Tacoma, Washington is a suburb of Seattle and about a thirty-minute drive from the Sea-Tac Airport.
1. It’s where the popular 90’s movie, “10 Things I Hate About You” was filmed!
In fact, in the summer, sometimes they leave the gates open, and you can run the same stairs where Heath Ledger seduced Julia Stiles in the cult classic.
This is Stadium High School in Tacoma, and it’s walking distance from the downtown area. It’s a registered historic landmark and was founded in 1906.
Unfortunately, I was not greeted by a band and a shaggy-haired movie star, but this scene was DEFINITELY playing in my mind!
2. The Tacoma Waterfront
Enjoy miles of paved walkway along Commencement Bay, great for walking, running, or biking!
I ran from the downtown area all the way to some of the restaurants on the waterfront for a good 5-mile trek. The first part through downtown can be a little scary by yourself, but once you get to the waterfront area — it’s mostly families (and dogs! I love dog-watching! ha.)
Stop to take pictures along the beaches and piers right off of the waterfront.
3. Great Waterfront Seafood Restaurants
Sip (or chug, like me! Ha) on a glass of local wine at one of the several seafood restaurants along the waterfront.
My personal favorite is The Lobster Shop. The crab cakes were amazing, and we even got a seat with a view with no wait! Usually, places with these kind of views require a reservation in bigger cities, like San Francisco.
4. Get Seattle Vibes without the Big City
Tacoma is certainly not Seattle.
But you can enjoy some of the things that make Seattle great, without the crowds or the traffic.
Think: Incredible views of the water, cool hikes, great parks, views of Mt. Rainer, and those mysterious Pacific Northwest “vibes” on a cloudy day.
5. Point Defiance Park
Point Defiance Park is a large area that includes a zoo, walking trails, beaches, and my personal favorite: The Point Defiance Rose Garden.
Enjoy hundreds of flowers lining a walkway towards the front of the park. If you’re there on a Saturday — don’t be surprised if you accidentally crash a wedding!
6. Multi-Level Streets
Similar to San Francisco, expect a walking workout if you choose to walk around the city. Moving upwards away from the water, the city is built on an incline. At the top, you can see all the way down to the water!
7. Great Coffee!
Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks, but don’t miss out on the DOZENS of local coffee shops strewn about the city.
Metronome, Anthem, and Metro are all good spots!
8. A Pretty Decent Going-Out Scene
On weekends in the summer, a LOT of people go out in Tacoma.
Steel Creek is a country bar that usually is packed with a younger crowd. It has line-dancing, decently-priced drinks, and corn hole outside.
The Matador and The Office are two other bars downtown that stay pretty busy. The Matador has good late-night specials along with cool chandeliers and furniture.
The Tacoma Rainiers are the AAA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Obviously I’m a little biased, since my husband plays baseball — but Cheney Stadium is a great atmosphere for minor league baseball.
Weekend games draw big crowds, and you’ll usually see some pretty decent players since the Mariners have a lot of movement recently between AAA and the big leagues.
Note: I did not take this picture. It’s from Wikipedia. I’m extremely superstitious (not just a little ‘stitious, like Michael Scott) and I don’t like taking pictures when my husband is playing. Weird, I know, but I guess it makes me feel like I have control over something when he pitches (Spoiler alert: I don’t. At All. )
10. You don’t feel like a Tourist
I don’t think I’ve seen Tacoma on anyone’s bucket list, but I still make a point to go at least once a year when my husband’s team plays the Rainiers. I’m from the south, so I love how different the Pacific Northwest feels.
Since it’s a suburb, it seems like mostly locals, and you won’t be waiting in line to take pictures of any of the sights. One of the people I talked to at the baseball game described it as “gritty”. Considering it got down to 50 degrees (with a strong wind) in June — I can see that. Make sure and bring a jacket, because it does get chilly.
But when the sun is out — it’s nice!
I’m not a local, so I’m sure I missed some things – but this is just my experience in the few times that I’ve been!