See the University of...
See the University of Washington and the museums around Tacoma. Washington State History, Art, Glass, it's all there. Seeing Mount Tacoma on a clear morning, with the sun backlighting it, or seeing it on a evening. Oh, by the way, the 'Rainier' name is a Seattle thing, real Tacoma people call it Mt. Tacoma like the native Americans. Of course, it's in Pierce County, not King Co where Seattle is. (Seattle is Californicated)
Crystal Towers (art: part of Bridge of Glass)
To those simply passing through Tacoma on the train and on Interstate 705, the Crystal Towers are probably the most eye-catching part of the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. Placed directly above the Interstate, these two towers of glass objects (polyvitro crystals) are able to grab the light in an eye-catching fashion even on a cloudy day, but on a sunny, or even partly sunny day, the towers really stand out.
At night, the towers are lighted, which really makes them stand out, especially if viewed from an angle that puts the blackness of Puget Sound behind them.
The towers, along with the rest of the bridge, were completed in 2002.
The web site below is for the artists involved in creating the Bridge of Glass, and for a bit more information and the other artworks that are part of the Bridge of Glass please see my Bridge of Glass Tip.
Point Defiance Park: Richard Devore Viewpoint
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.
Located on the hillside directly above the Vashon Island ferry terminal, this observation point looks out over Puget Sound with a fairly extensive field of vision. As there are no direct obstacles on the water it is possible to see very far to the north.
The observation area includes one bench and one gazebo-like structure that was a gift to the Tacoma Parks District by the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. This structure was a gift to honor 45 years of service to the parks district and the people of Tacoma made by Richard M. "Dick" Devore from 1951 to 1996.
This viewpoint is located directly east of the small Japanese Garden that is north of the main entrance to the park.
How to Get Here: from the main entrance to the park, go north. If you find signs telling you how to get to the pagoda or the Japanese garden, follow them. You will need to take a small branch road off of the main entrance road to the right, but don't go down the hill to the ferry terminal. You need to stay on the higher part of the park. There are several parking places near the pagoda that are your best bet for parking. Nearest bus routes are #10 and #11 to the Vashon Island Ferry, and it is a quick and easy walk from the bus stop at the entrance to the park along the park road at the top of the bluff to the viewpoint.
Chambers Bay: Trail, Beach, Park and Golf Course
For safety reasons there are several things I must mention about this park first off: Pierce County has been relentless about warning visitors about the three Ts: Trash, Trains and Tides.
Trash: If you brought it in, please take it back out. There are trash cans in the park, but the wildlife in Puget Sound is still having a lot of trouble with the trash that people throw into the water. If the region were a pile of trash, would you want to come visit it?
Trains: This park runs right next to a fairly busy (60 trains or so per day) railroad line, and the edge of the hill hides the noise. Don't go wandering out onto the track. Despite many, many warnings there are several people killed each year who manage to get across the fences and onto the tracks, and get hit.
Tides: Perhaps the largest of dangers for those unfamiliar with the area: tides here can be huge, and in fact there are several days in which there is a 16 foot (4.9 meter) difference between high and low tide. 14 feet (4.3 meters) is fairly common. There is a huge area of Puget Sound that is exposed during this tide fluctuation, and if you don't pay attention it is really easy to get too far from land, and suddenly realize the water is coming in much too fast for you to make it back to safety.
That said, we can now introduce you to the Chambers Bay properties owned by Pierce County:
There a a number of different features of this park facility on the west side of the Point Defiance Peninsula. There is:
+ a golf course with interesting challenges and no trees.
+ a wide open space of grass that thanks to the wind is a decent place for kite flying, and is useful for a number of activities, yet has reminders of the industrial past at this site. This is referred to as the Central Meadow.
+ a beach that has been unavailable for the public to use until September 16, 2010, when a foot bridge was completed between the park and the beach over the railroad line.
+ a walking and bike trail that forms a loop around the entire park, but for the purposes of construction has been divided into two named sections called the Sound View Trail and the Grandview Trail. Along these trails there are some concrete shelf benches that provide great views of the southern end of Puget Sound, several islands, and occasionally the Olympic Mountains off in the distance. From the right angle, it is possible to catch the edge of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge as well.
+ Two off-leash dog areas, one of them a fenced area by the "Central Meadow" and the other a beach-front area.
The facility is owned and operated by Pierce County, though the Pierce County web site is a little obscure when mentioning this wonderful facility.
The site has a long history of industrial development, starting in the 1850s with small timber operations, grist mills and the like. A series of gravel mining operations started at the site a very long time ago, with at least one of the remaining structures dating from 1949 and the Pioneer Sand and Gravel years. Pierce County purchased the side for various reasons in 1992 for some $2 million, but gravel mining continued at the site for another 10 years. On December 31, 2002, industrial operations stopped and Pierce County moved in with big plans for the site.
The golf course and Sound View Trail opened in 2007, and 2008 saw the opening of the Central Meadow.
Official Address: 6320 Grandview Dr W, University Place, WA
How to Get Here: From Interstate 5, it is possible to take the DuPont exit (#119), turn north, and make an immediate right turn onto Steilacoom Road. The way to Chambers Bay is marked with small white signs that even give the mileage remaining until you arrive at the park's entrance. This method involves driving on a number of local roads and several turns that defy easy description here, including one just before the Anderson Island Ferry.
It is also possible to take Lakewood Exit # 125, head north on Bridgeport Way SW, and after a considerable distance turn left onto Chambers Creek Road. The road will make a sharp right turn and change names to 99th Avenue West, and the entrance to the park is right in that area.
Getting here by public transit is a bit more challenging. Bridgeport Way has frequent service from Pierce Transit bus route #2, but that is fairly far east of the park. Route 53A is slightly north of the park, and while the service isn't as frequent it does get you a little closer to the north edge of the park at 40th Street West and Grandview.
Hob Nob: The verb hobnob originally meant “to drink together and now means to associate familiarly.
John's Hob Nob is long standing. On weekend mornings families gather outside waiting for a table and around 10 or 11 am it's hard to wait patiently. I prefer breakfast here but the place is a Diner and so serves up lunch and dinner as well. The charm is classic, the first area is a classic diner with checkered floors, booths, and countertop seating. The dining room has carpeting, additional tables, and a homey feel with it's old black and white photos of Historic Tacoma and the many ships that have docked here. The location is great, right across from Wright Park so you can stroll through before or after your meal, the two together make for a very content moment.
A fun spot next door and part of the Diner (note: the word spot, this place is small) is The Sidedoor lounge where you can get a good stiff drink almost anytime of day actually. It's popular with the restaurant workers after a long night shift and the small tables and dimly lit lamps give it a speak easy feel. I like there eggs benedict and I really like there corned beef hash, it's made from scratch, not the canned sort.