Tacoma often gets a negative description reminiscent to the one given to Oakland, California. These negative vibes are equally unrealistic and often 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.
The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac) ( IATA: SEA) is the nearest airport for commercial flights located 25 mi/40km north of Tacoma. Sea-Tac airport serves much of the greater Seattle Metropolitan area and the Pacific NW. Options besides taxi/limo or rental car are:
- Sound Transit Rt #574. Daily express bus between Lakewood, Tacoma, Federal Way, Kent, SeaTac light rail station and the airport.
- ShuttleExpress, ☎ . Operates both a shared and private shuttle service between the airport and hotels & residents within the Tacoma-Seattle-Bellevue-Everett corridor and its vicinity. Catch them at the 3rd level of the parking garage. During the morning commute hours (7-10AM), it may not be best to take this transportation if you go to downtown Seattle unless you have a lot of baggage to take care of; the more spacious Link Light Rail trains will get you there for about the same duration or even quicker. Walk-ins are allowed for trips from the airport (shared vans only), reservations necessary for trips to the airport. Downtown from $18.
- Capital Aeroporter, toll-free: . For areas mainly south of the airport (Tacoma, Olympia, Auburn, Kent, Chehalis, Centralia, Shelton).
- Bremerton-Kitsap Aeroporter, Pick up passengers at Dennys Restaurant @ 5924 6th Ave (6th & Pearl), ☎ . For areas on the Tacooma, Gig Harbor and the Kitsap Peninsula. They go south on I-5 to Tacoma and over the Narrows Bridge along WA Hwy 16 to get to the Kitsap Peninsula rather than going across on the ferry from Seattle.
Tacoma is located along Interstate 5 (I-5), approximately 35 mi south of Seattle (35 min), 293 mi (5 hr) southwest of Spokane, and 143 mi (2.5 hr) north of Portland.
- From Interstate 5 (I-5) Tacoma is accessed from exits #136 ("Port of Tacoma") through #127 ("S Tacoma Way/WA-512 to Puyallup") along I-5. To get to downtown, exit off at the Interstate 705 off ramp at Exit 133, just beyond the Tacoma dome if going south from I-5, or continue along I-705 past downtown to Schuster Pkwy to get to old town, north Tacoma and the Ruston Way waterfront. Continue to the next exit along I-5 to 132B to get to WA-16 going west towards Gig Harbor, Bremerton and for additional access to other parts of town. To get to Joint Base Lewis McChord continue south past WA-512 to exits #125 ("Bridgeport Way/McChord Field"), #123 ("Thorne Ln"), 122 ("Berkely Ave nearest access to Madigan Hospital and Camp Murray"), 120 ("Joint Base Lewis-McChord") which is the location of the main gate & visitors center into the base, or 119 (Dupont-Steilacoom Rd). Access to the military base is controlled and a valid Dept. of Defense (DoD) ID and vehicle decal are required to be allowed through. Otherwise see the visitors center off of exit 120. Exits 119-125 will come first before getting into Tacoma if going north on I-5 from Olympia.
- From Interstate 90 (I-90) coming from eastern Washington exit off at WA-Hwy 18 at Exit # 25. Go south on WA Hwy 18 through Tiger Mountain, Convington, Maple Valley and Auburn to Federal Way where WA-18 merges into I-5. Follow signs to I-5 south to Tacoma.
- From Kitsap Peninsula Go south on Hwy 3 and follow signs for "WA-16 EAST to Port Orchard - Tacoma" Continue south along WA-16 through Gig Harbor and across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge into Tacoma. There's a toll to cross the Narrows Bridge into Tacoma but no toll coming the other way into Gig Harbor. There are 5 exits into town from along WA-16 between the bridge and where the highway ends at I-5. Follows signs for I-5 "To Seattle" and exit at the next exit to I-705 to get downtown otherwise follow signs for I-5 south "To Portland" to get to the south or east part of town.
The bus station for Greyhound, Northwestern Trailways, Sound Transit, Intercity Transit, Pierce Transit & Link Light Rail are at the Tacoma Dome Station Parking Garage Bldgs at 510 - 610 E Puyallup Ave (facing E Puyallup Ave), between E 'E' St and E 'G' St, one block north of the Freighthouse Square (2501 E 'D' St). Greyhound, NW Trailways and a taxi stand are at the west building while Sound Transit, Intercity & Pierce Transit buses are next door in front of the east building. The Link Light Rail to downtown Tacoma is at the opposite side of the parking buildings along E 25th, between the E Parking Garage Building and the Freighthouse Square building:
- Greyhound, Tacoma Dome Station, W Parking Bldg @ 510 E Puyallup Ave, ☎ , toll-free: . Travels primarily on Interstate 5 (Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Centralia, Kelso/Longview and Portland.) Passengers transfer in Seattle or Portland to get to additional destinations.
