Tacoma Travel Guide

  • Tacoma Dome and old Union Station (now courthouse)
    Tacoma Dome and old Union Station (now...
    by glabah
  • huge driftwood along Puget Sound at Chambers Bay
    huge driftwood along Puget Sound at...
    by glabah
  • center of attention?
    center of attention?
    by yooperprof

Tacoma Highlights

  • Pro
    kevanrijn profile photo

    kevanrijn says…

     Lots to do, lovely gardens, friendly people 

  • Con
    firedrake profile photo

    firedrake says…

     Rain, Rain, Rain 

  • In a nutshell
    Smokeyythebear1 profile photo

    Smokeyythebear1 says…

     Very nice place to visit 

Tacoma Things to Do

  • Fascinating auto museum in Tacoma

    Tacoma has been viewed as the lesser cousin of Seattle, but if you are in the Pacific Northwest you must visit one of the country's best auto museums ... and it is in Tacoma. The museum is loaded with quality automobiles. Luxury cars like the Duesenberg and Lincoln are on the floor. The people's cars like Chevy and VW have their niche. Special...

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  • Point Defiance Park: The Basics

    Surrounded on three sides by water, the 702 acre (over 283 hectare) Point Defiance Park is one of the gems located inside an urban area in the Pacific Northwest. Much of the park is maintained as native forest habitat with hiking trails, picnic facilities, view points and beaches. It is an extremely popular park, and during warm weather months I...

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  • Ruston Way Walkway

    Runinng along the edge of Commencement Bay from the interchange between Ruston Way and 30th Street northwest all the way to Ruston Way and 49th Street, this riverfront walkway passes through a number of small waterfront parks and is approximately 2.3 miles (3.8 km) long.While Ruston Way is a busy road, many of the areas of this walkway are far...

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  • Museum of Glass

    No visit to Tacoma, WA is complete without a visit to the Museum of Glass. The displays of internationally fames artists as well as the real time exhibitions in the "HOT room" are incredible. Watching molten glass become art objects is breath taking.

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  • Tacoma Chinese Garden and Reconciliation...

    In 1885 the Chinese community of Tacoma was driven out of Tacoma. The park aims to be a symbol of reconciliation over the division and healing of this historical rift. It was under construction when I visited in September of 2010, and by September of 2012 it was largely complete but there are still some large open areas that appear to be destined...

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  • Tacoma's Federal Courthouse

    Would it be possible in Portugal? Na! Our courthouses are always sad and severe buildings, exclusively concentrated in legal affairs. Art? One painting in the main room, and... that's it. Or nothing. But in Tacoma, watching from outside the windows decorated with Chihuli's pieces, I had to enter the courthouse. Austere, discreetly elegant as it is...

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Tacoma Hotels

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Tacoma Restaurants

  • Seafood and More over the Water

    The area of Tacoma along Ruston Way, from Old Tacoma through to the Point Ruston development, has a number of restaurants overhanging the water. There have been waterfront bars and restaurants for many decades through here. Harbor Lights is one such establishment, having first opened its doors in 1959, at a time when this was an active waterfront...

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  • Middle Eastern in Middle of Everything

    I've heard that the chef at Zara has won a number of awards for his food. However, any award winning restaurant that is just down the stairs from a bank and across the street from the convention center is going to be more expensive than average.Be that as it may, the lunch kebabs are a reasonably good value.On a nice day, the outdoor patio is a...

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  • Another good waterfront resturant

    CI Shenanigans is another large capacity high quality restaurant along the Tacoma Waterfront. The food here is excellent with great steaks and great seafood. Like many of the other places on the waterfront the atmosphere is warm and inviting and usually busy. Despite the high volume of dinners the food quality does not suffer. This is a great...

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Tacoma Nightlife

  • Lots of laughs

    This is a brand new comedy club, that has hardwood floors, a beautiful backdrop, and really cool pictures of famous dead comedians all around the room. The ambience has the style of an old Vegas style club, maybe the coolest I have seen in the country. No dress code from what I could tell. Casual.

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  • Best Nightspot in Tacoma

    Well, I have to say I am a little biased about this place. I did spend a lot of time here because I helped build it. I happened to be in downtown Tacoma one day fresh off the plane from Hawaii. A previous job offer fell through and I was walking down the street when I saw a jobsite just starting. I talked to the big guys Brian and Shane, not...

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  • Shake your groove thang!

    While Tacoma may not have as many nightclubs as Seattle, we make our's count. The Hotel is one of the newest additions to Tacoma's downtown nightlife and it is by far the best as far as I'm concerned. Friday and Saturday nights are hopping down at the Hotel with Josh and Dave behind the bar keeping the crowd liquified as a great diverse group of...

