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Tacoma [3] in Washington, is the state's second-largest city, with just under 200,000 residents. It is served by Sea-Tac airport [4], which serves Seattle, Tacoma, and the greater Seattle area. Tacoma often gets a negative description that is similar to the one given to Oakland, California but in the same way, this comes from those who have never lived in or even visited the city. While it has neither the tourist amenities of its neighbor Seattle to the north nor the suburban safety of Olympia to the south, one can certainly spend a few pleasant days in Tacoma and see the city's dynamic art scene as well as its great ballet.

Get in

In addition to Sea-Tac airport (and taxi/limo or rental car), there are:

  • Commuter rail service [5] from Tacoma to Seattle and back, with the majority of trains running to Seattle in the morning and to Tacoma in the evening.
  • A ferry to and from Vashon Island [6]. (Don't plan on walking anywhere when you get to Vashon Island; you'll need a car to get anywhere worth seeing.)
  • Amtrak Cascades trains [7] running between Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) and Eugene, Oregon, stopping in Tacoma. (Amtrak [8] also has trains that go to California and to points east, from Tacoma.)
  • Sound Transit buses from Seattle, SeaTac, and Lakewood [9]
  • Intercity Transit buses from Olympia [10]

Get around

  • Tacoma LINK [11] A light rail/streetcar line that runs between Freighthouse Square (near the Tacoma Dome and the train station) and downtown, with a stop that serves the Washington State History Museum / University of Washington, Tacoma area. Trains runs every 10-20 minutes, and the fares are free.
  • Pierce Transit [12] operates local routes on buses that run on natural gas. The system is typical of a North American public transit system: not all that nice.


Point Defiance Park

Over 100 years old, Point Defiance Park [13] features old growth forests, gardens, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium [14], Owen Beach [15], Fort Nisqually Living History Museum [16], and Camp 6 Logging Museum [17], as well as a playground and countless hiking trails.


Tacoma is home to a variety of museums:

  • Washington State History Museum [18]
  • Tacoma Art Museum [19]
  • Museum of Glass [20] - you can cross to or from this museum on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass [21] - and no, the bridge is not made of glass - it's 500 feet long, over Interstate 705, with glasswork exhibits.
  • Children's Museum of Tacoma [22]
  • Fort Nisqually Living History Museum [23]
  • Camp 6 Logging Museum [24]
  • Working Waterfront Museum [25]
  • LeMay - America's Car Museum [26] - while the new LeMay museum will be breaking ground soon in Downtown Tacoma, hundreds of cars in the collection are on display year round at the current museum campus in South Tacoma, near Spanaway. Vehicles of note include a 1948 Tucker, of which less than 21 are on public display worldwide, and the Flintmobile used in the 1994 Flintstones film.


  • The Seymour Botanical Conservatory [27], within Wright Park [28].
  • Union Station [29] and its Dale Chihuly glass exhibits [30]. Next to the Washington State History Museum.
  • University of Washington Tacoma [31] - located in an historic business district near downtown. A suggested walking tour [32] is available. (UW Tacoma is across the street from the Washington State History Museum.)
  • Brown & Haley's Outlet Store The [33] near the factory (most famous for Almond Roca® candy).
  • A new convention center [34] opened in late 2004.
  • The Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the gateway to Gig Harbor, Poulsbo, Hood Canal, Port Townsend, and the Olympic Peninsula, was recently remodeled to include a second span (which now requires a $3 toll for those returning to Tacoma)[35]. (The original bridge, built in 1940, and known as "Galloping Gertie", is well known because of its collapse [36].)


  • The Tacoma Regional Convention & Visitor Bureau [37] has its Visitor Information Center at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in downtown Tacoma (1515 Commerce Street). Visitor guides, maps and brochures on area attractions are avaialable, and the center includes a new computer station where visitors can research travel information on the Internet.
  • Tacoma Musical Playhouse [38] runs musical plays throughout the year, using local talent. This group has grown to become one of the South Sound's biggest draws, so buy your tickets early for the popular shows.
  • Three Cedars Day Spa (, 3317 Pacific Avenue (34th and Pacific in Tacoma), 360-280-0888, [1]. by appt only. Three Cedars Day Spa is a personal services company specializing in professional Cosmetic Teeth Whitening, Massage, Facials, Waxing, Wraps, and Half or Full Spa Day Packages. SpaFinder & SalonWish gift cards are accepted, All services are by appointment only. They offer 10% Military/Police/Fire Discount on all regularly priced services. Located on the corner of 34th and Pacific Ave in Tacoma, just around the corner from Stanley & Seaforts restaurant. PARKING: Paved parking lot with ample free parking. from $75.
  • Scooter Adventure, 5428 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, WA, 253-565-1117, [2]. A complete scooter adventure including orientation, 3 hour rental, DOT approved helmet rental, rider insurance, Scenic Excursion Map and commemorative photo.