Author Topic: Fun things to do in Tacoma?  (Read 2108 times)


  • Pencil Stache
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Fun things to do in Tacoma?
« on: November 20, 2016, 10:19:38 AM »
I'm going to visit my brother in Tacoma, Washington, for a week this December. Unfortunately, it looks like he'll have to work pretty much every day of my visit except Christmas so I'll have quite a bit of time on my own. I'd love suggestions for fun, interesting, and frugal experiences.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Fun things to do in Tacoma?
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2016, 12:12:33 PM »
Downtown has an antique row full of shops you can peruse for hours.  The Ruston Way waterfront walk is good for people watching. There's a place called The Red Hot on 6th Ave that makes good hot dogs, and there are more microbreweries in town than you can possibly visit but I recommend The Harmon.  The glass museum and the Tacoma Art Museum and the Washington History Museum and the LeMay Car Museum are mere blocks apart and admissions are free some days.  You can easily spend hours at Pt Defiance park (plus zoo and aquarium) and they will have evening zoo lights up in December, which is crazy.  Try walking the shoreline perimeter of the park during daylight hours if you can time the tides right.  I also suggest you find time for the miniature botanical garden greenhouse at Wright Park, which is free and full of interesting history.

Tacoma is a weird city full of townie attractions that no one else knows about that cater to very niche audiences, like pinball machines or scuba divers or strange ethnic/vegan food or bicycle racers.

And Mt Rainier is only a two hour drive, if the weather is good and you're in the mood for some dayhiking. 


  • Stubble
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Re: Fun things to do in Tacoma?
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2016, 08:33:54 PM »
I live near Tacoma, so here are a few of my favorite frugal things to do. For the outdoor things, it will be rainy and chilly (generally 40s), so pack good rain gear.

Point Defiance Park has nice hiking trails with gorgeous views of the water. Well groomed, flat trails through thick forests, and you can follow the trails for either an easy 1 mile hike or an easy 5 mile hike. There is a bus that drops you off or there is plenty of parking at various points on the trail. Also at Point Defiance is the zoo with the zoo lights - it's a bit expensive ($17?) but you can spend hours there.

6th Avenue is cute and has some fun shops. Downtown Tacoma on Pacific Avenue, by the University of Washington-Tacoma, has a row of great, unique shops and restaurants. It's also right by by the History Museum and the Museum of Glass.

Over in University Place (about 6 miles from Downtown Tacoma) is a nice park called Chambers Bay. It has a 3 mile, paved walking loop with just amazing views. It's built on an old rock quarry and there are cool "ruins" to explore.

Another fun activity is to walk across the Narrows bridge. You can park at the War Memorial off 6th avenue and walk through the park, then take a walking path to the bridge. It's pretty cool. If you drive across the bridge, there's a toll to return. Walking is free.

Tacoma Community College is off 19th street and has a few galleries open to the public, with rotating student art shows. Just a block away is a place called Pint Defiance, with a variety of microbrews on tap and a huge variety of local beers to buy. There's also a rollerskating ring next door.

You can easily catch the Sounder train at the Tacoma Dome station to Seattle, and then ride it back - but it runs commuting hours, like 6 am departure and 5 pm returns. Still, it's a really cheap and easy way to get to downtown seattle for a day trip. There's also the 590/594 express buses that run all day from the Tacoma Dome station. I'd use a bus instead of trying to deal with the traffic and parking.

A fun place to visit is Half-Price books. It's by the Tacoma Mall, and has a great variety of (1/2 priced) used books.

Hope that helps!


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Re: Fun things to do in Tacoma?
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2016, 08:36:38 PM »
Another vote for the glass museum, it's really great! They have rotating art exhibits and a studio where you can watch the artists blow glass. It's downtown right on the light rail line which is free to ride plus you can park for free in a garage near the Tacoma Dome. Downtown has been revitalized and there some little shops, coffee shops, restaurants, etc that could be fun to explore. I think there are other museums downtown too, like others have mentioned. The zoo is also very nice.

You could also take public transportation up to Seattle and spend a day downtown there. Just walking around is fun, you wouldn't have to spend a lot of money. I highly recommend NOT parking a car in Seattle, it gets expensive!

Like others have said, since you have a whole week, if you have access to a car you could do a day trip to the coast, a day trip to Mt. Rainier, you could drive across the Narrows bridge and go to Bremerton or Bainbridge Island, or you could ride the ferry from Seattle to either of those.