What Can You Do With the Grandkids When They Visit You at Heron’s Key? Plenty!

what to do when grandkids visit gig harbor

If you’ve been undecided about moving to a senior living community in part because you think your grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) won’t want to visit, then take this to heart: Choose a community like Heron’s Key, where there are countless ways to spend time with them in the larger, surrounding community—in our case, Gig Harbor, Washington.

Not only has SmartAsset™ named Gig Harbor the best place in Washington to retire (and one of the top five places in the country). It’s also quite family friendly, as Martha Bien, one of our newer residents, can attest.

Wondering what to do in Gig Harbor, WA? Read on!

How Martha Chose Heron’s Key as Her New Home

Martha has lived at Heron’s Key for less than a year, so she’s still exploring all there is to do in our community. But she’s very familiar with Gig Harbor because her son and his family have lived in the stunning seaside village for the better part of a decade.

As you might imagine, having family living nearby helped Martha make her decision to move to Heron’s Key—and her grandson was instrumental in having Martha take a closer look at our community.

Before moving here, Martha had lived an hour away, on Bainbridge Island, for almost 30 years. She loved her home on the island, and her son would bring her two youngest grandchildren to visit her on most Sundays. Other times, she would come to stay with them in Gig Harbor for a few days.

Eventually, Martha and both of her sons (her other son lives in Oregon) began to talk about her future living arrangements. She looked into a senior living community that was being built on Bainbridge Island but “didn’t really care for that.”

During one of her weekend visits to Gig Harbor, which she describes as a “sweet town,” she and her son drove by Heron’s Key, and he mentioned that our community has a good reputation. At first, Martha said she didn’t think she would like it here, but her grandson, who was only about 6 years old at the time, piped up from the back seat and said, “Tutu, would you at least consider it?”

After a couple of visits to Heron’s Key, Martha changed her mind.

“Moving here was a really good decision,” she says. “People ask me, ‘Did you make the right choice?’ I really can say, ‘Yes.’ It’s such a lovely place, and the people are so welcoming and wonderful, right from the get-go.”

Where Is Gig Harbor?

Gig Harbor is nestled on the western side of the lower region of Puget Sound, in Pierce County, which is in western Washington. Part of the Olympic Peninsula, it’s across from Tacoma, which is about 12 miles away via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

How far is Gig Harbor from Seattle? Less than an hour’s drive, which makes it a breeze to take trips to the dozens of intriguing, kid-friendly museums in the area, as well as the Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo. You can also enjoy performances by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Mariners ballgames and a whole lot of other pastimes.

Getting there is even easier when someone else does the driving, like we do with our frequent group excursions.

Fun Things to Do in Gig Harbor

You don’t have to venture to Tacoma or Seattle unless you want to. There are plenty of things to do in Gig Harbor when your grandchildren visit.

If you want them to take a break from “screen time,” Gig Harbor has 21 city parks, many with trails for hiking and biking. The trails and the area’s wetlands are great for spotting wildlife while on nature walks. The preserved urban forest at Grandview Forest Park, where you’ll find local artwork on display along the trails, is an excellent example.

Harbor WildWatch offers guided beach walks, and the organization’s new Marine Life Center in downtown Gig Harbor is a fascinating place to learn all about plants and animals that call the Salish Sea their home.

You can also walk around the harbor (where you just might spy some porpoises, seals and seabirds) or take a sightseeing trip with Destiny Harbor Tours. If you’re up to it and your grandchildren are old enough, kayaking and paddleboarding are popular pastimes in Gig Harbor. Enjoy being on the water? You can access it from several parks in the area.

For a unique experience on the water, you could take the grandkids on an authentic Venetia gondola ride, provided by Gig Harbor Gondola.

During the summer, you can catch an outdoor concert on Tuesday evenings at Skansie Brothers Park or on Thursdays at Uptown Gig Harbor, the upscale outdoor shopping center that’s only about 15 minutes from Heron’s Key. By the way, Uptown Gig Harbor has an IMAX theater.

You can also plan to attend the Maritime Gig Festival in June, the Summer Art Festival in July and the Gig Harbor Film Festival in September.

If it happens to be raining when the grandchildren are visiting, there are lots of indoor activities to choose from, such as pottery painting at the Java and Clay Cafe. Or, you can check out Ocean5, which offers both 10-pin and duckpin bowling, a two-story laser arena and an arcade with the latest in modern gaming.

Kids of all ages can learn more about the local history and culture at the Harbor History Museum, located on the waterfront in downtown Gig Harbor.

If you don’t feel like driving, or to make any local outing more memorable, the Pierce Transit trolley runs during July and August, making numerous trips between downtown Gig Harbor and Uptown Gig Harbor shopping center. The trolley stops right at the entrance to Heron’s Key, so it’s especially convenient!

More About Martha and Her Grandchildren

Martha’s situation is a bit different from other Heron’s Key residents who may have grandchildren visiting them, since her grandkids live in Gig Harbor. She goes to events they’re involved in at school and can volunteer to watch them if their parents need an extra hand.

For instance, Martha’s 7-year-old granddaughter recently came over one afternoon for a couple of hours. Martha made dinner and they watched one of the “Minions” movies together. Martha said both her granddaughter and grandson like to eat at Spinnaker’s, our restaurant, and she sometimes orders takeout meals or ice cream if they want to eat in her apartment.

When the weather’s nice, they go for walks around the pond to get some fresh air.

Martha cherishes these times with her younger grandchildren and loves living close enough to see them while they’re growing up. When she’s not with the grandkids, Martha enjoys plenty of other ways to keep active—like walking with her friend, Janet, who also moved to Heron’s Key from Bainbridge Island. Three mornings a week, they walk between three and four miles in and around the community.

She also likes the variety of lectures and exercise classes available at Heron’s Key, which are a great option anytime and particularly when it rains.

“I’m much busier here than I was on Bainbridge,” she says, noting that she’s looking forward to helping with the planting project that’s planned for the newly resurfaced path around the pond.

She also intends to explore some of the hiking trails on upcoming group outings and may look into starting another book club here at Heron’s Key.

Would You and Your Grandchildren Like It Here?

The best way to find out is to come visit us. We’d love to show you around our community. While you’re at it, you can stroll around downtown Gig Harbor, which is less than 10 minutes away. Visitors and locals alike love to wander among the many shops, galleries and restaurants on or near the waterfront.

To arrange a visit to Heron’s Key, call (877) 892-7129 or contact us online.