Chihuly Bridge of Glass
When Interstate 705 was constructed through downtown Tacoma, it continued to spread the gap between Tacoma's waterfront area and downtown.
When the Museum of Glass was constructed on the waterfront, it helped start the redevelopment efforts in the area. However, for such a facility to be effective, people have to be able to get to it. Several busy railroad tracks plus an interstate highway provide a very effective obstacle for access to the waterfront area.
Thus, a new pedestrian bridge to connect the Museum of Glass, plus the new waterfront trail, to the core downtown area (including the Washington State History Museum and Tacoma Art Museum) was really a key part of making this museum an attraction.
Due to the nature of the Glass Museum, a considerable amount of glass artwork was installed onto the bridge, making it an attraction unto its own, separate from the museum - though the two are structurally tied together, and the ramp and stairs on the waterfront side form part of the roof of the museum.
Artwork built into the Chihuly Bridge of Glass include:
The web site below is the artist's web site, and has a fair amount of information on it, including a construction video. The video requires the installation of Quicktime.
How to Get There: There is parking along Pacific Avenue, but this is a very busy part of town, and you are most likely not going to find anywhere to park there. If you are driving, therefore, you may actually find it easier to park at the parking lot at Waterway Park, the parking lot of which is located under highway 509. From the Tacoma dome drive north on D Street, and turn left onto E 23rd Street, which almost immediately turns into Dock Street. Under the bridge, you will be able to make a right turn into a parking lot under the highway bridge. From here, you can walk north a few blocks to get to the Museum of Glass. By public transit, there are a number of local bus routes operated by Pierce County Transit that operate near the downtown end of the bridge. There is also the Tacoma Link light rail line operated by SoundTransit.
Point Defiance Park: Northwest Native Plant Garden
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 in a pocket of trees just south of the zoo and west of the garden and open grass section of the park, the Northwest Native Plant Garden is just that: a display of native plants of the Pacific Northwest. One of the efforts here is to demonstrate what can be done in your own home by using native plants, so this aspect of the garden may not be of huge interest to the vast majority of visitors from far away.
This section of the park is an effort of the Tacoma Garden Club, and an all-volunteer effort.
Trails lead the visitor among a wide variety of Pacific Northwest plants. The garden is not large, but is fairly well maintained, and virtually all plant species are labelled. Beyond having all the plants labeled, the various garden type are also labeled. For example, there is a section devoted to "dry shade", with various gardening tips for this type of area. There are a number of these sub-types of garden throughout the garden.
There is an operating waterfall in the center of the garden. This acts to make the surrounding area humid, and allows certain types of plant to fourish. It also helps block out surrounding city noise.
There are several park benches scattered through the garden.
As there are a number of deer in the park (some of which have no hesitation about coming out in broad daylight among crowds of people and muching on park plants in front of everyone) the garden is surrounded by a high fence and gate, and it is requested that people close the gate after going through it. The latch is a little difficult to open, and requires a little figuring out to determine how it works.
Supposedly the garden is open every day, but I have found it closed on days when it is supposed to be open.
Just keep in mind that this garden is entirely a volunteer effort and does not charge admission. Therefore, it isn't some huge spectacular facility. However, it is a nice illustration of what can be done with the plants we have here in the Northwest, and for those who are unfamiliar with our most common plants this may be a good place to come to get some additional information on what grows in our area.
How to Get Here: North on highway 16 to highway 163 towards the Vashion Island ferry. Follow signs to zoo. Go past the zoo and go out the zoo exit driveway at southern end of zoo parking lot. Northwest Native Plant Garden is located at the bottom of the slight hill. Parking is a bit of a pain sometimes due to the proximity and popularity of the zoo. Parking somewhere along the lower roads near the gardens towards the park entrance may be desirable. Nearest bus routes are #10 and #11 to the Vashion Island Ferry. Get off right at the entrance to the park and walk northwest towards the zoo.
Located on the north side of downtown Tacoma, this little park is filled with a number of benches and some open space areas that are attractively planted. It is placed directly above the cut that was made when they built Interstate 705, but thankfully the retaining wall blocks some (but not all) of the traffic noise.
The park features a fairly nice view in places, including Mount Rainier under the right weather conditions (look southeast near the 11th Street Bridge - you should see it just beyond the bridge). In the distance you can see the other Cascade Mountains (if it is a clear day!).
The park also features a statue that is a memorial to the lumber industry workers. The statue is called "Clearing the Way" and is intended to symbolize those nameless who prepared the way for the construction of Tacoma.
There is also a reasonably good sized totem pole here, once considered the world's largest, with it's own set of stories, and is reasonably worthy of its own entry.
How to Get Here:
The park runs on the east side of A street between approximately South 7th Street and South 9th Street. It is approximately two blocks from the "Theatre District" (South 8th Street and Commercial Street) station of the Tacoma LINK streetcar. There are a number of street-side parking places, but many of them seem to be occupied much of the time. There are a number of bus routes nearby as well.
Titlow Park: Forested Park with Beach Access
There are two very distinct sections of Titlow Park: the developed part of the park that is covered in a previous tip, and the nearly undeveloped part of the park that is covered here. For the developed portion of the park, please see:
The northern section of the park is nearly completely covered in wild forest lands, with a few small trails through them. The exception to this is the privately held Tacoma Outboard Association building that is located at the far northern edge of this section of the park, and accessed through a wooden bridge over the railroad line.
This section of the park includes access to the beach, but to get there you have to go to the far northern part of the park and cross the railroad line on the wooden bridge for the driveway for the Tacoma Outboard Association. This bridge is only accessible by walking, unless you are a member of the Tacoma Outboard Association.
Do not try to cross the tracks on foot. People get killed trying to do that here. Several people get killed every year. The bridge is there for a reason. Please use it.
There are several trails that are fairly undeveloped in this part of the park, several benches, a picnic shelter without picnic tables, and possibly what was once a restroom facility that is closed.
The beach features a view north to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and there are a few benches here and there along the edge of the sound with a partial view outward.
Pizza and Pasta
Rock Pasta is a great place with a fun and often loud setting. Located in downtown Tacoma near the UW-Tacoma campus Rock Pasta serves great brick oven pizzas and flavorfull pastas. Pizzas:
Purple Vegetable Pizza