of Seattle’s most popular tourist attractions. The Ballard neighborhood ship canal has more traffic than any other boat lock in the U.S.

Salmon Ladders

While watching the boats sink and rise through the locks is fun, the locks also feature salmon ladders to help salmon pass through the water as well. You can view the salmon swimming upstream and jumping in a viewing room beneath the surface.

Dungeness Crab

Dungeness crab is a must-try here. You can buy whole crabs fresh at Pike’s Place Market or you can try the famous Dungeness crab chowder across the street at Pike Place Chowder in the historic Post Alley.

Discovery Park Beach

Discovery Park is one of Seattle’s best urban parks with trails so heavily wooded you won’t believe you’re still in the city. But the jewel of the park is the beach. You’ll get mountain views plus a historic lighthouse that makes excellent Instagrams. The pebble beach is a great spot to learn how to skip rocks.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Located in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, the waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park is a part of the Seattle Museum of Art or the SAM. Fun and funky sculptures plus tons of chairs dot the green lawns for incredible views of Elliott Bay. Doesn’t be surprised if you see a harbor seal pop up from the water!

Seattle's Urban Beaches

You don’t associate Seattle with warm beaches but Seattle has urban beaches that are packed during the summer. There’s a debate with locals about which park is better: Alki Beach or Golden Gardens. Alki Beach gives you both mountain views and Seattle skyline views. But Golden Gardens has public firepits that let you enjoy the waterfront after the sun goes down. Those firepits are heavily coveted, however, so you have to stake one out early in the day. Like tailgating in the South, it’s an all-day ritual during the summer.