Many websites don’t really supply helpful information of things to do in Tacoma. The only website I could find for things to do was tripadvisor.com but that wasn’t all too helpful when I wanted to show my mother why I fell in love with the area.
Getting around: If you aren’t willing or able to drive around, that’s a-okay is this part of the Pacific northwest. There are many buses that can get you from Tacoma, to Sea-Tac Airport, to Seattle, to Olympia, and you can even catch the Amtrak down to Portland. If you do decide that buses are how you want to travel, make sure to come with dollar bills and quarters (you need exact change) or buy an Orca card. Orca cards allow you to get a little of a discount on the pre-loaded card and give you some benefits, such as longer transfer windows, and can even work on ferries.
Here’s a list of some of the things we did (most free or very low in cost):
- Puget Park to Rushton Way: On this walk you start in the proctor area walk towards Point Defiance but head into Puget Park, a ravine, that you can “hike” down into. You end up coming out on Alder St that leads right to Rushton Way, we turned South-East towards downtown Tacoma and walked along the water front. You can then take a bus from downtown heading up 6th Ave to make it back to the proctor area (bus fair: ~$2.50)
- Many sites talk about downtown and being able to museum hop, I love the arts, but that isn’t really my idea of fun while on vacation, I highly recommend going to all of the free exhibits. Being the hometown of Dale Chihuly and main other great artists, there are plenty of art pieces among the buildings and also in some government buildings. Definitely check out the glass bridge: loaded with glass pieces and they also have faux glass torches that are a lot of fun to pose on.
- Tacoma Art Museum: has many great local, modern, and well known pieces. They do house 50 years worth of Dale Chihuly, pieces that have been donated by him over the years, with some really cool videos of large exhibits he has done around the world. If you are an art enthusiast I would highly recommend this. They do offer free days for specific bank holders and the third Thursday evening of every month is free.
- Museum of Glass, affectionately known as MOG: had different exhibits with some interesting videos of how specific pieces were completed. The best part of the tour was when you could actually see them blowing and shaping the glass. They offer this free with the price of admission. I highly recommend taking a meander around the outside of the museum, they have plenty of pieces that allow more human interaction and a beautiful view of the port. If you are a college student you may want to take a gander on Sunday’s as your admission is free.
- Other Museums: also located in downtown Tacoma are the Children’s Museum and the Natural History Museum. I haven’t been to either one, so if you have any information on them that you would like me to add, let me know.
- Point Defiance: a must see for anyone coming to Tacoma, even if you only go on the five mile drive. Side note: this was the first place I took my Aunt’s family when she visited, we have a little bit before the sun set and drove down to the marina to take a stroll along the Sound. There are many things going on in this beautiful park, most of which are completely free!
- Flower gardens: free and if you love taking photos you can have a blast posing around nature to create some amazing pics to share with friends and family. Or just take some amazing pictures of different species of flora. There is a rose garden and Asian themed garden.
- Zoo: They had some animals that I hadn’t seen in a while, only larger zoos generally have them, ie: elephants, walrus, and many others. I would highly encourage you to go when it’s feeding time. The attendants will stand at different points along the enclosures and tell you about the history, care, and facts of the animal while you get to see them up close and personal.
Wright Park: a great place to cool off and see a little bit between downtown and the north end. They offer a great water park for little kids to escape the blistering heat during the summer time and a nice conservatory that only encourages a small donation when entering.
- Corina’s: a local bakery is located only a couple blocks from Wright Park, near downtown Tacoma, and has great food. Pick up a scone and coffee then head off for a stroll around park.
- Wild Orchid: located at 3023 6th Ave, this is an amazing Thai food restaurant. They give pretty big servings for relatively low cost (general range is 9-13$). There red & green curries, cashew chicken, fried rice, and Thai Iced Tea are all really good. During warmer days they open up a side of their restaurant and allow you to eat outside.
- Engine House 9 (E-9): Another restaurant on 6th Ave is also a brewery. For 21+ year old’s this is a great place hang out and drink: local micro brews, drinks on tap, and normal are all offered here. Even if you have kids this is a pretty family friendly destination with plenty of delicious appetizers. Fabulous nachos (which are mountain, easily feeding 2-3 people, for 12$), deep fried macaroni & cheese, hummus plate, and an abundance of other lip-smacking yummy’s.
- Gateway to India: located on 6th Ave. has amazing Indian food, I can’t remember the main dish I purchased but it was really good and I had never had Indian before. The naan was really good. If you are a student they provided you with a discount, yay!
- Shakabrah: Is an all day breakfast restaurant. I personally haven’t been their, but whenever I make that statement I get shocked faces and avid encouragement to go spend my last couple of bucks there, not saying it’s pricey. Once again, located on 6th Ave.
- Trapper’s Sushi: A new sushi place in the north-end they are a huge hit with the students in this area. They offer all you can eat sushi during lunch hour, so if you want to get your fill, best place to go for sushi.