Arts & Culture
Whether you're an art enthusiast or a casual visitor, Tacoma and Pierce County have ink-redible experiences. As one of the 13 art cities Forbes Travel Guide says you need to visit, it's a haven for those seeking a blend of historical charm and contemporary artistic flair. It’s a cultural powerhouse in its own right, bursting with a raw, unfiltered artistic vibe that’s as real as it gets.
Any conversation about arts and culture in Tacoma starts with glass, also called the extreme sport of the fine-arts world. Museum of Glass isn’t just another museum; it’s a full-blown sensory experience. Imagine watching artists wrestling with molten glass in live demonstrations, crafting mind-blowing sculptures before your eyes. And the Chihuly Bridge of Glass? It’s like walking through a kaleidoscope – a 500-foot-long testament to Tacoma’s own glass maestro, Dale Chihuly.
But there's more to Tacoma than just shiny things. Tacoma Art Museum throws the spotlight on the grit and beauty of Northwestern art. Beyond your typical stroll-through-gallery experience, expect to see pieces that’ll make you stop, think, and maybe even tilt your head in confusion – in the best way possible. The old masters are there, as well as the future old masters.
Music in Tacoma is as eclectic as the city itself. The Spanish Ballroom music venue is at the heart of McMenamins Elks Temple, and when one of their national acts is in the building, the whole structure feels like a life-support system for musical energy. Jazzbones isn’t just a venue; it’s where jazz, rock, and hip-hop collide in an explosion of pure musical joy. And if you're after big names, the Tacoma Dome has seen the likes of Beyoncé and Metallica. It’s the kind of place where you lose your voice singing along.
History here isn’t trapped in textbooks. The Washington State History Museum is like a time machine, sans the DeLorean. It’s interactive, it’s engaging, and it’ll give you the lowdown on Washington State’s backstory, from Native American heritage to the tech boom. Automotive culture also has a life of its own in Pierce County, where we have one of the biggest car museums in North America (LeMay - America's Car Museum) - with DeLorean - and one of the largest publicly-accessible collections in the world (LeMay Collections at Marymount).
Theater in Tacoma? It's not all Shakespeare and opera glasses. The Pantages and Rialto theaters are where Broadway meets street – think classic shows with a twist, performances that might just blow your mind. But you can scale down your experience without scaling down your expectations at Tacoma Little Theatre and Tacoma Musical Playhouse.
Tacoma is not just about the big attractions. Wander down to Sixth Avenue and you'll find the real heartbeat of the city. This is where creativity spills onto the streets – indie bookstores that host underground poets, coffee shops doubling as art galleries, vinyl shops that dare you set your needle in a new groove, and murals that turn alleys into open-air galleries.
Tacoma’s not your cookie-cutter tourist destination. It’s a place where art isn’t just displayed; it’s lived. Where history isn’t just remembered; it’s part of the daily conversation. And where music, theater, and literature aren’t just entertainment; they're a way of life. Come to Tacoma, and experience a city that’s unapologetically itself.
And while Tacoma might be where the arts and culture conversation starts in Pierce County, it's definitely not where it ends. This isn't just about one city; it's about an entire county that's got its creative game on point.
Puyallup is not just about the Washington State Fair, though that’s a big deal – think big-name concerts, rodeos, and all the scones you can eat. But Puyallup's got a quieter side too, with local galleries and the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts that serve up a hefty dose of local history and global perspectives.
Over in Gig Harbor, it's all about the chill coastal vibe. Their waterfront is dotted with art galleries that scream local talent. The Gig Harbor Film Festival is a must-see for indie film buffs, showcasing everything from thought-provoking documentaries to films that might just be tomorrow's big hits.
Lakewood boasts the Lakewood Playhouse that has been putting on shows for over 80 years – we’re talking quality community theater that gives Broadway a run for its money. Plus, the Lakewood Historical Society and Museum is like stepping into a time capsule, with exhibits that tell the story of the city’s evolution from a military hub to a cultural melting pot.
Don't overlook Sumner either. This place is like a storybook town come to life, with a Main Street that's all charm and no pretense. Sumner's Ryan House Museum is a trip back to the 1800s, while their local arts scene is bustling in a low-key, everyone-knows-everyone kind of way.