Located 33 miles south of Seattle, Tacoma is a dynamic waterfront city whose art museums, outdoor recreation and brewery scene have turned it into a thriving Washington destination. In 2019 the city completed a major transformation — converting its former smelter site into a stunning waterfront park at Dune Peninsula. Tacoma’s waterfront walks alone are enough to warrant a day trip to the city. But you’ll need a full weekend (or longer!) to explore everything Tacoma has to offer. If you haven’t visited the city in recent years, it’s time. Here’s how to spend a weekend in Tacoma.
Where to Stay
Begin your weekend by checking into one of Tacoma’s downtown hotels. Hotel Murano is a modern, glass art-inspired hotel providing a centrally-located place to call home for the night. Expect comfort and elegance at this 4-star hotel.
For a more casual option, check out McMenamins Elks Temple. With seven floors of bars, guestrooms and restaurants, this restored 1916 building is once again a hotspot in downtown Tacoma. Stop by for a drink on the Spanish Steps, or spend the night exploring! Can you find the secret bar?
Getting Outside in Tacoma
Get outside at Dune Peninsula, Tacoma’s newest park. This attractive waterfront park is great for seal-spotting, e-scooter scooting, and simply walking around. Walk from Dune Peninsula up to the new 605-foot-long, 50-foot-tall Wilson Way bridge, stopping at the “slides and stairs” for a mandatory chutes n’ ladders ride. The bridge is also a great place to watch Vashon Island ferries come and go.
On the other side of the pedestrian bridge, Point Defiance Park offers a jumping-off point for endless urban adventures. You can hike for miles in this 760-acre park, walk through seasonal gardens and visit the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium!
Tacoma is home to six major museums. Don’t miss the Museum of Glass, where you can observe live glass-blowing from inside one of the city’s most iconic buildings. And whether you’re a car buff or not, America’s Car Museum is packed full of interesting automobile memorabilia. Pick up a Tacoma attractions pass to save on museum admission.
Brewery Hopping in Tacoma
I could write an entire story on Tacoma breweries alone. Fortunately, we’ve already covered much of Tacoma’s brewing scene in our story: Visiting Tacoma’s Brewery District. I’ll give a quick rundown on a few of my favorite Tacoma breweries here.
Aviation-themed Wingman Brewers operates a tiny taproom near Tacoma Dome Station. Experimental, full-flavored beers are the focus here, and they are exceptionally well executed. With only a couple of “regular” beers on tap, securing a flight is the best way to take your taste buds on tour. Don’t miss the chance to sample Stratofortress if it’s on. A Belgian beer aged on rum-soaked cedar, this B-52 brew is simply the bomb. They don’t serve food, but you can bring your own. Snag something tasty from nearby Freighthouse Square — a century-old railroad building serving food from various vendors.
7 Seas Brewing’s Tacoma brewery is enormous. The tasting room alone occupies 2,400 square feet, and ascending the stairs to it feels like entering an industrial-chic beer factory. Inside, 7 Seas crafts an ocean of brews. During fall, seek out Yakima Valley Fresh Hop IPA — a 100% wet hop ale brewed with freshly harvested Yakima hops. An independent, onsite restaurant called 3uilt complements 7 Seas beers with fresh oysters, charcuterie and some of the best sandwiches in town.
Veteran-owned Odd Otter Brewing keeps it odd alright. Think yoga in the brewery, karaoke and trivia nights among “otter” things. Beers here of the IPA and Pale Ale varieties are dank and tropical. But dark and mysterious brews are where Odd Otter truly shines. The Rye Barrel Aged Comrade — an Imperial Chocolate Stout aged in Rye whiskey barrels — is an absolute must-try. Oh, and it’s always “Otter Hour” for military, veterans, first responders and spouses at Odd Otter. Hungry? Bring your own food.
Where to Eat
For coffee and a quick breakfast bite in downtown, head to Anthem Coffee. It’s the perfect place to plan your day in Tacoma, with views towards the waterfront and Museum of Glass from the patio. Grab lunch to-go from MSM Deli for a picnic in the park with their magical sub sandwiches. Check out our podcast with Michael Weldon Photography for further discussion on the best deli sandwiches in town. And hit up Point Ruston or the Proctor District for even more Tacoma eateries.
Featured photo: Travel Tacoma and Pierce County. Additional images by Brandon Fralic.