Tacoma

32 Best & Fun Things to Do in Tacoma (WA)

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Tired of staying in the same place or looking for a weekend getaway from your busy schedule?

There is a beautiful city called Tacoma in Washington State, that’s perfect for a vacation.

Tacoma is just by the banks of Pudget Sound, and it’s a lively city with cultural opportunities, parks, wildlife, restaurant, and outdoor activities.

A beautiful city in Washington State, situated right on the banks of Puget Sound, Tacoma is truly a lively city.

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There are many fun places you can visit in Tacoma during your vacation there, including Point Defiance Park, Cascade Mountain Range, Mount Rainer National Park, and Museum Row.

This guide explores 32 of the best and most fun things to do in Tacoma, Washington.

32 Best and Fun Things to Do in Tacoma, WA.

1. Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium should be your first stop in Tacoma especially if you’re an animal lover.

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is the best in the conservation and breeding of the endangered red wolf.

This zoo is home to more than 9,000 animals and over 360 species, making it one of the fun things for you and your children to do in Tacoma.

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There are different sections in the zoo where you get to see porcupines, Asian elephants, gibbons, Arctic foxes, polar beads, muskox, reindeer, walruses, sea otters, harbor seals, muffins, and both Malayan and Sumatran tigers.

You can find animals corals, eels, sharks, fish, and octopus in the different sections of the aquarium.

2. Foss Waterway Seaport

Foss Waterway Seaport is a museum that celebrates the history of Tacoma’s marine industry.

A visit to Tacoma without getting to here isn’t a complete experience because here you learn how Tacoma became great in boat and shipbuilding.

In this museum, you’ll find commercial vessels made by shipbuilders in Tacoma, vintage fishing lures, early scuba equipment, classic recreational boats, canoes, and sculptures of marine debris.

The museum also has a children’s craft section that’s very knowledgeable and friendly.

Foss Waterway Seaport represents a place of education and heritage in Tacoma, and it’s an experience you’ll love especially if you love boats and history. 

3. America’s Car Museum

America’s Car Museum was founded by a wealthy man in Tacoma who owned the largest collection of cars in the world.

You can find more than 3,500 cars from different eras and different manufacturers in America’s Car Museum.

If you know your cars properly, you’ll see Lotus, Ferrari, British cars, classic cars, BMWs, alternative fuel cars, a 1953 Citroen, a 1926 Ford Model T pickup, a 1913 Daimler, a 1966 Ford Mustang, a 1929 Cadillac, and a 1932 Packard.  

The Museum has a family zone where your children can play and you can relax with a Formula racing simulator.

This is one of the fun things to do in Tacoma for children and adults and you can get car souvenirs from the gift shop.

4. Job Carr House Museum

Job Carr Museum is a cabin under a cedar bark shelter and is one of Tacoma’s tourist attractions which is worth you visiting during your stay in Tacoma.

This museum was built in recognition of Job Carr and you can find 19th-century antiques and furniture in it.

You can visit the museum for free and your children can have fun with the customs and old-time toys in the cabin.

5. Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

The Karpeles museum displays David and Marsha Karpeles’s private collection of manuscripts to stimulate cultural literacy in Tacoma.

You can find this museum across Wright Park in Tacoma in a Greco-Roman building.

 This manuscript is easily accessible and the entrance is free, so you can visit once you get to Tacoma.

In this museum, you’ll find works of Charles Darwin, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei, Enerst Shackleton, Norman Rockwell, and the Bill of Rights.

6. Museum of Glass

The Museum of Glass is a conical-shaped building and one of Tacoma’s landmark and tourist attraction sites you should visit during your stay in Tacoma especially if you love glass art.

You’ll find permanent collections of Glass art made in the 20th and 21st centuries including works from the Kids Design Glass Program and visiting artists displayed in the museum.

You’ll even get to see the glass blowing demonstration in the 145-seat amphitheater.

You should visit the gift shop to get a souvenir because this will be an unforgettable experience for you during your stay in Tacoma.

7. Fort Nisqually Living History Museum

Fort Nisqually Museum displays the history of farming and fur trading operations of the Hudson’s Bay Company it’s one of Tacoma’s tourist attractions.

You’ll find the Fort’s original building and an added structure including a kitchen, a kitchen garden, a dwelling house, and a blacksmith’s shop which you can visit.

