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Tacoma, Washington, is an area that doesn’t get enough recognition. Located in the northwest region of the United States and nestled within Washington state, Tacoma is a unique city that’s a hub for creativity. The variety of activities available in Tacoma combined with easy access to the great outdoors makes it the perfect place for a family summer vacation.
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Tacoma is a colorful community full of artists. Although it’s a city with a population of about 220,000, it retains that small-town feel. However, Tacoma has all the benefits of a big city; a robust public transport system, lively nightlife, and a highly-rated culinary scene. It’s also a great city to experience the outdoors as Mount Rainier National Park is only a 60-mile drive, making it an easy day trip.
The city’s family-friendly atmosphere is filled with museums, outdoor spaces, plenty of walking paths, professional sports teams and more. You won’t run out of fun things to do on a family trip to Tacoma.
Best Tacoma Family Tour
Families of all ages can explore Tacoma in an unforgettable way by participating in a scavenger hunt!
Scavenger hunts by Wacky Walks are a great way to experience what Tacoma has to offer. Wacky Walks is an app-based scavenger hunt where participants discover things around the city by completing challenges. Each completed challenge earns points. It’s perfect for competitive kids, and also an engaging way for families to spend time together. The game has no time limit making it perfect for families and children of all ages.
Another great way my family and I experienced Tacoma was by hiking on the trails around the city. We loved being able to walk over the Narrows Bridge, 200 ft over Puget Sound which has views of the Olympic mountains, seals, and boats.
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Best Tacoma Museums for Children
Children’s Museum of Tacoma
At the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, kids can get their hands dirty (literally) in the play-based museum. This popular attraction has exhibits that range from arts and crafts, science experiments, dancing, and outdoor play areas. My two children, ages five and nine especially loved the building station where they were able to experience play with age-appropriate hardware tools. They were begging to return!
History lovers will enjoy, Fort Nisqually. Fort Nisqually is a great place to get a taste of what life was like in the 18oos on Puget Sound. As a living museum, families can experience a little bit of time travel on their vacation. Kids can tour the Fort grounds and step into preserved cabins, walkthrough shops from 1855, and relax in orchards. It is the first settlement in the area to be connected to other countries through the fur trade.
Tacoma Art Museum
Another museum to check out is the Tacoma Art Museum. Here families can enjoy the art that’s local to the Pacific Northwest. The museum’s exhibits constantly change but some of their past exhibits featured animals, American style from 1900 to 1950, and outdoor sculptures.
Other museums to check out are the Washington State History Museum, America’s Car Museum for classic cars, and the Museum of Glass where you can watch live glass demonstrations and even learn how to create your own glass during a fusing workshop.
Point Defiance Park
Unwind and take a break from sightseeing at Point Defiance Park. With old-growth forests surrounding Mount Rainier, it’s a great place to prepare for your outdoor adventure in the national park. The park offers free admission so you can take in views of Commencement Bay and if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of local sea otters!
One of the best things about the park is its open green spaces, picnic areas, and slides! It’s located near the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium perfect for animal-loving families. I have to say, this was one of my family’s favorite spots. We were able to chill in the park and enjoy the view before heading over to the zoo.
Other Great Outdoor Tacoma Locations
Enjoy Tacoma Live Events
For music and sport-loving families, check the calendar at the Tacoma Dome or watch the MLB Rainiers in the stands at Cheney Stadium. We love rooting for teams in other cities and seeing how differently each population approaches their teams as fans. Some get really nuts!
Tacoma, Washington, is an area that doesn’t get enough recognition. Look inside to learn about the best family activities in Tacoma.
Tacoma’s Bustling Food Scene
It’s true, Tacoma is a new player in the food scene. The city is beginning to gain popularity with foodies for its creative cuisine offerings. One of the city’s biggest draws is its outdoor dining. Especially in the summertime, outdoor seating is a great way to make to appreciate the incredible views.
If your family is planning a picnic, grab a take-out lunch from Antique Sandwiches. Enjoy one of their freshly baked cookies or choose from an array of sandwiches that might just be your next favorite meal. If you’re craving tacos, don’t miss Taco Street on the waterfront for authentic Mexican dishes.
One of the best places to grab casual fresh seafood with a view of the water is at Duke’s Chowder House. Or, if American chow is calling, then Pick Quick’s Drive-In is great for burgers. Made with local beef, the restaurant also serves all-natural ice cream.
A unique experience, especially if you have daughters, is Olive Branch Cafe. Olive Branch Cafe offers fun tea parties! Take a princess break from nature. Or, check out family-owned Over the Moon Cafe. This restaurant transforms Italian and French dishes into comfort food in the historic area of the city.
Don’t forget about dessert! Tacoma is the rhubarb pie capital of the world. The best time to snag a slice is in the summer during peak rhubarb season.
When You Go
Tacoma is beautiful anytime but in the winter it might be chilly by L.A. standards. In December, Tacoma’s coldest month, the average temperature is 40F. Pack extra layers if you go then. Summer months are beautiful with plenty of chances to find a clear day to enjoy the outdoor landscape.
Getting To Tacoma From Los Angeles
Delta, Alaska Airlines, United and American all fly nonstop into the Tacoma/Seattle airport from LAX. We find GREAT deals through Cheap’OAir! Start your research here.
Once there, rent a car, take public transportation, or snag rideshare with Uber or Lyft.
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Where To Stay in Tacoma
With large room sizes in the middle of the city, you’ll have no problem finding something to do right outside Hotel Murano.
A great mid-range option is the Holiday Inn Express which is also in the center of the city. After a stay here your family will be well-rested for a day out exploring.
For more budget-friendly accommodations, check out the Comfort Inn & Suites downtown. When you stay here you’ll be able to experience the best of city life while saving money for your adventures.
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