I begin this post with Point Defiance, as the Zoo and Fort Nisqually were what drew me to Tacoma initially. Then on the way home from those, I was enticed by the parks along Ruston Way. For years I have wanted to get to the Tacoma Museum District, and every time I've driven past Fort Lewis I've been intrigued by those classic old buildings. I decided I needed to add NW Trek, and all these treks make up this post. Quite a number of the places to see are not open the early part of the week, I found.
Point Defiance Park
Point Defiance ferry area (2022)
--including Wilson Way Pedestrian Bridge, w/stairs & slides, chutes & ladders; the ferry terminal, Anthony's restaurant, and the marina. You can get to Dune Peninsula/Dune Park by taking N Waterfront Dr opposite Anthony's, under the (Vashon) Ferry Crossing Landing Rd/N Pearl St.
Point Defiance Park/gardens (2022)
It took me 3 or more trips to take these all in, as I visited other venues in the area. There's still more to explore . . .
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (2020)
This was the beginning of my interest in Tacoma. I had a manual chair then, and a pusher, so we made it around with great delight. It is built on a fairly steep hill, so having a helper is recommended for those in wheelchairs.
Fort Nisqually (2022 Brigade Encampment re-enactment)
I had hoped to go to the Brigade Encampment in 2021, but couldn't manage. So it was with much anticipation I finally arrived for the re-enactment in 2022, and I was not disappointed (except that I could only peek into several of the old structures, since they were not amenable to wheelchairs). But I had a great time. It takes a couple hours to get there from Portland OR.
The Homestead Restaurant & Bakery (2022)
After the Fort Nisqually encampment, I wanted to get the kind of meal they might have got at the fort in the mid 1800s. The closest I could find was Homestead Restaurant (not particularly close, but at least still in Tacoma). It was good. Of interest were the very old B&W short films/cartoons playing on the screen in the dining room.
Waterfront Parks along Ruston Way--(2022)
Coming home from the zoo a couple years prior, we glimpsed these enticing parks, which present as one long park, with about a 2 mile paved trail/walkway by the road, and at times a trail along the water. Lots of picnic opportunities, as well as restaurants.
Looking at the map as I was preparing this post, I saw that at McCarver St you can veer off to see the inconspicuous rock monument to Old Town Tacoma's 1st school house at 28th & Starr St, the Job Carr Cabin Museum (1865 cabin replica & exhibits in Old Town Park, 2350 N 30th St, Tacoma, WA), and if you continue west on 30th to Union Ave then south you can visit University of Puget Sound, 1.8 mi/6 min in good traffic from Old Town Park).
Tacoma Chinese Reconciliation Park, 1741 N Schuster Pkwy, Tacoma, WA 98402, off Ruston Way
Jack Hyde Park w/sundial, at the north end of the Chinese Reconciliation Park
Old Town Dock & Northern Fish, Ruston Way, Tacoma WA
Top of the Ocean Historical Marker--between Old Town Dock/Northern Fish & Silver Cloud Hotel, Ruston Way
Silver Cloud Hotel & Hamilton Park, 2400 Ruston Way, Tacoma WA
Dickman Mill Park--2423 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
Offers history, restrooms, picnic tables, benches, great views.
Between Dickman Mill Park and MSOC Fire Station
Harbor Lights restaurant-- 2761 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
Katie Downs Waterfront Tavern--3211 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
MSOC Fire Station & memorial at 3301 Ruston Way; Fireboat #1 at 3427 Ruston Way; and Duke Seafood restaurant at 3327 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
Kama'Aina Hawaiian Grill, Les Davis Public Fishing Pier, and Judge Jack Tanner Park--3427 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
Mystery bike art and Cummings Park, 3939 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
Lobster Shop restaurant 4015 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
Point Ruston Historic Ferry, Rainier Condos, & Ruston WA
Photos from the train are from a trip to Seattle by train late April 2022.
Downtown Tacoma & Landmarks (Commerce St is 1 block west of Pacific Ave)
I was able to explore and take photos mainly from S 21st St to S 15th S along Pacific Ave, plus up to Old Spaghetti Factory. I traveled this in my electric wheelchair quite easily, a portion on each of 2 days (took so many photos I ran out of juice one day--both wheelchair & phone camera). There are lots of places to eat in the area.
