fbpx
Browsing Category

Active

Active

How to Make the Most of Your Next Trip to the Tacoma Nature Center

tacoma nature center

The Tacoma Nature Center is one of the most wonderful things to explore in Tacoma.

It’s a fun way to spend a day out in nature and learn about the local area. From hiking trails to family activities, there’s so much to discover.

If you’re planning a trip, you’re going to want to know how to enjoy your time there.

Here’s your guide to making the most of your trip to the Tacoma Nature Center.

What Is the Tacoma Nature Center?

Maybe you’re not familiar with the center and what it has to offer.

The Tacoma Nature Center is a 71-acre preserve surrounding Snake Lake. Its nature trails are a great way to experience the local wetlands and wildlife.

General admission is free for the nature preserve, all trails, and basic activities. The visitor center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. The trails themselves are open from 8 am until sunset year round.

While it’s free to visit, donations to the preserve are accepted.

Another one of the best things to do in Tacoma, nature-lovers will find plenty to do at the center. The Tacoma Nature Center can also be rented for events such as birthday parties and weddings.

History

The Tacoma Nature Center has a long and fascinating history. It stretches back to the early years of American civilization.

Before the center came to be, Native Americans used the resources of the land and water. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Snake Lake became a popular destination in Tacoma. It wasn’t until 1979 that the area was officially dedicated as a park.

Soon after, the preserve started to establish various programs and activity centers. Today, the park continues to change and evolve.

Trails

A myriad of beautiful hiking trails is one of the biggest draws for visitors at the preserve. Hikers can choose between three self-guided walks. These include the Forest Walk, History Walk, and Wetland Walk.

The Forest Walk will take you through trees brimming with Douglas firs. This forest is home to wildlife, shrubs, and a highway view. Visitors will also enjoy gorgeous hillside paths.

Tacoma Nature Center’s History Walk is heaven for history-buffs. The tour ventures past a rock wall, bridge, and railroad line that all have a place in the preserve’s rich history. Hikers will learn about the habitat’s conservation and the tribes that used the land hundreds of years ago.

Wetland Walk is a guided tour through the wetlands of the area. Duck, reptiles, and majestic trees find a home in these waters.

Visitors who opt for this walk will have an experience that’s vibrant and alive with the sounds of nature.

The center offers a guide and map of the trails to all hikers who want to stay the course. The guide gives you a checklist of the various wildlife species and shrubbery you may spot on your walk.

There’s also an “interpretive center” where families can enjoy exhibits on wildlife and the wetlands.

Discovery Pond

The Discovery Pond is the perfect place for families with young children to visit.

It’s an environmental playground built with nature itself. Kids can enjoy a tree house, waterfalls, and a log crossing. The playground has tons of rocks, logs, gardens, and other things for children to play on.

This area can be reserved for parties. But on regular days, the playground opens at 9:30 am.

Plant Nursery

You can also find a native plant nursery on the preserve. Gardeners who want to help conservation efforts will find the perfect plant here. These plants make the best habitats for local animals and insects.

The nursery has plant sales twice a year. There’s one in the spring and fall for guests who want to make a special purchase.

Wildlife

The Tacoma Nature Center is filled with exciting local wildlife. Visitors can see over 20 species of mammals and almost 100 species of birds on the preserve.

Some mammals that are common to see include the red fox and the black-tailed deer. Painted tree frogs and painted turtles find refuge in Snake Lake. Wood ducks, black-capped chickadees, and woodpeckers circle the forests and the wetlands.

The park discourages guests from feeding the animals. You can, however, take photos on your trip.

Programs

After you’ve made the most of your trip, you might want to know what classes, events, and programs are available.

Tacoma Nature Center isn’t just great for hiking and exploration. The center hosts art shows and Earth Day events.

There are classes for adults and children to learn more about science. The preserve hosts field trips for kids that allow them to interact with nature. Lastly, summer camp programs for young children and adolescents are also available.

There’s no end to the fun and educational opportunities you can take advantage of at the park.

Plan Your Trip

There are a couple of small things to remember before making your way to the nature preserve.

The center has limited parking so if you’re going with a group, it’s a good idea to drive together. Visitors should keep in mind that pets and bicycles are not allowed on the trails. The park also asks hikers to refrain from smoking on the trails.

Now it’s time to begin planning your trip. Whether you have a family or want to go on a solo hike, there’s something for you at the Tacoma Nature Center.

For more information and tips, contact us today.

