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Story ideas from Tacoma and Pierce County
Farm to fork without leaving city limits
In the city of Puyallup, food can go from the ground to the table without ever leaving the city limits. Not many cities have both the agricultural roots and the environmental- and health-conscious demand to create an entire ecosystem for organic food. And the farms play heavily into agri-tourism as well. Visitors can tour the farm that supplies the food they’ll eat at a top-notch restaurant later that same day.
A vacation with teeth
The South Puget Sound is a place for people who prefer doing over seeing. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium offers an Eye-to-Eye Shark Dive program that gives guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with several species of the ocean’s apex predator. Then, just outside the city of Eatonville near Mount Rainier, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is like a reverse-zoo, where the animals have the run of the place, and the guests stay to the designated areas. And for guests that want to go beyond the normal experience, they offer opportunities such as the Keeper Tours, where you can hop into the back of the keeper’s truck and experience the thrill of seeing the big-horned sheep, moose and bison up close as the keeper makes his or her rounds feeding the animals.
The South Puget Sound has slowly grown into a hub for successful, but under-the-radar sweets companies. Big brands like Brown & Haley – producers of Almond Roca – are well known, but they’re not alone. Local niche chocolatier Emily's Chocolates makes their famous chocolate-covered fortune cookies in Fife as well. And in Tacoma, the new kid on the block, micro-chocolatier Tease Chocolates serves up truffles and confections out of the Stadium District. Based out of Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood Johnson Candy Company is a third-generation family chocolatier, and in the 6th Avenue District, Tacoma Boys makes an odd assortment of fudge flavors that just seem to work – like creamsicle and green tea. And just across the bridge in the city of Sumner, marshmallows take center stage at Madyson’s Marshmallows, with treats like gourmet marshmallow doughnuts and stuffed marshmallows.
Whether you’re talking third-wave coffee, craft beer or craft spirits, when you raise a glass in the South Sound, there’s a good chance it was made locally. Tacoma’s historic brewery district is quickly reclaiming its heritage, with 7 Seas Brewing moving in last year, and shortly to be joined by Pacific Brewing which is expanding into two buildings. Meanwhile, Tacoma’s flagship craft brewery, Harmon Brewing, just opened up its fifth location. Heritage Distilling, the most decorated craft distillery in the country and Chambers Bay Distillery are signing new marketing partnerships with the Seattle Mariners, Tacoma Rainiers Amtrak and other major organizations. On the roasted side of things, Manifesto Coffee just joined Bluebeard and Valhalla on Tacoma’s local coffee-roasting scene. The liquid tourism boom here is happening, but it’s happening slowly, deliberately and with attention to quality.
Hidden in plain sight
Tacoma has more glass art by world-famous artists strewn throughout the city in unexpected places (bars, second-run theaters, pedestrian bridges, courthouses, libraries, college dorms, McDonald’s entryways, etc.) than in any museum in the world. And on top of that, the city is home to Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass: two museums with world-class glass-art collections.
The cities of Puyallup and Sumner at the base of iconic Mount Rainier seem like two towns that have been somewhat hidden from time, which makes for a golden opportunity for parents to show their children what cities were like when they themselves were younger. Both are home to quaint antiques shops, have bustling main streets lined with historic, low-rise architecture. Both have parks in the city centers with bandstands where locals and visitors gather to listen to live music in the summers. Sumner has a reverence for its title of Rhubarb Pie Capital of the world, and they pay homage to that dessert each summer for the month-long Rhubarb Pie Festival. Puyallup is home to the Washington State Fair, where twice a year (Spring and Fall), guests can wander around head-spinning rides, farm animals and craft barns, scones in hand.