In town for the U.S. Open, but want to see more than golf? Enjoy all that Tacoma and the surrounding cities have to offer with this South Sound guide for activities, food, and drink. To see where locals love to eat, dine, shop, and play, check out the annual Best of the South Sound reader poll here.
Tacoma Art Museum has a strong commitment to Northwest art and recently opened a new 16,000-square-foot wing that houses a collection of Western American Art. Legendary studio glass pioneer Dale Chihuly grew up in the city and helped open the Museum of Glass where you can view exhibits as well as watch glass being blown inside the museum’s iconic cone-shaped hot shop. Travel through the history of the automobile at LeMay — America’s Car Museum. The new building houses up to 350 cars, trucks, and motorcycles. The Broadway Center manages Tacoma’s biggest theaters in downtown. The beautiful Pantages Theater was built in 1918 and remains a hub for local performers. Point Defiance Park is a 702-acre urban park that houses a zoo and aquarium, rose garden, rhododendron garden, beaches, trails, and more. Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium features an extraordinary collection of wildlife, including tigers, elephants, red wolves, a stingray touch tank, several shark species, and more. Don’t miss local farmers markets every Tuesday (6th Avenue), Thursday (Broadway), Friday (MultiCare), Saturday (Proctor), and Sunday (South Tacoma). Catch a baseball game with the Tacoma Rainiers, the Seattle Mariners’ Triple-A team.
Dine and Drink
Take a self-guided beer tour. Visit the Harmon Brewery, E-9 Brewery, Narrows Brewing, Wingman Brewers, Odd Otter Brewing, or Pacific Brewing and Malting Co. to quench your summer thirst. Pacific Grill features an expansive happy hour all day long. Marrow Kitchen and Bar offers modern cuisine from different meat- and veggie-centric menus.The open kitchen at Primo Grill serves up Mediterranean-influenced cuisine with Northwest ingredients.Ice Cream Social creates eclectic rotating flavors like Mad Hat Earl Grey, Grilled Peach, Buttered Popcorn, Salted Caramel with Candied Bacon, and more. If crazy condiments and gourmet hot dogs are your thing, head to The Red Hot.
Just 30 minutes southwest of Chambers Bay, the Capitol in Olympia — also known as the Legislative Building — is a marble-filled architectural wonder that opened in 1928 and has been on the National Register of Historic Places for three-and-a-half decades. The city’s farmers market has been around for 40 years and is chock-full of local produce and fresh seafood. The Washington Center for Performing Arts hosts traveling shows as well as local musicians and performers. Hands on Children’s Museum has eight galleries for kids to explore. Each exhibit covers topics from the environment to healthy living and construction through hands-on learning. Enjoy farm-fresh food at The Mark, sumptuous Thai food at Lemon Grass, or the perfect croissant at The Bread Peddler.
Drive across Tacoma’s iconic Narrows Bridge and you’ll find the charming city of Gig Harbor. Visit the Harbor History Museum to learn about the city’s heritage or check out the Gig Harbor Boat Shop to experience a working waterfront and maritime traditions. Grab a craft brew at 7 Seas Brewery, taste craft liquor at Heritage Distilling Company, enjoy world-class fish and chips at Tides Tavern, or indulge in a crazy burger creation at Lunchbox Laboratory.
Puyallup is home to the Washington State Fair. The fair is over but the fairgrounds host events year-round. Also, don’t miss Meeker Mansion, a 17-room, 1890s-era historical home. Arts Downtown is an outdoor gallery featuring new public artwork. Eat handmade ravioli at Arista Italian Restaurant, modern pub fare at Crockett’s Public House, a giant martini glass full of clams at Toscanos Italian Grill, and sip the perfect latte at Anthem Coffee and Tea.
Don’t miss Sumner, the self-designated “Rhubarb Pie Capital of the World.” The city is planning an “Open in Sumner” event June 13-14, which will feature a golf-themed parade, Chambers Bay caddies, a putt putt course, and more. Enjoy an epic breakfast at The Buttered Biscuit, fresh Northwest cuisine at Windmill Bistro at Windmill Gardens, or a slice of rhubarb strawberry pie at Berryland Café.
Photo: “Tacoma Narrows Bridge and Mount Rainier — March 31 2014” ©2014 Washington State Dept of Transportation; “Washington State Capitol” ©2014 cmh2315fl, “Swing higher” ©2011 Nancy Xu, all used under creative commons attribution licenses.