Free Things to do in Tacoma

There are many things to do and see in Tacoma that don’t cost money.  Tacoma is a city that continues to invest in itself and its community.  While there are plenty of art related sites, there is plenty more to do in addition to seeing the arts.  Below is a list of free activities for those looking for fun without having to pay money.  You will however have to get yourself to these locations.

Tacoma Waterfront

The down town waterfront on Ruston Way is a place where families walk, people walk their dogs, jog, and ride their bikes as well as roller skate. If you decide to take a seat you will likely see some older vehicles cruising through the area.

Walk down to the beach with your family and enjoy the small crashing waves against the shore.  Once you reach the beach be sure to skip some rocks as this can be great entertainment for the whole family.

If the sand is not your thing there are plenty of grassy areas to play catch or soccer, or just lay down a blanket and relax while you read a book.  The city of Tacoma has done a wonderful job with making sure that the area is enjoyable for everyone.

The Tacoma Water Front is not just about free fun.  There are plenty of things to do that require money.  But to hear more about that CLICK HERE.

Point Defiance Park

When you think of a park the Point Defiance Park does not match what you are probably envisioning. The Point Defiance park is 647 acres of nature and history combined.  You can drive through the park on what is called the 5 Mile Drive. There are plenty of places to stop to look at the beautiful views of the Puget Sound.

One of the popular destinations in the park is Owen Beach.  Enjoy the views of Vashon Island, Owen Beach Tacomaswim in the Pudget Sound, relax on the beach or enjoy the path that goes along the beach area; there is no shortage of free things to do at the beach.  There are plenty of  picnic areas and a Kayak rental area for those that are feeling adventurous.

Directions to the Park: Take exit 132 (State Route 16) to the 6th Ave exit. Go straight through the first intersection at 6th Ave and take a right at the second light onto Pearl street. Follow Pearl Street to Point Defiance Park.

Point Defiance Zoo

The Point Defiance Zoo is something you should consider visiting since its location is right next to the Point Defiance Park.  The zoo has 12 free admission days a year which covers all the months except for dates during the summer.  The only catch to the free days of admission is that you must be a resident of Tacoma.  There are plenty of great things to at the Point Defiance Zoo.  For more information about the Point Defiance zoo click here.

The address for the Point Defiance Zoo is 5400 North Pearl Street, Tacoma, WA 98407.

Directions to the Point Defiance Zoo: Take Exit 132 (Highway 16 West). Exit at 6th Avenue (exit #3) and turn left. Take the next right on to Pearl Street. Follow Pearl Street into Point Defiance Park. Directional signs will lead you to the Zoo parking lots.

Watch Radio Controlled Car RacesRace Deck at Tacoma RC Raceway

Tacoma R/C Raceway is the radio controlled car racing hub of the northwest. This race track is owned and operated by a legend in the R/C car racing world, Scott Brown who is a sponsored driver with Team Associated.  Come grab a chair and watch the various races that take place from novice racers (of all ages) to racer with advanced skill.  There are various races which include the buggy, the truck and the short course model trucks.

If you are an adult, watching these races will likely take you back to your childhood.  Your children will enjoy watching the races and rooting for their favorite cars and racers.

Races at the Tacoma R/C Raceway take place on the following days and times:

  • Tuesdays with races beginning at 7pm
  • Fridays with races beginning at 7pm
  • Saturday with races beginning at 7pm
  • Sunday with races beginning at 1pm.

If you can make the race you can stop by and watch drivers on the track practicing.  There is no admission for watching the races and you will surely be entertained by the car wrecks, the high jumps and the fierce competition.

Tacoma R/C Raceway is located at 4802 South Adams Street  Tacoma, WA 98409.  The phone number is (253) 565-1935.  Or visit their website at Tacoma R/C Raceway.

Tacoma Children’s Museum

Children's Museum of TacomaThe Tacoma Children’s Museum is a perfect free location to take children for an interactive playful adventure.  The Children’s Museum is a pay as you will facility.  The facility will take any sort of donation as a form of admission.  If you don’t have the money to donate for an admission you will not be prevented from coming in.

There are several interactive areas for children’s imagination which include the Wooded area Children's museumWooded play area, the water area, the Voyager (which looks like a flying machine play set), Becka’s Studio (which is an art studio for children), the Invention area where children can build things plus and more.

And don’t forget there is a café located in the facility for those parents that need a pick me up.

The hours of operation for the general public is Wednesday through Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Children’s Museum is located at 1501 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma WA 98402.

For more information visit the Children’s Museum website.

The Chihuly Bridge of Glass

A truly unique experience for those who enjoy glass art.  The Tacoma Bridge of Glass is a 500 foot long walk way for pedestrians.  Something very cool to see with the whole family.  For more detailed information about the Tacoma Bridge of Glass (which can be reached from the Glass Museum)  Visit the Museum of Glass website.

Walk through Freighthouse Square

Frieghthouse SquareThis Tacoma landmark has been around for over 100 years.  The building is three blocks long and five stories tall. There are a variety of shops, vendors, business services and restaurants throughout the historical building.  The Frieghthouse Square was once the most western point and freight terminus for the Milwaukee Railroad.  If you are looking to see a wonderful historical building this is a great place to take a walk, window shop and get a bite to eat.

The Freighthouse Square address is 2501 East D Street, Tacoma WA 98421.

It’s open 7 days a week.  Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Or visit their website by clicking here.

Go to a Museum on the Free admission day

History Museum

The History Museum has free admission on the third Thursday of each month.  On this day the Museum is open until 8 p.m. with free admission from 2-8 p.m.  The History Museum shares this history of Tacoma and the state of Washington.  There are plenty of interactive exhibits for the entire family.  Be sure to pick up the scavenger hunt map and a pencil before entering the museum.  Your children will enjoy searching of the items on the map.

The History Museum is located at 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402

Directions to the History Museum: From I-5 North or South take the City Center exit #133. Follow the I-705/City Center signs to 21st Street where you’ll turn left, and then turn right onto Pacific Avenue.

Tacoma Art Museum

The Tacoma Art Museum offers free admission on the third Thursday of every month.  The free admission begins at 5 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m.  The exhibits are  always changing and always interesting.

For more information about the museum click here.

Museum of Glass

The Museum of Glass offers free admission to the exhibits on the third Thursday of each month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Aside from the awesome art displays throughout the museum, one of the biggest treats is the live glass making.  There is always someone answering questions while glass art is being created.

Don’t miss out on a rare glass making experience.  The museum is located at 1801 Dock Street, Tacoma, WA 98402.  The entrance to the museum is on the water side.  

 Directions From I-5 in Tacoma (north or south):

  • Take Exit 133* (City Center) to I-705
  • Follow signs for E 26th St/Tacoma Dome
  • Turn right onto East 26th St
  • Turn left on East D Street
  • Proceed on East D Street to the third light
  • Turn left onto Dock Street
  • Museum of Glass is on the right

Visit their website by clicking here.

 Hopefully you will be able to take advantage of these free activities in Tacoma.  Have fun and be safe.

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