Tacoma’s downtown is its “art and soul,” and the place where visitors can see for themselves why Tacoma is one of Forbes’ 13 Art Trips You Need to Take. You can wander amongst world-class museums, or just take in all the public art, which includes Dale Chihuly glass installations seemingly around every corner: on artistic pedestrian bridges, in federal courthouses, in library study rooms and even in a bar. Shoppers will find trendy boutiques, thrift shops and antique stores, while foodies have options that run the gamut from white linen to greasy spoon.
And in downtown Tacoma, nearly everything is within easy walking distance, or a short ride on the free-to-ride Link Light Rail.
Whatever your travel interest or style, there’s a part of downtown Tacoma that will be calling your name.
The Museum District
Six world-class museums make up Tacoma’s Museum District, with subjects that span art, history, maritime and the automobile. Tacoma Art Museum’s focus on art of the American West, and work from Pacific Northwest artists. Museum of Glass not only showcases glass pieces from some of the biggest names in the field, it also contains a functioning hot shop, where visitors can watch glass artists ply their trade. America’s Car Museum is the largest car museum in North America, and takes visitors through every era of the automobile’s history via more than 300 collector vehicles on display. Washington State History Museum lets you meet the extraordinary people of Washington State through artifacts, interactive exhibitions and unique storytelling. The Children’s Museum of Tacoma is a pay-as-you-will experience that celebrates the power of play. The Foss Waterway Seaport Museum gives visitors a glimpse into Tacoma’s maritime past, present and future in a building that’s a part of that rich heritage.
A Tacoma Museum Pass gives you access to all six museums at a 25% discount, and allows a full year to visit them.
Just one afternoon stroll along Pacific Avenue and you’ll experience the city’s history while enjoying some of its most modern – and delicious – assets. Pacific Avenue is lined with restored, renovated and repurposed brick buildings from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, most of which retain their original exposed brick walls, soaring ceilings and industrial atmosphere. It’s in these preserved buildings that Tacoma’s history comes to life.
After a day at the museums, order wood-fired pizza from Elemental in an 1890-built building that used to be an Italian grocery store. Dig into a cupcake from Hello Cupcake, a bakery housed in a 1903-built dry-goods store. Shop for the latest fashions at Stocklist and UrbanXchange, clothing boutiques that are housed in an 1890-built grocery store. Try the city’s best Asian-fusion dishes at Indochine, in a building that in 1904 was a candy factory. Wander among five Chihuly art installations inside cavernous 1911-built Union Station that’s become a U.S. district court. Drain a pint of beer at Tacoma’s flagship craft brewery, Harmon Brewing Company, in what was once the biggest furniture factory west of the Mississippi.
The Theater District
The Theater District in downtown Tacoma is a district where a visitor can get a front-row seat to history. When “Tacoma was literally staggering under a boom of the boomiest” (Rudyard Kipling, 1889), more than a dozen theaters – mostly vaudeville – opened in quick succession. Of those, the Pantages Theater and The Rialto – both opened in 1918, and both since restored and serving as premiere venues for music and theater – are the two that still remain, and they were joined in 1993 by Theater on the Square.
A unique standout in downtown Tacoma is a section of Broadway that has come to be known as Antiques Row, due to the half-dozen sprawling, multi-level antique stores that line the street. Brandy’s Attic, Sanford and Son, Broadway’s Best Antiques, and Lily Pad Antiques are just a few of the stores where visitors can search for antiques, relics and forgotten treasures.
It's not easy to see everything downtown Tacoma has to offer in just one day, but several hotels in downtown Tacoma make it easy to stay overnight and wake up refreshed and ready to start another day of experiences.
Tacoma's glass-art boutique hotel features immaculate rooms, and glass art by a different world-renowned artist on each Learn More...
Stay downtown, just steps away from Tacoma's corporate centers, attractions, shops and restaurants. Learn More...
Upscale. Downtown. Located in the heart of Tacoma's financial and theater districts. Learn More...
Itinerary: Year-Round - Day 1: Wake up inspired at Tacoma's glass-art inspired hotel, Hotel Murano! Dedicated to Tacoma's Learn More...
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