You can also get a souvenir from the Fort’s gift shop to take home for your trip to Tacoma.

8. Tacoma Art Museum

The Tacoma Art Museum collects and displays Northwestern art, it’s one of the fun things to do in Tacoma especially if you love arts.

You’ll find more than 4,500 items displayed in the museum including the largest collections of jewelry by Northwestern artists, Dale Chihuly glass art, Pissarro works, Degas works, Georgia O’Keefe works, Frederic Remington works, and Japanese woodblock prints.

You can particulate in the professional educating workshops hosted by the museum, also available are children’s programs.

9. Broadway Center for the Performing Arts

The Broadway Centre for the Performing Arts comprises two theatres such as the Pantages Theatre and the Rialto Theatre.

If you love to have some theater time during your vacation, then you should add this center to your checklist of things to do in Tacoma.

You might have the opportunity to watch performances of art groups like the Tacoma Youth Symphony, Tacoma Opera, Tacoma Concert Band, Tacoma Symphony, Tacoma City Valley, and Northwest Sinfonietta.

You’ll love the experience you’ll get from this center theatre’s staging and its marvelous acoustics.

10. Children’s Museum of Tacoma

The Children’s Museum of Tacoma was designed for children from infants up to the age of 8 to explore, learn, and have fun. 

There are different sections in the museum for your children including the woods section, the water area, and the voyager. 

You can also see two studios that add to the fun; Becka’s Studio and the Intervention Studio. 

In Becka’s studio, you’ll find equipment for creative art projects and at the Invention studio, you’ll find tubes, boards, blocks, and fabrics.

You can get snacks to eat from a little snacks bar in the museum and have a wonderful time with your children in Tacoma.

 11. Tacoma Glassblowing Studio

The Tacoma Glassblowing Studio is founded and operated by a  husband-and-wife team displaying artworks and offering training workshops.

You can freely admire the artworks displayed here or you can decide to buy any of the artwork you prefer.

You can also enroll in any of the workshops hosted by the studio but you have to book at least a month before time.

The workshops might last for 1 day, 4 weeks, or 6 weeks and you’ll get to learn how to make glass pumpkins and glass tree ornaments.

A visit here should be added to your checklist of the best things to do in Tacoma, Washington. 

12. Tacoma Nature Centre

The Tacoma Nature Centre is a nature preserve that has a snake lake and wetlands, this is one of the best things to do during your visit to Tacoma.

You can go hiking, or on a wildlife spotting trip, and you can learn about the animal life and the ecosystems within the preserve on display.

You’ll find animals such as raccoons, cottontail rabbits,  Canada geese, wood ducks, western painted turtles, mallards, black-tailed deer, and red foxes.

Entrance into this nature center is free and you can also bring your children to have fun at the discovery pond which has a treehouse, a waterfall to play around with a hollow log to climb through, and boulders to scramble over.

 13. Five Mile Drive and Trails

Five Mile Drive and Trails is located in Tacoma and its trails get to the Point Defiance Park on Puget Sound.

It has two sections, one for vehicles and the other for cyclists and pedestrians only.

When you take a hike on these trails, you’ll pass through beaches, cliffs, a beautiful garden of rhododendrons, and an old-growth forest.

You’ll also get to see the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Puget Sound,  Vashon Island, and some animals that you shouldn’t feed.

You’ll see animals like Red foxes, squirrels, raccoons, mules, bald eagles, and maybe some sea lions and humpback whales during their migration.

You should add a hike on this trail as one of the fun things you’ll do in Tacomas.

14. LeMay Family Collection

LeMay Family Collection is part of the largest collection in America’s Car Museum while the majority of the collection is in Marymount.

 In Marymount, you’ll see more than 500 cars on display including trucks, buses, motorcycles, military vehicles, motor homes, and customized vehicles. 

You can also attend the charity auction that is held here every year and overseen by Nancy LeMay.

If you are a car enthusiast, this should be one of the fun things you can do when you visit Tacoma.

15. Mount Rainier National Park

 Mount Rainier National Park is the fifth national park created by William McKinley covering 236,000 acres of land.

Mount Rainer in the Park is the fifth highest mountain in the whole of the United States and you’ll get to have a close view of it, so come with your camera.

