Downtown Tacoma and the Museum District

Downtown Tacoma

Chihuly Bridge of GlassTacoma’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, and even in library study rooms. 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 Link Light Rail.
Whatever your travel interest or style, there’s a part of downtown Tacoma that will be calling your name.

Things to do in downtown Tacoma

The Museum District

Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) in Tacoma, WashingtonSix 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.

Pacific Avenue

Pacific Avenue in downtown TacomaJust 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 Zeek's in an 1890-built building that used to be an Italian grocery store. Sam Choy's Poke to the Max is an island treat, and Pho Thanks Brother is fresh Vietnamese cuisine worth stopping for. Shop for the latest fashions at Stocklist and the other 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. 

The Theater District

Rialto Theater in TacomaThe 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.  

Downtown Tacoma

Downtown waterfront

Tacoma's downtown core glides nicely onto the downtown waterfront, marked by Dock Street museums, and the esplanade, a beautiful waterfront walkway with access to dining, parks and picnic areas, and kayak and paddle board rentals. To get to the waterfront by foot from downtown, cross either the Bridge of Glass, or the Murray Morgan bridge on 11th street, and take the glass elevator to dock street. 


Antique Row

Antique Row Tacoma, WashingtonA 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. Savoy Special VintageSanford and Son, Tacoma Consignment, and Lily Pad Antiques are just a few of the stores where visitors can search for antiques, relics and forgotten treasures.


Brewery Blocks

Downtown Tacoma Brewery BlocksAdding to the energy of downtown Tacoma, the Brewery Blocks' name pays homage to the trade that historically gave the area its purpose, and it has become a hub for fun by the glass. Within just a few steps of one another, you'll imbibe the best of the Northwest, from Dancing Goats Coffee providing the caffeine, Camp Colvos Brewing & Pizza Co. slinging the suds and slices, Incline Cider keeping it crisp, and the Living Taproom boldly letter you pick and pour your poison.


Stay Downtown

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...
Views of Mount Rainier and the waterfront, and 22 stories of style, comfort, and modern amenities for as low as $140 a night. 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...
Right next to the Tacoma Dome and America's Car Museum. Learn More...
McMenamins Elks Temple offer Learn More...

Downtown Itineraries

Year-Round - Experience the city of glass without missing out on any of hidden treasures in this nexus of studio glass art. Learn More...
Year-round - From the country's largest car museum, to Museum of Glass: 6 museums all within a beautiful walk of each other Learn More...