THE BEST OF TACOMA

Steeped in tradition, emanating innovation, Tacoma is a hidden gem and one of the best kept secrets in the Northwest. Whether you've never been here or you never left, T-Town has a tremendous amount to offer, from spectacular natural beauty to eclectic culture to delicious dives. Here are some ideas for spending 36 hours in our delightful city. (Photographs by Larry Abraham)
DAY 1
Start the day with visits to the Tacoma Art Museum and Museum of Glass, two mainstays in Tacoma’s thriving downtown museum district. In addition to traveling exhibitions, both museums feature remarkable works unique to the Pacific Northwest.
 
Love glass art? Immerse yourself in the Northwest glass art tradition by starting or ending your visit to the museums with a special self-guided Walking Tour of Chihuly in Tacoma. Download the free Walking Tour App: Android | iPhone | Windows phoneLearn more about the Walking Tour of Chihuly in Tacoma.
At the Tacoma Art Museum, check out “Art of the American West: The Haub Family Collection,” which explores how concepts of the Wild West have developed over time and how they still impact us today, as well as the museum’s fabulous collection of Native American art and Dale Chihuly glass gallery, a nice segue to the Museum of Glass, a seven minute walk away.
 
The spectacular Chihuly Bridge of Glass leads to the Museum of Glass. A partnership between renowned Tacoma-born artist Dale Chihuly, the Museum of Glass and the city of Tacoma, the bridge is a 500-foot pedestrian overpass installed with a glass ceiling displaying more than 2,000 sea life-inspired glass pieces, two forty-foot crystal towers, and a wall of more than 100 Venetian, Japanese and Renaissance-inspired blown glass sculptures.

An anchor of the modern Tacoma skyline, the tilted stainless steel cone of the Museum of Glass houses the Hot Shop, where you can feel the heat while watching live glassmaking. Across the atrium is the exhibition space with rotating exhibits from the world's most renouned glass artists.

Other museum options:

For the history buff: The Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Avenue
Interactive exhibits, high-tech displays, storytelling and a variety of artifacts illustrate Washington’s rich and varied history.
For the car buff: LeMay – America’s Car Museum, 2702 East D Street
Though less than three years old, Lemay is one of the world’s largest auto museums. The massive building, next to the Tacoma Dome, is home to 350 cars, trucks and motorcycles from private owners and the LeMay collection (famous for a Guinness Book world record 3,500 vehicles in the 1990s). Aimed at preserving the history of the world automotive culture, this museum is quite a trip.

For the kids: Children’s Museum of Tacoma, 1501 Pacific Avenue
Originally opened in 1986, the museum moved to a specially designed modern space downtown in 2012. The five main areas include Woods, Water, Voyager, Invention and a studio for art and science activities. A full service coffee and snack bar sets a relaxed tone for parents too.

 
After your museum morning, grab some lunch at one of these nearby local restaurants:
 
Located inside the Museum of Glass, this little division of Asado restaurant also features Argentinian cuisine. Try the braised pork or the empanadas.
 
The Social Bar and Grill, 1715 Dock Street
Walk outside the Museum of Glass and turn left, past Martin Blank’s “Fluent Steps” fountain, for a spectacular view and outdoor seating. Local fare includes Hood Canal fried oysters, grilled pork tacos and a BBQ brisket sandwich.

Indochine, 1924 Pacific Avenue
Just a short walk back over the Bridge of Glass to Pacific Avenue, Indochine offers stylish Asian fusion style fare. Try the pepper garlic prawns and potstickers.
 
In the afternoon, switch gears and work off that lunch while experiencing the natural beauty of Tacoma. In the warmer months, water lovers can test their sea legs on a paddleboard or kayak, available to rent by the hour from Foss Harbor Marina, 821 Dock Street (253.272.4404) or Dolan’s Board Sports, 2000 Ruston Way (253.878.8024). Land lovers any time of year can get a first-hand view of Chambers Bay golf course, the site of the 2015 US Open, on a two and a quarter mile walk with some serious hills and dramatic views. This paved trail loops around the course and down by the beach at Chambers Creek Regional Park. Start on the Grandview Trail above the course (6320 Grandview Drive, University Place) and, after a steep climb back up, treat yourself to refreshments at the Chambers Bay Grill.
Head back to Tacoma to recover, then unwind with a cocktail, Washington wine or microbrew and local fare at one of many great spots in Tacoma. The Social and Indochine, listed above, are also great for dinner. See other favorites in the gray box on the right.

