It may surprise some old-school Seattleites who have long looked down on their neighbor to the south, but Tacoma has been named one the 15 happiest places to live in the country.
What’s happening: Outside Magazine … honored Tacoma as one of the country’s “happiest towns.”
Tacoma Makes List
- The city — population 222,000 — was given high marks for its parks and access to outdoor recreation, as well as environmental cleanup projects that “have helped make the city a picturesque hub.”
The mill operated for nearly 100 years before it was acquired by WestRock, an Atlanta-based paper and packaging manufacturer, in 20184. WestRock announced in August 2023 that it would be closing the mill by the end of September due to high operating costs and capital investment needs1456.
The closure of the mill will affect hundreds of workers and marks the end of an era for the Tacoma Tideflats23. And the end of the aroma. Of course residents are happy. The odor was a source of controversy and concern for Tacoma and surrounding areas, and it was the subject of several studies on its effects on house prices45.
Tacoma also has several Superfund cleanup sites, which are areas that have been designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as contaminated with hazardous waste and in need of cleanup. Here are some of the Superfund cleanup sites in Tacoma:
- Asarco Smelter Site: This site was one of the first Superfund sites in the nation and is located on the Tacoma waterfront. The site was contaminated with lead, arsenic, and other hazardous substances from the operation of the Asarco copper smelter2.
- Commencement Bay, South Tacoma Channel: This site is a 2.5 square-mile area in Tacoma that includes three separate cleanup areas. The site was contaminated with hazardous substances from industrial activities, including shipbuilding and wood treatment3.
- Commencement Bay/Near Shore/Tideflats: This site is located in the cities of Tacoma and Ruston and is at the southern end of Puget Sound at the Tacoma Yacht Club. The site was contaminated with hazardous substances from industrial activities, including wood treatment, shipbuilding, and waste disposal6.
As a boater, Tacoma offers a variety of activities and destinations to explore. Here are some noteworthy things to do in Tacoma for a boater:
- Daffodil Marine Parade: This boat parade takes place in April and includes flower-decked cabin cruisers and sailboats in tribute to Puyallup Valley’s multi-million-dollar bulb industry13. The Daffodil Parades are significant events in Tacoma, with parades on land as well as sea taking place in six locations and featuring costumes, pets, music, and non-motorized floats3.
- Quartermaster Harbor: This is a popular anchorage located between the southern end of Vashon Island to the west and Maury Island to the east. It offers a sand and pea gravel neck that provides good holding5.
- Point Defiance Marina: This is a full-service marina that offers moorage, fuel, and pump-out services2.
- Thea Foss Waterway: This is a scenic waterway that is home to several marinas, restaurants, and shops5.
- Tacoma Yacht Club: This is a private club located on the shores of Commencement Bay that offers a marina, dining, and banquet facilities1.
- Tacoma is the site of several superfund sites due to industrial pollution from smelting and refining operations. One site has since been cleaned up and is now a public park, the Point Defiance Park.
Boaters can also explore Vashon Island, which offers a variety of activities, including hiking, picnicking, and exploring the local marine life5.
Tacoma also offers a variety of activities for families and visitors, including:
- Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium: This zoo is home to over 9,000 animals and features exhibits such as the Asian Forest Sanctuary and the Rocky Shores habitat5.
- Washington State History Museum: This museum features exhibits on the history of Washington State, including artifacts, photographs, and documents6.
- LeMay – America’s Car Museum: This museum celebrates America’s love affair with the automobile and features over 350 cars, trucks, and motorcycles5.
- Tacoma Art Museum: This museum features a collection of American art, with a focus on artists from the Pacific Northwest5.
- Children’s Museum of Tacoma: This museum is designed for children ages 8 and under and features hands-on exhibits and activities2.
Vashon Island is located across Commencement Bay from Tacoma and is a popular destination for boaters. Here are some noteworthy things to see and do on Vashon Island:
- Quartermaster Harbor: This is a popular anchorage located between the southern end of Vashon Island to the west and Maury Island to the east. It offers a sand and pea gravel neck that provides good holding15.
