Tacoma, Washington, in Summertime

The Best 20 Things To Do In Tacoma – A Comprehensive Top Attractions Guide

Explore Tacoma and uncover unforgettable experiences and hidden gems!

The 20 Most Popular Things To Do In Tacoma, WA

Welcome to Tacoma, Washington! This vibrant city is located in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and offers a variety of activities for everyone.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or an outdoor enthusiast, there are so many exciting things to do in Tacoma because the city has a lot to offer.

In this article, we’ll explore 20 things to do in Tacoma that will make your visit unforgettable.

From top attractions like the Museum of Glass and Point Defiance Park to hidden gems like the Dorky’s Arcade and LeMay – America’s Car Museum, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure in this charming city!

Key Takeaways

  • Tacoma offers a diverse range of attractions and activities, from outdoor adventures to cultural and historical sites, making it a great destination for all types of travelers.
  • Visitors can enjoy free events and festivals to save money while supporting local businesses and artists.
  • The Museum of Glass and Broadway Center for the Performing Arts are must-visit attractions for those interested in art and culture.
  • Foodies should not miss out on the delicious local cuisine served in the Proctor District.

Overview of Things To Do In Tacoma

You’re probably wondering what there is to do in Tacoma, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Before we dive into the exciting activities that await you in this bustling city, let’s talk about the importance of setting the tone in the beginning.

As a writer, your introduction serves as your first impression and sets the stage for what’s to come. It’s important to hook your readers in the first few sentences by providing them with a taste of what they can expect from your writing.

To write an engaging introduction, start by considering who your audience is and what they might be interested in. Think about why someone would want to visit Tacoma and highlight those attractions or experiences.

Use descriptive language and paint a vivid picture that entices readers to keep reading. By following these best practices for writing an engaging introduction, you’ll ensure that readers are excited and eager to explore all that Tacoma has to offer.

Top Attractions in Tacoma

If you’re looking for some fun things to do in Tacoma, Washington, then you definitely won’t want to miss out on these top attractions.

Point Defiance Park is a must-visit destination with beautiful gardens, hiking trails, and stunning views of the Puget Sound.

The Museum of Glass is another popular spot where you can see incredible glassblowing demonstrations and admire impressive works of art.

And if cars are your thing, LeMay – America’s Car Museum is sure to delight with its vast collection of vintage automobiles.

Don’t forget to also check out the Chihuly Bridge of Glass and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium while you’re in town!

1. Point Defiance Park

Point Defiance Park, Tacoma
Point Defiance Park, Tacoma

Explore Point Defiance Park, Tacoma’s largest park! It boasts stunning gardens, hiking trails, a zoo, and aquarium, and even a historic fort. This expansive park is home to many picnic spots where you can enjoy a relaxing outdoor meal amidst the lush greenery.

Take in the scenic views of Puget Sound as you meander along the winding hiking trails that lead through dense forests and open grasslands.

Don’t miss out on visiting the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, with over 9 acres of exhibits featuring animals from all over the world. This attraction is perfect for families with children or anyone who loves animals.

For history buffs, check out Fort Nisqually Living History Museum located within the park grounds. This reconstructed fur trading post offers a glimpse into Washington’s past by showcasing early pioneer life and highlighting local Native American culture.

Don’t forget your camera as there are plenty of photo opportunities throughout this beautiful park!

2. Museum of Glass

When you visit the Museum of Glass, don’t miss the impressive outdoor installation of colorful glass sculptures towering over the waterfront.

This museum is dedicated to contemporary glass art and showcases works from some of the world’s most renowned artists. You can see everything from intricate blown glass pieces to massive installations that fill entire rooms.

One of the highlights of visiting this museum is getting to witness live glassblowing demonstrations by skilled artisans. You can watch as they transform molten glass into beautiful sculptures right before your eyes.

If you’re feeling inspired, you can even sign up for one of their glass blowing classes and try your hand at creating your own masterpiece.

Overall, a trip to the Museum of Glass is a must-do for anyone visiting Tacoma who appreciates art and craftsmanship.

3. LeMay – America’s Car Museum

Get ready to experience the ultimate car enthusiast’s dream at LeMay – America’s Car Museum. This museum is a must-see for anyone who loves automobiles and wants to learn more about their history.

With over 350 beautifully restored vintage vehicles on display, you’ll be able to explore automobile history like never before. From classic cars and motorcycles, to race cars and even modern supercars, there’s something for every type of car enthusiast at LeMay – America’s Car Museum.

You’ll get an up-close look at some of the most iconic vehicles in history, including those from famous movies and TV shows.

And with interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, you can immerse yourself in the world of vintage vehicles and learn all about their design, engineering, and cultural significance.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to explore the fascinating world of vintage automobiles!

