Tacoma is the museum district of Washington, where art and culture flourish through its streets. Explore the eclectic restaurants and pubs, walk through historical buildings, and admire art in Tacoma. Tacoma is not just a gorgeous city to explore; the people here are extremely welcoming. For visitors who are thrill seekers, mountain lovers, hikers, beach lovers, or simply wish to be amidst gorgeous art and architecture, Tacoma is the right place to vacation.
Tacoma is home to Mt. Rainier and offers a wide range of hikes and camping options for weekend getaways. Watch the city pass by, grab a bike, ride through the streets of Ruston Way Waterfront, admire the sunset over the pristine blue waters, or take a stroll in the botanical gardens. A weekend in Tacoma is all tourists need to explore some of the most exciting attractions in Washington State.
UPDATE: 2023/07/25 09:58 EST BY NICHOLAS MAYAMBA
An Artistic PNW Hub: The Ultimate Travel Guide To Tacoma & Things To Do
Tacoma has even more things to do; check out the updated guide for more to explore in the Pacific Northwest, from outdoor adventures to art, history, and more.
Top Things To Do In Tacoma
1 LeMay – America’s Car Museum
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Tacoma, Washington, USA: The entrance name and sign of the LeMay – Americas Car Museum
The family of Harold LeMay donated most of the cars on exhibit at America’s Car Museum. It houses the world’s largest private car collection, featuring over 350 varieties of cars with different designs, speeds, and colors.
The building also has a small gift shop and a coffee shop with fast takeaway finger food. The outdoor area covers three acres and usually hosts automobile events, music shows, swap meets, and auctions.
$18 for adults, $16 for seniors, $14 for those under 18 years, and $10 for those under 10 years.
: Thursday to Monday, 10 am – 5 pm
The best way to experience America’s Car Museum is on a guided tour as the knowledgeable guide takes guests through hundreds of cars, buses, motor homes, and motorcycles while bringing to life their storied histories.
2 Point Defiance Park
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Tacoma, WA USA: View of the entrance to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium on a sunny day during covid 19.
Located at the banks of Puget Sound, this urban park has an aquarium, zoo, broad walk, a marina, a doghouse, and a boathouse. There are numerous short hiking trails spread across the park. The forest also contains 460-year-old Douglas firs. The park is more of a nature retreat, also perfect for kids.
Several smaller themed parks are inside, like the Japanese park, and the rhododendron garden ensure there’s always something to do at Point Defiance Park. For animal lovers, be on the lookout for sea lions, eagles, deer, red foxes, and wolves.
$20 for 13+ age and $15 under 12 years
: 9 am – 3:30/4/5 pm, depending on the month
3 Washington State History Museum
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Tacoma, WA USA: View of the exterior of the Washington State History Museum downtown
Washington State History Museum is located in Downtown Tacoma. The museum has a coffee shop, a gift shop, wheelchair accessibility, and an outdoor plaza.
For those who prefer learning about Tacoma’s history and rich heritage, this museum, operated by the non-profit society, has permanent and rotational exhibits all year round.
It does a great job of promoting the beauty of art, culture, and the Tacoma community.
: The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10 AM to 5 PM.
: $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and students
Remember to check out the spectacular model train exhibit on the upper floor. Covering 1700 square feet of space, it is the largest in the world and makes for an awe-inspiring sight.
4 Chihuly Bridge of Glass
Chihuly Bridge of Glass Tacoma WA
The bridge of glass opened as a gift to the city and its rich vibe. This partially covered footbridge is over 500 feet and links the Museum of Glass to Pacific Avenue. The best time to go here is during the dimming sunset hours to watch this beauty reflect the sun’s rays in delicate little patterns.
The Seaform Pavilion is the first installation that was created with 2000 glass objects. At the center of the bridge, visitors will spot the Crystal Tower, which beams like it has a light of its own. It almost looks like cool blue glacial ice.
Chihuly Bridge of Glass is the brainchild of the famous Tacoma-born glass artist Dale Chihuly. Tourists can visit the Union Station on Pacific Avenue to see more of his magnificent work.
This is a day hike, and it is best suggested to wear comfortable clothes, bring water, and wear slip-proof hiking shoes. Also, check the weather map before heading for this excursion. The mountain weather is often unpredictable.
6 Tacoma Art Museum
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Tacoma, WA, USA: Street view of the Tacoma Art Museum on a sunny, cloudless day.
In a city famed for its bustling art community, the Tacoma Art Museum is a must-visit for vacationers. The museum has a gorgeous collection of Northwestern art and showcases over 4500 works of art. They also have a dedicated glass art section that celebrates the best glass artists from across the world.
Visitors can find impressive works from European artists like Pissarro and Degas and some Japanese woodblock prints.
$18 for adults and $15 for senior citizens, free for kids
: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm (Thursday, 8 pm)
The Tacoma Art Museum is housed in a fascinating downtown building that hosts fun events for the community. Visitors should consider attending Neighborhood Nights, held every Thursday evening.
7 Tacoma Light Trail
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Freeway light trails leading into Tacoma Washington downtown city center at night
The Tacoma Light Trail can be done on foot or by car. It is a fun way to explore the city during the dark hours of the night. The trail of light art runs through downtown Tacoma alongside music, art, and poetry.
: This trail only runs seasonally, around Christmas and New Year’s.
However, there are more options for short half-day to full-day hikes, and for the adventure enthusiasts who would like to camp overnight, there are 2-3 night hikes too. They have separate hikes for summers and winters.
This route connects Point Defiance to downtown Tacoma and is only a walking distance away from the museum district. On the 2-mile stretch, one can spot seals playing on the surf, with Mount Rainier on the West and the Olympic mountain range to the East.
