Local residents know that there are lots of cool things to do in Tacoma — like catching an entertaining improv show or indulging in a plethora of amazing happy hours — but sometimes you just want to hit the road for an experience outside of your immediate neighborhood.
Fortunately, there are plentiful choices for a fun day trip, all within a two-hour or so distance from Tacoma — and even a couple of destinations within just an hour’s drive. We did the research for you and put together a list of five fantastic choices, each with its own unique appeal. You’ll definitely find one that piques your interest, but most likely you’ll find yourself wanting to visit all five nearby destinations.
Fill your car’s gas tank, grab a couple of water bottles, enter the address of your chosen destination into your GPS, and go!
1. Olympic Game Farm
If you love animals, the Olympic Game Farm will put a smile on your face that lasts all week long. Located in Sequim, this wildlife park is about a 1-hour and 45-minute drive from Tacoma — and trust us, it is worth the drive. The drive-through part of your visit will take you on a sightseeing tour through 84 acres of bears, elk, bison, llamas, tigers, wolves, and frankly, so many animals that we can’t list them all. When weather permits, usually during summer months, admission also includes a walk-through tour of an aquarium, duck pond, pheasant aviary, raccoon enclosure, and, best of all, a petting zoo full of cute, little goats. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? But wait — we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. As you drive through the path, you get to — wait for it — feed the animals. Purchase wheat bread at the park or bring your own, just make sure you don’t feed the animals anything other than wheat bread. Soon llama, elk, deer and bison will approach your vehicle and eat right out of your hand. You’ll never forget the first time a bison slobbers all over you; we promise.
2. Woodinville Wine Country
Just a little over an hour from Tacoma, Woodinville is every wine connoisseur’s dream. Boasting over 100 wineries, the small, sophisticated town is called “wine country” for a reason. Most of the wines you’ll taste in this vino enthusiasts’ paradise come from grapes grown locally in the warm and arid climate of the Columbia Valley. And many of the winemakers are locals as well, so don’t be surprised to find that the person pouring you a tasting of a piquant pinot noir is the very same person who made the wine. Time your visit to take advantage of the many cooking and wine education classes and special events that take place throughout the year.
3. Ocean Shores
Approximately two hours from Tacoma, Ocean Shores is a day trip that feels like a miniature vacation. This small, seaside town has plenty of restaurants and bars, an interpretive center, art galleries and much more. Seafaring folk can choose from plenty of activities to partake in on Ocean Shores’ many lakes and canals, and of course, the Pacific Ocean. Choose from deep-sea, surf and freshwater fishing; boating; kayaking; canoeing; or just go clam digging (in season). Landlubbers, take heart. There is plenty for you to do as well. Rent mopeds, ride go-carts or bumper cars, play golf, go horseback riding or kiting, or go on a hayride. There’s so much to do, you’ll probably plan a second trip.
4. Olympia Farmers Market
It’s hard to wait for warmer months for farmers markets to “spring up.” Fortunately, not only is there a farmers market open year round, but it’s only about a 40-minute drive from Tacoma at the nearby Olympia Farmers Market. This indoor/outdoor farmers market features everything from nuts to jerky and plenty of edible opportunities from its wide selection of outdoor restaurants. In the market, you’ll find seedlings, seafood, produce and all kinds of cured beef (and we do mean all kinds). It’s easy to while away several hours perusing, shopping and — best of all — eating. You can easily do both breakfast and lunch if you so desire, taking your pick from Mexican, Mediterranean, Japanese, Bavarian, Indian and even “Puget Sound” cuisine, such as oysters, crab cakes and fish burgers.
5. Snoqualmie Falls
There’s a reason why over one million people visit Snoqualmie Falls every year. The majestic 268-foot waterfall is enough to take any city slicker’s breath away. With its two-acre park that includes special viewing areas and observation decks, and hiking and picnic areas, Snoqualmie Falls makes for the perfect day trip for nature lovers and outdoorsy types — and it’s just over an hour away from Tacoma. Plus, TV buffs get to see the famous falls that appeared in the cult classic television series, “Twin Peaks.” Take in the majesty of the falls, go for an invigorating hike, and picnic among the natural splendor for one satisfying day trip. If you rather have sit-down service after all that hiking, there are several area restaurants catering to a variety of appetites.