- Tramp Harbor: This is an unusual anchorage located on the east side of Vashon Island. The charted pilings in front of the store are the remains of the old dock where the Mosquito Fleet used to tie up2.
- Maury Island Marine Park: This park is located on the eastern shore of Maury Island and offers a public boat launch, picnic areas, and hiking trails3.
- Dockton Park: This park is located on the eastern shore of Maury Island and offers a public boat launch, picnic areas, and hiking trails4.
Boaters can anchor at Quartermaster Harbor, which provides good holding, and enjoy the laid-back appeal of Vashon Island. The island offers a variety of activities, including hiking, picnicking, and exploring the local marine life.
Here are some things to do on Vashon Island besides anchoring:
- Visit the Vashon Island Farmers Market: This market is open on Saturdays from April through October and offers fresh produce, flowers, bread, meats, and other local products2.
- Explore Point Robinson Park: This park offers a picturesque shoreline to explore, great grassy areas to relax and play, and trails to wander. Visitors can also watch for resident orcas in the summer months and see an incredible sunrise year-round23.
- Visit Palouse Winery: This winery offers tastings of their award-winning wines and a beautiful view of the surrounding area3.
- Take a farm tour: Vashon Island is home to many small farms that offer tours and tastings of their products, including wine, cider, cheese, and more24.
- Visit Maury Island Marine Park: This park offers a public boat launch, picnic areas, and hiking trails3.
- Hike Shinglemill Creek Preserve: This preserve offers a beautiful hike through a forested area and along a creek5.
- Visit Fern Cove: This park offers a beautiful hike through a forested area and along a creek, with a variety of plant and animal life to see5.
- Visit Lavender Hill Farm: This farm offers a beautiful view of the surrounding area and a chance to see and smell the lavender fields34.
These activities offer visitors a chance to explore the beauty of Vashon Island and enjoy a variety of experiences, from hiking and exploring nature to tasting local products and enjoying the local arts scene.
What are some other popular boating sites on Commencement Bay?
Commencement Bay offers a variety of popular boating sites for visitors to explore. Here are some other popular boating sites on Commencement Bay:
- Judge Jack Tanner Park (formerly Marine Park) – a popular spot for sea kayaking in protected Puget Sound water1.
- Foss Waterway Park – a scenic park located on the Thea Foss Waterway that offers a public boat launch and dock1. It is home to the Tacoma Sea Scouts, a co-ed youth organization that teaches boating and maritime skills6. This scenic waterway is home to several marinas, restaurants, and shops6.
- Point Defiance Marina – a full-service marina that offers moorage, fuel, and pump-out services3.
- Dock Street Marina – a marina located in downtown Tacoma that offers moorage, fuel, and pump-out services5.
- Gig Harbor – a nearby town that offers a variety of boating opportunities, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing5.
- Commencement Bay Marine Services – a marine service facility located on the Foss Waterway that offers a fuel dock, marine service, haul out, parts, and more4.
- Commencement Bay Kayak Launch – a premier kayak launch located on the Thea Foss Waterway that offers a great view of the Port of Tacoma and the surrounding area6.
- Tacoma Yacht Club – a private club located on the shores of Commencement Bay that offers a marina, dining, and banquet facilities5.
These sites offer visitors a chance to explore the beauty of Commencement Bay and enjoy a variety of boating activities.
As of September 2023, it is not possible to boat to the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma. The Emerald Queen Casino was previously located on a riverboat that was docked in the Fife area of Tacoma134. However, the riverboat was sold in 2023 and is being repurposed by a Seattle company6.
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians, which operates the Emerald Queen Casino, is planning to open a new casino in the Seattle area in the future6. While it is not currently possible to boat to the Emerald Queen Casino, boaters can explore the waters around Tacoma and enjoy the local scenery and attractions.
