Tacoma on Puget Sound is known for the Chihuly Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Dome. The Tacoma Museum District features the Museum of Glass, the Washington State History Museum, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, and historic Union Station with works by renowned Tacoma glass artist Dale Chihuly. The Tacoma Art Museum’s Chihuly collection represents works from the artists entire career. Take the Chihuly Bridge of Glass to visit the hot shop and watch contemporary glass history in the making.
The Washington State History Museum is part of the District. Visit the Great Hall of Washington History featuring some of the states earliest history with artifacts from Native American civilization and culture, the History Lab explains the state’s history progression through statehood including industrialization, the war and post-war eras, women's suffrage, immigration and migration. Stop in the railroad room to watch the model trains and learn how the industry influenced the growth and development of the state.
If you are visiting the District with children, a stop at the Children’ Museum will be lots of fun. There are five Playscapes for kids eight and younger to explore. Look for Becka’s Studio, Woods Playground, Water Playscapes, Invention for tiny builders and a ship for Voyagers. Adults and kids join in the Play to Learn walk-in programs.
The Tacoma Dome, one of the largest wood domed structures in the world is visible from Interstate 5 as you drive into the city. Leave your car at the Tacoma Dome garage and catch the Tacoma Link Light Rail to go from one end of downtown to the other. Take the Convention Center stop and stroll along Pacific Avenue to visit stores in the restored 19th Century brick buildings. Continue on to Broadway to look for bargains on Antiques Row.
Tacoma's performing arts center features the Pantages, Rialto and Theatre On The Square is next. The Pantages is home to the Tacoma Opera, Tacoma City Ballet, and Tacoma Symphony. The Rialto hosts to the Tacoma Youth Symphony and the Northwest Sinfonietta Puget Sound Revels. Theatre on the Square, a 302-seat facility with a contemporary flair, offers a more intimate setting.
Up the hill on south G Street plan a stop in Wright’s Park to visit the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory. This garden of exotic tropical plants and seasonal floral displays is housed in a historic twelve-sided central glass dome conservatory. 3,000 panes of glass make up the dome and wings of the conservatory. Look for seasonal collections of azaleas, rhododendrons, chrysanthemums, cymbidium orchids and cacti.
Leave the city and take the Five Mile Drive along Owen Beach for scenic waterfront views and Vashon Island. The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is in this neighborhood. Stop here for a tour of unique exhibit of Alaskan polar bears, Arctic Foxes, Red Wolves, and seabirds like puffins; Asian Forest with tigers, elephants, tapirs and otters and the South Pacific Aquarium with sea turtles, shark and stingrays.
There are more than enough exhibits to fill your whole afternoon!
For a more wildlife experience, go to Tacoma Park’s Northwest Trek in Eatonville for a 40-minute naturalist narrates tram tour of this 435 acre park. See herds of Roosevelt elk, bison, moose, caribou, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, swans and deer as you ride through the park. Walk along the park’s forest paths to view bears, wolves, cougars and birds. Wetland creatures like beavers, otters and fishers can be seen in their pools and dens. Kids’ Trek is just right for children to play on slides, rope ladders and a sandbox as they learn about nature.
Cars lovers you’ll want to visit the LeMay - America’s Car Museum. With over 300 cars, trucks and motorcycles in 15 galleries there are vehicles in the collection to spark any special interest. Located just off I-5 next to the Tacoma Dome, the sleek, shiny structure of the America’s Car Museum might be seen as an inverted auto hood. The world’s automotive culture is featured in galleries including Custom Coachworks, British Invasion, NASCAR and more - all spotlighting America's love affair with the automobile.