Homes on Stilts
Try to get to Salmon Beach. You will probably have to ask a few locals on how to get there. You'll have to park and walk down some 300 stairs. The beach community is built along a single walkway. All the cabins are on stilts over the sound, so during high tide, they are directly over the water. Low tide gives them a 50ft rocky beach. They have a view of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to the south.
The cabins are the original dwellings of the railway workers when they were making the tunnels along the sound. Today, people of all types reside there, from spendthrift blue collar people living in patch-worked cabins, to independently wealthy retirees with their own private resort on legs.
If you are lucky, you can see some seals & other big critters swimming in the water.
Point Defiance Park: Camp 6 Logging Museum
Please note that this is located inside Point Defiance Park, which has a large number of activities and attractions. For basic information on Point Defiance Park, please see my Point Defiance tip which gives a basic introduction to the park, and links to the various other attractions and activities inside the park.
With a long history of industries based on the surrounding forests, naturally Tacoma should have some sort of museum devoted to these industries.
The camp 6 logging museum has a collection of large steam powered logging equipment and an operational railroad that runs for a short distance on a loop of track through the park. The equipment here is all pretty much as you would have expected to see operating in the woods of Oregon and Washington into the 1960s.
The museum is pretty much completely closed during the week days, as everyone who works at the museum is a volunteer. The indoor exhibits are open approximately April through September, Wednesday through Sunday, but check the web site for specific opening days. The train ride operates Saturdays and Sundays only, except for certain holidays, approximately April through October. Again, it is best to check the web site for details. Outdoor exhibits are open most days for people to come and take a look at, but without any operation it isn't a particularly exciting place.
How to Get Here: If driving, you need to take the Five Mile Loop Road all the way around the entire park, as Camp 6 is located near the end and exit of this loop road. It is possible to park in the zoo parking lot and take a hiking trail to the exhibit, but the trail system is not signed and so you need to have really good trail direction sense to do this well. From bus routes #10 or #11 you need to walk almost the entire southern end of Point Defiance Park.
"The Whole World is my Family"
- Thea Foss
Thea Foss, after whom the Thea Foss waterway was named, was the wife half of a husband and wife team that started renting row boats to recreational and commercial users alike. A number of innovations were made over the years.
Eventually, larger and larger boats were built and/or purchased, and what is now the Foss Marine Company, with tug boats and large industrial services all up and down the west coast owes its history to the efforts of this woman.
As the start of the business was a family run affair to local people, hospitality was extended to all local people.
Today, Thea's Park sits near the site to which the Foss Marine Comany owes its lineage. There is a fairly significant chunk of open grass, picnic tables that are positioned so that some of them get shade while others get sun, and the park faces an open expanse of the Thea Foss Waterway. The north side of the park features a monument to the Thea Foss legacy, and a globe to remind people of her hospitality.
The park was dedicated in 1996.
This park currently is as far north as one can walk along the Foss Waterway Esplanade.
How to Get Here
Go north on Pacific Avenue, which turns into Schuster Parkway north of the interchange with Interstate 705. Turn right at South 4th Street bridge over railraod lines. Turn left immediately at bottom of ramp, which is a driveway which leads into the park. There are shaded parking places along the edge of the park. It is also possible to get to the park by getting to dock street (along the waterfront where the Museum of Glass is located) and keep going north, and turn right just before the 4th Street overpass over the railroad lines, where Dock Street comes to an end.
The nearest public transit service is Pierce Transit route 16, at South 7th Street and Pacific Avenue.
My method involved crossing over the railroad lines and Interstate 705 from downtown Tacoma to the Tacoma Waterfront by using the 11th Street Bridge and the staircase coming down out of the bridge to the waterfront. The walk north from here really isn't that far, and there isn't a huge amount of traffic to fight as there are no cross streets.
War Memorial Park
Tacoma seems to be very skilled at making do with what resources it has, and its War Memorial Park is no exception. This park has been set aside as a "living memorial" (as opposed to, say, a paved plaza or other "dead" memorial as you will find in many other places). Thus, colorful plant life is a prominant feature here, though there are paved walkways through the memorial.
The original park was built in 1952, but when the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge was to be built, War Memorial Park stood in the way of the widened road. It was moved to the current site as part of the construction process, but many of the memorials in the park were originally placed in the old War Memorial Park of 1952. The dedication ceremony for War Memorial Park, in its new location, was May 13, 2006.
The park's location appears to have started life as the original roadway leading to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It is a nice, gradual, sloping curve between the intersection of Skyline Drive and N 6th Avenue and the interchange between N Jackson Avenue and the last exit of Highway 16 before it crosses the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
Tacoma has done very well in converting what appears would have become an otherwise unused piece of land into an attractive memorial to those who lost their lives in defense of their country during World War II. It has also done quite good at making the park appear to have been planned from the start to be at this location, rather than have been relocated from its original spot.
From the 6th and Skyline area, it is not easy to see the park, as the park and ride lot that has been build at the top side of that intersection obscures the visibility of the park from the top of the hill. However, continue down the hill through the park and ride lot, and eventually you will reach a small sheltered memorial, which is the start of the park. This sheltered memorial features a little bit of history about the park, plus some information about those it honors, and a ship's bell.
As you continue down the hill, there are smaller memorials on each side of the flattened graded way, with a small paved walkway on each side of this large smooth way. Some of these smaller memorials are for specific ships that had special ties to Tacoma and the surrounding area, or other such special connections to Tacoma.
Beyond these, on the edges of the cut, there are dense trees that provide a separation from the surrounding city and provide yet more life to the "living memorial".
At the bottom of the sloping graded way the graded way becomes much wider, and there is a flag pole, a general monument stone, and several layers of flower beds. On the east side, there are wild Pacific Northwest native roses, which bloom for a very long season (yes, there were fair number of blooms even in September), while the main part of the memorial appears to be planted in flowers that give the patriotic red, white and blue near the base of the flag pole.
The last distance between the last row of flowers and the huge, busy interchange of Jackson and Highway 16 is open and relatively wild grass, which creates somewhat of a barrier between what should be a peaceful place of contemplation and the busyness of the highway traffic.
How to Get Here: Highway 16 to the Jackson Street Exit (the last exit west before the Tacoma Narrows Bridge), then south to 6ht Avenue, and east to Skyline Drive. The bus stop at the park and ride lot at the top of the hill above the park is served by Pierce Transit bus routes 100 (the local that crosses the Tacoma Narrows Bridge) and 601 (an express across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge) and SoundTransit express bus 595. Several other bus routes, including the frequently operating Pierce Transit route 1, are reasonably close as well.
Web Site: The park is owned and operated by the City of Tacoma, not Metro Parks Tacoma, but I've not been able to find any information about this park on their web site.
Try the Buffalo
Up in Ruston On Pearl Ave. near Point Defiance and the Antique Sandwich Company is an awesome food joint that serves up burgers, burritos, and melts using only Buffalo Meat. Buffalo meat is much healthier then beef because it is so lean which makes it a great alternative to fast food. Just like a fast food joint but with a personal touch and vegetarion edge Tatanka Take - Out is a fun option for food on a summer day after the park. Bison Burger served up with a whole wheat bun, fixings, fat free 1000 dressing, and a fresh lemonade.
They also serve up salads, veggie burritos, frozen Yogurt, and they sell buffalo meat products like sausages.