Art and History in Tacoma, Washington
Part of: Four Days in Washington State
In late September, my husband David and I took a little four-day road trip to Washington State. We visited a few new places, revisited a few old favorites, and spent some quality time with my aunt who lives near Seattle. It was easy, relaxing, and fun.
One of the new places we visited was the city of Tacoma, which is about 40 minutes south of Seattle. We've both driven past it a million times but have never stopped to look around.
Honestly, I didn't expect a lot of Tacoma, as I've have only seen the not-that-impressive part visible from the freeway. But I knew they had a couple of museums, and some quick research showed a nice selection of historic buildings, so it seemed worthwhile to check it out.
It was definitely worth the stop! We spent just a couple hours there, but there was plenty of interest to see. The downtown has a very nice selection of historic buildings, the museums seemed excellent (we didn't have time to go inside them), and there is a branch of the University of Washington right in the heart of historic downtown.
We parked in the parking lot of the State History Museum, which has some nice views across the tracks. The above photo was taken from there.
Probably my favorite building in Tacoma was Union Station, which is one of the first buildings you see as you arrive in the city. An impressive Byzantine-style building with a large dome, it now serves as a courthouse.
Because it is now a courthouse, security is tight and you have to show ID at the door. But thankfully, they still allow photos as long as you don't photograph the entrance to the courthouse itself, which is in the back of the room (left of this image). I really appreciate that reasonable rule, rather than banning photography altogether. The security guard was also very nice.
After Union Station, we saw many more Chihuly works by walking across the Bridge of Glass to the Museum of Glass. The bridge (erected in 2002) is all Chihuly, but the museum includes works by other artists as well.
Next we poked our heads into the Washington State History Museum, which is at the other end of the Bridge of Glass next to Union Station. It looked very good. But alas, no time for a proper visit.
After a short rest stop at Starbucks (a small but particularly nice one, joined to the university gift shop) we headed up a big outdoor staircase for a quick investigation of the University of Washington-Tacoma campus. It's a small and pretty campus, with many historic warehouse buildings put to new academic uses. The campus is part of the Union Station Historic District, which comprises all the buildings that sprung up around the train depot in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
We arrived at my aunt's house in time for a great dinner out at a Mexican restaurant. Next time: Seattle!