Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

things to do in Tacoma

This new facility on Tacoma's East Side aims to make climbing more inclusive and accessible. Hooray! (Photo: Michael B. Maine)

10 fun things to do in Tacoma in the spring

Return to an old favorite or find a new one!

Our thanks to the folks at Metro Parks Tacoma for all of these great ideas for fun things to do in Tacoma in the spring!

After two years of a pandemic and a cold winter of being cooped up inside, families are feeling the need to get outside for some safe fun.

Here are 10 ideas for things to do in Tacoma this spring.

Take a drive on the wild side: Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is just 45 minutes south of Tacoma (allow around 90 minutes from Seattle) and offers unique, up-close experiences with animals like American bison, mountain goats, caribou, bighorn sheep, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer and trumpeter swans. You can do this from your car, in a Jeep with an animal keeper or on foot. Bonus: Kids will love Kids’ Trek, a nature-inspired playground complete with ropes, slides and a giant climbing tree.

Go to the zoo: One thing that makes Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium special is, yes, the onsite aquarium — actually two of them! Plus, it’s nestled right inside Point Defiance Park, which you’ll want to explore, and has great views of the water and (on clear days) Mount Rainier.

Can you imagine how exhausted everyone will be (in a good way)?

Play Chutes and Ladders!: Check out the real-life Chutes and Ladders near Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park for both children and adults alike! There’s a series of six slides to quickly get down the 60-foot slope from the Wilson Way Bridge to the beautiful marina below. Make sure to look up as you slide and take in the sweeping Puget Sound views. If you’d rather just watch your kids slide down, there are stairs next to each slide as well. [ Also: 6 things to do with kids in Point Defiance Park ]

Take the trail less traveled.

Explore a new path or trail: Tacoma has more than 87 miles of trails. Avoid crowds by finding a lesser-used route. Here’s where you can find a map and details.

Give back to your community: Metro Parks Tacoma, for instance, has several upcoming work parties at parks or green spaces.

Climb to new heights: Pack a picnic and take the kids to the new outdoor climbing area (pictured above) at the First Creek Community Space on Tacoma’s Eastside. Its boulders are part of a movement to make climbing more inclusive and accessible and were designed to help build trust, strengthen community and inspire the next generation of explorers. The site includes a picnic area and is located next to Eastside Community Center, Swan Creek Park and along the Pipeline Trail.

Enjoy a sunset picnic: There is no shortage of waterfront in Tacoma, and this time of year the sunsets can be amazing. Combine the two for a family picnic that will long be remembered. The west-facing beaches are perfect for watching the sun go down, but the sky will show off with pink and orange hues at all of the beaches in Tacoma. So pack up your family, bring your favorite picnic, and settle in to relax and watch the sunset. Here’s a list of Tacoma parks with beaches on Puget Sound.

Travel back in time: Visit Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, the first globally connected settlement on the Puget Sound, established in 1833 by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a fur trading outpost. Experience daily life like it was in the 1850s at a regional trade and agriculture center. Volunteers and staff dress like the time period and engage visitors in the work and crafts of the mid-19th century. (Here’s what that was like on a fourth-grade field trip, by the way.)

Discover a nature oasis: Visit the Tacoma Nature Center, a 70-acre nature preserve encompassing Snake Lake and the surrounding wetlands and forest. There are more than two miles of soft-surfaced walking trails that wander through the wetlands and forest areas. There’s also a half-mile outdoor access route for wheelchairs.

Play Agents of Discovery at 3 local parks: Perfect for families looking to spend time outdoors, Agents of Discovery is a free, educational mobile app designed to get youth active, engaged and learning about the world around them. Download the app, then visit the Tacoma Nature Center, Wright Park or Titlow Park to play. The game is free to download and once downloaded does not require data or Wi-Fi.

Originally published in April 2021

More spring family fun:

Look for gnomes (or their homes!) in Maple Valley or on Bainbridge Island

8 Seattle-area botanical gardens to stroll through with kids


About the Author