Kids always know when their next day off of school is, and like clockwork they always ask what’s planned. Our thriving neighbor city of Tacoma has plenty to offer with its prominent art district, eclectic architecture and outdoor attractions. Read on for our top picks worth piling in the car for and check out the calendar for all of the day’s kid-friendly events.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

photo: Rachael Brandon

Indoor Attractions

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Get ready to earn those Instagram hearts with the newest thrills to explore at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. After making your way through the elephants and tigers stop by the petting party happening at Stingray Cove, where kiddos (and parents) can dip a hand in and feel squishy stingrays and scaly sharks. Want to pump up those hearts even more? Register for the Eye-to-Eye Shark Cage Dive and jump in the water with five species of jaw-droppingly large sharks while secured in a cage or braving the open tank.

5400 N. Pearl St.
Tacoma, WA
Online: pdza.org

Museum of Glass

photo: Rachael Brandon

Museum of Glass
Easily the hottest museum in Tacoma, the Museum of Glass will heat up your crew for a day trip adventure. Before entering the studio, make your way through the Chihuly Bridge of Glass where a rainbow of glass objects are suspended above an overpass from downtown to the museum. Once in, check out the Kids Design Glass collection that features creations based on child submitted drawings. Then, get fired up at the Hot Shop while watching featured artists demonstrate the magic of turning molten glass into works of art.

1801 Dock St.
Tacoma, WA
Online: museumofglass.org

Chidren's Museum of Tacoma

photo: Rachael Brandon

Chidren’s Museum of Tacoma 
This Tacoma family destination has five distinct learning areas to get those big imaginations to take flight. Enter the Woods where a prominent tree house is waiting to be discovered and head into Beca’s Studio where mini-Picassos can paint, print and sculpt away. Splash around with a flowing water table and put your building skills into action using over sized materials in the Invention space. If your tykes haven’t had enough, send them on a pretend playing adventure in the out-of-this-world Voyager play structure while you sit on a comfy bench and drink some joe.

1501 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, WA
Onlineplaytacoma.org

LeMay race track

photo: Helen Walker Green

LeMay Museum
Vroom! Vroom! Even if you don’t have all the Cars movies on repeat at your house, the LeMay Museum is a destination sure to captivate imaginations while looking back at the history of the automobile. Acclaimed as the largest car museum in North America, the uniquely shaped building is located next to the Tacoma Dome and houses up to 350 cars with rotating exhibits and a family zone, plus a cafe to enjoy while dad talks about the first car he ever bought.

2702 E. D. St.
Tacoma, WA
Online: lemaymuseum.org

Washinton State History Museum

photo: History Lab via Yelp

Washinton State History Museum
Kids have a lot of questions, but before telling them you haven’t the foggiest about Washington State history because you snoozed through that class, take them to this museum and fill in the gaps of what you missed. With plenty of interactive displays, hands-on activities and buttons to push, the booooring has been replaced with…well…actual fun!

1911 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, WA
Online: washingtonhistory.org

Learning Sprout Toys

photo: Rachael Brandon

Learning Sprout Toys
If shopping for a birthday, holiday, or special anytime gift is on your to-do list, making a visit to Learning Sprout Toys in Tacoma’s Historic District is well worth the drive. You won’t go home empty-handed with two floors of imaginative play trinkets, baby sensory toys, vehicles, dolls, and more to choose from. There is plenty to keep your little one entertained with while you browse, including train tables, doll houses, stuffed animals and a colorful Ferris wheel adorning the storefront.

809 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, WA
Online: learningsprout.com

Make and Take Space Tinkertopia

 photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Tinkertopia
From the moment you walk through the doors at Tinkertopia, you get the distinct feeling that you’ve never been in a store quite like it before. More than an art studio, different from an artist supply store, it’s the exact space one would imagine if Fred Sanford and Geppetto designed a workshop over drinks. Owners Darcy and R.R. call it a Creative Reuse Center, or an alternative art supply store. And they pretty much nailed it on the head. Shop the store, drop-in at the maker space, take a workshop, or book a party. The fun never ends here.

Insider Tip: You never know what you’re going to find on any given day, but typically stocked craft items often include snow shoe frames, beads, cosmic ray shields, storm trooper masks, bottle caps, crayons, slideshow wheels, and kiln clips. Come with an open mind and leave with a bag full of creativity.