 
DAY 2
Grab your walking shoes and head over to Point Defiance. The 760-acre park contains more than 14 miles of trails comprising natural forest and saltwater beaches, along with a zoo, aquarium, a living history museum, extensive gardens and a boathouse. The Five Mile Drive outer loop is closed to traffic every weekend until 1:00 pm and offers magnificent views of the Puget Sound, the Cascade and Olympic mountains, Vashon Island, the Narrows Bridge and Gig Harbor.

You can eat lunch right inside the park at the traditional Anthony’s seafood restaurant (5910 North Waterfront Drive), or head over to Point Ruston, a new resort-like development on the waterfront. A picturesque bike/walking trail along the water offers great views of the islands and Mt. Rainier. Rent bikes of all kinds, including a four-wheeler for four to six people, at Wheel Fun Rentals. Grab a bite at WildFin American Grill, Mio Sushi, or Dolce Si Italian bakery/cafe, or go down the trail toward downtown to one Tacoma’s old-timey waterfront restaurants. Though they may not offer the most innovative fare, they do command spectacular views of the sound, islands and mountains. The upscale Lobster Shop (4015 Ruston Way) does an elaborate Sunday brunch, and C.I. Shenanigans (3017 Ruston Way) if also festive. These are also great sunset spots for drinks or dinner.

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS

BEST HAPPY HOUR
1502 Pacific Avenue
This sophisticated urban space with stylish bar and striking glass art offers a modern bistro style menu with Northwest and Asian flair. Happy hour offers great deals on food and drinks and seems to be available at any hour in the bar area.

1929 South 72nd Street
A Tacoma classic, this traditional chophouse and seafood restaurant sits at the top of Tacoma with a view of practically the whole city. Try their smoked fish or meats and a moscow mule, made with homemade ginger beer.

BEST WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF ANNIE WRIGHT
Indo Asian Street Eatery
110 North Tacoma Avenue
Delicious, stylish, casual and reasonable, this pan-Asian eatery is a local favorite. 

BEST ON EXPENSE ACCOUNT
El Gaucho
2119 Pacific Ave
If you like a serious steak and a clubby, service-oriented experience, and aren’t put off by entrees in the $60 range, try El Gaucho. In addition to the signature tableside caesar salad and dry-aged steaks, try the Kumamoto oysters and Bananas Foster.
 
BEST THEMED
Tacoma Cabana
728 Pacific Avenue
Opened in 2012, this tiki-style restaurant and bar features specialty rum drinks and a fusion of tropical vacation food.

BEST WITH THE KIDS
Shake Shake Shake
124 North Tacoma Avenue
This retro burger joint also serves up gourmet shakes like miso butterscotch with salted caramel and frozen latte.

OTHER FAVORITES
Argentinian steakhouse: Asado
breakfast, lunch and dinner : Cooks Tavern
burgers & fries: Frisko Freeze (take-out only)
coffee and treats: Corina Bakery
ice cream: Ice Cream Social

BEST BARS: BEER & PUB GRUB
Crown Bar, 2705 6th Avenue
Dirty Oscar’s Annex, 2309 6th Avenue
Doyle’s Public House, 208 St Helens Avenue
Parkway Tavern, 313 North I Street
Peaks & Pints, 3816 North 26th Street
Rhein Haus, 649 Division Avenue
The Spar, 2121 North 30th Street
Top of Tacoma, 3529 McKinley Avenue

BREWERIES
Beer lovers rejoice! New breweries are popping up near Annie Wright where you can sample a range of beers and even bring the kids. Check out Dystopian State and the new Tacoma location of Gig Harbor-based 7 Seas.

DID YOU KNOW?
  • Singer and actor Bing Crosby was born in Tacoma, in a house his father built a couple of blocks from Annie Wright at 1112 North J Street.
  • New York Yankees third baseman and shortstop Alex Rodriguez played for the Tacoma Rainiers before hitting the big leagues.


FILMED IN TACOMA
Stadium High School featured front and center in the 1999 Taming of the Shrew teen flick adaptation 10 Things I Hate about You. Scenes from the following movies were also shot right here in T-Town:
  • An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
  • Three Fugitives (1988)
  • Say Anything (1989)
  • I Love You to Death (1990)
  • The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)
  • Prefontaine (1997)

Contact

Annie Wright Schools
827 North Tacoma Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98403
253.272.2216

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Founded in Tacoma, Washington, in 1884, Annie Wright Schools serve students from age three through high school. Annie Wright Lower and Middle Schools offer co-ed programs in Preschool through Grade 8, while separate Upper Schools for boys, starting in Fall 2017, and girls offer day and boarding options in Grades 9 through 12. Annie Wright is proud to be an International Baccalaureate World School. Learn more at www.aw.org.