Chris and Tawny Staudinger have traveled around the globe together as award-winning travel writers and videographers since they met on Mount Kilimanjaro 10 years ago. After experiencing more than 50 countries, they decided on Tacoma as a place to call home in 2014.
“When we chose a home base, we knew we wanted to continue sharing travel experiences with people, but this time as tour guides,” said Chris Staudinger. Their idea came to fruition in August 2016, when they paired with their longtime friends and board-game partners, Jackie and Paul Richter, to create Pretty Gritty Tours. Today, the team leads tours to everything from spooky haunts to historical neighborhoods.
We caught up with co-founder Chris Staudinger to find out more about what drew him to settle in — and explore around — the City of Destiny.
To be Inspired
(Tawny and I) both find inspiration at the Tacoma Book Center. It’s something along the lines of 1,600 square feet of used books.
To Grab a Drink
Tawny and I are suckers for Croatia in the fall. If we’re keeping it local, we tend to explore the eastern side of Mount Rainier.
“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” — Anthony Bourdain
Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin. Any Le Guin title really tends to capture our interest.
The Life Aquatic. Too easy.
Of all the places you’ve been, why did you choose Tacoma as your home base?
Tacoma is an incredible city with a rich past and exciting future for small business owners and unique attractions. It’s situated on the water, near the metropolitan powerhouse of Seattle and the wilderness escape of the Cascades and the Olympics in both directions.
What’s your favorite part of Tacoma to show off?
I personally love to get people down on the water and let them take in Tacoma from Commencement Bay. When you get to see the downtown cityscape framed by Mount Rainier and all the islands spreading out around you, it is an amazing sight.
What’s the best spooky Halloween tour that people shouldn’t miss?
We might be biased, but our Boos and Booze ghost tour is the best ghost tour in Tacoma. In the fall, we also lead Ghost Hunts through the South Sound, from Steilacoom to Kapowsin, and each is scarier than the last.
What’s your favorite Tacoma hole-in-the-wall?
Bob’s Java Jive, hands-down. It’s a dive bar/music venue shaped like a coffee pot that offers karaoke and some of the most authentic Tacoma experiences you can find.