The Emerald Queen Casino is a Vegas-style gaming facility that offers over 2,100 slot machines, 60 table games, and the Pacific Northwest’s largest sportsbook12. The casino is owned and operated by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and is located on the site of the former Tacoma I-5 Casino35.The Puyallup Tribe is also planning to redevelop the former Emerald Queen Casino Tacoma property into an entertainment district45.
List the six world-class museums in Tacoma and describe
The Tacoma Museum District is home to six world-class museums, all within walking distance of each other. Here’s a brief overview of each museum and what makes them noteworthy:
- Museum of Glass – This museum is dedicated to the art of glassblowing and features exhibits on the history and science of glass. Visitors can watch live glassblowing demonstrations and even try their hand at creating their own glass art.
- LeMay – America’s Car Museum – This museum celebrates America’s love affair with the automobile and features over 350 cars, trucks, and motorcycles. The museum also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including car shows and auctions. The LeMay America’s Car Museum is located in Tacoma and is adjacent to the Tacoma Dome. The museum opened on June 2, 2012.
- Tacoma Art Museum – This museum features a collection of American art, with a focus on artists from the Pacific Northwest. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits and events, such as lectures and workshops.
- Washington State History Museum – This museum features exhibits on the history of Washington State, including artifacts, photographs, and documents. The museum also hosts events and educational programs for visitors of all ages.
- LeMay Collections at Marymount – This museum features a collection of vintage cars, trucks, and motorcycles, as well as other memorabilia from the LeMay family. Visitors can take a guided tour of the collection and learn about the history of the LeMay family and their love of cars.
- Children’s Museum of Tacoma – This museum is designed for children ages 8 and under and features hands-on exhibits and activities. The museum is a great place for families to play and learn together.
The Tacoma Museum District is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in art, history, or cars. With so many world-class museums to choose from, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
What are the exhibits at the State Historical Society in Tacoma?
The Washington State History Museum in Tacoma features exhibits on the history of Washington State. The museum maintains three permanent exhibits, one of which is about the history of Washington State and its relation to the Pacific Northwest, featuring artifacts from the region5. The museum also has temporary exhibits that change periodically. Some of the current exhibits include:
- Collections Selections – End of the Line
- The Ceramics of Kenneth D. Stevens
- IN THE SPIRIT CONTEMPORARY NATIVE ARTS 2023
- NATURAL REMEDY
- Black Washington23
Tacoma has a rich history with trains, as it was a major hub for the Northern Pacific Railway and the Milwaukee railroad6.
The Washington State History Museum in Tacoma has a model railroad exhibit, which is the largest model railroad on permanent exhibition in the state of Washington2. The museum also hosts an annual Model Train Festival, which features model train displays and activities for all ages34. The Washington State History Museum features many hands-on exhibits, including the vast model railroad6.
Does Tacoma have a Zoo and Acquarium? Is Tacoma known for octopuses? Is Tacoma good for fishing?
Tacoma does have a zoo, the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, which is home to over 9,000 animals and features exhibits such as the Asian Forest Sanctuary and the Rocky Shores habitat.
Fishing in Tacoma is popular, with opportunities for salmon, steelhead, and trout fishing in the nearby rivers and streams. Octopus can also be found in the waters around Tacoma, with the best time for octopus fishing being in the fall.
According to local legend, the largest octopus in the world lives below the Tacoma Narrows Bridge12345. While there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, divers have reported seeing giant octopuses in the waters around Tacoma2.
The World Octopus Wrestling Championships were once held in Tacoma, attracting thousands of spectators to the shores of the city3.
Free diving from Toliva Shoal through the Narrows is a potential attraction for experienced divers. The waters around Tacoma offer a variety of diving opportunities, including the chance to see marine life such as giant octopuses, wolf eels, and lingcod26. However, diving in the Narrows can be dangerous due to strong currents and changing tides, and should only be attempted by experienced divers with proper training and equipment26.