4. Chihuly Bridge of Glass

As you walk across the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, you’ll be mesmerized by the vibrant colors and intricate glass sculptures that surround you. This 500-foot pedestrian bridge connects downtown Tacoma to the Museum of Glass and features three distinct installations created by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly.

The Venetian Wall showcases a series of brightly colored glass discs set against a dark background. The Seaform Pavilion is a stunning display of organic forms in shades of blue and green, while the Crystal Towers rise up towards the sky with towering spires made from clear crystal.

If you’re interested in learning more about this incredible installation, consider taking one of the Bridge of Glass tours offered throughout the year. These guided tours provide an in-depth look at each installation, as well as information on how they were created and installed.

Additionally, there are often special Chihuly Bridge events hosted on or around the bridge that offer unique ways to experience this awe-inspiring work of art.

Whether you’re a lover of glass art or simply looking for a beautiful place to take a stroll, the Chihuly Bridge of Glass is not to be missed during your visit to Tacoma.

5. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Located in Point Defiance Park, the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium offers visitors the opportunity to see a wide variety of animals from around the world. The zoo and aquarium have been operating for over a century now and is home to over 9,000 individual animals representing more than 300 species.

One of the most popular attractions at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is undoubtedly its underwater exhibits. Here you can witness mesmerizing marine life such as jellyfish, sharks, and sea turtles up close.

Apart from just observing animals from afar, visitors also have the chance to participate in animal encounters. This activity allows guests to get closer than ever before to some of their favorite creatures while learning about their behavior and habitat.

Additionally, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has made significant efforts towards conservation with various programs aimed at protecting endangered species and raising awareness about environmental issues.

Overall, this destination is perfect for animal lovers looking for an educational yet entertaining experience that’s suitable for all ages!

Outdoor Activities in Tacoma

If you’re looking for some outdoor fun in Tacoma, you’re in luck! There are plenty of places to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of the city.

Five Mile Drive & Trails, Owen Beach, Ruston Way Waterfront, Tacoma Nature Center, and Browns Point Lighthouse Park are all fantastic options to choose from.

So grab your hiking boots or beach gear and get ready to have some fun in the sun!

6. Five Mile Drive & Trails

You’ll love exploring Five Mile Drive & Trails, where you can take in breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier while hiking or biking through lush forests and meadows.

This scenic drive winds through Point Defiance Park and offers a variety of trails for all levels of hikers. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, Five Mile Drive has something for everyone.

If you’re planning to visit with family or friends, there are plenty of picnic spots along the way where you can enjoy a meal while taking in the beautiful surroundings.

And don’t forget your camera! There are many opportunities to capture stunning photos of the natural beauty surrounding you.

So grab your hiking boots or bike and head over to Five Mile Drive & Trails for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.

7. Owen Beach

Now that you’ve taken in the scenic drive and trails of Five Mile Drive, it’s time to head down to Owen Beach. This popular destination is perfect for beach activities and offers a variety of events throughout the year.

Located on the waterfront, Owen Beach boasts stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. It’s an ideal spot for swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and even scuba diving! The beach also has picnic areas with grills available for public use.

So whether you’re looking to soak up some sun or have a fun-filled day with family and friends, Owen Beach has something for everyone. Keep an eye out for upcoming events like beach cleanups and music festivals too!

8. Ruston Way Waterfront

As you stroll along Ruston Way Waterfront, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a seaside town. The salty breeze blowing through your hair and the sound of seagulls in the distance add to the ambiance. This picturesque waterfront is one of Tacoma’s most popular spots for locals and tourists alike.

Ruston Way offers breathtaking views of Commencement Bay and Mount Rainier. Whether you’re looking for beach activities or waterfront dining, there’s something for everyone.

Here are a few things to do:

  • Take a leisurely walk or bike ride along the paved path that runs parallel to the water.
  • Enjoy a delicious meal with stunning sunset views at one of the many restaurants along the strip.
  • Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from one of the rental shops and explore Commencement Bay from a different perspective.
  • Set up camp on one of the small beaches along Ruston Way and soak up some sun while taking in the beautiful scenery.

No matter what activity you choose, Ruston Way Waterfront is sure to leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. So grab your sunscreen, pack a picnic lunch, and spend an afternoon enjoying all that this charming waterfront has to offer.

9. Tacoma Nature Center

Get ready to explore the beauty of nature at the Tacoma Nature Center, where you can discover various habitats and wildlife in a peaceful setting.

The center sits on 71 acres of land, with over two miles of hiking trails that weave through forests and wetlands. Along these trails, you’ll find interpretive signs that provide information about the flora and fauna around you.

If you’re a birdwatcher, be sure to bring your binoculars as the Tacoma Nature Center is home to many species of birds, including woodpeckers, owls, and eagles. You may also encounter other wildlife such as turtles basking in the sun or frogs hopping along the trail.

