It’s the most beautiful time of year in the Pacific Northwest. Holiday festivities in Tacomainclude a visit from Santa at the mall, a dazzling display of lights at the zoo, mulled cider, and sleigh rides.
Tacoma, known as the city of destiny, is home to world-renowned museums, vibrant artists and beautiful natural landscapes. There are also a ton of fun and free things to do in Tacoma.
Read on for a list of 8 free things to do in Tacoma.
If you are visiting Tacoma, Washington, you should make a point of visiting Tacoma Public Library.
The city’s library is an example of cultural stewardship. With hundreds of historical and artistic exhibits throughout its branches, you’ll be able to get acquainted with Tacoma quickly.
Keep reading if you’d like to learn more about why it’s such a good idea to visit the library!
1. Living History
The central branch of the Tacoma library system is a beautiful Carnegie library. These buildings were constructed in the early 1900s by the philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.
There were 43 of these beautiful historical landmarks in the state of Washington. Of those 43, 32 still stand. Only 14 are still used for their original purpose though. Many were built between 1901 and 1916. The Tacoma branch was built in 1903.
This glimpse of history is a great introduction to Tacoma. Be sure to visit the Northwest Room so you can witness some of Tacoma’s history for yourself.
2. Activities for Kids
The Tacoma library has hundreds of things to do for families with children of all ages.
Throughout the week many of the branches will have read-alongs for toddlers and preschool aged children. There are pet rock craft and storytime hours, where kids can put their creative skills to use. Pet rocks are adorable little creatures that a child can then build a story around.
For older children, consider joining a Pokemon league. There are also several tabletop and Dungeons and Dragons teams to play with where kids can practice their role-playing skills.
Be sure to check out the summer reading clubs that happen throughout the season. The summer reading club will have programs for all ages-including adults.
All books count-including eBooks. Which makes it especially handy for families who may be ardent readers. Ask a Tacoma librarian for help when you want to sign up! It’ll be a great family event.
3. Cultural Activities
Libraries are a huge cultural resource. Tacoma’s library system is much the same. With activities like Korean calligraphy, a history walk through and community discussions on what Tacoma’s role may be in the greater world, there are many things to learn and do at the library.
4. So Many eBooks to Read
Electronic resources are fast becoming the norm for many libraries. eBooks are one of the ways you can check out books at any of the Tacoma branches. eBooks are convenient and can be read on most electronic readers.
If you are interested in trying out an eBook exchange, be sure to contact your librarian. They will make sure you are signed up with the right Tacoma branch account and that your eBook reader is capable of supporting the exchange program.
eBooks can be held for a number of days, depending on their publication date-much like physical copies.
Tacoma’s librarians will be able to suggest many types of books that will fascinate any number of reader. If you’re curious to try an eBook, be sure to ask for some suggestions! Tacoma is sure to find the right book for you.
5. Community Involvement
Libraries all over the world pride themselves on being stewards of their communities. Tacoma Library system is much the same. With hundreds of events that happen throughout the month, there are so many ways for the community to learn about their history and how to become more involved.
Tacoma Library offers free museum passes for five local museums in Tacoma. As long as you have a library card you’ll be able to visit the museums scattered throughout the city!
This is a great resource for families who have just arrived to the city. Or even for longtime residents who want to see a bit more of their home.
The main branch of the library even has an art gallery that features local artists. The Handforth Gallery can be visited by anyone. Check it out sometime and keep an eye out for new exhibitions or presentations done by local residents.
6. Convert Your Old Home Videos to DVD
With the rise of the digital age, some of our old analogue memories have become lost. But the library offers several services that can help you make sure your old childhood memories aren’t lost forever.
Converting VHS tapes to DVD is one of these services. The library offers appointments throughout the week at various times where members can bring their old tapes and can be taught how to convert them over to a more lasting media.
Be sure to contact the librarians at the Moore branch for more information. Soon you’ll be able to blackmail your younger siblings once more with the old videos they thought were hopefully lost forever!
7. Eight Branches to Visit
There are eight branches to visit. They are scattered throughout Tacoma. This is a convenient feature of the Tacoma Library. It guarantees any resident will be able to easily access the services the library has to offer.
Be sure to check the library’s addresses before planning a visit. You may find a branch closer to you.
8. Request a Visit
Before planning a visit, maybe consider an official tour. You will be walked through the process of becoming a member of the library system. You’ll also learn all about the services the library offers.
Our professional and knowledgeable staff will get you signed up for a library card and help you choose the first activities you want to take part in. Be sure to ask them about the museums you can visit for free when you get your card.
