Inside Tacoma - Museum District
The Museum district of Tacoma is primarily located on Pacific Avenue. There are quite a few museums to choose from and plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and stores to browse. Conveniently located next to public transportation and lots of parking lots, this is a happening area. There are lots of students around since the campus is also located here. I feel you are local then there is never a reason you should pay for a Museum, unless you want to. Every Thursday Museum admission is free from 5-8pm (for #1-3). Go to a local library and you can check out Museum passes for all of these (and more) for you to use any time.
Downtown is a ton of walking so the first thing you need to consider is your comfy shoes. Our brand new vegan leather Keira Sandals ($45) are just that, comfy as heck. They are also stylish and they come in taupe or black. My jeans are our newest denim, the Naomi Paper Bag Waist Skinny Jeans ($45). These are comfy, cuffed, and the waist design slims the tummy area. These are a lovely dark wash denim with no distressing. You can also un-cuff them for a longer length. My tee is the Missy Mint Floral Top ($35) which I'm wearing tucked in. This top actually has a cute front tie design on it so it looks amazing tucked out as well. Shipping is always FREE!
1. Washington State History Museum
Here you can find tons of information about the state of Washington, obviously. But it was a lot more interesting and cool than I expected it to be. There is an exhibit on the history of how the state formed geologically, historical formation of how Tacoma came to be and how World War II affected the community here.
There's also a very interesting exhibit on McNeil Island which was a Federal Prison and State Correctional Facility. Washington had its very own Alcatraz, who knew?! You can also read about the native Indian tribes that were here, see local artist's artwork, and read about some of the famous people that came from here.
For more info, visit www.washingtonhistory.org
2. Museum of Glass & Glass Bridge
After the History museum head towards the back and walk across the pedestrian bridge. This is the glass bridge which you would've noticed from the road with its giant blue crystal pillars. Don't forget to look up too because you will find a sky of glass.
This museum holds works of art by Dale Chihuly. There are some beautiful pieces and a special exhibit. My favorite part was the "hot shop". This is a stadium shaped room where you can watch the hot blown glass being made. They also have a studio with different activities for kids. They had a flower drawing activity when we visited. Admission is free every Thursday 5-8pm or with a pass checked out at your local library.
For more info, visit museumofglass.org
3. Union Station
As you come back towards the History Museum from the Glass Bridge, you'll run right into Union Station. This is a working courthouse so you'll need to show a state ID and have your bag searched, so basically, don't bring your gun. You are welcome to walk around and check out the glass works of Dale Chihuly and the view of the city. It's a huge gorgeous atrium inside and is beautiful to look at.
4. Tacoma Art Museum
Here is your typical and enjoyable art museum. They've got a gift shop, cafe, and studio for kids. If you have the kids with you then stop by the studio and grab them a free sketch book and pencil to doodle in while you browse.
It's a good size art museum but not one big enough to get lost in (we got lost in the Louvre and walked around for hours). You can see some more Dale Chihuly works, I love the mirrored patio exhibit of his art here. Military is always free admission, and as I mentioned before the general public can get in free on Thursdays 5-8pm or anytime by checking out a pass at the Library.
For more info, visit tacomaartmuseum.org
5. Children's Museum of Tacoma
Best part? This museum is free all the time, for everyone! The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. We haven't made it here yet but I'll update when we do!
6. Foss Waterway Seaport
This museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sundays 12-4pm. This one is a bit different than your typical Museum. It's right down by the water but you would need to drive to Foss Waterway Seaport, it isn't next door to the other museums. It's right on the water and has a gorgeous view. They have a small parking lot with about four spaces that are free but if those are full there's marina parking lot next door for $2 per two hours. The third Thursday of each month the museum offers free admission from 4-8pm. Military can visit anytime free during the Blue Star Museum Program May to August. You can also check out a pass at your local library.
