Tourist Spot

Why Tacoma is a low-key alternative to visiting Seattle

Nestled near the shore of Puget Sound, Tacoma is a bustling port city that features a colorful waterfront, cultural centers and stunning views of the Olympic Mountains. The city’s unparalleled glass art theme is captivating for history buffs, culture vultures, scholars, or vacationing families.

Tacoma and Seattle are not only the two largest cities in Puget Sound, they also share a common airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Tacoma’s similarity to Seattle and the assortment of jaw-dropping destinations make the city even more appealing to tourists. Here’s why most visitors choose Tacoma.

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Tacoma’s Spectacular Exteriors

A balance of natural beauty, traditional delights and adventurous activities are Tacoma’s ultimate ingredients for a remarkable outdoor living space. The heart of Tacoma is at Point Defiance Park, which attracts more than three million visitors each year. Nestled near Tacoma’s spectacular waterfront, there’s plenty to do, as the park is home to natural forests with hiking trails, a beach, and manicured gardens. Plus, visitors can also feed their curiosity at the Park Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, an award-winning conservation center for endangered species.

Trying Tacoma’s restaurants is a great alternative if you’re not a jungle fanatic. Pacific Coast restaurants offer fresh seafood, with Duke’s Chowder House being the most iconic. Fancy a quick snack? Foodies will love the retro vibe of Shake Shake Shake, a haven for thick, creamy milkshakes alongside delicious snacks.

Related: Tacoma to Seattle: Take the Train, It’s Cheap!

Tacoma’s hidden gem is its teeming resorts and parks. Although not popular as a waterfront community, Tacoma has beachfront properties with stunning views of Rainier Mountain and the Olympic Mountains. Ruston Way Waterfront is a must for visitors who enjoy kayaking, fishing and parasailing.

Tacoma’s thriving cultural scene

History buffs and artsy tourists will marvel at Tacoma’s cultural scene. Tacoma has been Washington’s tourist poster child, thanks to wonderful museums since the early 1980s. Here are some fabulous museums that tourists can visit in Tacoma.

Related: Take These 9 Amazing Day Trips From Seattle

Glass Museum

The Glass Museum is Tacoma’s cultural landmark, famous for its striking architecture and unique conical design. As its name suggests, the destination is dedicated to glass sculptures available in permanent and rotating exhibitions. The Chihuly Bridge, a spectacular bridge leading to the museum, is the city’s most photographed landmark

  • Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Ticket price: $17 per adult

Tacoma Art Museum

Visitors who want to make the most of an afternoon in Tacoma can explore this wonderful museum featuring polished glass art, Japanese prints, and jewelry from the greater western region. Tacoma Art Museum is every art lover’s paradise.

  • Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Ticket price: $14 per adult

LeMay America Automotive Museum

Boasting the largest private car collection in the world, the museum is a great place for intriguing automotive memorabilia. The LeMay America Automotive Museum has the nation’s rarest cars, some dating back to 1920.

  • Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Ticket price: $18 per adult

Affordable cost of living

Compared to Seattle, the cost of living in Tacoma is significantly lower than in Seattle. Whether it’s a short weekend visit or a permanent move, Tacoma offers affordable options in real estate, transportation, shopping and healthcare.

Service industry costs are a great way to show how much cheaper Tacoma is than Seattle. Visitors can spend less on public transit that serves more than 30 routes, some of which lead into Seattle. Other popular stops include the National History Museum, Tacoma Children’s Museum, and downtown Tacoma properties. Visitors can also choose to tour Tacoma by train, with Sounder trains running through South Tacoma, Sumner, Auburn, and Seattle, to name a few. The train also provides transportation services for special weekend events such as Seahawks games held at Lumen Field.


Food is another perk when it comes to living in Tacoma. The average cost of food at restaurants and affordable eateries ranges from $15, which is 11% less than Seattle prices. Customers may even feel that the meals are criminally underpriced with the top notch quality in some restaurants. Sports and leisure activities are also worth mentioning, with fitness clubs, cinemas and parks charging lower fees than in Seattle.

Where to stay in Tacoma

Tacoma hotels are primarily located in downtown Tacoma, a prime location near attractions such as restaurants, parks, museums, and botanical gardens. The best hotels to stay in Tacoma include:

  • Hotel Murano. The luxury hotel is minutes from the Tacoma Mall and the Port of Tacoma. Hotel Murano features mesmerizing glass artwork that grabs guests’ attention from the get-go. Rooms are comfortable and include large windows for better views of the Tacoma landscape.
  • Comfort Inn & Suites in downtown Tacoma. You can enjoy a quiet night in this exceptional establishment with a well thought out design. The hotel features a bar, restaurant, indoor pool, and queen-size beds with high-quality linens.

Tourists can also choose to stay at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tacoma Downtown, Courtyard Tacoma Downtown, and Days Inn by Wyndham Auburn.

Tacoma has almost everything a tourist could ask for. The city’s pleasant climate and proximity to Seattle make it a perfect vacation option. Additionally, Tacoma’s captivating museums are a must visit as they provide an experience that stays in the mind of every traveler.