Nestled along the water just south of Tacoma, the small, quiet town of Steilacoom is an underrated South Sound gem. This charming little town has a lot to offer. Strolling the streets you’ll be met by everything from freshly prepared local food to stunning views of beautiful Northwest scenery. Unique restaurants, beaches, ferry watching, historical sites and more all make the small town of Steilacoom well worth a visit.
Enjoy the beautiful outdoors
Steilacoom is nothing if not scenic. The minute you drive into town, you’ll be struck by the expansive views across the sound and toward the Olympic Mountains. Many parks allow you to spend some time outside in this quaint, scenic place. Pioneer Park is one of the most jaw-dropping of these, set right on the hill above the water. Enjoy a small orchard, an old-fashioned swing and many benches to rest on while you gaze out across the water.
If you’re looking for some beach time, the popular Sunnyside Beach is a local favorite for public waterfront access, playgrounds, volleyball courts and all sorts of family-friendly activities. Bring a picnic, toys and the whole family for a day of fun. Be prepared for the $5 fee per vehicle.
Eat and drink your way through town
Although small, Steilacoom has more to it than first meets the eye, especially when it comes to good food and drink. For unbeatable, expansive views of Puget Sound, you won’t want to miss getting some food and grub at Topside Bar and Grill. When the weather permits, take a seat out on the often crowded deck shaded by colorful umbrellas, and enjoy one of the more than 15 beers on tap alongside pub-style fare. For good old-fashioned comfort food and a step back in time, try The Bair Bistro in the historic Bair Drug and Hardware building, built in 1885. If a more upscale dining experience is more your thing, visit De La Terre. Featuring local ingredients and a seasonal menu, it’s sure to be a one-of-a-kind meal.
Get a little history lesson
Steilacoom was originally founded as “Port Steilacoom” by a sea captain in 1851. Known as the “town of firsts” (due to being the first Port of Washington, first incorporated town in Washington and so on), Steilacoom has a rich history worth exploring. The Steilacoom Historical Museum Association and Steilacoom Tribal Cultural Center and Museum provide good starting points to start your journey, pointing visitors toward the long list of historical sites sprawled across town that include old homes, shops and more.
Watch the ferry come and go
Pierce County public works offers ferry service to Anderson and Ketron islands from Steilacoom. It can be a fun, unique experience to watch the ferry as it docks, takes on passengers and then heads out into the distance across the water. Even better, plan a trip on the ferry to explore the peaceful Anderson Island across the sound for yourself.
Attend local town events
Steilacoom offers events all year long that allow you to really immerse yourself into the local community. Every Wednesday during the summer, a farmers market turns a sport court and a small stretch of road into a bustling collection of booths with people milling about. Summer also brings a series of outdoor concerts at Pioneer Park. And don’t miss the yearly apple squeeze, taking place in October each year, where you can hand-squeeze apple cider, explore arts and crafts booths and get in some whole-family fun.
Although small, Steilacoom is a charming, hidden gem worthy of a visit. If you are coming from out of town or want to make a weekend trip of it, there are only a few small lodging options for overnight stays. Check out the Inn at Saltar’s Point or Above the Sound Bed and Breakfast for more information.