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Tacoma, Washington

Local Details

Learn more about Tacoma, Washington using the City Guide below. Plan a trip, find local shopping centers, or just discover what makes Tacoma, Washington so great!

Current Temperature

  • 1:59 AM PDT Aug. 20

City Guide

Tacoma in Washington, is the state's second-largest city, with just under 200,000 residents. It is served by Sea-Tac airport, which serves Seattle, Tacoma, and the greater Seattle area. Tacoma often gets a negative description that is similar to the one given to Oakland, California but in the same way, this comes from those who have never lived in or even visited the city. While it has neither the tourist amenities of its neighbor Seattle to the north nor the suburban safety and rich history of Olympia and Portland to the south, one can certainly spend a few pleasant days in Tacoma and see the city's dynamic art scene as well as its great ballet.

Get in

In addition to Sea-Tac airport (and taxi/limo or rental car), there are:

  • Commuter rail service from Tacoma to Seattle (mornings) and back (afternoon/evenings).
  • A ferry to and from Vashon Island. (Don't plan on walking anywhere when you get to Vashon Island; you'll need a car to get anywhere worth seeing.)
  • Amtrak Cascades trains running between Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) and Eugene, Oregon, stopping in Tacoma. (Amtrak also has trains that go to California and to points east, from Tacoma.)

Get around

  • Tacoma LINK, A light rail/streetcar line that runs between Freighthouse Square (near the Tacoma Dome and the train station) and downtown, with a stop that serves the Washington State History Museum / University of Washington, Tacoma area. Trains runs every 10-20 minutes, and the fares are free.
  • Pierce Transit, operates local routes on buses ran on Natural Gas. It is rather average of a North American public transit system (not all that nice).

See

Point Defiance Park

Over 100 years old, Point Defiance Park features old growth forests, gardens, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Owen Beach, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, and Camp 6 Logging Museum, as well as a playground and countless hiking trails.

Museums

Tacoma is home to a variety of museums:

  • Washington State History Museum
  • Tacoma Art Museum
  • Museum of Glass - you can cross to or from this museum on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass - and no, the bridge is not made of glass - it's 500 feet long, over Interstate 705, with glasswork exhibits.
  • Children's Museum of Tacoma
  • Fort Nisqually Living History Museum
  • Camp 6 Logging Museum
  • Working Waterfront Museum

Coming in 2008:

  • LeMay Car Museum

Other

  • The Seymour Botanical Conservatory, within Wright Park.
  • Union Pacific Station and its Dale Chihuly glass exhibits. Next to the Washington State History Museum.
  • University of Washington, Tacoma - located in an old business district near downtown. A suggested walking tour is available. (UW Tacoma is across the street from the Washington State History Museum.)
  • Brown & Haley's Outlet Store The near the factory (most famous for Almond Roca® candy).
  • A new convention center opened in late 2004.
  • The Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the gateway to Gig Harbor, Poulsbo, Hood Canal, Port Townsend, and the Olympic Peninsula, was recently remodeled to include a second span (which now requires a $3.00 toll for those returning to Tacoma). (The original bridge, built in 1940, and known as "Galloping Gertie", is well known because of its collapse.)

Do

  • The Tacoma Regional Convention & Visitor Bureau has its Visitor Information Center at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in downtown Tacoma (1515 Commerce Street). Visitor guides, maps and brochures on area attractions are avaialable, and the center includes a new computer station where visitors can research travel information on the Internet.

Buy

  • Freighthouse Square is a building three city blocks long, with shops and eating places inside, near the Tacoma Dome. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
  • The Tacoma Mall, near Interstate 5 (at the 38th Street exit) is a major shopping center in Tacoma. A wide variety of stores extending well to the north and south of the mall, as well.

Eat

6th Avenue has some affordable restaurants.

  • Primo Grill (on 6th & South Pine). Moderately Priced, Italian/Mediterranean, Lunch & Dinner.
  • Asado (on 6th & South Pine). Pricey, Argentinian, Dinner.
  • Gary's SteakOut (a block from 6th & South Pine). Moderately Priced, Classic Steak House, Dinner.
  • Gateway to India (on 6th & South Fife). Inexpensive, Indian, Lunch & Dinner.
  • Southern Kitchen (on 6th & Division). Inexpensive, Southern/Soul, Lunch & Dinner.
  • Wild Orchid (on 6th & South Cedar). Inexpensive, Pan-Asian, Lunch & Dinner.
  • Silk Thai (6th Ave). Mid priced, Lunch & Dinner, Delicious Thai Dishes.

