5 (free!) things to do in Tacoma this weekend, rain or shine

Thursday, March 23, 2017 1:00 PM by Calista Klein

Spring in the Pacific Northwest means gardens bloom, waterfalls thunder in the mountains, cherry blossoms begin to open, farmers markets kick-off with fresh produce, and... the weather is incredibly unpredictable. When you have a weekend forecast that calls for drizzle, downpour, and periods of clear skies, how do you plan your weekend? One option is to stick to tried and true indoor activities, but if you're suffering from cabin fever you can still get outside this weekend! Grab your raincoat (just in case) and check out 5 of my favorite things to do around Tacoma when the weather could be beautiful and clear, or it could drizzle away the afternoon. What makes these activities even more fun? They are all (mostly) free! So you can get exploring regardless of the forecast, and regardless of your budget. Cheers to the weekend, Tacoma!
 
For more free things to do in Tacoma and Pierce County, check out this handy dandy list. Our online events calendar also features a running list of all the great things going on around the county.
 
W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory W.W. Seymour Conservatory
 

1. Stroll through Wright Park & W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory

This is quite possibly one of my favorite things to do when the weather can't decide between drizzling or not. While the weather is clear, wander along the many natural trails of Wright Park, keeping your eyes peeled for labels identifying the species of trees in the arboretum and when they were first planted in Wright Park. When the clouds start to loom, pop inside of the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, one of only three Victorian conservatories on the West Coast. The building is beautiful, there's a tree with lemons bigger than your cup of coffee (true story, I've measured), and it's a great place to warm up and dry off. Entrance to the conservatory is by donation, and the park is free to the public.
 
Karpeles Manuscript museum Wright Brothers - Karpeles Manuscript Museum
 

2. Visit the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

Conveniently located across the street from Wright Park is another great place to seek refuge from the weather. Admission to the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is always free, and provides access to authentic handwritten historical documents and the knowledgeable museum docent. Fun fact, the Tacoma museum is one of twelve Karpeles Manuscript Museums spread throughout the nation. Exhibits rotating between museums every three months, so you're pretty much guaranteed to see something new whenever you stop in. The current display focuses on the Wright brothers, and includes a handwritten account of Orville Wright's first flight at Kitty Hawk, as well as reports of the world's first powered flight, and the first published interview with the Wright brothers.
 
 Port Observation Tower Port of Tacoma Port of Tacoma Observation Tower
 

3. See the sights at the Port of Tacoma's Observation Tower

Admittedly, this activity is geared towards a day when the clouds don't look like they're going to dump buckets of rain. When the weather is clear, stop by the Port of Tacoma's Observation Tower. Free, and open to the public 24 hours a day, I like to take a little snack or sip my latte while watching the hustle and bustle of a working port. This is a great excursion for children, if your little one is enamored with ships or cranes this is a must do activity for the weekend. 
   
Spaceworks Tacoma Banner
 

4. Explore Public Art in downtown Tacoma

Downtown Tacoma is brimming with public art waiting to be discovered. Spaceworks Tacoma, a local organization that supports Tacoma's artistic and small business communities, runs Artscape, a program that places 2D, 3D, murals, or multi-media art installations in vacant storefront windows and along the exterior walls of downtown buildings. Download an interactive map, lace up your shoes, pack an umbrella (just in case!), and spend the afternoon discovering free public art in downtown Tacoma.
 
Tacoma Narrows Bridges 2008 Tacoma Narrows Bridge Narrows Brewing Co.   
 

5. Walk the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is an icon of the South Puget Sound. Many locals drive the bridge on their daily commute, but there's also a pedestrian sidewalk accessible from the War Memorial Park. I recommend parking there and following the Scott Pierson Trail to the foot of the bridge. The Narrows is just over a mile in length, so plan for a two mile round trip walk, or turn around at the halfway spot. Keep a lookout for aquatic life in the Narrows channel, rumor has it that a giant octopus is living in the ruins of Galloping Gertie... Bring a weatherproof jacket, as it sometimes can get a little windy on the bridge. If you're looking for more history about the infamous bridge, swing by the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor or the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Both charge admission fees, but are a great way to get an understanding of the significance of the Tacoma Narrows.
 
 
Author: Calista Klein

As the Visitor Experience Coordinator for Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, Calista loves being on the front lines of visitor service. When not at the office, she's outdoors hiking, running, camping, or climbing, tasting dishes at new Pierce County restaurants, sampling local craft beer, or curling up with a cup of tea and a good Netflix show.

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