Tacoma Public Library Brings Light to Tacoma
Tacoma Public Library offers hundreds of services and activities you and your family are sure to enjoy.
When visiting make sure you discuss with the librarians just what you are looking for. They’ll help you find what you need and get you signed up for all of the activities you may want to take part in!
There’s so many things you can do with a library card. And Tacoma Public Library will make sure you use that card to the fullest of its abilities.
If you live in Tacoma and you haven’t yet visited a Tacoma farmers market, you’ve been missing out.
Why Visit a Tacoma Farmers Market?
Farmers markets are becoming more and more popular. Consumers can choose from a wide range of fresh food and vegetables, most of it coming straight from the farm.
Sure, you can easily head to your local supermarket and grab a few things whenever you’re low on groceries. But it makes more sense to plan a visit to a Tacoma farmers market each week. Here’s why:
1. Healthy Food
When you have healthy food within easy reach at home, you’re less likely to make a bad decision and grab junk or fast food. When you shop at a local farmers market, you’ll have a huge choice of fresh, healthy food for you and your family.
Have you ever bought produce from a supermarket, only to get home and realize it’s rotten? If so, you need to do your shopping at a Tacoma farmers market instead.
Vendors at these markets actually care about the produce they’re selling. They’re often the same people who planted the seeds and pulled the produce from the ground.
2. Community Relationships
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget to support and be involved in our local community.
When you visit a Tacoma farmers market, you’ll be meeting locals from your community. You may make new friends, and you’ll be more invested in supporting the local farmers- since you’re personally involved.
It’s hard to know where a lot of our food comes from. By building a relationship with the local farmers, you can ask them questions about:
How the food is produced
How you should cook it
What new foods you should try
What to expect next season
When you build up a direct relationship with local farmers, they’re more likely to take your thoughts and opinions on board. Would you love to see a new type of pumpkin introduced? Or maybe you love a particular kind of tomato? It’s easier to let the farmers know your preferences if you’ve been buying from them every week.
Farmers markets are popular with people from all different walks of life. You’ll be mingling with a wide range of people- all of them aiming to buy healthy, safe, delicious, and fresh food.
3. Huge Savings
Did you know that the average American will spend $1200 on fast food in just one year? By visiting a Tacoma farmers market, you’ll have healthy alternatives on hand. That means that you can cook up a quick, cheap meal without resorting to McDonald’s.
The difference between the prices of food at your local grocery store and a Tacoma farmers market will vary depending on a number of factors. These include:
Thee types of food available
Whether it has been a good season for growing
But on average, expect to save at least 17% each year by shopping at a farmers market.
If you’re aiming to save money on your grocery bill, here are some ways to save money at your local farmers market:
Compare prices between different booths.
Make a list of what you’re looking for (but be prepared for substitutions).
Consider negotiating. Be respectful, but ask your vendors if they’re willing to throw in a few extra grapes or round down to the nearest dollar. This works best if you buy multiple items from one vendor or have built up a relationship over time.
Bring small change. This can help you bargain since many vendors will run short of smaller change like quarters and dollars.
Go in bad weather. On days when it’s raining or super hot, many people will avoid going to the Tacoma farmers market. If you’re looking for a bargain, go on the days when other people are less likely to be there.
Go just before closing. Most vendors are going to be more inclined to discount remaining food as the market comes to an end. If you visit just before the market wraps up, you can often get your weekly fruit and vegetables for a steal.
4. Supporting the Local Economy
Who run the world? Large corporations.
By buying from small, community businesses, you’re boosting your local economy. This is ideal if you’re trying to avoid putting your money in the pockets of massive global companies.
While a farmer’s family business may not have a physical store, most of these farmers reinvest their money back into the community. Local farmers are shopping at local stores. They’re also donating to school fundraisers and buying meals from local restaurants.
Buying from a Tacoma farmers market will help these families keep their land during tough economic times. It also allows that money to come full circle, as it’s usually spent in your local community.
5. Saving the Environment
Smaller local farms produce much less environmental waste compared to commercial farms. This includes chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and carbon monoxide. They’re also less likely to use huge sorting and processing machines.
Your local supermarket probably receives produce from other states or countries. These could be hundreds or thousands of miles away. Transporting this food is a significant use of fossil fuels which are used for rail cars and refrigerated trucks.
When you shop at a Tacoma farmers market, the food doesn’t have far to go when it’s transported from the farm to the market, and to your table. Farmers markets are usually held outside. They don’t require heating or electricity, which also helps save precious resources.