Describe Tacoma’s thriving microbrewery scene, with over 20 breweries in the area. Which breweries are accessible to boaters. Name them and describe the beers that might be sampled at each.
Tacoma offers a thriving microbrewery scene, with over 20 breweries in the area. Here are some breweries that are accessible to boaters, along with a description of the beers that might be sampled at each:
These breweries offer visitors a chance to taste unique and interesting craft brews and enjoy the local beer scene in Tacoma. Boaters can visit Narrows Marina, which offers a fuel dock, store, bait, tackle, and boat launch, and is located south of the Narrows Bridge by Day Island2.
- Dystopian State Brewing Co.: This brewery offers a variety of interesting beers, including the “Doublethink” Double IPA, the “Omnipotence” Belgian Strong Ale, and the “Thoughtcrime” Stout1.
- No Boat Brewing Company: This brewery offers a variety of beers, including the “Hazy IPA,” the “Sour Ale,” and the “Belgian Dubbel”3.
- 7 Seas Brewing: This brewery offers a variety of beers, including the “Ballz Deep” Double IPA, the “Cutt’s NW Amber” Ale, and the “Rude Parrot” IPA5.
- Narrows Brewing Company: This brewery offers a variety of beers, including the “Galloping Gertie” Golden Ale, the “Narrows IPA,” and the “Gig Harbor Haze” IPA2.
- McMenamins Pub at Elks Temple: This brewery offers a variety of beers, including the “Terminator” Stout, the “Ruby” Ale, and the “Hammerhead” Ale6.
- Harmon Brewing Company also offers a variety of seasonal and limited-release beers throughout the year3. Harmon Brewing Company has a taproom that offers a variety of beers and food options24. It is known for its trivia night.
Is the University of Washington in Tacoma? What degrees are offered there? Who are the major employers in Tacoma? Is Warehouser one of them?
The University of Washington Tacoma is a relatively small campus that offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees, including accounting, biomedical sciences, business administration, civil engineering, and communication4.
The University of Washington Tacoma offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees across several schools and programs. Here are some of the most popular majors at the University of Washington Tacoma, according to various sources:
- Computer Science
- Biomedical Sciences
- Information Technology
- General Business
- Social Welfare
- Information Science
- Police and Criminal Science
These majors are offered across several schools and programs, including the School of Urban Studies, the Milgard School of Business, and the School of Engineering and Technology134. The University of Washington Tacoma is a public university that is part of the University of Washington system and is located in Tacoma, Washington5.
There are several universities and colleges in Tacoma, Washington. Here is a list of some of the major institutions:
- University of Puget Sound: Founded in 1888, the University of Puget Sound is an independent, residential, and predominantly undergraduate liberal arts college12.
- University of Washington Tacoma: The University of Washington Tacoma is a public university that offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees across several schools and programs4.
- Pacific Lutheran University: Pacific Lutheran University is a private university that offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional programs2.
- Tacoma Community College: Tacoma Community College is a public community college that offers a variety of associate degrees and certificates in fields such as business, healthcare, and technology5.
- Clover Park Technical College: Clover Park Technical College is a public technical college that offers a variety of certificates and degrees in fields such as aviation, healthcare, and trades3.
- Bates Technical College: Bates Technical College is a public technical college that offers a variety of certificates and degrees in fields such as healthcare, trades, and technology6.
These institutions offer a variety of educational opportunities for students in the Tacoma area.
The largest employer in the Tacoma area is Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which is a military installation that employs over 54,000 people1.
Here are the top 10 major employers in Tacoma, according to the City of Tacoma1:
- Joint Base Lewis-McChord – Military
- MultiCare Health System – Healthcare
- Franciscan Health System – Healthcare
- State of Washington – Government
- Tacoma Public Schools – Education
- City of Tacoma & Tacoma Public Utilities – Government
- Pierce County Government – Government
- Puyallup School District – Education
- CHI Franciscan Health – Healthcare
- Safeway & Albertsons – Retail
Weyerhaeuser, a timber company that was once headquartered in Tacoma, is no longer one of the major employers in the area1.
