Situated on the coast of Puget Sound, about thirty miles south of Seattle, you’ll find the city of Tacoma. Tacoma is called “The City of Arts and Innovation,” a designation reflected in the wide variety of galleries and more commercial gallery spaces.
There are various neighborhoods in Tacoma, but it is perhaps best known for its artsy character.
Tacoma first appears to be a sleepy port city. The city, however, boasts an abundance of creative and artistic enterprises, reflecting its sterling character. Yet, likely, most people have never heard of Tacoma since its glassworks were only recently made famous.
Tacoma’s seaport is another beautiful cultural venue that draws tourists from the region to enjoy its friendly atmosphere and many shops. Tacoma also has a lot to offer when it comes to food. There are many different cultures in the city, and their fusion has contributed to a wide range of tastes you will find here. There is a wide selection of international cuisine available to satisfy all tastes on any given day.
Visiting other destinations in Washington State? Check out our other guide:
- 10 Must-Try Bellevue Restaurants
- 9 Best Tacoma North End Restaurants
- 4 Amazing Vancouver WA Restaurants
- 7 Amazing Things To Do In Redmond WA
- 11 Amazing Things To Do In Tacoma
- Visit Wright Park
- Visit Foss Waterway Seaport
- Visit the Museum of Glass
- See the Garden of Fuzhou Ting
- Visit Washington State History Museum
- Watch Cars at LeMay Family Collection at Marymount
- Visit Children’s Museum of Tacoma
- Explore Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
- Visit Fort Nisqually Living History Museum
- Attend a Show at Tacoma Dome
- Visit W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory
- See the Chihuly Bridge of Glass
- Wrapping up the things to do in Tacoma, Washington
11 Amazing Things To Do In Tacoma
501 S I St, Tacoma // +12533051000
Tacoma’s Wright Park is one of the most popular parks in the city. There are half a dozen playgrounds in this 16-acre urban park, along with soccer fields and a softball field for adults. Dog owners can even enjoy a dog park here, with separate sections for large and small dogs. At Wright Park, everyone can find something to enjoy.
Wright Park is one of Tacoma’s largest parks, and people seem to love spending time here. It opens every morning and closes every night.
One of my favorite things to do here is enjoying a hotdog from one of the vendors who come to the park on weekends. I have also seen burritos and ice cream food trucks in Wright Park. So no matter what you’re in the mood for, Wright Park has it all!
705 Dock St, Tacoma // +12532722750
Given Tacoma’s water-based location, it would be a shame not to see it firsthand if you visit. Maritime pursuits are a big deal in Tacoma at Foss Waterway Seaport, where the rich history of seafaring is on display.
There is a seaport in Tacoma within a wooden warehouse, and you have the opportunity to study the city’s maritime heritage by taking a tour along the waterfront.
There you will get to see a retired Coast Guard cutter, the Port Townsend-built tugboat Dauntless, and the oldest wooden boat in America, Pufferbelly.
1801 Dock St, Tacoma // +12532844750
In Tacoma, the museum of glass exhibits works by some of the most renowned glass artists during the 20th and 21st centuries. They make sure to include classics in their exhibitions, though they tend towards contemporary art.
Art lovers must visit the Museum of Glass. The museum is open to the public for free. If you’re interested in some glass marvels, Tacoma has an excellent place for you. It’s a museum that sits on a hill south of downtown Tacoma. Additionally, there is a rooftop sky deck with views of the beautiful area. Here you will find fine art to suit your mood.
The Museum of Glass has been one of my favorite places to visit; I took so many photos, and it was simply mesmerizing. So, if you’re looking for things to do in Tacoma, I suggest seeing it! A tip for you: every third Thursday of the month, the entrance is free between 5 pm and 8 pm.
1741 N Schuster Pkwy, Tacoma // +12533051090
You can find several things to do in Tacoma, but if you’re looking for something a little different, consider visiting Fuzhou Ting. The Fuzhou Ting Garden is one of Tacoma’s most significant gardens. It was created by a sister city association between Tacoma and Fuzhou in 1987.
Many walking paths and stunning views can be found at Fuzhou Ting along the Russell Way Waterfront alongside Puget Sound.
In this park, I was able to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Tacoma while taking photos of some interesting architecture and plants – very different from the typical landmarks you might see on your average city guide.
1911 Pacific Ave, Tacoma // +12532723500
This museum will give you a tour covering the region’s prehistory, settlement, Civil War years, and development into modern-day metropolises. Artifacts discovered across the state, including an original World War II Spitfire fighter plane, will surround you during your visit.
There are six floors of exhibits at the museum, and while this might sound too much for one day, the staff is excellent at helping you decide what to see first. When you enter the museum, you can pick up a map to find out where each exhibit is.
You can also request a guided tour. I enjoyed my guide’s knowledge about the themes of each room, as he told us everything about each room.