- Northwestern Trailways, Tacoma Dome Station, W Parking Bldg 510 E Puyallup Ave, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Goes north to Seattle and Everett along I-5 and then east to Lake Stevens, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Ephrata, Moses Lake Ritzville & Spokane along US Hwy 2 and I-90. In Tacoma they stop at both the Greyhound station and the Amtrak station down the road.
- Sound Transit, Tacoma Dome Station, E Parking Bldg @ 610 E Puyallup Ave, ☎ . Operates express buses up to downtown Seattle (Rt #590 & 594), the Airport (#574) and UW Seattle (#586) on multiple routes. They also operate the Sounder train between Lakewood & Seattle and the Link Light Rail from the Tacoma Dome Station to downtown Tacoma:
- Rt #574 goes up to the airport via Federal Way, Kent and Sea-Tac (Along S 188th). Goes down to Lakewood in the other direction with NO stops in downtown Tacoma
- Rt#586 goes up to the University Washington in Seattle in the mornings and return to Tacoma in the afternoons only. No stops in downtown Seattle, no weekend service.
- Rt#590,594 goes straight up to downtown Seattle along I-5 in one direction and to downtown Tacoma & Lakewood in the other direction on Rt #594. Rt #590 operates only between Tacoma Dome Station and downtown Seattle during weekday rush hours.
- Link Light Rail runs frequent trains from Freighthouse Square to downtown Tacoma (just north of 9th & Commerce). The train goes by UW Tacoma, several museums, several downtown hotels and the downtown convention center. The stop is along E 25th between the parking garage buildings and the Freighthouse Square building.
- King County Metro, ☎ . Operates buses in and around Seattle and the surrounding cities and suburbs in King County. Nearest transfer points to King County Metro from Tacoma are in Auburn, Federal Way and the Tahlequah ferry terminal (Rt #118, 119) in the south end of Vashon Island. Additional transfer points from Sound Transit buses are in Sea-Tac, downtown Seattle and Seattle's University District. If using the Orca Card the fares are transferable between Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and King County Metro.
- Intercity Transit, Tacoma Dome Station, E Parking Bldg @ 610 E Puyallup Ave, ☎ , toll-free: . Operates express buses from downtown Tacoma and the Tacoma Dome Station down to Lacey (Rt #612) and Olympia (Rt#603) via Lakewood Station during the work week only. The #620 bus operates from the Tacoma Mall down to Olympia via Lakewood and Lacey on weekends only with NO service to downtown Tacoma or Tacoma Dome Station. They operate local buses in Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater.
- Pierce Transit, ☎ , toll-free: . operates local routes on buses that run on natural gas and connect with other regional transit systems. Pierce transit can also be tracked with a free smartphone app from One Bus Away that provides easy access to real-time transit information for the Puget Sound region and beyond. The Tacoma Dome Station is served by Routes #13, 14, 41, 102, 400, 500, 501 adult $2, youth $0.75 and is part of the regional Orca payment system..
There are two train stations. The Amtrak station is 0.5 mi or 0.8km east and at the opposite side of Puyallup Ave from the Tacoma Dome station next to the railroad yard at 1001 E Puyallup Ave. The Sounder Train Station is in the middle to the west end of the Freighthouse Square Building, entrance at 425 E 25th. Both are well marked.
- Sound Transit Sounder, Freighthouse Square @ 425 E 25th St (entrance in the middle to the west end of the Freighthouse Square building.). Sound Transit operates commuter trains up to Seattle in the morning and down to Lakewood via Tacoma Dome and South Tacoma in the afternoons. They also operate additional trains for the Mariners and Seahawks home events.
- Amtrak, 1001 E Puyallup Ave (0.5 mi/0.8km east of the Tacoma Dome Station at the opposite side of road, next to railroad yard.). The following are the Amtrak routes serving Tacoma:
- Amtrak Cascades... runs between between Seattle and Portland 4x daily serving Tukwila, Tacoma, Lacey (Olympia), Centralia and Kelso in Washington state. They run from Seattle to Vancouver via Everett, Mt Vernon & Bellingham 2x daily and from Portland to Eugene via Oregon City, Salem & Albany 2x daily. Additional service from Seattle to Vancouver and from Portland to Eugene are provided on the Amtrak Thruway Bus.
