Historic Photo Database Search
It is possible to see how Tacoma changed over the years, and some of the historic events, by using the on-line photo archives the Tacoma Public Library maintains. The web based entry page features a random image from the collection. In some cases, those who wrote the photo description on the web site also added remarks about their own personal insights into the scene, special items to take note of, and in some cases remarks about material learned since the date of the photograph.
While not exactly a tourist tip, it may be useful for those seeking information about the history of the community and what the city looked like in the past.
Not in Tacoma but just an hours drive...
About 45 minutes or a hour south of Tacoma is Centralia, a little town, quiet, home to antique shops and the Olympic Hotel & Theater.
On Wednesday night The Club has a Burger, Beer, and a Movie night for $10. The Burger and Fries makeup a big portion of food that is really good. You get a pint of beer on tap from their selection of home brews also. The theater is unique, I love the big comfy couches. McMenamins screams Northwest Culture. In house artists create hypnotizing murals about the history of the location and building. They call the PUB-HOTEL- POOL HALL- RESTAURANT a working mans resort as it reflects in the elaborate decor of pioneering past. I loved the bathroom, the sink had more then 10 faucets that had mixed up piplines, you turn one on by the left and another poors water at the opposite side, you never know which one at first, you could play for hours. There are locations all over Oregon and Washington State, their website is really good and helpful. Enjoy!
Point Defiance Park: Rose 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.
The "main entrance" to Point Defiance Park is at North Pearl Street and North Park Avenue. About 500 feet (150 meters) to the northwest of this entrance is a fenced garden area that serves as the primary Point Defiance Rose Garden. The oldest of the established Rose Gardens here dates back to 1895.
There are over 1,500 rose bushes inside the concentric circles of the Rose Garden area, which spread out from the center gazebo.
There are miniature roses, climbing roses, and a number of other colorful plants.
When I first visited the rose garden in mid-May, I found that most of the roses had not quite yet gone into bloom, yet back home only 150 miles south the roses were pretty well along already. Therefore, it pays to take into account the fact that the local climate at Point Defiance may be somewhat colder than some parts of the northwest.
The Rose Garden is in a fenced area of the park. This is done to prevent hungy grazing animals from eating their way through the garden. If you look closely you will see instructions telling you to close the gate behind you. On most of the gates you just squeeze the handle to open the gate.
The miniature rose garden is north of the main rose garden and simulates the large rose garden in concentric circles, but on a much smaller scale. You will have to go past the fushia garden.
A considerable portion of the work here is done by the Tacoma Rose Society. Their web site is http://www.tacomarosesociety.org/
July seems to be the peak period to visit the Rose Garden in terms of sunlight and color, though a good day in June might be good as well. If you visit on a weekend, you will likely run into wedding parties and significant crowds, as opposed to visiting on a week day.
Foss Waterway Seaport Museum
The eventual goal of the museum is to create a fairly extensive museum and activity area that celebrates the active waterfront and port, both history and current, of Tacoma.
However, the present reality is that there are times when this is not necessarily an exceptionally interesting place to visit. A great deal depends on the temporary exhibits and the activity in the boat building and repair shop.
I honestly would have put this museum in the "Tourist Trap" category if it weren't for the fact that the $6 admission price is well worth it, IF there is a spectacular display of some sort in the huge back room of the museum - and sometimes there is. The day I visited, there wasn't. Or, if there is a lot of activity in the wood shop that repairs and builds boats, it would also be worth visiting at that price, but the day I visited there wasn't.
There were some neat items on display here. For example, on short term loan to the museum was a steam powered automobile and companion steam powered launch.
Along with the wood shop, where boats are repaired and built, there is an engine restoration facility, and when I was there they happened to have a number of historic gasoline engines on display and taken aprart for repair, and allowing the visitor to see the insides of the engine.
Perhaps the most historic craft in the collection of the museum is a simple wooden rowboat, which was built by the Foss family as part of their rental and sales fleet. This boat leasing and building venture was what launched the company that is today the Foss Marine Company.
I was told that many of the exhibits here, except for the "front room" area, change on a pretty regular basis, so it is quite likely that very little of what was on display when I visited will be on display when you visit. The basic nature of the displays will most likely be similar.
There is a children's play and discovery area, and it seemed to be pretty popular with the children. However, a great deal of what is there is labeled with signs that people have to read, and unfortunately I have to wonder just how many children these days would be that interested in taking the time to read such signs. I don't wish to make it sound exceptionally boring, as there are some good displays there and models of sea creatures, but the kids will get a lot more out of the displays if they are patient enough to read what the displays say.
Some of the more interesting artifacts in the museum, unfortunately, seemed to be stuck in the meeting rooms and board rooms. It is possible to see these items through the open doors, but entering the rooms are not allowed by the general public.
However unimpressed I was with the museum, there are some big plans to turn this into a very significant attraction for Tacoma, and if even a fraction of the effort comes to pass this could be a very good museum. Efforts are supposedly underway to make required upgrades (including seismic upgrades) to the building, and as time goes on there are big plans for what goes on inside the museum.
Every year, there is a "tall ships festival" and a few other maritime shows that take place around the museum, and expect there to be a lot more worthwhile displays in here during these special events than on the day I visited.
Don't Miss the Economically Priced Seafood!
About 3/4 of this place is fish market, where you can buy just about any of the fish parts you could possibly imagine.
However, in the corner to the left of the entrance you will find a small "bistro" section, which sells pre-cooked items, such as clam chowders and other foods.
There are a small selection of drinks and other items available as well here to compliment the food you select.
Seating is only available outside, but thankfully upon my visit on Sept 15, there was no wind and the temperatures were comfortable, and there wasn't any rain. Within a half hour of my eating, the rain came down and it would not have been so very pleasant to eat outside here. Smoked Salmon Chowder at $3.75 for a 16oz. cup is a great price. (It is $4.10 including taxes).