In this park, you’ll see different ecosystems like old-growth forests, waterfalls, gigantic glaciers, deep gorges and valleys, and alpine meadows.

You can also find wildlife animals and birds such as elk, cougars, bobcats, black bears, mountain goats, deers, peregrine falcon, golden eagles, bald eagles, and spotted owls roaming freely at the park.

You can participate in cross-country skiing, camp, hike, does, snowboard through the park, and other activities at the park.

This can make your checklist of the fun things to do in Tacoma for adults.

16. Chihuly Bridge of Glass

The Chihuly Bridge of Glass is about 500-foot long and it’s partially covered by a bridge just for pedestrians.

You can use the glass bridge as a link from the Museum of Glass to Tacoma’s downtown and Museum Row.

You can find the Seafoam Pavilion ceiling installment with over 2,000 glass objects displayed in the covered part of the bridge.

This glass bridge is extraordinary and serves as the best point to view Mount Rainier, so maximize your stay in Tacoma by visiting here.

17. Owen Beach

Owen Beach is an ocean beach in Point Defiance Park equipped with picnic tables, food stores, and restrooms.

If you visit during summer, you can go for shore fishing, dog-walking or strolling, picnicking, sunbathing, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.

You’ll get to see marine animals like seals and sea lions, but be sure to keep your distance from them.

This beach is one of the places to have fun and participate in fun activities in Tacoma.

18. Point Defiance Park

Point Defiance Park is an urban park in Tacoma, Washington that offers more than what you’ll expect from a city park.

You’ll find a nice ocean beach, an off-leash dog park, an aquarium, a zoo, a boardwalk, hiking trails, an old-growth forest, a marina, and a boathouse all in Point Defiance Park.

You’ll also find varieties of gardens such as a dahlia garden, a rose garden, a rhododendron garden, and a Japanese garden.

You can go on a tour around the park with a ranger and you’ll get to some animals including wolves, red foxes, mule deer, bald eagles, sea lions, and seals.

19. C I Shenanigan’s Seafood and Chop House

C I Shenanigan’s Seafood and Chop House is a unique restaurant that has an outdoor deck and a very beautiful lounge.

During your trip to Tacoma, you’ll easily locate Shenanigan’s House on the waterfront that is in Tacoma.

You can order primes steaks, fresh seafood, Vesuvio Filed, and Certified Premium Ribeye, accompanied by classic cocktails and global wines.

C I Shenanigan’s Seafood and Chop House is open from Monday to Sunday, so you can visit anytime.

20. Duke’s Chowder House

Duke’s Chowder House is an award-winning restaurant with specials on fresh seafood, chicken, grass-fed meats, and signature cocktails.

You will love the dishes and wine collection offered in the cool environment.

When you visit Tacoma, you can just visit Duke’s Chowder anytime from Sunday to Saturday.  

21. El Gaucho Tacoma

El Gaucho Tacoma setting and interior its enough to make you want to visit here during your stay at Tacoma.

The arrangement of the shimmering candlelight, classical piano, makes it perfect for a romantic date with your partner.

Their menu offers classic cuisines, an extraordinary wine collection, and vegan, gluten-free or vegetarian options.

This is one of the best places to visit with your partner to have a romantic meal in Tacoma. 

22. Pacific Grill

Pacific Grill is the best restaurant in Tacoma that serves the best delicious brunch.

The food served in this restaurant is delicious and you will be missing a lot if you don’t come here during your visit to Tacoma.

You can order beef and local seafood like smoked steelhead, shucked oysters, pasta with prawns, and clam linguine.

And desserts like pumpkin tiramisu, caramel apple creme brulee, and toasted coconut cheesecake will make you happy you came here.

23. Savor Creperie

Savor Creperie is one of the best  French Cuisine restaurants at the University of Washington that was established by a French-Canadian chef.

You can order  Liege waffles, savory crepes, Nutella crepes, warm and mixed berries, and cinnamon apple, with a side salad that can be customized with ham and roasted asparagus, egg and bacon, butternut squash, and shredded pork with mushroom.

Visiting this restaurant for French cuisine dishes is one of the best things to do when you visit Tacoma.

24. Pick-Quick Drive-In

Pick-Quick Drive-In is a chain of drive-in restaurants that serves delicious food in Tacoma, Washington.