Active Activities Clever Neighbor Family Tacoma Travel

Things to Do in Tacoma: The Narrows Bridge

Tacoma_Narrows_Bridge_by_train

A Connecting Point in The South Sound

First Built in 1940, the Narrows Bridge has been a vital route for locals and industry for over half a century. It connects the Olympic Peninsula to Tacoma and the surrounding areas. There are plenty of things to do in Tacoma within site of The Narrows Bridge.  The area offers opportunities to enjoy culture, cuisine and the outdoors. Read on to learn a bit about the current attractions, the history and watch videos of Galloping Gertie’s plunge into Puget Sound and some great things to do in Tacoma.

Titlow Park and 6th Avenue

Tacoma has a number of beautiful parks and areas that offer great views of the Narrows Bridge. One of the best spots to enjoy the water and a view of The Narrows Bridge is from the beach at Titlow Park.

Titlow Park offers playfields, ball-courts, forest trails, covered picnic areas and a playground. A short hike allows access to the beach and views of the Bridge.

Local bird watchers are often seen with their long lenses along the shores of Titlow Park’s duck ponds. Titlow Lodge, a former hotel built in the craftsman tradition, sits on the park property. It has been refurbished and is available to the public for events.

Within talking distance of  Titlow Park is Boathouse 19, which offers American cuisine, a full bar and its own view of the Narrows Bridge. Just up the road, off 6th Ave is the Tacoma Musical Playhouse, and one of our favorite spots to grab a donut, Pao’s Donuts.

READ: DRIVE THRU DONUTS IN TACOMA BUT BRING CASH

One of the best views o the Bridge can be found nearby at the War Memorial Park, which offers a unique view down the span of the Narrows Bridge

Pt. Defiance

Visitors to Tacoma should always make a little time for Five Mile Drive in Tacoma’s Pt. Defiance Park. The park is the second largest City Park in the United States. It is home to a Marina, Zoo, Gardens, Restaurants, Beach and forest trails. (Click to learn which park is the largest).

READ: TWO WHEELS UP FOR OLD TOWN BICYCLE

Five Mile Drive offers a number of trails and parking areas that offer views of the bridge. Don’t be surprised if you see some deer or raccoons along the side of the road. Just remember not to feed the wildlife! If you do have a hankering to hand feed some critters, head into the Budgie exhibit at the zoo.

Gig Harbor

Across the bridge from Tacoma is the maritime city of Gig Harbor, which offers its own unique way to experience the waters of Puget Sound. The downtown area offers shopping, dining and views of he harbor an Mt. Rainier. Heart Rock Beach at Gig Harbor’s Narrows Park offers a great view from the western shore of the narrows (Click Here For Some of  The Best Restaurants in Gig Harbor).

Local Wildlife

Bald Eagles and Osprey patrol the waters below the Narrows Bridge, their nests in the nearby tree line. Below the surface are lingcod, salmon and octopi.

If you are lucky you might just see a pod of orcas or a humpback whale swim by. The whale population has been increasing in recent years, and with innovation of the cell phone camera, more and more folks are recording their experiences (  Check out this footage from 2017 ). Porpoises have been missing for many years, but in recent years, porpoise sightings are increasing.  Stellar Sea lions and harbor seals  are abundant in the area.

Along the shores are mule deer, raccoons and the occasional coyote. There is an an assortment of bird-life in the area including wood ducks, geese, cormorants and seagulls.

Whale sightings are increasing in the waters around The Narrows Bridge.

Experience The Waters of The Narrows Bridge

When looking for things to do in Tacoma, look no further than Sea kayaks and Stand Up Paddle-boards that are available to rent from a number of local beaches and businesses. Owen Beach in Pt. Defiance Park is one spot to find rentals in the Summer.

If you’d like a view below the surface, look into scuba diving! Cold water scuba Divers often take the plunge to inspect the waters and supports below the bridge. It’s advisable to have a boat, but some divers leave from nearby Titlow Beach, where grown men once wrestled octopi (click to learn more about the Giant Octopus of the Narrows Bridge).

Many locals enjoy the bounty of Puget Sound by crabbing or fishing the waters nearby. Make sure to check this map before clamming the beaches. If you are unfamiliar with the local waterways it may be best to charter a boat and hire a guide. This can make for a great experience as everything is taken care of, even the baiting of your hook! (Click here to charter a boat in Tacoma, WA)

If riding a bike is your thing, many folks enjoy a brisk ride along Five Mile Drive. Others will rent a bike or carriage from Wheel Fun Rentals at Point Ruston. Ruston Way offers a number of parking areas to stop and unload your own bike or take a walk to enjoy the waters and restaurants along Commencement bay.

