It’s easy to see why more and more young creatives, such as writers, musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs, are choosing to live in Tacoma over Seattle. You can get big city living for less with a striking built-in backdrop of Mount Rainier and Puget Sound. This urban area offers a wealth of museums, performance spaces, and of course, tasty places to eat. There’s obviously a lot to love about this city, but we’ve narrowed it down to our 10 favorite things that make living in Tacoma special.
1. NOTHING BEATS TACOMA’S GREAT OUTDOORS
Tacoma is truly a city for the outdoor adventurist. Hiking, biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, skiing, and sailing are all common hobbies of Tacoma residents. Sunrise and Paradise trails at Mount Rainier have some of the most stunning views a person can find in the Pacific Northwest. Seasoned Tacoma skiers make frequent visits to nearby Crystal Mountain, which is known for its wide variety of terrain. The Summit at Snoqualmie is popular among beginners and families, and is right off the main highway. White Pass is a great place to take the family for a weekend getaway because it’s low-key and has a hometown feel. Lake Tapps is also a great spot for wake boarding, boating, swimming, and has plenty of coves and inlets to keep things interesting. And when you need equipment, repairs, or expertise on anything outdoor, be sure to check out Sturtevant’s or Ski Mart.
2. LESS EXPENSIVE THAN SEATTLE
Your dollar goes much further in Tacoma than in Seattle, plain and simple. According to AreaVibes.com, the cost of living in Seattle is 25.9% higher than the state average. Meanwhile, the cost of living in Tacoma sits at a comfortable 0.9% less than the state average. While the renter/owner ratio is pretty much the same in both cities, owning your own place in Tacoma is much easier than in Seattle. Seattle’s median home price, approximately $441,000, is nearly double the median home price of Tacoma, an estimated $230,100.
3. A CITY OF GLASS
Did you know that the Pacific Northwest is largely responsible for the inception of the Studio Glass movement? You probably did if you’re from Tacoma. It doesn’t take long to realize glass art’s integral role in Tacoman culture. The Museum of Glass was started by Tacoma resident and influential glass artist, Dale Chihuly, and retired president of University of Puget Sound, Dr. Phil Phibbs, as a celebration of the city’s artistic identity. Today, visitors can tour the facility as well as watch artists at work in the world’s largest Hot Shop. But it doesn’t stop there! If you’re in Downtown Tacoma, you can take the 500-foot Chihuly Bridge of Glass to straight to the museum.
4. GALLOPING GERTIE AND HER SUCCESSORS
Speaking of bridges, if you haven’t seen this YouTube-famous bridge from the 40s, first watch this two-minute history lesson about it’s epic collapse. This bridge has since been replaced by Sturdy Gertie, but to physics professors and civil engineers everywhere, the original Galloping Gertie remains a textbook example of how not to build a bridge and perhaps Tacoma’s greatest contribution to our understanding and improvement of bridge construction. And if you’re still curious about Galloping Gertie, you can head to the Washington State History Museum in Downtown Tacoma to get the whole story.
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5. TALENT IS EVERYWHERE
If you want to see a show or concert of any sort, you needn’t look far in Tacoma. A trip to the Theater District in Downtown Tacoma puts a person within walking distance of numerous performance spaces and organizations including the Tacoma Opera and Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, which often perform in the gorgeous Rialto Theater. Jazzbones is a Tacoma staple that often books regional musicians like Big Wheel Stunt Show and Jeanlizabeth. Tacoma residents flock to Tacoma Comedy Club to take advantage of each night’s different specials and performances. Tacoma also hosts several music festivals throughout the year, including Tacoma Jazz and Blues Festival and Freedom Fair. Kids can even get involved with music by joining the Tacoma Youth Symphony.
6. TACOMA IS TASTIER
Like the stunning Mount Ranier, the restaurant landscape of Tacoma is vast, beautiful, and just waiting to be explored. Because Tacoma is an international waterfront city, you can bet that there is a wide array of delicious eats to try. And you really can’t go wrong with any of them. But if you’re looking for a place to start, we suggest checking out some of their seafood restaurants.
Duke’s Chowder House is obviously popular for their chowder, but also for their fresh Alaskan seafood. Steamers Seafood Cafe is also a good option, as their famous fish and chips come with a gorgeous view of Puget Sound. Tater tots is another dish that Tacoma just gets right. Dirty Oscar’s Annex has Parmesan stuffed tots that come with sun dried tomato ranch. Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, this restaurant is a must-visit. The best way to wash down any meal in Tacoma is with a local craft brew, like the hugely popular Odd Otter Brewing Company. Tacomans who like to make their own culinary creations enjoy frequent visits to the famous Tacoma Farmer’s Market for locally grown and produced goods.
7. THEY HAVE THEIR FAIR SHARE OF COFFEE, TOO
Like any true Pacific Northwesterners, Tacomans love their caffeine. And there’s no shortage of exceptional coffee shops here. Cosmonaut Coffee Co. has some of the most experienced baristas around. Blue Beard Roasters roast their own exquisite coffees and keep up a funky cafe in the Historic District. Valhalla Coffee roasts the best Viking themed coffees you’ll ever brew. And you haven’t been to Bertolinos for a late-night espresso, you really are missing out on all the coffee Tacoma has to offer. Seattle may be home to Starbucks, but no chain coffee shop can top the local roasters and brewers in Tacoma.
8. TACOMA CAN GET CREATIVE
This city loves its art! It’s hard to turn a corner without coming across some impressive street art, an art studio, or a gallery. Thanks to the Tacoma Murals Project, 27 murals have been painted by local artists wanting to cover as much of their city in art as possible. Spaceworks Tacoma matches artists and creative entrepreneurs with spaces to practice their craft, creating a more vibrant city one empty storefront at a time. Amateurs and professionals alike can sharpen their skills at studios like Open Arts Studio.
9. SUPERB MUSEUM DISTRICT
Tacoma’s history runs deeper (or should we say spans farther) than the Galloping Gertie. It has been shaped by Native American tribes, the Gold Rush, seaside exploration and so much more. And you can learn all about it at Washington State History Museum. In fact, Tacoma has an entire museum district, where visitors and residents explore exhibits at the Tacoma Art Museum, LeMay – America’s Car Museum, Foss Waterway Seaport, and the Children’s Museum of Tacoma.
10. OUTLOOK IS A LITTLE SUNNIER IN TACOMA
Literally. Though the Pacific Northwest is famous for its overcast climate and high annual rainfall, Tacoma enjoys on average 141 sunny days and 39 inches of precipitation a year – a climate similar to Seattle’s. But Tacoma finds something to celebrate every season of the year. In the Spring, it’s the Daffodil Festival. In the Summer, it’s Taste of Tacoma. With Fall comes Tacoma’s Fall Garden Festival, and Winter brings Zoolights, a family favorite that entails an evening of exploring Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to see some of the most exquisite Christmas lights in the Pacific Northwest.
BUT YOU CAN STILL ENJOY SEATTLE
Seattle is not only a quick 45-minute trip away, but it’s also an enjoyable place to visit. There’s plenty to see and do in the Emerald city if you want to go on a day or weekend trip. Visit the iconic Space Needle, take a walk down Pikes Place Market, or follow USA Today’s recommendations on how to experience a weekend trip to Seattle.
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What is your favorite thing about living in Tacoma? Tell us in the comments below!
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