In addition to its natural beauty, the center offers environmental education programs for all ages. Whether you want to learn about local ecosystems or participate in hands-on activities like plant propagation or stream monitoring, there’s something for everyone at the Tacoma Nature Center.

10. Browns Point Lighthouse Park

If you’re looking for a picturesque spot to spend the day, head over to Browns Point Lighthouse Park. This park is not just any ordinary park, it has a rich history and significance.

The lighthouse that stands on this point was built in 1903 and has since become one of the oldest lighthouses in Washington State. It served as an important navigation aid for ships coming into the Puget Sound.

Aside from its historical significance, Browns Point Lighthouse Park boasts scenic views that are sure to take your breath away. You can enjoy stunning views of Mount Rainier and Commencement Bay while strolling around the park’s trails or lounging on its sandy beach.

There are also picnic tables available if you want to have a relaxing meal with family or friends. If you’re up for more adventure, there are nearby attractions such as the Dash Point State Park and Marine View Drive where you can easily explore nature’s beauty.

Cultural and Historical Sites

If you’re looking for a dose of culture and history in Tacoma, there are plenty of sites to explore.

Start at the Tacoma Art Museum, where you can see contemporary art alongside historic works from the Northwest region.

Then head over to the Washington State History Museum to learn about the state’s past through interactive exhibits and artifacts.

For a more immersive experience, visit Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, where costumed interpreters bring 19th-century life to light.

And don’t miss out on the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum or Job Carr House Museum for even more insights into local history and culture.

11. Tacoma Art Museum

You’ll love exploring the Tacoma Art Museum, where you can admire an impressive collection of contemporary and Northwest art. The museum boasts a variety of exhibitions and events that showcase local artists, as well as international artists.

You won’t want to miss the opportunity to see some of the museum’s most popular exhibits, such as ‘Art AIDS America’ or ‘Native Portraiture: Power and Perception.’

In addition to its extensive art collections, the Tacoma Art Museum is dedicated to community engagement. The museum offers various programs for visitors of all ages, including hands-on workshops and tours led by knowledgeable docents.

Whether you’re an art enthusiast or just looking for a fun day out with friends or family, the Tacoma Art Museum is sure to impress.

12. Washington State History Museum

Get ready to immerse yourself in Washington state’s rich history at the Washington State History Museum! As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by a wide range of interactive exhibits that showcase the state’s diverse cultural heritage.

From multimedia presentations and historical artifacts to storytelling sessions and hands-on learning activities, there’s something for everyone here.

The museum also offers educational programs, tours and guided walks, events and workshops, and family-friendly activities throughout the year.

You can explore permanent and temporary exhibitions on topics ranging from Northwest Native American culture to world-class exhibits that highlight the state’s unique contributions to art, science, technology, and more.

Whether you’re a local resident or visiting Tacoma for a weekend getaway, a trip to the Washington State History Museum is an experience not to be missed! Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop before you leave for some unique souvenirs that capture the spirit of this fascinating museum.

13. Fort Nisqually Living History Museum

Now that you’ve learned about the rich history of Washington State, it’s time to immerse yourself in pioneer life at the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum.

This living history museum offers interactive exhibits, giving you a chance to experience what life was like in the 1800s. As you explore the fort, you’ll encounter costumed interpreters who will take you back in time and demonstrate various activities such as blacksmithing, woodworking, and cooking over an open fire.

You can also visit the trade store and learn about trading goods during this period. With its authentic buildings and knowledgeable staff, Fort Nisqually is a fascinating way to step back in time and connect with Washington’s early days.

14. Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

If you’re a history buff, don’t miss out on the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum! Here, you’ll have the opportunity to view rare and significant manuscripts that offer insight into the past. The museum is home to an impressive collection of handwritten documents that cover various subjects such as art, literature, science, music, and more. You can explore multiple exhibits that display some of the most fascinating historical artifacts.

Here are three reasons why you should check out this museum:

  1. History Exhibits: The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum has several exhibits that showcase historic manuscripts from around the world. You can learn about different cultures and their traditions by examining these ancient texts.
  2. Rare Manuscripts: The museum is home to many rare manuscripts that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. These documents offer unique insights into important historical events and figures.
  3. Public Events: The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum also hosts various public events throughout the year, such as lectures and workshops on history-related topics. Attending one of these events can deepen your understanding of history while providing an interactive learning experience.

15. Job Carr House Museum

Visitors to Tacoma seeking a glimpse into the region’s early history should make sure to stop by the Job Carr House Museum. The museum tells the story of Job Carr, one of Tacoma’s founding fathers, and his family who settled in the area in the mid-1800s.

