Planning a fun-filled day is easy with so many exciting and budget-friendly things to do in Tacoma. Whether you’re looking for an educational experience, a sightseeing tour or a trip down the annals of history, you’ll find something here that’s perfect for you.
When exploring Tacoma, make sure to include at least one of these great activities and destinations into your itinerary:
Visit the Museum District
Tacoma’s downtown is considered the city’s museum district with six major museums situated in the area. These museums showcase impressive collections of artwork, exhibits, and more
Take part in the Tacoma Art Walk on the third Thursday of each month from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. That way, you get free admission to the following museums:
- Tacoma Art Museum
- Foss Waterway Seaport Museum
- Museum of Glass
- Washington State History Museum
- Children’s Museum of Tacoma
The Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) has over 5,000 works in its collection created primarily by artists from the Northwest and Western regions. Alongside its diverse collection of artwork, the museum also has incredible exhibitions and learning programs for the whole community.
The Foss Waterway Seaport celebrates Tacoma’s maritime past, present, and future through permanent exhibits showcasing Tacoma and Puget Sound’s history. The museum also holds events like the Chowder Social, Tacoma Ocean Fest, and Tacoma Maritime Fest to provide even more opportunities to discover, explore, and play.
Glass is the primary medium for artworks at the Museum of Glass. Even before you enter the museum, you’ll be astounded by its distinct architecture. One of its most unique features is a 90-foot-tall stainless cone where you can find the largest Hot Shop Amphitheater in the world. The museum showcases contemporary glass art, as well as unique 20th -century pieces.
Visiting the Washington State History Museum is one of the top things to do in Washington State. The museum features a diverse collection of artifacts and interactive exhibits from various eras of the county’s history, from women’s suffrage to immigration. You can also experience a new and engaging way of learning in the History Lab Learning Center.
The Children’s Museum of Tacoma is not part of the Tacoma Art Walk but is found within the city’s Museum District. This museum is perfect for the whole family and only has a pay-as-you-will admission fee. The interactive exhibits were created to engage young children, as well as their companion-adults.
Immerse yourself in the city’s rich history
History buffs will love Tacoma’s array of educational and historical destinations. If you want to learn about the city’s roots and the people who made Tacoma what it is today, these places are a must-see:
- Port of Tacoma
- Fife History Museum
- Karpeles Manuscript Museum
Learn about the history of the port and its significance to the city via a free tour of the Port of Tacoma. You can see cargo ships and other beautiful views from the port’s observation deck which is open every day.
The Fife History Museum displays a number of exhibits showcasing the diverse and rich cultures that contributed to the city’s growth. The museum is managed by the Fife Historical Society which collects, preserves, and publishes materials about the city’s history and people. Admission to the museum is free.
You’ll always find something new at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum with a new exhibit every three months. See history from a unique perspective by reading original handwritten letters, drafts, and documents. Museum admission is free.
Explore the outdoors
Check out some of the best outdoor destinations in the city where you can relax and have fun in the sun:
- Wright Park
- Ruston Way
- Point Defiance Park
For a peaceful morning stroll or an afternoon with the kids, Wright Park is the perfect place to be. See different species of trees, plants, and orchids scattered throughout this 27-acre arboretum. It’s not just a place to unwind, it’s also a great place to learn about the local environment.
Stunning views of the South Puget Sound await you at Ruston Way. The paved walking trail makes it a great place to jog, as well. Only a stone’s throw away from downtown Tacoma, it’s close to other attractions and restaurants in the city.
Point Defiance Park is one of the most popular places in the city with over 3.1 million people visiting each year. The 760-acre park has amenities such as Owen Beach, Five Mile Drive and Trails, Dune Peninsula, and an offleash dog park.