About This Place
Just 32 miles southwest of Seattle, the city of Tacoma once outshone the larger metropolis in rail and shipping commerce. View the past, present and future of Tacoma’s revitalization efforts from downtown Fireman’s Park. To the east, glimpses of the industrial harbor allow visitors to imagine Tacoma as it once was, a key port and trade center for the Northwest. A turn to the west highlights Tacoma’s emergence as an arts hub, complete with museums, galleries and ongoing efforts to restore the city’s historic downtown architecture.
To really immerse yourself in the art scene, opt for a day exploring the many acclaimed museums. The Children’s Museum of Tacoma, the Tacoma Art Museum and the International Museum of Glass offer things to do with kids in Tacoma. Eyes will widen while walking across the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, which links the Thea Foss Waterway to the Museum of Glass. This 500-foot-long pedestrian bridge showcases three installations by internationally renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. One of them, the Seaform Pavilion, boasts a ceiling made with over 2,000 glass objects.
Additional outdoor Tacoma tourist attractions include Point Defiance Park and Wright Park, home to the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory. The vintage 1907 conservatory exhibits a wide array of exotic flora and fauna, all housed in a Victorian-style domed greenhouse. Point Defiance Park, six miles northwest of the conservatory, is packed with hiking trails, bike paths and picnic areas with views of Commencement Bay. The city also hosts six “spraygrounds,” such as the one in North End’s Jefferson Park, for less-structured things to do with kids in Tacoma on warm days.
Also in the North End, the 100-year-old Proctor District represents Tacoma’s up-and-coming shopping and dining scene. Offering glassware made with Mt. St. Helen’s volcanic ash and regional Native American merchandise, retail stores like Pacific Northwest Shop allow visitors to take home a little piece of the Northwest with them. Enjoy neighborhood eateries such as Pomodoro Italian Restaurant, or take advantage of Puget Sound views and local seafood at the waterfront’s Anthony’s or The Lobster Shop.
Tacoma tourist attractions include a wide array of show venues. A prime example of Downtown’s priority on restoration and revitalization, Pantages Theatre re-opened in 1983 and is one of three stages under the umbrella of the Broadway Center for Performing Arts. Pantages’ design pays homage to a theater in the Palace of Versailles, while the Beaux Arts-inspired Rialto fortunately ended its run of discount movies in the 1990s in favor of live musical, comedic and dramatic performances. The 1993 construction of the modern Theatre on the Square cemented the Broadway Center‘s reputation as the cultural heart of Tacoma.
For big concerts, visit to the Tacoma Dome. One of the largest wooden-domed arenas in the world, the Tacoma Dome featured rock singer David Bowie at its inaugural show in 1983. Over 23,000 fans packed the dome in 2000 to see Bruce Springsteen, and today concert goers dance and sing to the music of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.