History: A Tale of Three Bridges

Howard Clifford runs from the buckling concrete of Galloping Gertie.

As you explore the area it’s always nice to know a little bit of the History.

Constructed between 1938 to 1940,  the first Narrows Bridge earned the nick-name Galloping Gertie, as it would jump up and down during windstorms. Just 4 months after opening, the bridge fell apart and crumbled into the waters during a windstorm (watch original news reel footage).

Reconstruction was stalled by the war efforts of World War Two. The second bridge was finally completed in 1950. This bridge currently holds the West Bound lanes of Highway 16. The third bridge, which supports the Eastbound lanes of highway 16, opened to traffic in 2007. Going east bound will cost you though  — click here for the current toll price of the Narrows Bridge.

All three versions of the bridge are Suspension Bridges. The benefits of a suspension bridge are that it can span great lengths, can be built high above the water and is relatively inexpensive to construct. One major drawback is that the flexibility of a suspension bridge makes it susceptible aeroelastic flutter (that’s a mouthful!), which brought down Galloping Gertie, the original Narrows Bridge, in 1940 (Who’s to blame for the collapse of the Narrows Bridge?).

The first bridge was designed by Leon Moisseiff,  famous at the time for designing the Golden Gate bridge and several suspension bridges in New York.  The failure of the original Narrows Bridge affected him deeply. Sadly, Moisseiff died just three years after Galloping Gertie’s fateful plunge.

In 1992, Galloping Gertie’s wreckage was placed on the National Register of Historic places, to protect it from looters and salvage.  Watch “The Story Of The Tacoma Narrows Bridge 1938 – 1940”

A view of  Mt. Rainier and the westbound lanes of The Narrows Bridge.

Active Activities Bicycle Clever Neighbor Family Fitness Health Shopping Sports Tacoma

2 Wheels Up for Old Town Bicycle

Old Town Bicycle is ready to get your bike that much needed tune up!

Bicycles, Helmets and Gear Oh My!

Tacoma’s waterfront is the premier bike path for a cruise. Old Town Bicycle is ready to get your bike that much needed tune up before Spring melts the Winter frost.

With three locations, Olympia on Capitol Way, Gig Harbor on Kimball Drive, and Tacoma’s McCarver St Location, Old Town Bicycle’s staff is ready to get you on the road.

Cycling Aspirations and Perspiration

Let’s be clear, I do not claim to be a cyclist. When I ride, it’s usually a pleasurable cruise down by the water. My beach cruiser is classic  cream white with style, and of course she has a basket.

The only time I was semi-serious about cycling was for the annual Tour de Goldfish on Five Mile Drive. That race ended in a tag team Tandem Bicycle ascent to the finish.

READ: THINGS TO DO IN TACOMA: THE NARROWS BRIDGE

Get Tuned

If you are a cruiser like me, or a serious cyclist that needs the right gear for those long distance rides, Old Town Bicycle has you covered.

When I brought my beach cruiser in for a much needed tune up, I was greeted by several staff members who were ready to assist me. Alana described the different types of tune up’s the shop offered.

They cover everything from Standard to Deluxe tune ups, taking the time to clean, inspect, grease and adjust so my two wheeled transportation was ready once again to ride along the waterfront.

Gear Heads

The staff at Old Town Bicycle is friendly and knowledgeable. They were glad to discuss the importance of bike maintenance and the best ways to keep my bike in well working condition.

Helpful Hint: Giving your bike a bath, similar to washing your car keeps it in good condition. Washing prevents pebbles, sticks and nature from rusting chains or breaking gears.

We also discussed the right types of gear. Those funny shorts and Clip in shoes you see when a cyclist passes by in the bike lane are actually well worth the price for comfort and balance.

Old Town Bicycle has the right helmets, tires, water bottles and cycle gear you need to get out on the road feeling prepared.

Outdoor Adventures

Tacoma’s beauty is is better enjoyed outside. The  bike path is a great way to do this. There are plenty of things to do in Tacoma on your two wheeled friend. There are tons of local trails and waterfront views to be enjoyed.

If you ever made a resolution to get active and healthy or trying a new sport, placing your feet to the pedals is a great solution

It’s never a bad time of year to get your bike tuned, especially if it hasn’t been done in a while.