The Job Carr House Museum is dedicated to both history and preservation, showcasing artifacts from this period and educating visitors on what life was like for these early settlers. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also offers a variety of events throughout the year that celebrate Tacoma’s rich history.

These events include lectures, workshops, musical performances, and other interactive experiences that provide visitors with an immersive look into the past. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a unique way to experience Tacoma’s culture and heritage, the Job Carr House Museum is definitely worth checking out!

Dining and Shopping in Tacoma

When it comes to dining and shopping in Tacoma, there are plenty of options to choose from. If you’re looking for a unique experience, check out the Tacoma Glassblowing Studio where you can watch skilled artisans create beautiful glass pieces right before your eyes.

For a more traditional shopping experience, head to Proctor District or Antique Row where you’ll find an array of shops and boutiques to explore. And don’t forget about entertainment – catch a show at Broadway Center for the Performing Arts or browse local produce at Downtown Tacoma Farmers Market on weekends.

16. Tacoma Glassblowing Studio

You’ll love experiencing the art of glassblowing at Tacoma Glassblowing Studio. This studio is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Tacoma’s art scene and looking for unique souvenirs to take home.

The studio offers hands-on workshops where you can create your own beautiful glass pieces with the help of expert instructors.

In addition to workshops, Tacoma Glassblowing Studio also hosts daily glassblowing demonstrations that are open to the public. You’ll get a chance to observe talented artists creating stunning works of art right before your eyes.

And if you’re lucky, you might even catch some live music or enjoy a drink from their on-site bar while watching the show.

Visiting this studio is an experience that will leave you inspired and amazed by the beauty of glass artistry.

17. Proctor District

The Proctor District is a charming neighborhood filled with local shops, restaurants, and cafes that’ll make you feel right at home.

This area is known for its unique shopping experience where you can find everything from handmade jewelry to vintage clothing.

The local cuisine in the district is also not to be missed, as there are plenty of restaurants serving up delicious meals made with fresh, local ingredients.

If you’re looking for something more than just shopping and dining, the Proctor District also hosts various community events throughout the year.

From art walks to farmers markets, there’s always something happening in this vibrant neighborhood.

Whether you’re a Tacoma native or just visiting for the weekend, be sure to add the Proctor District to your list of things to do in Tacoma Washington.

18. Antique Row

Now that you’ve explored the charming Proctor District, it’s time to head over to Antique Row. This historic district is known for its unique shops and hidden gems, perfect for vintage shopping enthusiasts looking for one-of-a-kind treasures.

Antique Row has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s when it was home to Tacoma’s most prominent department stores. Today, the district boasts an eclectic mix of antique shops and specialty boutiques offering everything from vintage clothing and furniture to rare collectibles and artwork.

As you stroll down the tree-lined streets, take in the beautiful architecture of the old buildings that now house these quaint shops. You never know what treasures you might find as you explore this unique corner of Tacoma!

19. Broadway Center for the Performing Arts

Get ready to experience the best of Tacoma’s arts and culture scene at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, where you can catch live performances ranging from theater productions to concerts.

The center is located in the heart of downtown Tacoma and features state-of-the-art facilities that are perfect for any type of performance. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, there’s always something new and exciting happening at the Broadway Center.

If you’re interested in catching an upcoming performance, be sure to check out their website for ticket prices and showtimes. You’ll find a variety of options to choose from, including classic plays like ‘Hamlet’and modern productions like ‘Hamilton.’

In addition to great shows, the venue also offers amenities like a full bar and concession stand, so you can grab a drink or snack before or after your event.

So why wait? Come see what all the buzz is about at Tacoma’s premier performing arts destination!

20. Downtown Tacoma Farmers Market

You can’t miss out on the Downtown Tacoma Farmers Market. It’s a popular community gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. The market takes place every Thursday from May through September.

At the market, you’ll find an abundance of fresh produce, handmade crafts, and delicious food options. The outdoor vendors offer a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables, along with freshly baked goods, local honey, and handmade crafts.

You can grab a bite to eat from one of the many food trucks or sit down at one of the picnic tables to enjoy your purchases. It’s a great way to support local businesses while enjoying the beautiful weather in Tacoma.

So head on down to the market and experience all that it has to offer!


In summary, exploring Tacoma offers a myriad of opportunities to discover new attractions and immerse yourself in the city’s rich culture. From the Downtown Tacoma Farmers Market to the Museum of Glass, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

If you’re on a budget, don’t worry! There are plenty of tips for budget-friendly travel, such as taking advantage of free events and festivals that showcase local talent and culture. Visiting Tacoma not only benefits you with exciting things to do but also supports local businesses and artists.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures or indoor entertainment, Tacoma has it all. So why not plan your next trip to this incredible city and experience all that it has to offer? You won’t regret it!

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