This museum has tons of boats! You can start with the history of how the seaport came to be here starting with the railroad. You'll see how they built the Seaport and many different types of boats that have been used here in the area. At the front desk there is a little backpack you can check out for free if you have kiddos with you. The backpack has a little scavenger hunt and some toys inside.
There is an exhibit on the Puyallup Indian tribe and the canoes they used to paddle to Seattle. There is a collection of fishing lures, boat motors, an exhibit on the evolution of scuba diving, and more! If you've got kids with you pay close attention, about half the items are allowed to be touched and climbed on and the other half are not allowed to be touched so read the signs! After you've finished inside go walk around on the dock! We spotted some fish, seagulls, and a whole school of jellyfish!
For more info, visit fosswaterwayseaport.org
Alright so you've seen all the museums you can handle, now it's time to shop. Don't forget your own bag though, the city of Tacoma operates under a bag ban! Here are a few of my favorites on Pacific Avenue.
Here's your workout gear and comfy clothing paradise. They specialize in these types of clothing and they offer a free yoga class every Saturday at 9:30am. They have some really diverse legging and sports bra brands, and some pants that were so comfy I knew I'd need one of every color if I tried them on.
A boutique in the heart of Pacific Ave, this one features a boho and younger generation feel. Mostly clothes but they do also have a good selection of shoes, some jewelry, and some local items. This store has the price tag of a boutique.
3. Channing Baby & Co
Have a baby? Or maybe nieces and nephews? Heee is your one stop shop for all things baby. Clothes, gifts, breast pumps, strollers and car seats. Clothing sizes do not go up to toddler, it's just infants!
4. Stocklist Goods & Gifts
Here is a really neat store with unique items and fun local stuff. They've got Tacoma and Washington goodies such as prints, postcards, city map jewelry, hand made mugs, and more.
Short for "Urban Exchange", here is one of the hundreds (I really feel like there's that many) used clothing stores in Tacoma. UXC has a more vintage feel and has a wide variety of clothing. You can bring clothes to sell and be offered 30% of the item's price.
This clothing store is for girls and guys! They have some really neat Tacoma and Washington tees and sweatshirts that you won't find in the other stores. Bleach carries brands like Free People but they've got the matching price tag too.
So your husband and kids are now complaining about the shopping and wanting food...not to worry! There are tons of restaurants on Pacific Avenue. Here are some worth checking out, in no particular order.
1. Hello, Cupcake
Dessert first right?! Go inside this adorable bakery for mini or regular cupcakes. They've got plenty of seating if you want to eat inside. If it's for a gift, check out their selection of twenty five cent cupcake picks! Anything from unicorns to happy birthday picks and candles. They have a rewards program so sign up to receive a free mini cupcake your first visit!
2. Pacific Grill
Wanting a view of Mount Rainer while you eat? Look no further than Pacific Grill. On a clear day you can sit in the front and see Mount Rainer from your table. Pacific Grill is known for their Happy Hour, all day every day. There is a special menu that is 50% all the time. I grabbed the Chubbies (basically chicken chimichangas) and Travis has the steak sandwich. Both were really good, though his sandwich was a bit spicey for me.
3. Zeke's Pizza
Looking for a place more kid friendly with classic food? Zeke's pizza has every flavor you can think of and think up! Order one of theirs or create your own. We tried the plain cheese (for Aurora of course) and the Chicken Club. Both tasted really great and were hot right out of the oven. If you sit close enough, the kids can watch them making your pizza.
Here are some more popular food options for Pacific Avenue:
4. Indochine Asian Dining Lounge
5. Hot Rod Dogs
6. Harmon Brewing Co.
7. Sam Choy's Poke to the Max
Honorable Mention - University of Washington Tacoma Campus
Parallel to Pacific Avenue there is a walking only street that is part of campus. It's a lovely walk and has some great photo spots, especially the large staircase. Majority of these old buildings used to be warehouses and breweries.
You are beautiful, You are strong, You are smart, so dress like it.
Love, Liv & Rory