325 152nd St E, Tacoma // +12532722324
Marymount’s LeMay Family Collection is accounted for in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest privately owned automobile collection of all time.
If you love cars, this is one of the best things to do in Tacoma, and you can expect to find a variety of vintage vehicles here, from cars to trucks to fire engines and even motorcycles.
There are several ways to tour the collection. If you wish to learn more about the amazing displays of cars, you can ask for a guided tour and get all of your questions answered.
1501 Pacific Ave, Tacoma // +12536276031
In addition to being located in the very pleasant Union Station of Tacoma, the Children’s Museum of Tacoma has a lot to offer to residents and tourists, making it even more appealing to both.
The museum is housed inside the original train station, built in 1911, retaining much of that era’s character.
When I visited The Children’s Museum of Tacoma for the first time, I was pretty impressed. When the museum’s mission statement states that it is committed to “providing children with a fun and exciting space from which to play and learn about the world,” you know you’re in for a fun time!
5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma // +12534043800
One of the most popular things to do in Tacoma is to explore Point Defiance Park, Tacoma’s expansive park. Point Defiance Park is a beloved attraction throughout Greater Tacoma for a variety of reasons. It is located in the now revitalized and vibrant Ruston Way Waterfront District.
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium has interactive exhibits and is the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Pacific Northwest. See animals from around the world at this attraction in Tacoma, Washington, in the United States, such as the Amur leopard (one of the giant cats in Asia) and ten different species of penguins from Brazil.
You can view little penguin chicks in their burrows during spring and summer at the Little Penguin Critter Trail, a seasonal tide pool exhibit. In addition, the park offers a fun kids’ area called KidZone, as well as a live butterfly exhibit.
5519 Five Mile Dr, Tacoma // +12534043970
In the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum at Silver Lake, you can experience what it was like to live and experience the rich history in the Puget Sound and Nisqually River Valley.
During your visit to the fort, you’ll discover the history of the region, events, trades, and much more. In an attempt to bring to life this sometimes forgotten part of American history, the Fort Nisqually staff recreates the everyday life of society in the 1850s.
My visit to the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Tacoma, Washington, was fascinating. The museum staff members were dressed in period garb and come to life when visitors arrive. I also saw reconstructions of things such as arts and crafts of the Native American culture and the fort surroundings. One of the unique things to do in Tacoma is visiting here.
2727 E D St, Tacoma // +12532723663
Spend some time in Tacoma Dome, which is located in the heart of the city. It is among the biggest venues in Washington State, with five performance venues, a museum dedicated to sports heritage, a full-service food court, and a 10,000-seat events center.
Families come here to enjoy an afternoon of entertainment or locals watching sporting events here daily. Among the museum’s collections are artifacts that show how local sports history was made famous.
In a hunt for something new and exciting to do in Tacoma, I visited the Tacoma Dome. The show was Cirque Du Soleil, and it was terrific, from start to finish.
The creative direction, flawless choreography, and entertaining storyline were not disappointing. I left the Tacoma Dome complex extremely satisfied.
316 S G St, Tacoma // +12534043975
The Botanical Conservatory is a rare find for Tacoma because it’s one of the only free-of-charge conservatories you can visit. Note that the Botanical Conservatory itself isn’t a living museum or botanical garden in the traditional sense, so don’t expect any animals or extreme-sized plants like banana trees or redwood forests. Instead, you can expect to find a nostalgic glass building with an unusual dome-shaped top.
All in all, there’s something very special about the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory. I’ve come to love the beautifully designed dome, the variety of flowers in each section of the conservatory, and the peaceful setting, which is ideal for relieving stress.
See the Chihuly Bridge of Glass
You shouldn’t miss a visit to the Chihuly Bridge of Glass if you want to experience Tacoma’s rich glassmaking heritage at its finest. The pedestrian bridge connects the Museum of Glass and the Thea Foss Waterway, and it is about 500 feet high.
This fantastic bridge brings art and history together. It was first named the Museum Bridge, but when artist Dale Chihuly decided to sculpt the three main spans, not only did he give it a new name that pays homage to glass and Tacoma’s history, he also gave it a soul.
Wrapping up the things to do in Tacoma, Washington
Tacoma may not have the metropolitan vibe of a big city, but it is worth visiting. Once there, you’ll find plenty of things to do, like hiking in Point Defiance Park and hopping between museums as much as you want. There are a few lovely parks in Tacoma that will provide all the relaxation you need. If you visit Seattle, Tacoma is less than an hour’s drive. I find that, and the accommodation here is much cheaper compared to Seattle. This charming city has the most beautiful views of the Pacific Northwest. It’s an art lovers paradise!
And when hunger hits, and you are looking for great places to eat and enjoy in Tacoma, I’ve got you covered with my absolute recommendations on the 9 Best Tacoma North End restaurants.