1914 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, WA
Online: tinkertopia.com or on Facebook

cheney stadium via yelp

photo: Andrew S. via Yelp

Cheney Stadium
Play ball! Kiddos will love getting a taste of America’s favorite pastime watching the minor-league Tacoma Rainiers play at Cheney Stadium. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and prices are easy on the wallet. Now what more could you ask for? Try hanging out Sunday nights after the game and letting those root, root, rooters run wild around the bases with Rhubarb the famous dancing reindeer.

2502 S. Tyler St.
Tacoma, WA
Online: milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t529

Owen Beach

 photo: Rachael Brandon

Owen Beach
At the northeastern edge of Point Defiance Park resides the popular Owen Beach with its majestic views of Vashon Island, Mount Rainier, and ferry boats. A perfect picnic spot worthy of a day trip on its own, but can be combined with a visit to the park or zoo. Take the scenic walking path from the marina along the waterfront or cruise through 5 Mile Drive to the parking lot at the beach. Amenities include picnic shelters, kayak rentals and a concession stand.

Insider Tip: During the summer months, Point Defiance Zoo hosts a free Explore the Shore learning program for little beach combers. Walk the shore with a naturalist and explore the creatures found in the tide pools while taking actual scientific records of what you find.

5605 N. Owen Beach Rd.
Tacoma, WA
Online: metroparkstacoma.org

Tacoma Nature Center

photo: Rachael Brandon

Tacoma Nature Center 
If getting the family away from the hustle and bustle of the city is on your to-do list, the Tacoma Nature Center is packed with all the bells and whistles to entertain outdoor enthusiasts. Little ones will love Discovery Pond, a natural playground with a playhouse, tree slide, and pond to explore and inspire curiosity. Stop by the Visitor’s Center to get an up close look at some local wildlife and pick up a trail guide to take with you through the rest of the park. The 2-mile walking trail surrounding Snake Lake offers an urban oasis for native wildlife and visitors alike, and plenty of run around room to make those kiddos drowsy enough for the drive home.

1919 S. Tyler St.
Tacoma, WA
Online: metroparkstacoma.org/tacomanaturecenter

Fort Nisqually

photo: Christine L. via Yelp

Fort Nisqually
There’s no time like the present to journey to the past at Fort Nisqually’s Living History Museum. This first European settlement in the Puget Sound has been reinvigorated with period dressed reenactors demonstrating life in the mid-19th century. Kids can ask questions from lumberjacks and blacksmiths, try out cool skills from back in the day and get a real taste of life before those beloved electronic devices.

5400 N. Pearl St., #11
Tacoma, WA
Online: metroparkstacoma.org

Wright Park

photo: Metro Parks Tacoma website

Wright Park
This must-see urban green space located in downtown Tacoma has just about everything you need for an awesome outdoor play day. Run around the nearly one mile loop surrounding the park and take notice of more than 600 amazing trees, statues dating to the late 1800s and a kiddo acclaimed duck pond featured in the landscape. Want more? Swing over to the playground, take in a game of bocce ball, tour the Victorian styled botanical conservatory, or park it on the lawn for a family picnic.

316 S. G. St.
Tacoma, WA
Online: metroparkstacoma.org

Titlow Beach and Park

photo: Rachael Brandon

Titlow Beach and Park
Look no farther than Titlow beach and park for the complete package of outdoor adventure all kids want. Pack your buckets and an extra pair of shoes for a beach walk while taking in an epic view of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. If tromping through the woods is more your crew’s thing, then take a trail walk around the estuary lagoon. Some kids can’t do outdoors unless a playground is involved and this one will not disappoint with swings, web-like climbing structures and a sprayground for the warmer months. Don’t forget to pack a lunch and spend some quality time on the lawn in front of the historic Titlow Lodge.

8425 6th Ave.
Tacoma, WA
Online: metroparkstacoma.org

Kandle Park

photo: Andrea B. via Yelp

Kandle Park 
Found in the northwest part of town is one of Tacoma’s best kept secrets, and where locals flock to during the summer months. Kandle Park is home to the only outdoor wave pool in Pierce County and includes a bonus toddler pool plus a mini-sprayground. There is still plenty to do other months of the year with a recently renovated playground, skate dots for throwing down some sick ollies, and playfields to practice some ball skillz.

5302 N. 26th St.
Tacoma, WA
Online: metroparkstacoma.org/kandlepark

The Best Upcoming Events for Kids in Tacoma
If you’re looking for events and activities, don’t miss our local Tacoma family events calendar, which has everything from story times to seasonal activities like apple picking, pumpkin patches and Christmas tree farms.

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—Rachael Brandon