“It’s weird. I thought it was supposed to always rain in the Pacific Northwest? But it hasn’t really rained since I moved to Tacoma,” I asked an acquaintance a few weeks after moving to the city thirteen-years ago.
“Shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone,” he responded. “It’s our secret.”
I was captivated by Tacoma. It was really a love-at-first-sight experience. With 3.5 million people visiting Tacoma in 2018 combined with the city being the hottest real-estate market in the country right now, the secret is getting out.
The skies the limit when it comes to finding reasons. Matt Wakefield, the Senior Communications Manager for Travel Tacoma – Mt Rainier, said, “This region won the geographical lottery. We’ve got a 14,410-foot glacial volcano, where the summit is just 42 miles (as the crow flies) from the edge of the Salish Sea. That’s mountain climbing and paddleboarding in the same county, which is pretty wild. Sitting right between the two, we’ve got an urban center that’s become the hub for glass art in the United States. Two of our museums – the Museum of Glass and Tacoma Art Museum – have major collections of glass art and are connected to one another by the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. Those are two of the anchors for Tacoma’s Museum District, which is made up of six major museums, all walking distance from each other. Pierce County is really all about the mountain, city, sea, and the experiences that go with each.”
At certain times of the year, you can quite easily have a snowball fight standing on top of a dozen or more feet of snow at Paradise, Mt. Rainier in the morning. Then change from winter wear to shorts and a t-shirt to go enjoy a hot day and a cocktail on Ruston Way.
The Tacoma Attraction Pass
Travel Tacoma – Mt Rainier offers a 3-day Mountain City Sea Pass. “The pass is really all about the savings. We’ve found that visitors who come for Tacoma’s Museum District aren’t visiting just one or two of the museums. So we created the pass as a way for those people to save big on admission to several places. If they’re here for an action-packed few days, they can save as much as 50 percent on admission, but even just using it at a few of the museums will save them money overall,” Matt told me.
The digital passes are good for 72 hours after activation. The passes include entrance to attractions in the heart of downtown Tacoma, like the Museum of Glass, Tacoma Art Museum, Washington State History Museum, Foss Waterway Seaport Museum, Lemay Family Collection at Marymount.
The pass also includes discounts for those interested in kayaking or paddleboarding at the Foss Harbor Marina, as well as discounts for anyone interested in learning how to blow glass at the Tacoma Glassblowing Studio. If you’re a classic, cult, or quirky film aficionado, you’ll receive a discount at The Grand Cinema, which is also home to the Tacoma Film Festival.
Personally, I’m into history, my favorite attractions of the bunch are the History Museum and Fort Nisqually Living History Museum at Point Defiance Park. The Museum of Glass and The Tacoma Art Museum are great too. I usually visit both of those multiple times throughout the year for various exhibits. My young children seem to be more interested in those a bit more as well. Although they might argue more in favor of The Glass Museum. I also really like the Tacoma Art Museum. Still, I’m not as successful at capturing my two and three-year-old daughter’s attention there. My 6-year-old son is a bit more curious, and I enjoy explaining to him various things about the exhibits.
Which attraction does Matt prefer?
“Personally, I’m a car guy, so when I get a chance to get out to the LeMay Collections in Spanaway, I’m blocking off the better part of a day to do it. It’s 80 acres with more than 1,000 cars tucked away in buildings that were a former military academy operated by nuns. In some buildings, they have classic cars parked side by side on massive shelves stacked three high.” Matt continued, “During the summer, you can take a class to learn how to drive a Ford Model T. And on top of all of that, they have a manicured, outdoor sculpture garden with Rodin sculptures, and outbuildings with big collections of everything from pincushions and historic radios to brass hose nozzles and outboard boat motors. It’s unreal, and I love every part of it.”