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Tacoma Transportation

  • Tacoma Amtrak Station

    NOTE: This tip will be outdated in a few years. There is an effort to move Amtrak from its current station into the Tacoma Dome station, which is served by all of the other transit services in the region.When Interstate 705 was built through Tacoma, it sliced the old Tacoma train station as well as the rest of downtown Tacoma off from the main...

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  • Walkway from Thea's Park to Old Tacoma

    Currently, the end of the Thea Foss Esplanade happens at Thea's Park. From Old Tacoma going north almost to Point Defiance, there is the Ruston Way Walkway that also runs along the waterfront, only in a different part of town - one that has had most of its waterfront industry completely eliminated and replaced by waterfront restaurants, stores, one...

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  • Eleventh Avenue Bridge has been Saved!!

    In 2010, the old Eleventh Avenue Bridge (Murray Morgan Bridge) was still wavering between being demolished and preserved. As noted in %L[http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/1f7a3b/ ]my old tip about this bridge, there were a lot of reasons for demolishing it, and a few for keeping it in place.2010 actually marked the beginning of a turn around...

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Tacoma Shopping

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  • Thursday is Farmer's Market Day in...

    There are actually Three (3!) Farmer's Markets in Tacoma. This tip relates to the one on Broadway, right in the core of the Theatre and Museum districts and close to the convention center. This market is open on Thursdays from 10 am to 3 pm from May to October.While it is a fairly small farmer's market by South Puget Sound standards (take a look at...

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  • Art and Collectibles

    The Connoisseur Shop is a 50 plus year old Tacoma institution (est 1949) and has wonderful collectibles and gifts. The most unique feature is that they have a working artist working the front window four days a week (Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat) with a great collections of their sculpture and watercolors available to purchase. Just about anything...

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  • A Few Local Guides, Items and Lots of...

    Located inside the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, which in turn is located inside Wright Park, the gift shop features an assortment of items. Some of these are aimed at local visitors (for example, those who come to the conservatory may be interested in picking up various gardening books that are aimed at the local climate).After going into...

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Tacoma Local Customs

  • glabah's Profile Photo
    Tacoma railroad history on walls of Freighthouse 4 more images

    by glabah Updated Sep 28, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    While it didn't wind up being the grand city its original boosters envisioned, Tacoma did wind up being an important termination point for the Northern Pacific Railway and Chicago Milwaukee Saint Paul & Pacific Railroad.

    Evidence still abounds of this tradition, including Tacoma Union Station (now a courthouse - the railroad lines that once served it disappeared when Interstate 705 was built), Freighthouse Square (a shopping center built from a railroad freight house) and the large, busy railroad yards on the north side of the city.

    Perhaps the best way to get an impression of this long tradition is to go inside Freighthouse Square and take a look at the historic photos on the walls of the shopping center. You will see evidence of what Tacoma once was in terms of being the "City of Destiny" in the nickname of the city.

    However, other remains of this long tradition remain scattered about the Tacoma area - sometimes built right into the modern decorations.

    Just east of Freighthouse Square is a bridge on the old Milwaukee Road line that connected Tacoma to the south. Despite that railroad having left town in 1980 the bridge still has the remains of the Milwaukee Road emblem on it (see photo 3).

    Railroad related decorations may be found in a number of other locations, such as the one seen in Photo 4.

    The street tree planters around the Tacoma Dome and Freighthouse Square are unique to this area, and feature locomotive decorations (see photo 5).

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Trains

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Tacoma Warnings and Dangers

  • Poisoned Ground in Places

    Unfortunately, after over 100 years of industrial use, parts of Tacoma have been poisoned by industrial chemicals, heavy metals, and various other toxic substances.Cleaning things up has happened in places, but in other places the industrial fallout has happened over such a wide range that a complete cleanup is simply not possible. The American...

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  • Danger spots

    After living in the tacoma area all my life, (I live in Lakewood, south of tacoma) I should share some of the "danger zones"-South Tacoma Way- This street stretches from the Downtown waterfront all the way to the Lakewood Industrial area. The worst parts of it are from the underpass on the way to the mall to around where the majority of the auto...

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  • Tacoma Hotels

    36 Hotels in Tacoma

    702 Reviews and Opinions

Tacoma Tourist Traps

  • Chihuli's Bridge

    I was disappointed with the glass bridge! I was expecting to see glass used in the structure, or shaped to combine with structural elements - it is not. The bridge seems a sort of glass warehouse only wit two interesting vertical elements.

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  • Bing Crosby Historical Society is No...