Grab a cup of coffee, opt for a segway ride across town, or simply rent a bike and explore the beautiful neighborhood with plenty of food and drink options on the way.
10 The Gig Harbor Gondola
nMount Rainier and Moon Reflecting over Gig Harbor Sunset, Tacoma, Washington State.”” data-modal-id=”single-image-modal” data-modal-container-id=”single-image-modal-container” data-img-caption=””Shutterstock””>
Mount Rainier and Moon Reflecting over Gig Harbor Sunset, Tacoma, Washington State.
The owners of the Gondola have a long-living love affair with Venice and its Gondolas. Gregorio Garite, the co-owner of the Gondola, has been an American gondolier since February 2022 and runs the gondola out of pure passion and peace.
The harbor has a wide range of restaurants and quick-eating joints to enjoy simple munchies.
Besides riding its famous gondola, take some time to explore the pleasant maritime village of Gig Harbor and take in the dramatic views of Mount Rainier in the background.
Two people sitting on driftwood at Owen Beach Tacoma WA
This is a beautiful spot to come by on a Sunday afternoon and just relax. Visitors can find many families sitting by the beach, enjoying a mean picnic.
The beach is a part of Point Defiance Park, where people often drop by to sunbathe, dog-walk, or just bring the kids by the shore. Visitors can spot Puget Sound from the beach.
12 Tacoma Nature Center
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A arbor of Roses covers a center garden at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington.
Tourists with a soft spot for nature and lovers of open spaces will have an unforgettable time exploring the Tacoma Nature Center. Situated in the heart of the city, this urban oasis spans 71 acres with a 2-mile light walking trail traversing forests, wetlands, and pleasant natural habitats, allowing visitors to experience the rich PNW ecosystem.
A great escape for the whole family, kids can get busy at the playground or curb their curiosity at the interpretive center, which provides learning materials about the Tacoma Nature Center.
: Open daily, 10 am – 2 pm
13 Wright Park
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Pond at Wright Park in Tacoma, Washington, USA.
Wright Park is a tranquil space in the city’s center, perfect for relaxing or unwinding after a long day. The park has over 600 trees, beautiful flowers, and awesome sculptures worth inspecting. Winding paths throughout the area allow guests to explore and bask in its peaceful atmosphere.
The park is also popular among families that come for picnics as the kids have fun on its playground.
: Open daily, 7 am – 9 pm
The Wright Park also hosts the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory and is a stone’s throw away from Manuscript Museum, which houses numerous original manuscripts from renowned personalities like Che Guevara and Charles Darwin.
The MOG displays intricate and impressive works of art by different glass artists. Guests can admire amazing glass sculptures from Tacoma’s favorite son, Dale Chihuly, and watch the detailed glass art-making process in real-time.
Staff also hold live glass-blowing demonstrations at the Hot Shop to pass the knowledge to visitors, who are always fascinated by how experienced craftsmen manipulate molten glass to create awe-inspiring art.
: $18 adults, $10 children, free children under 6
: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm
15 Best Time To Go To Tacoma
Tacoma, Washington with Mt. Rainier in the distance on Commencement Bay
Tacoma is an eventful city every season of the year. However, those who prefer warmer weather and outdoor activities must opt to travel during the spring and summer months, from March to August.
Most people prefer to drive and explore the city, but there are multiple options for public transport within the city too.
Tacoma is only 20 miles south of Sea-Tac International Airport. At the airport, travelers will find several car-rental services, buses, shuttles, and local taxis to start their journey into Tacoma. Tacoma also has a free light rail to take them into the city.
Tacoma has everything from busses, coaches, private hotel shuttles, taxi car rentals, and water transport available easily. Many travel agents and tour operators also offer these options for prior bookings.
The Tacoma Link Light Rail connects all of downtown Tacoma’s 6 stations; Tacoma Dome station, S. 25th Street, Union Station, Convention center, Commerce street, and the Theater district.
This sushi restaurant has been running for 20 years in Tacoma’s sixth avenue locality. They have the freshest fishes showcased artistically and the best quality Japanese sticky rice.
3919 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA 98406, United States
Loak Toung Thai
For the ones who favor Pan-Asian cuisine, this authentic Thai restaurant should be the go-to joint. It is located in the Oakland locality, and they serve the best grilled sour pork and sticky rice omelet.
3807 Center St, Tacoma, WA 98409, United States
By far the best Korean dessert spot in the entire city, T-Town Cafe serves the best taiyaki waffles flooded with Nutella alongside a soft serve. Their ice cream comes with fresh fruit toppings and their menu has a long list of Korean street side snacks like fries, honey toast, and more.
8515 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma, WA 98499, United States
Many say this is the best Italian restaurant in Tacoma. The restaurant has chic decor and a family-friendly ambiance. It offers some delicious traditional Italian food options like pasta and pizzas. Chef Elisa Marzano aims to spoil customers by serving them authentic Italian food.
516 Garfield St S, Tacoma, WA 98444, United States
While Tacoma, Washington, needs over two days to explore fully, tourists can rush through the city in a day and do all the important spots. Start with Point Defiance Park and the aquarium for a few hours, and rent a bike to head down to the Ruston Waterfront.
Post lunch, visitors can spend the evening in downtown Tacoma exploring the museums and bar lounges. Do keep in mind the museum’s hours and plan the day accordingly.
Q: Is Tacoma Washington worth visiting?
Tacoma is absolutely worth your time. The historically rich city has an array of activities and events to offer. Besides, the art and culture district is one to watch for. There are many famous restaurants for foodies, artwork from across the world to admire for art and history lovers, and a range of hiking trails for adventure seekers.