- Amtrak Coast Starlight makes an once daily trip in each direction between Seattle and Los Angeles along the same route with the same stops as the Amtrak Cascades (except Tukwila & Oregon City) between Seattle and Eugene, OR.
- Washington State Ferries, 5810 N Pearl St (North end of Pearl St in Point Defiance Park.), ☎ , toll-free: 800 843-3779. There is a ferry connecting from Point Defiance Park in North Tacoma and Talehquah in the south end of Vashon Island. Don't plan on walking anywhere when you get to Vashon Island; you'll need a car to get anywhere worth seeing. Some people bike around the island, but be prepared for major hills. You can continue to Seattle or Port Orchard by crossing the island to the other ferry on the north end of the island.
- Pierce County Ferries, 56 Union Ave; Steilacoom (.). The county also operates a small car ferry across from Steilacoom (at south end of town) to Anderson and Ketron Islands.
- Totem Trailer Express, 500 E Alexander (.), ☎ . Operates more as a private shipping company than a "ferry" for shipping of personal vehicle(s) and/or personal household goods up to Anchorage AK for those moving between the lower 48 and Alaska. They offer twice weekly sailings up to Alaska.
Locally Division (between Stadium Way & Sprague) and 6th Ave (btwn Sprague & Titlow Park by the water) divides the cross streets & addresses north & south. 'A' Street (Court 'A' in downtown), two blocks east and parallel to Pacific Ave from downtown down through Roy Y (south of town) divides the cross streets and addresses from 'South' to 'East'. Anything west of 'A' St (or Court 'A' in downtown) has a 'South' address while anything east has an 'East' address. Northeast Tacoma (NE addresses) is in a separate area in the opposite side of Commencement Bay from the rest of Tacoma. Northeast Tacoma is accessed by WA-Hwy 509 (from S 21st & Pacific in downtown) which goes across an industrial area from Tacoma as a freeway and then wind around the bay as Marine View Dr up into Dashpoint. The road continues through the Dash Point residential neighborhoods northwards as East Side Dr NE and crosses into the Federal Way city limits as Dash Point Dr SW ending at Hwy 99. If coming from Pacific Hwy (Hwy 99) Federal Way go west along S 356th/29th St NE; S 348th/Northshore Pkwy; or Dash Point Dr (WA-Hwy 509) at the 28000 block to get to northeastern Tacoma.
- Tacoma LINK 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 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
Point Defiance is a 700-acre city park featuring old growth forests, gardens, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Owen Beach, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, as well as a playground, picnic areas and countless hiking trails. It is the north end of Tacoma and is accessible from I-5 by following I-705 past downtown to Schuster Pkwy which goes along the Ruston Way waterfront to N 51st & Pearl. Go north on Pearl (right turn from N 51st coming from Ruston Way) into the main entrance of the park. From Hwy 16 go north on N Pearl (WA-163) into the park. By bus the #11 goes from downtown (10th & Commerce) to the park. From the Tacoma Dome station take the #41 bus going into downtown which becomes the #11 bus so no transferring of buses needed.
Tacoma is home to a variety of interesting museums:
- Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, ☎ . Fort Nisqually, the first European settlement on Puget Sound, was a bustling center of trade that expanded into a large-scale agricultural enterprise.
- Foss Waterway Seaport (Working Waterfront Maritime Museum), 705 Dock St (On I-705 go past downtown which becomes Schuster Pkwy. Right turn at 4th which is the light past Tacoma), ☎ . Wed-Sat 10AM-4PM & Sun 12PM-4PM. The Foss Waterway Seaport celebrates & exhibits Tacoma's rich maritime heritage—past, present and future. Located on the waterfront in a century-old wooden wheat warehouse, built for cargo arriving by rail and departing by sail ("where rails met sails") during the early years of Tacoma.
- LeMay Car Museum, 2702 E 'D' St (Across E 'D' St from the Tacoma Dome. Entrance at south end of building), ☎ . Daily 10AM-5PM. Hundreds of cars in the collection are on display. 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.
- Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave (Pacific & Hood St), ☎ . Tue-Sun 10AM-5PM.
