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Fun Things to Do in Tacoma

The Best Attractions and Activities

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Tacoma offers world-class museums, beautiful parks, and a scenic waterfront. You can enjoy all of these things while visiting these popular Tacoma attractions.

1. Washington State History Museum

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lambfamilyphotos/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
The Washington State History Museum, located on the waterfront in downtown Tacoma, displays a fascinating collection of artifacts from the state's history. You'll find exhibits that feature Native American art and people, early European settlement, state industry and labor, and geology. In addition to the permanent collection, the WSHS always offers a variety of special exhibitions on subjects ranging from Lewis and Clark in the Northwest to the photography of Edward S. Curtis.

2. Tacoma Art Museum

The new and improved Tacoma Art Museum almost doubles the amount of exhibition space found at the previous museum facility. As visitors meander through the galleries, they will move upward from street level to the second floor. If you are fan of Chihuly glass art, the Tacoma Art Museum features a more extensive collection than you will find inside the Museum of Glass.

3. Museum of Glass

Museum of Glass in Tacoma Washington
Museum of Glass in Tacoma Washington (Tacoma Regional Convention & Visitor Bureau)
The Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art in Tacoma is the only American museum that features contemporary glass art; there are just three in the world with such a focus. You can watch glass artists at work in the hot shop amphitheater located in the metal-clad cone attached to the museum. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass links the waterfront Museum of Glass to the museums on the south side of I-705, including the Washington State History Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum.

4. Pt. Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Tacoma's Pt. Defiance Zoo & Aquarium features animals from the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Their Rocky Shores exhibit includes adorable sea otters, tufted puffins, and clever Beluga Whales. In the Asia Forest Sanctuary, you can view Sumatran tigers, white-cheeked gibbons, and Asian elephants. In other exhibits, you'll see sharks, sea horses, jelly fish, and octupi. The Tacoma zoo and aquarium reside within Pt. Defiance Park, where you'll find gorgeous gardens and other amusements.

5. LeMay - America's Car Museum

This vast new museum features automobiles and their impact on American culture. The museum's permanent collection includes everything from a 1906 Cadillac to a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray to custom vehicles from movies. Special exhibitions will change throughout the year. The LeMay Musuem includes indoor and outdoor spaces for special events, car shows, and concerts.

6. Fort Nisqually Living History Museum at Point Defiance Park

Fort Nisqually was a Hudson's Bay Company outpost built in 1833, the first European settlement on Puget Sound. The Fort is now a living history museum in Tacoma, where you can experience life in Washington Territory during the fur trade era.

7. Union Station

Union Station in Tacoma Washington
Union Station (Tacoma Regional Convention & Visitor Bureau)
Tacoma's historic railroad station was once the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad. It served as a train station into the 1980s. Union Station, a marvelous example of Beaux Arts architecture, is now the lobby of a Federal Courthouse. The Tacoma building is worth a view any time; the lobby, filled with installations of Chihuly glass art, can be viewed Monday through Friday during business hours.

8. W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory

The W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory is located in Tacoma's Wright Park. The historic glass conservatory, with a distinctive twelve-sided central dome, is listed on the City of Tacoma, Washington State, and National historic registers. Exotic tropical plants and floral displays can all be seen in the lovely structure, where 3,500 panes of glass make up the dome and wings of the Conservatory.

9. Working Waterfront Maritime Museum

The Working Waterfront Maritime Museum currently offers visitors an opportunity to view heritage displays of maritime artifacts and to watch the restoration and construction of small watercraft. Children's activities and a maritime research library are also available. Located in Tacoma, the Working Waterfront Maritime Museum is building a permanent venue in a section of the historic Puget Sound Freight Warehouse.

10. Wild Waves & Enchanted Village

Wild Waves and Enchanted Village is both a water park and an amusement park. Visitors can enjoy a huge wooden roller coaster, a variety of water-themed thrill rides, a 1906 antique carrousel, and kiddie rides. Food, games, and entertainment are also part of the fun. This park is located in Federal Way, just north of Tacoma.

11. Emerald Queen Casino

The Vegas-style gaming available at both Emerald Queen locations includes video slots, live action Keno and table games including Let it Ride, Blackjack, Spanish 21, Fortune Pai Gow, Craps, Roulette and Carribbean Stud.

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