If you care about the earth, shopping at a farmers market is a great way to do your part and help save the environment.
Shopping at a Tacoma farmers market can also be a great teaching moment for your kids. You can explain the benefits of shopping local and the environmental implications while enjoying fresh local produce.
Planning to grab lunch after visiting the farmers market? Check out some of the great local restaurants in Tacoma.
Love shopping at your local farmers market? Leave a comment below and let us know which Tacoma farmers market you like the most.
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.
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
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).
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.
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).
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.
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
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”
Experience tradition anew at the 1st Annual Tacoma Striezelmarkt!
The twinkling lights, the scent of mulled gluwhein (spiced German style wine) and Christmas music spreading through the air.
The 1st Annual Tacoma Striezelmarkt has opened its doors for the first of many years to come.
Experience the bustling marketplace and traditional treats of the holiday season in the heart of Tacoma’s Stadium District.
The Tacoma Striezelmarkt will open November 25th with both indoor & outdoor booths from 12 to 5 pm.
Where: 417 North E Street, Tacoma 98403
When: November 25th from 12pm – 5pm
Why: Support small business Saturday and get all of your Christmas shopping done!
Who: Get your invitation to the event by joining the Facebook Group page Tacoma Flea Market
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Ananda 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.
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.
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!
Address: 2712 N 21st St a, Tacoma, WA 98406
Clever Neighbor Holiday Showcase
Santa always gets it right, but he seems to get ample assistance from his Elf brigade. Luckily Clever Neighbor has come to the rescue. On Saturday, December 17th, Clever Neighbor held its Holiday Showcase at Tacoma’s Historic Gower Mansion. We hosted many of Tacoma’s hidden holiday gems. From stocking stuffers to presents under the tree Clever Neighbor has you covered at the Holiday Showcase.
2016 Holiday Showcase Vendors
Bicycle Soap Company
We are in love with Bicycle Soap Company, their artisan collection of fair trade luxury soaps are rich with essential oils and Shea butter. Bicycle Soap Company believes in fair trade, they only use Shea butter from Global Mamas a Non-profit in Ghana that empowers and supports women entrepreneurs. As a result Bicycle Soap Company will nourish your skin when you begin your holiday detox.
Joyful Letter Shop
Joyful Letter Shop is a great addition to our hand crafted fun. Featuring wood sliced ornaments, signs, and decorations Joyful Letter Shop crafts warm decor while waiting for reindeer. These made to order signs and ornaments come in multiple sizes with unique phrases. However, Joyful Letter Shop also creates custom burlap banners and moleskin notebooks if your tree has just the right amount of ornaments.
Don’t forget the wreath! Wreaths are a classic Holiday Symbol or center piece and in the Pacific North West. Stephanie James has a beautiful collection of Holiday Wreaths. These wreaths are made with traditional fresh greens and set the tone for winter wonderland by featuring miniature holiday scenes. Stephanie makes custom pieces or you can choose from a variety of traditional holiday favorites.
Lisa DeVries – Scentsy Independent Consultant
Fresh Pine isn’t the only fragrance at our Clever Neighbor Holiday Showcase. Our Scentsy consultant Lisa DeVries has just the right combination of fragrance to bring warmth and cheer. These wick-less candle warmers are perfect for any room in the house, and can change with the season. Be sure to stock up before family, friends and neighbors stop by to open presents!
Sanford & Daughter
Our Holiday Showcase wouldn’t be complete without a little bling for the new year. Sanford and Daughter has a truly unique jewelry line that cannot be duplicated. With over 100 years of exposure, Tacoma’s Old City Hall copper tiles have been transformed into bracelets, earrings and necklaces and are a truly unique piece of Tacoma’s History. Sanford and Daughter has taken up-cycling to a new level by creating stunning statement pieces that have an incredible story behind their creation.
LuLaRoe by Rachelle Tichy
Paring your new statement piece with the perfect outfit will be a piece of pie this year. Fashionable, comfortable and affordable, has there ever been a better combination? Lularoe doesn’t think so. Their line of stylish clothing gives Lularoe consultants the opportunity to live their lives and set their own schedule. This pop-up boutique is the perfect solution for the trendy fashionista in your life. These modern but classic dresses, skirts, sweaters, shirts and more will have your family wishing for more surprises under the tree.
Don’t wait this year! Get all the unique and thoughtful gifts at your Clever Neighbor Holiday Showcase this weekend. Finding the perfect gift from Local Tacoma based artists and crafters just got better, we’re here to help.
-With Holiday Cheer, your friendly Clever Neighbor!