- Tacoma Children's Museum, 1501 Pacific Ave (E 15th & Pacific Ave), ☎ . Wed-Sun 10AM-5PM; Mon 10AM-5PM for members only.
- Tacoma Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St (E 18th & Docks St, opposite of I-705 from downtown. From Pacific Ave the Chihuly Pedestrian Bridge can be accessed from between the two Union Station Buildings, across from the UW Bookstore.), ☎ . Wed-Sat 10AM-5PM; Sun 12M-5PM. you can cross to or from this museum on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass - and no, the bridge is not made of glass - it's 500 feet long, over Interstate 705, with glasswork exhibits.
- Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave (South part of Union Station across from UW Tacoma), ☎ . Founded in 1891 and now into its second century of service, the Washington State Historical Society is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and vividly presenting Washington's rich and varied history. The Historical Society is comprised of a family of museums and research centers, offering a variety of services to researchers, historians, scholars, and the lifelong learners.
- The Seymour Botanical Conservatory, within Wright Park.
- Union Station and its Dale Chihuly glass exhibits. Next to the Washington State History Museum.
- University of Washington Tacoma - located in an historic business district near downtown. A suggested walking tour  is available. (UW Tacoma is across the street from the Washington State History Museum.)
- Brown & Haley's Outlet Store The near the factory (most famous for Almond Roca® candy).
- A new convention center 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 $6 toll for those returning to Tacoma). (The original bridge, built in 1940, and known as "Galloping Gertie", is well known because of its collapse.)
- The Tacoma Regional Convention & Visitor Bureau, 1515 Commerce St (In the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel). Has its Visitor Information Center at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in downtown Tacoma (1515 Commerce St). Visitor guides, maps and brochures on area attractions are available, and the center includes a new computer station where visitors can research travel information on the Internet.
- Tacoma Musical Playhouse, 7166 6th Ave (6th Ave & S MacArthur St), ☎ . Tu-F 10AM-6PM. 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.
- Scooter Adventure, 5428 South Tacoma Way, ☎ . A complete scooter adventure including orientation, 3 hour rental, DOT approved helmet rental, rider insurance, Scenic Excursion Map and commemorative photo.
- Freighthouse Square, 2501 S 'D' St (In an old warehouse building building three city blocks long couple blocks along E 25th between East 'D' St & E 'G' St north of the Tacoma Dome). M-Sa 10AM-7PM, Su 12PM-5PM. Originally built as a warehouse and train station for the Milwaukee Railroad in 1909 now features ballrooms for rent, antique shops, small art galleries, a coin shop and eating places inside. It is also the location for the Sounder Train Station. See "#By Train" above.
- Tacoma Mall, 4502 S Steele St (west of I-5 between S 38th & S 47th. The mall can be accessed from I-5 at S 38th (Exit #132) or at S 56th (Exit #130)). M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su11AM-7PM. Tacoma Mall offers Nordstroms, Macy's, JCPenney, Sears, Forever 21 and numerous smaller shops & restaurants in the mall itself and in the immediate surrounding area not part of the mall (Best Buy, Babies R Us, Toys R Us, Costco, Pier One Imports, Dollar Store, Ashley Furniture, REI, Albert Lee Appliances etc). There are other smaller strip malls & free standing establishments radiating west along S 38th from I-5 to S Union; and south along Tacoma Mall Blvd, that parallels I-5, from the 4700 block down to the 7200 block. MC, Visa, Discover and/or travelers checks accepted in many of these establishments.
- Tacoma Place, 1901 S 72nd St (NE of I-5 & S 72nd St junction @ 72nd & Hosmer. The mall can be accessed from I-5 at S 72nd (Exit #129) or at S 56th (Exit #130)). (varies). Tacoma Place is a very popular place amongst locals living in nearby neighborhoods and travelers passing along the freeway or staying in nearby hotels south of S 72nd. There are numerous shops & restaurants such as Winco Foods, Sports Authority, Mattress Depot, Olive Garden, Popeyes, Applebee's, Pho Ever, Dairy Queen, Shari's, Starbucks, etc. There are other smaller strip malls, hotels and free standing establishments nearby (such as Home Depot, LA Fitness, Burger King, Hooters, IHop, etc) south of 72nd along S Hosmer between the 7200 and 8400 blocks and along Tacoma Mall Blvd, that parallels I-5 (at the other side), from the 7200 block up towards the Tacoma Mall at the 4700 block. MC, Visa, Discover and/or travelers checks accepted in many of these establishments.
