If you’ve ever taken a road trip from Seattle to Portland, then you’ve likely driven past the city of Tacoma. Overshadowed by Seattle as the little brother to the big city, Tacoma is the third largest city in Washington. It’s also starting to attract those who find Seattle a little too expensive and want more room to stretch out.

Tacoma has slowly been building a community of creatives looking for space to open unique shops, small coffee roasters and independent, vintage clothing stores. With the new influx of residents, it’s becoming more and more in demand.

Where to Get Your Coffee

At the heart of any good Pacific Northwest city is coffee and Tacoma is harboring a few hidden and not-so-hidden gems. Bluebeard is a popular café and roaster choice among locals with its loft-like feel and tons of places to sit when meeting with friends. It fills up fast with regulars and newcomers alike, so if you want to have a place to work you might want to get there early.


Less than a year old, Manifesto is the newest café and roaster located in the Hilltop neighborhood. Don’t be fooled by its unassuming exterior, Manifesto serves a strong cup that will have you grabbing a bag of beans for a home brew.

Where to Eat

If it is not apparent from the initial look, Shake Shake Shake is a retro-style burger joint that was created by two artists. It’s an easy place in the Stadium District to grab a bite to eat and, per the name, don’t forget to have a milkshake.

The Table prides itself on creating a community around food and serving locally-sourced ingredients in their small and sharable plates. Their changing menu will keep you coming back season after season. Likewise, if you’re in the mood for a nightcap, 1022 South J is a go-to for a rotating menu of locally-sourced craft cocktails. Its lounge-y vibes are a perfect way to end a day of exploring.

Where to Shop

Tacoma might not be a big shopping hub, but what it lacks in variety it makes up for in quality. If you’re exploring downtown, then head into UXC Tacoma for secondhand and vintage men’s and women’s clothing, and a small but always good collection of homeware.


Just a short walk away is Satori, Tacoma’s answer for keeping us all a little more fashionable. It’s filled with independent designers of mostly women’s clothing and accessories, but it also offers a small selection of men’s clothes and beauty products. Check out their good selection of plants for your home, making Satori a one-stop shop.

Where to Get Creative

On a beautiful day there’s no shortage of outdoor activities that one can do throughout the city. Downtown is littered with Chihuly glass art in various buildings, including the Court House, the library at the University of Washington Tacoma and the Tacoma Art Museum. Across from UWT is the Chihuly Bridge of Glass where, on a clear day, you’ll get a great view of Mt. Rainier, but it’s the cone-shaped silver building that holds the Museum of Glass. This is where you can watch artists create glass sculptures and even create some glass art of your own.

glass bridge

If you are looking for a place to get creative yourself, the newest opening of GRLS Studio gives you the opportunity to rent the space or attend an event and meet up with fellow artists.

One of the biggest things that draw people to the Pacific Northwest is the landscape; the best place to unpack your camera and explore is Point Defiance Park. Here you can hike the park’s various trails, hit the beach or walk, bike, drive the five miles around the park to different lookout points for views of Narrows Bridge and the Puget Sound.

Tacoma might still be thought of as Seattle’s little brother; however, slowly but surely it is carving out an identity all its own.

Have you been to Tacoma? What other places in the PNW are your favorite?

Images via Elizabeth Crook


  1. I’m from a small town next to Tacoma, so I’m excited to see a fun article written about it in a nationally and even globally read magazine! I definitely need to go check these places out. I hope you’ll write more about Tacoma in the future.

  2. Man, Tacoma is amazing and all. One of my bestfriends is a native from there. So respect. And great article too.
    But if you think Tacoma is a creative Hub, you should check out Redding, CA.

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