Experience Tacoma

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Uniquely Tacoma

From culture to nature, Tacoma offers numerous activities in town, with inspiring Pacific Northwest attractions nearby. We suggest a few ideas close to campus here, but with so many options, you may want to explore the possibilities at TravelTacoma.com.

Photo depicting an overhead view of the UW Tacoma campus on a sunny day.
Northwest Trek

Native Northwest animals roam freely in their own habitat in this wildlife park about 30 miles from campus. Ride a tram through acres of forest and meadows or walk the trails for an atypical zoo adventure.

America's Car Museum

More than 300 vehicles offer a perspective of American history through the automobile and car culture. Within two miles of campus, this museum's architecture is as intriguing as the exhibits it was built to display.

Museum of Glass

A tribute to Pacific Northwest glass artists, especially Tacoma native Dale Chihuly, the Museum of Glass is within a half mile of campus. See live glass-blowing demonstrations in the hot shop, view the exhibits, and enjoy the ground's art installations.

Tacoma Dome

Large-scale events occur here throughout the year -- from sports, to concerts, to expos. Access to a variety of restaurants and shops reside within five miles from campus, as well as train, bus and light trail transportation.

Photo depicting a group of 7 students sitting around a table in a coffee shop, engaged in discussion.

Coffee. Dining. Shopping.

Distinctive neighborhoods offer a variety of options for drinking, eating and socializing. From urban and artsy downtown, to eclectic Sixth Ave, to upscale Proctor, you can find a perfect place to hang out.

Visit UDOWNTOWN, A guide for students and visitors to the UW Tacoma neighborhood.

Tacoma Trivia

  • The name Tacoma stems from the Indian name for Mount Rainier, "Tacobet," meaning “mother of the waters.”
  • Tacoma is the largest city in Pierce County with a population of 211,277. It is also the third largest city in the state of Washington, behind Seattle and Spokane. (Source: 2016 census)
  • The Tacoma Dome is the largest wood-domed arena in the world, constructed with 1.6 million board feet.
  • Tacoma was founded in 1865 by pioneer Job Carr, who staked the first claim in what is now the "Old Town" neighborhood of the city.
  • "City of Destiny" became Tacoma's moniker when it was designated — instead of Seattle — as the Northern Pacific Railroad's western terminus for its transcontinental route in 1873.
  • The altitude ranges from sea level to 440 feet in the metropolitan area.
  • Despite the Pacific Northwest's rainy reputation, the average annual rainfall is just 39.9 inches (less than New York), 75 percent of which falls October through March. The driest month is usually July and the wettest month is December.
  • Irvine Robbins, co-founder of the Baskin-Robbins chain of ice cream stores, got his start in Tacoma in 1927, selling ice cream and cottage cheese produced from his father's cows' surplus milk.

Pioneers of the pacific northwest

Tacoma's history is evident throughout UW Tacoma's campus. Evolving from a Native American hunting and fishing culture into a lumber and railroad town, UW Tacoma contributes to the area's continued revitalization.

Photo (black and white) depicting downtown tacoma circa late 19th century.