Family Fun in Tacoma, Washington

Because I blog about educational travel, some places we visited in Tacoma gave me complimentary admission tickets, media rates, and similar benefits. We paid full price for everything else. How much we paid has no bearing on my reviews, as I only share what I honestly recommend.


Family Fun in Tacoma, Washington

On Sunday, July 3, we said goodbye to our family and disembarked from our Alaska cruise in Seattle. The three of us took a Lyft to Tacoma, about 40 miles south. We'd been wanting to explore Tacoma for years and we had big plans to pack as much into our 24 hours in town as possible.  

We started at our hotel, the Courtyard Tacoma Downtown. We were about 6 hours early for check-in, but they were happy to hold our luggage. The Courtyard was in the perfect location, an easy walk from everything we wanted to visit. 

We'd arrived about an hour before any of the museums opened, due partially to the fact that there was NO traffic on that Sunday morning. We stood on this pedestrian bridge for 5 minutes and saw 7 cars. 

Despite the fact that nothing was open, there was plenty of see. Tacoma has a good amount of outdoor public art. 


At 10:00 am, we were the first through the door at the Museum of Glass

One word: WOW. 


I love this piece showing someone playing marbles. My hand is there for scale - the details are amazing and everything is so tiny!

Glass clothing and a glass chair. The creativity blew my mind. 


Speaking of creativity, I absolutely LOVED the Kids Design Glass exhibit. Each of these sculptures was inspired by a child's drawing. That child got to watch as the artists brought their vision to life. Twice! One went home with the child, while the other is on display.  



We loved everything at the Museum of Glass, but we all agreed that the Hot Shop was the best part. Visitors sit in stadium seating, or stand on the catwalk, in order to watch glass artists at work. There are close-ups on the screen. 

We could have sat there all day and watched. 

But we had other things to do see. We reluctantly pulled ourselves away and grabbed a quick lunch next door at The Social Bar and Grill. Delicious! 

Then we went to the Washington State History Museum

The exhibits were very interesting and covered many aspects of Washington's fascinating past. 

However, the flow didn't make sense. While I enjoyed all of the exhibits, it was never clear where to go next. That led to a disjointed experience, with exhibits out of chronological order. It makes me appreciate the skill that goes into designing museum spaces that subtly guide visitors from place to place.  

I love the artwork on this table in the kids' reading nook. 

Our next stop was brief. We popped into Tinkertopia

Part art store and part maker space, it's described as a "creative reuse center." The space is positively packed with thousands of items that spark creativity. 

You can purchase items individually or by bulk. If I'd had luggage space, I would have filled one of the bags for sure. There were countless treasures to be had at bargain prices. 

You can take your purchases to go, or work in their tinkerspace. Working there gives you access to all sorts of tools and other supplies. 

I would have loved to have stayed and played, but we had more places to go. We walked through the University of Washington Tacoma on the way to our next destination....

I was drawn to the Native art...

... and the beautiful glass pieces.

There were so many interesting pieces of art on display. 


We peeked into the hands-on TAM Studio. It was fabulous and I really wanted to sit down and create. But it was almost closing time. I photographed the two daily prompts and intend to make both soon. 

We ended the day at the fabulous Zeek's Pizza. It was so good! (The Ta is for Tacoma. 253 is the area code.)

The next morning, we packed up and got a Lyft to the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, 35 miles to the southwest. Despite the countless trips my family made when I was a kid between home and my grandparents' house in the Seattle area, we never took the 3-mile detour off I-5 to see the Capitol. I was excited to finally visit. 

I'd checked and double-checked that the Capitol would be open. It was July 4th, but the website said the only closures were on Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. However, because it was a holiday, it opened 3.5 hours later than usual, so we weren't able to go inside. Instead, we walked through the beautiful grounds.   

Bunny! It's always fun spotting a wild cottontail. In case you are wondering how I know this rabbit was wild and not a dumped pet, the head shape is a giveaway. This rabbit's face is pointier and more narrow than Trouble's

I really liked all the banners on the light posts. Each highlighted a different one of Washington's state symbols


From the Capitol, we went to the Olympia-Lacey Amtrak station. We boarded the Coast Starlight at 11:11 am southbound to Davis. You can read about that here.  

We got off the train 20 hours later (7:05 am) in Davis. We walked to a friend's house where we'd left our car, then headed home. 

We had a fantastic time. Every element - the train trip, the days in Seattle and Tacoma, and the cruise - were great and added up to a near-perfect vacation. 

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