- B&I Market Place, 8012 S Tacoma Way, ☎ . 10AM-8PM M-Sa, 10AM-6PM Su. Almost anyone who grew up in the Tacoma area has fond memories of the B&I Circus Store, a landmark on South Tacoma Way for more than 60 years, where once you could wrap your face in cotton candy while exchanging stares with a live gorilla named Ivan. Ivan is gone now, living happily at the Atlanta Zoo, and B&I has morphed into a new kind of wonder — an international marketplace where you can find fancy boots from Mexico, jewelry from India, exotic foods from Africa, rare coins from all over the world, new & used computers, cell phones & accessories and bargains from just about everywhere.
- Star Lite Swap Meet, 8327 S Tacoma Way (S Tacoma Way & S 84th St), ☎ . Indoors: 10AM-6PM Tu-F & 9AM-6PM Sa-Su Outdoors: 8AM-4:30PM Tu-F & 7:30AM-4:30PM Sa-Su. Popular indoor and outdoor flea market featuring fruits & vegetables, music CDs, tools, fishing gear, cell phones & accessories and a variety of other items under the big screen of a former drive in theater. Admission is $1 per person on weekends and typically busier during the spring & summer weekends then in winter.
- Sanford & Son Auctions, 743 Broadway (along S Commerce St between S 7th & S 9th), ☎ . Multi-level, maze-like antique store with a variety of different local shops scattered inside.
- Tacoma Farmers Market, Organization Office @ 902 Market St, ☎ . At the markets, farmers, ranchers and nursery growers offer various conventionally and organically grown fruits, vegetables and pre-cut, pre-packaged meats (usually fish, pork or eggs) and live ornamental and food plants for gardening. There are other artisan food producers offering prepared products, ranging from fruit jams to farmstead cheeses, breads and pastries, pickles, pasta, chocolate, and more. The markets occur once weekly in different neighborhoods from the first week of May or June to the last week of September or October in the following locations:
- Sundays 11AM-3PM @ Star Center 3873 S 66th St (along S 66th between S Tyler & S Adam) from June-Sept.
- Tuesdays 3PM-7PM @ 6th Ave & N Pine from May to Sept.
- Wednesdays 3PM-7PM @ Portland Ave & E 44th from June to Sept.
- Thursdays 10AM-3PM @ Broadway & 9th Ave in downtown from May to Oct.
- Fridays 11AM-2PM @ Multicare (Tacoma General Hospital) Rose Garden from Aug to Sept.
- Proctor Farmers Market, Organization Office @ 2702 N Proctor St (Market itself is along N 27th between N Proctor & N Madison), ☎ . Saturdays 9AM-2PM, weekly from the last weekend in March to the weekend before Christmas in December. Market day is 10AM-1PM every second Saturday (once monthly) from January through March. See linked website for specifics. This is the only year round farmers market in town. Some of the vendors at the other farmers markets during the week are also regulars at the North Proctor market too. The organizers of the Saturday Proctors Market is a different entity than the Tacoma Farmers Markets (in the above).
6th Avenue has some affordable restaurants. Most of the suggested venues below are along 6th Ave between Sprague and Union. Sixth Ave divides north from south so some of the listed establishments in the below may be in the north or the south side of 6th Ave.
- Primo Grill, 2701 6th Ave (on 6th & North Oakes (moved into where the Tattoo Parlor used to be)), ☎ . Sun-Thur 4PM-11PM; Fri-Sat 4PM-12AM. Moderately Priced, Italian/Mediterranean, Lunch & Dinner.
- Asado, 2810 6th Ave (on 6th & South Pine), ☎ . Mon-Wed 11AM-10PM; Thur 11AM-12AM; Fri 11:30AM-1:30AM; Sat 4PM-1:30AM; Sun 4PM-10PM. Pricey, Argentinian, Dinner.
- Gateway to India, 2603 6th Ave (on 6th & North Fife), ☎ . Mon-Fri 11AM-9PM; Sat-Sun 12PM-9PM. Inexpensive, Indian, Lunch & Dinner. They serve lunch buffet
- Southern Kitchen, 1716 6th Ave (on 6th & S Sprague next to Bucky's Auto Repair.), ☎ . Mon-Thur 8AM-8PM; Fri-Sat 8AM-9PM; Sun 8AM-7PM. Inexpensive, Southern/Soul, Lunch & Dinner.
