Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Snapshot of Tacoma, Washington {For Families}

Seagull Resting Near Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington
Tacoma is a key family destination on Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of Julie Henning

This summer, my family will be visiting Washington for a few days before heading on an Alaskan cruise. When my friend Julie Henning over at Road Trips for Families shared with me that she had recently visited Tacoma, I was eager to here about it as a travel option. Thank you to Julie for putting together a little write up about Tacoma so we call all learn more about treasures in Washington!

A Snapshot of Tacoma by Julie Henning

Thirty-five miles south of Seattle, the city of Tacoma, Washington is coming into it’s own as a key destination on Washington’s Puget Sound. Undergoing a major transformation in the past fifteen years, visitors to the mid-size port city will enjoy a walkable downtown district with six key museums,and an active historic district.

One of the region’s most famous citizens, Dale Chihuly was born in Tacoma in 1941. If you want the true “Chihuly” experience, make sure and walk the and the Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot pedestrian walkway that connects the Museum of Glass to downtown Tacoma and the city’s cultural corridor.

Chihuly Bridge of Glass Tacoma, Washington
Chihuly Bridge of Glass. Image credit Andrew Sternard.
We spent the afternoon in Tacoma in December, truthfully with low expectations on what to do and see. Now, the city is back on our bucket list as a destination on a road trip back through the entire Olympic Peninsula.

Skipping stones at Owen Beach in Tacoma, Washington.
Skipping stones at Own Beach. Photo credit Julie Henning.
If you go, make sure to leave a full morning or afternoon to experience, Point Defiance Park in Ruston/West Tacoma.

An excerpt from Wikepedia illustrates the plethora of activities available at Point Defiance Park:

Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington is the second largest urban park in the United States. The 702-acre (2.84 km2) park includes Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the Rose Garden, Rhododendron Garden, beaches, trails, a boardwalk, a boathouse, a Washington State Ferries ferry dock for the Point Defiance-Tahlequah route to Vashon Island, Fort Nisqually, an off-leash dog park, and most notably a stand of old-growth forest. More than three million people visit it every year. Point Defiance Park is maintained and operated by the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma.

We enjoyed the sweeping views of Mt. Rainier reflecting into the water and watching the passenger ferry carry people to Vashon Island while skipping stones into the water at Owen Beach.

Tacoma Washington attractions Fort Nisqually
Fort Nisqually begs for exploration! Image credit Julie Henning.
We didn’t have enough time to participate in any of the park’s key attractions, but did poke our head into Fort Nisqually and determined it would be worth fully exploring on a warmer day (much of the experience is outside, so dress accordingly).

Wright Park is Tacoma's largest park.
A walk through Wright Park. Image credit Julie Henning.
Back in Tacoma, we explored a kitschy shopping district on North Tacoma Avenue (just outside the downtown business district and within walking distance of Wright Park, Tacoma’s Central Park).

Shake Shake Shake Tacoma
Save room for shakes and burgers at Shake Shake Shake! Image credit  Julie Henning.
If you go, make sure and leave room for a burger and shake at Shake Shake Shake, a vintage soda fountain with a funky ambiance. After, take a calorie-burning walk to Wright Park and stroll through the Seymour Botanical Conservatory, a historically-significant glass conservatory with over 250 individual plant species.

Flowers abound inside Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma, Washington.
Ambling inside of Seymour Botanical Conservatory. Image credit Julie Henning.
For more information on what to do and see, the Travel Tacoma website is a great place to start: http://www.traveltacoma.com/

Don’t forget the National Park Service turns 100 this year – Mt. Rainier National Park is only an hour and a half away!


Happy trails!


Julie Henning is the new owner (but longtime editor) of the family travel website Road Trips for Families. She recently moved to Eugene, Oregon with her husband, three kids, and black lab.

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