What is the history of the Tacoma Dome?
The Tacoma Dome is an indoor multi-purpose arena located south of Downtown Tacoma, adjacent to Interstate 5 and Tacoma Dome Station12. The dome is one of the largest wood domed structures in the world and is owned and operated by the City of Tacoma’s Venues & Events Department1. The dome was constructed using triangular units of timber laminated and glued together, called glulams2.
Proposals to build a domed stadium in Tacoma were submitted to voters in various ballot measures in 1967, 1972, and 1976, but were all rejected. Following the completion of the Kingdome in Seattle, campaigners in Tacoma pushed for “a dome of our own”; a 1980 vote on a $28 million bond measure was approved and funded the construction of the Tacoma Dome24. Construction began on July 1, 1981, at a site near Interstate 5; sites near Cheney Stadium and in downtown were also considered2. The Tacoma Dome first opened its venue doors in April of 1983 and is used for basketball tournaments, concerts, and other community events135.
Since it first opened in 1983, the Tacoma Dome has undergone several changes and renovations. Here are some of the notable changes:
- Seat Replacement: In 2018, the Tacoma Dome underwent a $30 million renovation that included a total seat replacement. The venue’s old bench seating on the upper level was swapped out in favor of individual seats35.
- COVID-19 Safety Measures: In 2022, the Tacoma Dome implemented COVID-19 safety measures, including vaccination and testing requirements for attendees6.
- Increased Concerts: With the closure of KeyArena for renovations, the Tacoma Dome has seen an increase in high-profile concerts and events5.
- Improved Sound System: In 2016, the Tacoma Dome upgraded its sound system to improve the quality of sound for concerts and events1.
- New Lighting: In 2015, the Tacoma Dome installed new LED lighting to improve the lighting quality and energy efficiency of the venue2.
- New Video Screens: In 2014, the Tacoma Dome installed new high-definition video screens to enhance the viewing experience for attendees2.
These changes have helped to keep the Tacoma Dome a modern and attractive venue for concerts, events, and other community activities.
The Tacoma Dome has hosted a variety of events since it first opened in 1983. Here are some of the biggest events held at the Tacoma Dome in the past:
- Concerts: The Tacoma Dome has hosted concerts by many famous musicians, including Prince, Madonna, U2, and Bruce Springsteen345.
- Sporting Events: The Tacoma Dome has hosted a variety of sporting events, including NCAA basketball tournaments, professional wrestling events, and minor league hockey and soccer games34.
- Rodeos: The Tacoma Dome has hosted several rodeos, including the PBR Tacoma Invitational and the PRCA Rodeo6.
- Political Rallies: The Tacoma Dome has hosted several political rallies, including a rally for presidential candidate Barack Obama in 20083.
- Trade Shows: The Tacoma Dome has hosted a variety of trade shows, including the Tacoma Holiday Food & Gift Festival and the Tacoma Fall RV Show12.
These events have helped to make the Tacoma Dome a popular and versatile venue for a wide range of activities.
Tacoma, oh Tacoma, a city of joy, Where happiness reigns, and sorrows deploy.
A place where the people are filled with glee, And the beauty of life is easy to see.
Lydia K. Valentine, the poet laureate, Says Tacoma is her town, and it’s great.
The readers of the Tribune agree, Tacoma is the happiest city, you see.
Though in the past, Tacoma was not ranked high, Now it’s a place where happiness can’t be denied.
From the University of Puget Sound to TCC, Education is abundant, and it’s easy to see.
Harmon Brewing Company offers a variety of beer, From Point Defiance IPA to Puget Sound Porter, oh dear!
And the Emerald Queen Casino is a place to be, Owned by the Puyallup Tribe, it’s a sight to see.
So let’s celebrate Tacoma, a city of cheer, Where happiness is abundant, and there’s nothing to fear.
Let’s raise a glass to this city so fine, And let our happiness shine.