The Puget Sound is home to some of the best places in the state. If you want to live like a local or discover some of the best underrated places in the PNW, you’ll love our list of the top places in and around the 253.
Old Steilacoom is one of Washington’s best kept secrets. Less than an hour away from Tacoma, Steilacoom has a beautiful beach that’s perfect for pictures, a picnic or a walk along the water. If you’re used to the stereotypical rocky Washington beach, this isn’t it; Sunnyside beach features sand fit for bare feet. This town almost takes you back to a simpler time. Just down the street from the beach there’s little shops and a beautiful gazebo overlooking Chambers Bay. The Steilacoom Taproom is a cozy spot to end the day with a great view of the water.
Wright park is the perfect place to take a morning run or let your kiddos play on the brand new playground. With trails that wrap around the park and spiral down to the small lake in the center, runners can easily get a good workout done in the span of just a few blocks. Wright Park takes on a Central Park kind of feeling — calm compared to the bustling city around it, sure to give you an escape from busy city life. This park is also a great place to take pictures; a few favorite local backdrops include the bridge over the lake and a beautiful greenhouse that you can tour. This park is also walking distance from several cafes and restaurants including the popular Tacoma hotspot, The Hub. Watch out for Wright Park’s popular local festivals held year round.
HARBOR VIEW DRIVE
With public docks, parks and an aged lighthouse, downtown Gig Harbor is the perfect historic port town. Harbor View Drive is a little piece of Gig Harbor that includes great restaurants like Spiro’s Pizza and Kelly’s Café — great for grabbing a latte to sip while walking around the nearby Harbor History Museum. Local boutiques and the Waterfront Natural Market are great pit stops in this area for those who love to eat and shop local. Harbor View Drive is also home to bustling Pt. Fosdick street with shopping, entertainment and eateries.
While it’s still too cold to go spend a day at the lake, this beauty is still worth mentioning. American Lake, located in Lakewood, is surprisingly secluded. From here you get a beautiful view of what can only be described as one of the most ‘Pacific Northwest-y’ views in Washington. Goers are guaranteed a great view of Mount Rainier over the tops of the evergreen trees that line the lake. While it seems we’re still in the dead of winter, it won’t be too long before you can fish, swim and picnic at Lakewood’s best lake.
Downtown Puyallup, much like Gig Harbor, features an old time feel but with much more variety. Puyallup features small shops, local coffee+ and a rather large farmers market from April to October that features local artisans, farmers and chefs. Here you can find anything from earrings and Seahawks gear to honey and flowers. Even though we’re not quite to market season yet, Puyallup still has much to offer, including farms, Pioneer Park and the fair during the spring and summer.
Ruston Way — or the Waterfront as it’s called by locals — spans from Old Town Tacoma to Ruston and Point Defiance. It’s home to events like the Freedom Fair and is a popular spot to run or walk dogs, even when it’s raining. Ruston Way features endless docks, beaches and restaurants; more low-key and relaxed options can be found at Point Ruston, whereas the waterfront proper is home to more luxurious eateries. While you’d be hard pressed to spend a whole day here, it’s a nice pit stop that offers a variety of activities.
This area of North End Tacoma has one of the last cobblers, and features a farmer’s market in the spring and summer. The Proctor District is home to the Daffodil Day Parade and the Pacific Northwest shop that sells various PNW crafts and local products that show just how diverse and artistic Tacoma is. There are several great boutiques, upscale resale stores, galleries and gift shops one could easily spend a few hours in. But the best store by far is the dog boutique, which is just as fun as it sounds.