    "Bing" Crosby, one of the leading music recording artists in the mid-20th century, was born in Tacoma in 1903. In 1906 his family moved to Spokane, and so the city of Tacoma really can not lay claim to much of Bing Crosby, other than the house in which he was born.Soon after "Bing" Crosby died in 1977, the Bing Crosby Historical Society was formed...

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  • Downtown Tacoma is Nowhere Near the...

    You will find two very distinct types of comments about Tacoma:1. Downtown Tacoma is a horrible place and no one should ever go there.2. Downtown Tacoma is a lively and interesting place with some interesting attractions.The problem is that many people get off Interstate 5 and go into the area around the Tacoma Dome, and think that is downtown...

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Tacoma What to Pack

  • by takkun Written May 18, 2004

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Shoes- Unless you are going to be hiking at Pt Defiance, I suggest comfortable, closed shoes.
    I also suggest a sweatshirt. I wear an Adidas zipup basketball sweatshirt. It is light, and I can put a thin rainjacket over it. I never go out in tacoma without my sweatshirt. Then again, I never go out in Victoria, Matsumoto, Tokyo, or Kuroiso without it either...

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Tacoma Off The Beaten Path

  • Visiting Friends in Tacoma

    as my relatives live near Tacoma, at Federal Way, which is just s short 10 minute drive from Federal way, if i'm on the seattle area, we usually go to church in Tacoma area as it has the nearest Roman Catholic Church in the southern suburbs of Seattle and then off to seattle.

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  • Ruston Way Walkway: Waterwalk Point...

    This tip will most certainly be out of date soon. There is a huge effort ongoing to redevelop the old location of the ASARCO smelter into a series of apartment buildings, a movie theatre, stores, and various other amenities. This includes an extension of the Ruston Way Walkway northwest to the edge of Point Defiance. Today it is complete to the...

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  • Thea Foss Esplanade: 11th Avenue Bridge...

    Running along the Thea Foss Waterway, a walkway has been built that connects various attractions and features along the waterway. This walkway is referred to by various names, but "Thea Foss Esplanade" is the name used on at least one tourist map, and therefore it is the name I have settled upon.I have broken this into two sections: North of the...

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Tacoma Favorites

  • Chihuli

    Will it be possible to identify a city with one person?At least it worked for us: we visited Tacoma searching for Dale Chihuli's works, and found them where we expected them, in the museum and the glass bridge, but alse where we couldn't expect - in local court. We had not much time to go further, and, until next visit, Tacoma, for us, is......

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  • 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...

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  • University of Washington - Tacoma

    The University of Washington has an important branch campus in downtown Tacoma. It's close to the art museum, the Union Station, the Glass Museum - and a convenient rapid transit station. I was impressed with the way that the planners of the campus have integrated old and new buildings in a sensitive manner.

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Explore Deeper into Tacoma
Point Defiance Park: Camp 6 Logging Museum
Off The Beaten Path
Broadway Fountain and Plaza
Off The Beaten Path
Glass Museum and Bridge
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Chambers Bay: Golf Course
Off The Beaten Path
SeaTac Airport
Transportation
Pizza and Pasta
Restaurants
Seafoam Pavilion (art: part of Bridge of Glass)
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Tacoma Union Station: Glass Artwork Compliments
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Chihuly Bridge of Glass
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Point Defiance Park
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Fort Nisqually: Living in the 1850s in Pt Defiance
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War Memorial Park
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Geat View of the Sunsets
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Chambers Bay: The Newly Accessible Beach
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Chambers Bay: Central Meadow
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Chambers Bay: North Dock Overpass
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Chambers Bay: Grandview Trail
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Chambers Bay: Sound View Loop Trail
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Chambers Bay: Trail, Beach, Park and Golf Course
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Rainwater Preservatory Mechanical Sculpture
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Titlow Park: developed picnic and pool areas
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Titlow Park: Forested Park with Beach Access
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Third Thursdays Art Walk
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Tacoma Art Museum
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Museum of Glass
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Puget Park: Natural Area and Small Playground
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Downtown Tacoma Brewpub is Popular
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Theatre Square
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Marvin Alan Klegman Memorial
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Neighborhood Bar in "Old Town" district
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Don't Miss the Economically Priced Seafood!
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A view across South Puget Sound & Ferry Arrival
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Eleventh Street Bridge may be Gone Soon?
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Wright Park: Pathways among Shade Trees
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The Cannon: artifact from Spanish-American war
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Tacoma & Pierce County Visitor's Guide
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Pacific Plaza (NOT parking garage of that name)
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Foss Waterway Seaport Museum
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Public Transit in/to Tacoma
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Thea Foss Esplanade: 11th Avenue Bridge & North
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Map of Tacoma

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