Check out Old Town Bicycle’s Deluxe Tune Up Package! Be sure to tell them Clever Neighbor sent you!

Old Town Bicycle
Address: 3009 N McCarver St, Tacoma, WA 98403
Phone:(253) 573-9400
Hours: 10AM–6PM

Active Activities Clever Neighbor Climbing Fitness Health Lifestyle Rock Climbing Sport Climbing Sports Tacoma

Climbing New Heights at Edgeworks

Edgeworks Climbing Gym

Climb on at Edgeworks

When you think Rock Climbing our minds wander to gigantic boulders and cliffs with climbers hundreds of feet in the air. This image can be a bit intimidating. Indoor climbing has dramatically changed this traditional view of rock climbing to one with brightly colored hand and foot holds, auto-belays and one-on-one instruction. Located off 6th Avenue on North 9th Street, Edgeworks is hiding out and it’s absolutely the best climbing gym in Tacoma! Don’t be intimidated,the team at Edgeworks will have you suited up and bouldering in no time. They have all the rental equipment climbers need. Everything from climbing shoes, harnesses, ATC and chalk bags. Not to mention they have great hours, open seven days a week Monday – Friday 9 am to 10 pm, Saturday 10 am to 10 pm Sunday 10 am to 7 pm.

Local bouldering

Walking up to the front door of Edgeworks, it’s hard to imagine that inside the grey warehouse business complex there is 10,000 sq ft of climbing, top-out bouldering wall, six auto-belays (single person belay stations), weight room, an instructional climbing wall on the second floor and a yoga studio to boot. Edgeworks literally has it all. There are basic 101 level classes that teach beginners how to tie a figure eight, lock in their ATC’s and climb on. It doesn’t stop there. Once you fine tune those climbing skills indoors the team at Edgeworks takes top-roping and lead climbing outside! Don’t worry when the little ones come calling“Mom I want to climb too!”, Edgeworks has kids classes and camps available as well. Climbing is a family activity and helps get everyone active and exploring the Pacific Northwest.

Commercial Climbing Gyms

The climbing industry has grown tenfold in the past decade. The march continues with the help of heated warehouses and fancy climbing equipment such as Gri Gri’s and comfortable sport harnesses. Commercial indoor climbing is another way for people in the Northwest to stay dry in the winter months while maintaining their 5.11 B status. I began climbing at Edgeworks almost one year ago, January of 2016 and have never looked back. The instructors at the gym are patient, knowledgeable, friendly and fun. They take climbing seriously so we can monkey around and really push the limits. If you are looking to become an Outdoor Guide or just want to boulder with friends check out Edgeworks. Tell them Clever Neighbor sent you!

Active Activities Clever Neighbor Fitness Lifestyle Sports Tacoma Yoga

Tacoma’s Source for Ananda Yoga is Source Yoga

file_002Ananda is Sanskrit for bliss, which is exactly what students find at Source Yoga. Located on North 21st Street in Tacoma or Regents Blvd in University Place, this local yoga studio has amazing instructors that help students at every level develop and harness their abilities. I began my Yoga expedition this past September. Coming in with zero experience, I was nervous about trying yoga. I decided to start with the I & II level class. One hour and fifteen minutes later my Yoga Bhakti (path of devotion) was under way.

Let’s talk benefits! Everyone knows that yoga helps to increase flexibility, energy and vitality. Moreover, when paired with healthy eating leads to weight reduction and increased self esteem. Yet, improved athletic performance isn’t the only benefit. With a monthly membership at Source Yoga students are able to utilize mats, bolsters, blocks, and straps to assist in their practice. You never need to worry about forgetting your mat again.source-yoga-5

All the instructors at Source Yoga are extremely knowledgeable. They are continually developing their skills by attending seminars and workshops. Students also have access to with their membership or can purchase these exploits individually.

What to expect! Class starts with seated dhyana or meditation and Instructors help students mentally focus through breathing exercises. I have tried a couple other Yoga studios in Tacoma. One of the many reasons I keep coming back to Source Yoga is the instructors. They walk students through the poses by performing them during class. They also assist students by helping to adjust their poses to develop proper movement. file_000-2

So do yourself a favor this Holiday Season and take a break from the chaos by venturing into Source Yoga and find a moment of zen. Use Holiday Promo Code – Holiday15 – to get 15% off gift card purchases until December 15th! 

Ananda Yoga
Address: 2712 N 21st St a, Tacoma, WA 98406