Don Pugnetti Park, 2085 Pacific Ave, Tacoma; north side of S 21st St aka Hwy 509, west of S 21st St bridge
University of Washington Tacoma-- 1900 Commerce St, Tacoma, WA 98402 (campus extends several streets)
Washington State History Museum-- 1911 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402
This is a fascinating place of soaring architecture with many stories to tell, from geology/geography, to the peoples past and present, to the facets & features of history (peoples, places, times & timelines, technology, change, choices, viewpoints, values), with many opportunities to engage the young (including a cool extensive model train). The museum offers Family Saturdays (activities), Free 3rd grade Thursdays (evenings), Virtual Events, a Special Event venue including a catering kitchen. Exhibits for Latinos, Blacks, Japanese, Sacajawea Trail, and Oregon Trail to be added to posts linked below.
Thea Foss Waterway Public Esplanade
Thea Foss Waterway Public Esplande is a wonderful walkway along the waterfront, but is not contiguous all the way. Another part of it is by Foss Waterway Seaport (see further down in this post).
The Social restaurant
Tacoma Union Station--1717 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402, in which is now housed:
Tollefson Plaza & nearby
Tacoma Art Museum (TAM)--1701 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402--was closed when I was there—just south of S 17th St between Pacific Ave & Commerce St
The Koi restaurant, 1552 COMMERCE ST SUITE 100, TACOMA, WA 98402--1548 Commerce St, Tacoma, WA 98402 (and Pacific Ave)
Tacoma Welcoming Figure—just north of S 17th St between Pacific Ave & Commerce St—faces Pacific Ave
Children’s Museum of Tacoma-- 1501 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402
Courtyard by Marriott Tacoma Downtown, 1515 Commerce St, Tacoma, WA 98402
Near Courtyard by Marriott Tacoma Downtown, 1515 Commerce St, Tacoma, WA 98402
Marriott Tacoma Downtown, 1538 Commerce Street, Tacoma, Washington, 98402
The Old Spaghetti Factory, 1250 Pacific Ave #101, Tacoma, WA 98402
Landmarks further north I saw from my car, but couldn't stop for photos.
Tacoma Venues & EventsThe Broadway Farmers Market-- 1099-949, Broadway, Tacoma, WA 98402 The Theater District--on or near 9th & Commerce, a block west of Pacific. the Theater District lightrail stop is on Commerce St north of the theaters.
Foss Waterway Seaport--705 Dock St, Tacoma, WA 98402--a maritime heritage museum Thea Foss Waterway Public Esplande is not contiguous all the way. Part of it is by the Museum of Glass.
Tacoma Mall--4502 S Steele St, Tacoma, WA 98409
Joint Base Lewis-McChord
JBLM Visitors Center, 5901 41st Division Dr, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA 98433
The Visitor Center isn't really impressive, it's mainly where to get a pass to get into the base (if you have good reason to go in) or the museum, which is a little drive away. But it does have a display case, some historic photos & info, restroom etc. Near the Visitor Center is the historic old gate and monuments to military units with interesting historic info.
Captain Meriwether Lewis Memorial Park next to the Visitor Center
Lewis Army Museum--4320 Main St. and Constitution Dr, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), WA
All the times I've passed by while traveling I-5 (and by train), I've been intrigued by the antique buildings on this base. At last I found opportunity to explore late May of 2022. It was challenging for me to find the entrance to the Lewis Army Museum (even with the google guide), for which you must call for an escort to walk you from the gate at the gravel parking area to the museum itself. As much as I like history, military history hasn't been my favorite. Yet I was really engaged with the exhibits in this museum. The little gift shop is run by volunteers, has very limited hours, and a lot of inviting stuff, which I hadn't happened on the right day to get. In order to rein in the number of photos here, I will save most of those about Lewis & Clark to add to my Sacajawea Trail post, linked below.
Northwest Trek Trip (Aug 2022)
We traveled through Tenino, Rainier, and Yelm on our way to NW Trek Wildlife Park. I didn't get the best pics of those inviting little communities, but wanted to show at least something. Loved the fantastic views of Mt Rainier as we went.
This really is a stroll/drive through the PNW forest and meadows, thus the animals might not be as visible as in some zoos, and the focus is not on the exotic animals of far away lands, but of those local to the PNW. There are various indoor exhibits (looking through the glass), as well as outdoor views. We strolled around the walking paths before our scheduled driving tour, and returned for lunch and to see more of the exhibits after the drive.
I've been in a wheelchair for 30+ years. It poses some challenges for traveling. Maybe others can benefit from my experiences.