I’ve stopped in Tacoma only three times in my life, either on the way to or coming from Seattle.
In 1991, when my daughter Lisa was 4, we stopped at the Chuck E. Cheese on Tacoma Mall Boulevard. I remember that only because Lisa got momentarily separated from us. I stood at the door and nervously watched the parking lot. We found her a few minutes later exploring the restaurant.
In 2003, we visited the Museum of Glass, a cool place in a renovated section of downtown Tacoma.
Late last month, Nancy and I took a weekend to visit friends in Issaquah and Duvall, Wash., and my cousin in Seattle. We had about two hours to kill before we got to Issaquah that Friday afternoon, so I looked up some things to do in Tacoma. I’m glad I did.
Instead of the usual drive through Tacoma on I-5, we took the left turn — I-705 — and headed to the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservancy in Wright Park. It turned out to be a perfect place to go on a dark, rainy day. The 102-year-old conservancy houses things things that are always in bloom. We saw daffodils, azaleas, tulips and many exotic plants. It took only 10 minutes to go through the conservancy, but the color and fragrance quickly turned our winter to spring. It got us warmed up for some more discovery.
I noticed on a map a huge park on the northern edge of the city. So we drove to Point Defiance Park. With more than 700 acres, it one of the largest municipal parks in the country. (Central Park in New York has 863 acres, and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park tops 1,000 acres.)
Point Defiance is a gorgeous forest park with great views of Puget Sound (including the one in the top photo). It has a zoo and aquarium and a scenic 5-mile loop drive that we took. We got out and hiked along the northern section of the park. Even on a dreary day, the place was a delight. People were running and biking. On a beautiful weekend day, I’m sure Point Defiance is a magnet for people.
So if you’re headed north this spring or summer and looking for things to do, take that left turn in Tacoma.