- Wild Orchid, 3023 6th Ave (on 6th & North Cedar), ☎ . Mon-Sat 11AM-9PM; Sat-Sun 12PM-9PM. Inexpensive, Pan-Asian, Lunch & Dinner.
- Silk Thai, 3401 6th Ave (6th Ave and North Warner, across from Mt Zion Church), ☎ . Mid priced, Lunch & Dinner, Delicious Thai Dishes.
- Farreli's, 3518 6th Ave (6th Ave and South Union in the Poole Corner Building.), ☎ . A pizzeria that is a popular hangout place for college students from the nearby UPS and UW Tacoma.
Downtown Tacoma has a wide range of restaurants, from fine dining to casual. Most of the downtown restaurants suggested in the below are in the immediate areas surrounding the University of Washington Tacoma campus, Tacoma Convention Center and Union Station which are along the Link Light Rail route. They could also be located elsewhere such as towards the Stadium District north of downtown such as Maxwell's (one of the suggested venues).
- El Gaucho, 2119 Pacific Ave (in Downtown Tacoma southeast of S 21st Street and Pacific Avenue intersection. Next to the Melting Pot), ☎ . Sun-Thur 4PM-10PM; Fri-Sat 4PM-12AM. Pricey, Steaks & Chops, Dinner.
- Melting Pot, 2121 Pacific Ave (in Downtown Tacoma southeast of S 21st Street and Pacific Avenue intersection. Next to El Guacho.), ☎ . Mon-Fri 5PM-10PM; Sat 4PM-10:30PM, Sun 4PM-10PM. Pricey, Fondue, Dinner.
- Pacific Grill, 1502 Pacific Ave. (S 15th & Pacific in the NE part of the Courtyard Hotel Building), ☎ . New American. Steaks & Seafood, Lunch & Dinner. Known for Tacoma's Best Happy Hour. Celebrity Chef Gordon Naccarato ( Gordon's - Aspen,CO , Monkey Bar - Los Angeles, CA , Michael's - Santa Monica, CA)
- Indochine Asian Dining Lounge, 1924 Pacific Ave (near the University of Washington, Tacoma is on 19th and Pacific), ☎ . Tue-Thur 11AM-9PM; Fri 11AM-10PM; Sat 12PM-10PM; Sun 12PM-9PM. Not pricey (and rather enjoyable), Pan-Asian, Lunch & Dinner.
- Maxwell's, 454 St Helens (S 6th Ave & St. Helens), ☎ . Moderately Priced, Dinner & Cocktails, Northwest small plates.
- Johnny's Dock, 1900 East 'D' St (right across Thea Foss Waterway from Pacific Avenue on D street), ☎ . Mon-Thur 11:30AM-10PM; Fri 11:30AM-11PM; Sat 9:30AM-11PM; Sun 9:30PM-8PM. Steak and Seafood, Great Views of Downtown and the Museum of Glass.
- The Rock, Wood Fire Kitchen, 1920 Jefferson Ave (in downtown Tacoma along Jefferson Ave south of S 19th, west of the UW Tacoma campus), ☎ . Daily 11:30AM to 12AM. offers a great lunch or dinner, inexpensive pizza and pasta
Hilltop just up the hill from Downtown Tacoma has many choices for dining. Most of the mentioned venues in Hilltop are clustered around S Martin Luther King & S 11th St. They can be located further north or south along S MLK and east or west along the cross streets too.
- LeLe, 1012 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (Along S MLK between S 11th & S 12th), ☎ . Daily 11AM to 9PM. offers a Vietnamese cuisine with a mix of Thai. The spacious dining room allows for large groups. LeLe is popular spot for lunch with downtown workers.
- Pho Boc Cafe, 1143 South 11th St (NW corner of S 11th St & MLK. Located closer to alley along S 11th St), ☎ . is a popular spot for Pho in Tacoma. Cash Only
- Pho King, 1020 Martin Luther King Jr Way (near 11th & MLK), ☎ . Mon-Sat 11:00AM to 8:00PM. Popular Pho & Vietnamese food. Very affordable. Has vegetarian pho. Inexpensive.
- Thai Garden, 1202 South 11th St (One block west of S MLK (location of Key Bank) at S 'L' St & 11th.), ☎ . Daily 11:30AM to 9:30M. a bit of a hole in the wall but a great place for affordable Thai food in Tacoma. Service is fast and pleasant.