These restaurants only use natural ingredients, sustainable packing, and eco-friendly architecture in providing quick and efficient services.

You can order hot dogs, chili fries and French fries, burgers, beverages, and varieties of ice cream from these restaurants.

It is the best place to stop by for delicious food in Tacoma when you are in a hurry.

25. Anthony’s At Point Defiance

Anthony’s At Point Defiance is a restaurant in Tacoma owned and operated by Anthony’s restaurant group.

This restaurant offers special seafood, local dishes, local microbrews, and Northwest wine.

From the sea menu, you can order Clan Chowder, Hawaiian Cobb, Blackened Rockfish, Crab and Shrimp Fettuccine, and Fresh Yukon Keta Salmon Bowl.

Anthony’s At Point Defiance is one of the places you should visit in Tacoma, especially for its delicious seafood and local dishes. 

26. American Lake

A popular fishing destination for tourists and visitors in Tacoma is the American Lake which is managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

You’ll see sea animals in their natural habitat including kokanee, rainbow trout, rock bass, brown bullhead catfish, largemouth bass, the coastal cutthroat, and the yellow perch in this lake.

You can also go to any of the public parks close to the lakeshore and participate in activities like picnicking, sunbathing, swimming, and fishing.

27. Asado Cucina Argentina

Asado Cucina Argentina is an Argentine-themed steakhouse in Tacoma that also serves Latin American cuisines. 

You’ll love the interior setting of the steakhouse and the mouth-watering fragrance from the kitchen.

You can order delicious pasta, sandwiches, salads, lamb shanks, quinoa bowls, and mesquite-grilled beef and chicken here.

And while you wait, you can ask for appetizers such as chorizo crab cakes, serrano-wrapped prawns, ceviche, empanadas, butternut squash soup, and fried calamari. 

28. Destiny Harbor

Destiny Habour offers tours to visitors, tourists, and residents of Tacoma using the United State Navy boats. 

You can go on these tours to have a different view of this city, these tours include the Puget Sound Tour and the Gig Harbour tour.

You’ll get amazing views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier from these tours, so be sure to come with your camera. 

You can add this tour to your checklist of things to do in Tacoma during your vacation.

29. Bar Bistro

Bar Bistro is a one-of-a-kind eatery you can visit in the Midland neighborhood, Tacoma.

You can order delicious dishes from its seasonal menu which includes braised pork cheeks, elk sliders, steamed mussels, cajun smoked duck, and roasted filet mignon.

You can choose from the fine wine collections, American wines, craft beers, and microbrews as you enjoy their cuisine.

30. Swan Creek Mountain Bike Park

Swan Creek Mountain Bike Park is a green space with the salmon-bearing Puyallup River running through it located in East Tacoma.

This park has wooded canyons, a community garden, paved trails, nature trails, and a mountain bike park.

For the mountain bike park, you can come with motorized bicycles of all sorts but you should ensure you put on your helmet.

You can also hike on the different park trails like the Hustle and flow trail, the Ground control trail, and the Major Tom trail.

31. Citron European Bistro

This is one of the eateries in Tacoma that offers French, German, and European delicacies served with casual wine.

You’ll find the Bistro to be peaceful and serene, so you can just come here to relax and eat during your stay in Tacoma.

Their dishes are served with fine French and European wines, signature cocktails, Alsatian ales, and beers.

You can come here any day of the week for lunch or dinner during your vacation in Tacoma.

32. Cliff House Restaurant

Cliff House Restaurant is one of the best five restaurants located in Northeast Tacoma.

While eating here, you can see spectacular views like the Tacoma skyline, the Puget Sound, and Mount Rainier.

Their dishes are made from locally sourced salads, herbs, vegetables, house-made pasta, fresh seafood, beef, etc.

You can also order reds, whites, blends, bubbles, and ports from their wine collection. 

You should add a visit here for lunch or dinner to your checklist of the best things to do during your vacation in Tacoma.

Planning a Trip to Tacoma, WA

Tacoma is a city that brings the best of all worlds of fun, education, and delicious food.

There are so many activities to participate in, places to visit, and fun things to do in Tacoma during your vacation here.

Use this guide to create a checklist of the best and most fun things to do in Tacoma based on your interests.

Have a great day.

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