It’s a well-known fact that many homes in Tacoma don’t have air conditioning, so when the hot summer days happen (okay…so IF they happen), many residents are left wanting to get out of the house.
Whether you want to get out to enjoy the hot weather and have fun, or whether you want to find a place to cool down, T-Town has got you covered. There are plenty of ways to do either.
Go to a Library or Tacoma Mall to Cool Down
First and foremost, if your house is simply too hot and you need to find a cooler place to spend the day, the local libraries and Tacoma Mall make fine options.
Both Tacoma Public Libraries and Pierce County Libraries have Wi-Fi, public computers, plenty of books and magazines, as well as frequent events or story times if you have kids to keep busy as well. Tacoma’s Main Library downtown is the largest of the libraries and has the most to do.
Tacoma Mall has a play area for young children as well as places like Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Dairy Queen, Baskin Robbins, Menchie's and Orange Julius where you can grab a milkshake or smoothie to up the ante on your cool down.
Kandle Park or Stewart Heights Park
MetroParks has two fantastic pools that open for the summer and are a cheap way to spend a few hours. Kandle Park is located in North Tacoma, while Stewart Heights Park is in East Tacoma. Kandle Park has Tacoma’s only wave pool, too, and often hosts special event nights in the summer. Both parks also have skate parks, playgrounds and lot of open space to play. There is an admission fee to get in.
If you don’t want to deal with the admission fees for Kandle or Stewart Heights parks, there are still ways to splash around and cool off for free—MetroParks many spraygrounds. Spraygrounds are located at parks throughout Tacoma, including Wright Park, Titlow Park, Wapato Hills Park, SERA Campus and Kandle Park. Spraygrounds are completely free and don’t have a pool, but instead a solid surface with all kinds of water features that kids can run through, interact with and spray each other with. Kids love them! They're perfect for any kids old enough to walk (and even younger than that if you're willing to get wet too).
Owen Beach is located in Point Defiance Park and is one of the best beaches in Tacoma by far. The shore is long enough that there’s usually no shortage of space to play, spread out a towel and sit, or splash in the water (be warned, it’s a little chilly)! There’s a snack bar, kayak rentals on nice days, and shady trails to walk as well. But there’s nothing wrong with just sitting on the beach and staring at the water and views either.
Tacoma has no shortage of parks, but Wright Park is one of the most beautiful. With large, old trees, there’s plenty of shade on warm days. There’s also a duck pond where you can watch the ducks (but don’t feed them or you might end up with a ticket as feeding wildlife isn’t allowed in the city limits anymore), a conservatory, a sprayground and sports courts. Still, this is far from the only park in town. If Wright Park is a bit of a drive, Wapato Park and Titlow Beach Park have much of the same to offer.
Eat on a Waterfront Deck
Tacoma’s Ruston Way Waterfront is dotted with restaurants and many of them have waterfront decks with amazing views and cool bay breezes to enjoy on a warm day. Happy hour food and drink also tends not to hurt your cool-down efforts. Choices along the Waterfront include Duke’s, The Ram, C.I. Shenanigan’s, The Lobster Shop and others. There are also some waterfront decks along or near Thea Foss Waterway downtown.
Point Ruston is a newer development located at the far north end of Tacoma, and at the far north end of the Ruston Way Waterfront. It’s a commercial and residential development that has plenty to do. On a hot day, kids might enjoy playing in the fountain, which has a flat surface they can run on as well as various jets that send water skipping above the surface. There’s also a waterfront playground and bike/wheeled vehicle rentals (see below), as well as a movie theater if you just need to sit and enjoy some air conditioning!
Point Ruston is also home to Wheel Fun Rentals, a bike and wheeled-vehicle rental company. You can rent not just your average two-wheeled bike, but also a few types of three- and four-wheelers. Some are akin to a grown-up Big Wheel. Others, called Surreys, have seating for a whole family under a shaded canopy. You can ride along the pathways of Point Ruston and, depending on the type of vehicle you get, keep on going onto the Ruston Way walkway.
If a hot day makes you want to get out and get active, and you just can’t get enough sun (or if the day is just mildly warm instead of sizzling hot), walking the Narrows Bridge is beautiful on a clear day. The bridge is accessible from War Memorial Park just off 6th Avenue. The entire walk is filled with views of the water and even Mt. Rainier from close to the Gig Harbor side, but there’s no shade or shelter along the way so dress accordingly.
Get Take Out and Have a Picnic
Tacoma has a number of great spots to pick up picnic foods—MSM Deli, Metropolitan Market, Harbor Greens and more all make ready-to-eat foods that taste even better under the shade of a tree in a park or near the water.