- Quickie Too: A Vegan Cafe, 1324 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (Corner of 14th & MLK), ☎ . Sun 11AM-3PM; Mon, Wed, Fri 11AM-8P; Thur 11AM-6PM. Tacoma's only all vegan restaurant adds a Jamaican flair to all of their food. Service can be slow but is worth the wait. Meat eaters will love the flavors and won't know the meat is missing.
- The Fish House, 1814 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (Middle of block along MLK between S 18th & 19th St, a couple blocks west of St Joseph's Hospital), ☎ . Mon-Sat 11AM-8PM. offers Southern cooking at affordable prices. Small place so you can always get orders to go.
- Bob's Bar-B-Que Pit, 911 South 11th St (Along 11th between 'J' & 'I' St, next to alley), ☎ . Tue-Sat 11AM-8PM. A popular BBQ joint in Tacoma
South Tacoma has wonderful Asian restaurants.
- Wendy's II (near the Tacoma Mall, on Tacoma Mall Blvd). Inexpensive Vietnamese cuisine, Lunch and Dinner.
- The Palace Restaurant (Corner of South Tacoma Way and Steilacoom Blvd). Informal Korean restaurant. Cook at the table or order ready to eat. Lunch, Dinner, Drinks. Open late.
- Tacoma Szechuan (In the Paldo World stripmall, corner of 96th and South Tacoma Way). Authentic Chinese food. Moderate prices. Lunch, Dinner, Bubble Tea.
Lincoln District has international flavor.
- Vien Dong, 3801 Yakima Ave (corner or 38th & Yakima west of Pacific), ☎ . Excellent & authentic Vietnamese restaurant. Low to moderate prices. Well known locally & busy at lunch. Excellent pho soup.
- 1022 South, 1022 S 'J' St (NW of S 11th & J St. in the Hilltop neighborhood.), ☎ . Sun & Wed-Thur 4PM-12AM; Fri-Sat 4PM-2AM; CLOSED Mon-Tue. Right around the corner from where the Tempest used to be is the equally fabulous 1022 South. Featuring a huge list of traditional - and some very non-traditional - cocktails, they turn out some astonishing flavors.
- Engine House 9 or 'E9', 611 N Pine St (In an old firehouse building up on N Pine from 6th Ave), ☎ . Mon-Wed 11AM-12AM; Thur 11AM-1AM; Fri 11AM-2AM; Sat 8:30AM-2AM; Sun 8:30PM-10PM. is in the trendy 6th avenue area. A great beer list and karaoke on Thursdays make this bar very popular with college students from the local University of Puget Sound. Metrosexual atmosphere welcome & encouraged. 6th and Pine.
- Johnny's Dock, 1900 East 'D' St (right across Thea Foss Waterway from Pacific Avenue on D street), ☎ . Mon-Thur 11:30AM-10PM; Fri 11:30AM-11PM; Sat 9:30AM-11PM; Sun 9:30PM-8PM. For old-school, straight-out-of-the-'70s flava, the bar at Johnny's Dock is a must [especially for the nice days on the deck]. From the Naugahyde swivel chairs to the odd touches of brass, this place hasn't had its mousse ruffled in a while. They serve workmanlike drinks, but they've got a great deck and happy hour prices apply during any televised sporting event.
- The Mix, 635 St Helens Ave (NE corner of S 7th & St Helens Ave). Daily 2PM-2AM. In Downtown's St. Helens Neighborhood caters to a mostly gay crowd but all are welcome with open arms. On weekend nights The Mix is packed with 20 and 30 somethings having a good time.
- Club Silverstone, 739 St. Helens Ave. (SE of St Helens Ave & Court 'C'), ☎ . Daily 11AM-2AM. Tacoma's largest gay nightclub, in the Theater District in Downtown Tacoma. During the week the club is low-key but on the weekends the club gets busy with dancing all night long.
- The Hub, 203 Tacoma Ave S (2nd & Tacoma Ave S), ☎ . Mon-Thur 11AM-11PM; Fri 11AM-1AM; Sat 9AM-1AM; Sun 9AM-11PM. Excellent Mediterranean themed fare. One of the hot spots in the popular Stadium district.
- Tacoma Wine Merchants, 21 N. Tacoma Ave., ☎ . Located in the Stadium District, this cozy, European-style wine bar offers over thirty wines by the glass. Cheese plates, panini, soups and salads available as well.
- Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway Plaza, ☎ .
