Road Trip - Arts, Eats and Adventures in Tacoma Washington
by Erin Peterson
featured in Spokane Cd'A Living Magazine
Just 33 miles south of Seattle, this bustling little city is filled to the brim with classic Pacific Northwest charm and is even more celebratory in the winter for a quick getaway. It has access to all of the things you can get in a big city without the crowded feel and stressful pace and is also the third-largest city in the state of Washington. The myriad of activities available makes it a haven for families and couples to visit and experience something truly extraordinary. Known for access to the sea, the city and the mountains all within a few miles, it’s unlike any other city in America. For ideas on how to experience the city to its fullest, we have you covered.
When we exited the freeway, we went through a series of twists and turns to get to downtown, and once we could see it, we fell in love. This city has a dynamic skyline filled with some funky architecture and boasts a strong love for the arts. It’s no surprise that we chose to stay at the Hotel Murano, famous for its art collection visible in the lobby and on every floor just as you leave the elevator, there is a curated display featuring a unique artist. You can spend the night and experience an art museum without having to leave the hotel. The view of Mount Rainier is downright dreamy and was especially beautiful in the fading sunlight as the day became evening. Also recommended is staying on the “Patron” levels, which provides access to a free and filling continental breakfast as well as snacks and beverages throughout the day when you come back to recharge for your next outing.
As my children grow older, I do whatever I can to spend more intentional time with them away from home on little road trips to provide opportunities to talk about the details of their lives that can sometimes get lost in the daily grind. There are so many pursuits that are ideal for adventures that it was tough to decide just how to fill our days in the city.
Tacoma is filled with several different museums worthwhile to investigate. The Tacoma Art Museum is beautifully curated and filled with a diverse collection of great works from artists around the world, including an Impressionist exhibit featuring Monet, Renoir, and Degas. For the car lover, the Le May’s America’s Car Museum is a must-see. The highly-polished and well-loved models from throughout automotive history kept my boys entertained for hours, and I learned a thing or two myself.
Honey Coffee and Kitchen saved the day with the perfect cup of joe every morning, and it was conveniently located in walking distance from the hotel. Tacoma is known for its Hawaiian food, and the Loco Moco at Honey has mushroom gravy, furikake seasoned rice and a fried duck egg. I can’t stop thinking about it. We also hit up a hole-in-the-wall place with great reviews when we were adventuring out at Point Defiance called Souper Pho, and it was some of the best take-out style food I’ve had in a long time. They use fresh ingredients and authentic spices in every dish, and they serve Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai cuisine. The hot and sour soup was rich and unctuous with so many layers of flavor that I wish I could make it at home, but know that I will never replicate. The pad Thai was also notable, and the boys were big fans. The owner was particularly impressed that they were so adept with their chopsticks, and I thoroughly enjoyed the speedy, professional service he provided.
We finished our trip with a visit to the waterfront and the six slides that take you 50 feet to the waterfront below. My sons were fascinated with the boats, and I can tell we are going to have to make time on the water a priority on our next visit. As we made our way home and they fell asleep in the car, sleeping soundly as they did when they were half their age, I relished in the silence and the landscape with the memories of our road trip floating through my mind. It’s moments like these that I’m going to miss the most as they grow up.
Erin is a professional educator, award-winning blogger and a passionate local restaurant advocate with the Spokane Culinary Arts Guild. When she isn't teaching, she is cooking for friends and family, eating at the best ingredient-driven restaurants she can find, she is researching and writing about it. You can follow her adventures on Instagram at @spokane.guild.