By Paige McDaniel
Did you know that Tacoma was voted Most Romantic City in the U.S. in 2011 by Yelp? Yeah, I was surprised too.
As a new Tacoma resident who grew up with her nose tilted upward towards the city, romantic would not be the word I would use to describe the City of Destiny. But as I explored with a native friend in tow, I was introduced to the tucked away gems begging to be used as first date icebreakers, proposal stages and anniversary celebrations.
I soon felt the familiar atmosphere of love as I put myself in these various environments and observed the social activities buzzing around me. After conversations with locals and travelers alike, here are the top 8 places I recommend to snuggle up with your love for a, dare I say, romantic night on the town.
1. Dorky’s Arcade
754 Pacific Ave
What better way to break the ice then some competitive arcade game playing? This arcade/bar has an extensive collection of games from Air Hockey to zombie apocalypse shooting to old-school RPG tabletop games. Not to mention a bar with a great beer selection and a kitchen serving delicious pizza until 2 a.m. for the grown-ups that just want to play too. Dorky’s also made an appearance in a recent SouthSoundTalk story about the best trivia bars around Tacoma.
2. The Harmon
1938 Pacific Ave
This outdoors enthusiast bar and restaurant is a great place to get to know each other in a fun atmosphere that isn’t too intimate for the first-date interview questions. When you step in, it’s like walking into a winter lodge in the mountains. Manager John “Gil” Gilchist describes the place as being “really lax where the beer is really good.” And he’s spot on. The Harmon shares a classic collection with The Harmon Hub and The Taproom as well as a rotating selection of rich beers that pair well with their stellar menu. Any one of the Harmon properties is great for before a movie or concluding a night activity.
5400 N Pearl St.
I don’t care how old you are, pretty much everyone loves going to the zoo. From a girl’s point of view, a guy wins a lot of points when he takes you to zoo and admires the cuteness of the baby lions. Awww! But if you don’t want to cough up the cash to visit the animals there is an entire park for you nervous lovebirds to explore. The five-mile drive is a beautiful scenic route that opens up time for conversation or, if the weather permits, pack a lunch or picnic dinner and sit on the lawn or by the water with the ducks. (Click here for a complete story about the hidden gems inside Point Defiance Park.)
2803 6th Avenue
Yeah, it’s a little loud but it’s so fun! This night club/karaoke bar/restaurant/comedy club is perfect for letting loose and laughing with your date. One of my favorite events is Rockaraoke: live band karaoke every Monday night where you get to be the rock star. The band knows at least 100 songs from 60s and 70s classics to Miley Cryrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” Bravery and confidence are admirable qualities that you might discover while on this date.
5. Harbor Lights
2761 North Ruston Way
Aw, amore. This waterfront bungalow has seen hundreds of proposals and anniversaries in its day, much to the pleasure of the staff. The restaurant is known for its “colossal portions of seafood” and picture-perfect views of Commencement Bay. Supervisor Arne Gratias simply smiles when asked about proposal stories and how the staff have had to place rings in everything from champagne glasses to crème brulee. The place is going to cost you a pretty penny but the staff are more than gracious about making your proposal or anniversary perfect.
933 Market Street
Dinner and a movie is no longer an appropriate choice for a first date. However, this comedy club is always a good idea, whether it be your first, 50th or 700th date. The club keeps its talent fresh and playful and hosts famous names all the time. Stop taking dating so seriously and get some laughs in.
7. Marcia’s Silver Spoon Café
2601 S Tacoma Way
I adore breakfast food and I love a place that serves amazing breakfast and lunch where it’s okay if I order the peanut butter milkshake with my omelet. My giant omelet. This tiny café screams late morning date for those Sundays where you just want to spend the day together in a food coma. I recommend anything on the menu, but I am partial to the “side” of fruit (I felt like Marie Antoinette) and French toast.
8. The Rosewood
3323 N 26th St.
This is an amazing place for a delicious wine and dessert date. The corner café is simple yet you somehow feel very dignified while still at home in the tiny building. Maybe seating 40, The Rosewood boasts a varied wine selection that the staff will happily pair with any of their delicate desserts. I recommend bringing a date here for a more intimate conversation or simple night out.
The romantic city has dozens of nooks for you and your significant other to frequent; I’m learning about new ones everyday. Enjoy your time around Tacoma.