- Courtyard Marriott - Tacoma Downtown, 1515 Commerce St (Across from the Great Tacoma Convention Center), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. The hotel is connected to the historic Waddell building. The Waddell building's ground floor features the award winning restaurant, Pacific Grill, ran by famed Chef, Gordon Naccarato. Above Pacific Grill are 2 luxury suites that are one of a kind for a Courtyard property. The hotel also feature Club Biella Spa & Salon, a 10,000 sqft space with an Italian villa theme. The spa includes a pool and workout room that can be used by hotel guests. A small hidden gem in the hotel is Joe's Barber Shop which can be found just down the stairs from the main lobby. This barber shop features hair cuts, shaves and more in a masculine setting. On the lower level of the hotel is the new Pacific Grill Events Center that host many events year round. Pacific Grill's catering operation is also ran out of the Events Center.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tacoma Downtown, 2102 S 'C' St (C St & S 21st. Couple blocks up the Hill on S 21st from Pacific), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM.
The "North End" neighborhood is an upscale neighborhood especially those closer in and north of downtown and along the waterfront ('Stadium District' and 'Old Town'). Except the Silver Cloud by the waterfront most of the accommodations in the North End are in large (historic) homes that have been permitted and converted to board guests as a Bed & Breakfast.
- Silver Cloud, 2317 Ruston Way, ☎ . Waterfront hotel on a two-mile long scenic waterfront road (Ruston Way) and park.
- The Villa B&B, 705 N 5th St (Along N 5th St between Yakima & G St in a residential area.), ☎ . A highly rated, luxury six-room bed and breakfast hotel in the Stadium district.
The "South Tacoma" accommodations are near some of the large shopping complexes as well as quicker access to the Lewis McChord military reservation. The accommodations are typically lined up along S Hosmer at the 7400 block (accessed off of S 72nd at Exit #129) and more are lined up from the 8000 block down to the 9200 block where S Hosmer become S Steele (accessed from Exit #128 if going north bound I-5). They're the typical national chain hotels and motels, located off of the freeway for someone needing a break from a long day of driving. They're also surrounded by several restaurants such Ihop, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Subway, etc. for a place to get a quick bite to eat as well.
- Comfort Inn Tacoma Hotel, 8620 S. Homsmer St, ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Offers guests free wireless high-speed Internet access and a fitness center with an indoor heated pool. $80.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tacoma, 8601 S Hosmer (Along S Hosmer just south of S 84th.), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM.
While Tacoma's crime problem has improved over the past decade, the city still has a high crime rate relative to other Northwest cities. Much of the crime is concentrated on the Hilltop and Eastside neighborhoods. The Stadium District area has the lowest crime rate in the city and Downtown has a low crime rate compared to downtown areas of other cities (including Seattle), however visitors should be cautious as in any urban area. Visitors should also be careful when entering the surrounding suburbs of Lakewood, Spanaway and Parkland. Crime problems in Lakewood sometimes run over into near by Parkland. As always when traveling alone or at night, avoid poorly-lit areas with little foot traffic.
Near Tacoma are some other things worth visiting, listed roughly north to south:
- To the northwest, the waterfront town of Gig Harbor. I-5 to exit 132 (WA Hwy 16) You can visit the park below and slightly adjacent to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge without paying any toll. Take the first exit (24th St NW) and follow the signs (several left turns). Don't miss it, or you will be charged after turning around at the second exit. On a very clear day, Mount Rainier will be in the background to the east, beyond the waterway.
- Seattle, north of Tacoma, has a lot to do for visitors.
- To the northeast, Rhododendron Species Foundation and Garden, and the adjacent Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection in Federal Way, just off Interstate 5.
- Wild Waves, a water-themed amusement park, also in Federal Way, just off Interstate 5.
- To the south, Lakewold Gardens Estate, in Lakewood.
- Also to the south, Northwest Trek, a 615-acre park that is home to more than 200 North American animals.
- To the southwest is Washington's easygoing capital city, Olympia.
|Routes through Tacoma|
|Seattle ← Fife ←||N S||→ Lacey → Portland|
|Bremerton ← Gig Harbor ←||N S||→ END|
|END ←||W E||→ Puyallup → Renton|
|Seattle ← Federal Way ← Dash Point ←||N S||→ END|
|END ←||N S||→ Jct Mount Rainier → Ends at Jct in Morton|
|Seattle ← Tukwila ←||N S||→ Lacey → Portland|