Pacific Avenue has some of Tacoma's newest restaurants.

  • El Gaucho (in Downtown Tacoma near 21st Street and Pacific Avenue). Pricey, Steaks & Chops, Dinner.
  • Melting Pot (in Downtown Tacoma near 21st Street and Pacific Avenue). Pricey, Fondue, Dinner.
  • Pacific Grill (near the hotels and Convention Center in Downtown Tacoma on 15th Street and Pacific Avenue). Pricey, Steaks & Seafood, Lunch & Dinner.
  • Sea Grill (near the hotels and Convention Center in Downtown Tacoma on 15th Street and Pacific Avenue). Pricey, Seafood, Lunch & Dinner.
  • Indochine (near the University of Washington, Tacoma is on 19th and Pacific). Not pricey (and rather enjoyable), Pan-Asian, Lunch & Dinner.
  • Johnny's Dock (right across Thea Foss Waterway from Pacific Avenue on D street). Steak and Seafood, Great Views of Downtown and the Museum of Glass.

South Tacoma has wonderful Asian restaurants.

  • Wendy's II (near the Tacoma Mall, on Tacoma Mall Blvd). Inexpensive Vietnamese cuisine, Lunch and Dinner.
  • The Palace Restaurant (Corner of South Tacoma Way and Steilacoom Blvd). Informal Korean restaurant. Cook at the table or order ready to eat. Lunch, Dinner, Drinks. Open late.
  • Tacoma Szechuan (In the Paldo World stripmall, corner of 96th and South Tacoma Way). Authentic Chinese food. Moderate prices. Lunch, Dinner, Bubble Tea.

Drink

  • Up on Tacoma's MLK Way is the terrific Tempest Lounge. Scenesters and neighbors mingle in this gay-friendly bar, craving the cool cocktails and tasty treats.
  • Right around the corner from Tempest is the equally fabulous Monsoon Room. Featuring a huge list of traditional - and some very non-traditional - cocktails, they turn out some astonishing flavors. The Mai Tai is not to be missed.
  • For old-school, straight-out-of-the-'70s flava, the bar at Johnny's Dock is a must [especially for the nice days on the deck]. From the naugahyde swivel chairs to the odd touches of brass, this place hasn't had it's mousse ruffled in a while. They serve workmanlike drinks, but they've got a great deck and happy hour prices apply during any televised sporting event.
  • Engine House 9, aka E9 is located in the trendy 6th avenue area. A great beer list and kareoke on Thursdays make this bar very popular with college students from the local University of Puget Sound. <6th and Pine>

Sleep

The four major downtown hotels in the city are:

  • Sheraton Tacoma, downtown. (soon to be Hotel Murano)
  • Silver Cloud, on a two-mile long scenic waterfront, Ruston Way.
  • A Courtyard by Mariott, which opened in June 2005, downtown near the Convention Center.
  • Comfort Inn Tacoma is a 90 room hotel located 5 miles south from the downtown corridor.

The Villa is a highly rated, luxury six-room bed and breakfast hotel in the Stadium district. Their website has restaurant recommendations.

Stay Safe

While Tacoma's crime problem has improved over the past decade, the city still has a high crime rate relative to other Northwest cities. While traveling in Tacoma, exercise the same caution you would in any other urban area. Visitors should especially excercise caution when entering East Tacoma, Hilltop and/or South Tacoma. Take care when traveling alone or at night, and avoid poorly-lit areas with little foot traffic.

Get out

Near Tacoma are some other things worth visiting, listed roughly north to south:

  • To the northwest, the waterfront town of Gig Harbor.
  • To the northeast, Rhododendron Species Foundation and Garden, and the adjacent Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection in Federal Way, just off Interstate 5.
  • Six Flags Wild Waves Enchanted Village, a water-themed amusement park, also in Federal Way, just off Interstate 5.
  • To the south, Lakewold Gardens Estate, in Lakewood.
  • Also to the south, Northwest Trek, a 615-acre park that is home to more than 200 North American animals.
  • To the southeast, Mount Rainier National Park, and the nearby Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad.

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