2019 has arrived and we’re welcoming the New Year with open arms! Spend your year checking off this bucket list of 19 things to experience, see and savor in the South Sound during the year ahead.

Pacific Seas Aquarium

Dive right in to 2019 by experiencing the wonders of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s new, state-of-the-art Pacific Seas Aquarium. Gaze eye-to-eye with some of the most fantastic creatures of the deep, from hammerhead sharks to the majestic green sea turtle. The aquarium’s Baja Bay exhibit features a 280,000-gallon warm-water exhibit showcasing the mesmerizing marine life native to the Gulf of California.

Point Ruston
Point Ruston’s Waterwalk stretches seven miles along the shoreline of Tacoma’s Commencement Bay. Photo courtesy: Point Ruston

Point Ruston Waterwalk Trail

Soak in stunning views of Mount Rainier and the Puget Sound by taking a stroll along Point Ruston’s Waterwalk Trail. This lively seven-mile long trail leads the way from Point Defiance Park along the shores of Commencement Bay to Point Ruston and the Ruston Way Waterfront. This paved trail is ideal for pedestrians, as well as cyclists, skaters and rollerbladers.

Tacoma Art Museum’s New Expansion

In January 2019, the Tacoma Art Museum will celebrate the opening of their new Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Wing. The Benaroya Collection will feature 353 pieces of glass art, including major works by Dale Chihuly, Howard Ben Tré, Gregory Grenon and other prominent glass artists. The new exhibit will open to the public on January 19,  2019, and will be celebrated with a free community festival from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. opening day.

Tacoma Night Market
The Tacoma Night Market occurs on the first Saturday of the month, and recently expanded to include a monthly Gig Harbor Night Market. Photo courtesy: Tacoma Night Market

Tacoma Night Market

Occurring on the third Saturday of each month, the Tacoma Night Market combines the magic of local artists, makers, live music, food and more. Inside the market, you can expect to find a variety of over 50 unique vendors showcasing artwork, apparel, home designs, jewelry, plants and everything in between. Enjoy food from local vendors, live musical entertainment and a full bar. Recently the Tacoma Night Market expanded to including a Gig Harbor Night Market located at 7 Seas Brewing in downtown Gig Harbor every first Saturday of the month. Both Night Market locations are a free and all-ages-friendly event.

Local Cooking Classes

Channel your inner culinary artist at one of the various cooking and baking classes at The Blue Octopus. These pop-up classes are lead by local chefs and cover everything from the art of making pastries and pastas, to creating classic paella, tasty tamales, and preparing the perfect charcuterie board.

Boutique Shopping

Choose to shop local in the New Year by visiting some of Tacoma’s best boutiques. From local favorites like Satori and Purpose, to new additions to Tacoma like Cocobolo and Lapis, treat yourself to beautiful locally created and curated products.

Dine Out Somewhere New

Let Gig Harbor’s newest restaurant, Animarum, sweep you off your feet. From live piano music and a craft cocktail bar cart that will make your drinks tableside, to their innovative and soulful menu, this new addition to the South Sound is sure to be heaven on earth for local foodies. Enjoy items from their menu like Oysters Rockefeller or bone marrow with onion jam, or their savory Osso Buco lamb shank, beautiful whole guinea hen, or squid ink pasta with Dungeness crab. Animarum is the perfect spot for a completely unique dining experience or sultry date night dinner.  Online reservations are required.

Animarum Gig Harbor
Enjoy an intimate dining experience and creative craft cocktails at Animarum, Gig Harbor’s newest restaurant. Photo courtesy: Animarum

Get a taste of the South Sound this year by visiting some Tacoma’s newest restaurants. Wooden City has quickly become a local urban oasis for dinner and brunch, while a few doors down you’ll experience a delightful blast from the past at The Fern Room. Previously home to Tacoma Cabana, owners Jason and Robyn Alexander transformed the tiki bar into a ‘70s-themed dream, complete with walls adorned with ferns and macramé. Enjoy their new twists on classic cocktails like a minty grasshopper, mudslide, or tequila sunrise.

Game at Ocean5

Get your game on at Ocean5, the South Sound’s newest gaming complex for both kids and adults. Choose from their two-story laser tag arena, cutting-edge video arcade games, and 22 bowling lanes, including the only Duckpin bowling lanes on the entire West Coast. Be sure to take a break from all the fun at their contemporary farm-to-table restaurant Table 47, where their menu highlights delicious options featuring locally grown ingredients and products.

The Pierce College Science Dome

Take an interactive trip through the cosmos at Pierce College’s Science Dome. The Science Dome is a 58-seat digital planetarium that projects video onto the dome’s ceiling where they’ll guide you through the night sky as you fly through our solar system, and learn about new astronomical discoveries.

Buffalo Soldier Museum

Tacoma’s 9th and 10th Calvary Buffalo Soldiers Museum is one of only two museums in the United States dedicated to remembering and educating the public about the thousands of African American soldiers who gave their lives in the line of duty. Through collections of educational and historical artifacts, learn about some of the forgotten heroes in America’s history.

Tacoma Rainiers Color Cheney Chrimson night
Going to a Rainiers game is fun for families, couples, groups and more. Photo credit: Tacoma Rainiers

Rainier’s Baseball

Before you know it, spring will be here and baseball season will be back in full swing. Don’t miss a Tacoma Rainier’s minor league baseball game at beautiful Cheney Stadium. Tickets are affordable and concession stands include local vendors like Kidd Valley Burgers, Flying Taco and Ivar’s Seafood. There’s a food stand dedicated solely to chicken and various ballpark favorites like cracker jacks, cotton candy and hotdogs. Catch a game on a Friday night to enjoy their fantastic fireworks display after the game.

Kayak in the Puget Sound

This year, make it a resolution to explore the waters of the South Sound by kayak. From paddling along Tacoma’s Commencement Bay and Foss Waterway, to venturing over to the Gig Harbor lighthouse, enjoy views of the Puget Sound as you hug the shorelines and enjoy the likely company of cute and curious harbor seals.

New Exhibits at the LeMay – America’s Car Museum

Unlike any other exhibit on the entire West Coast, discover 17 incredibly rare and historically significant BMW motorsport vehicles at the American Car Museum’s Heroes of Bavaria exhibit. Learn about and celebrate 75 years of BMW motorsports through the their superiorly crafted cars, artifacts and memorabilia.

Take a Hike

The South Sound is close to a number of spectacular local trails. Enjoy easy hikes based out of Tacoma at Point Defiance Park, Snake Lake, and Titlow Park, or channel your inner John Muir and make a trip to Mount Rainier National Park where the trail options are endless and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest will take your breath away.

Visit a State Park

Enjoy beautifully protected areas in our nook of the Pacific Northwest by visiting one of our many state parks. From sandy shores full of life at Kopachuck State Park to the scenic waterfront at Browns Point Light House Park, pack up a picnic and soak in the superb scenery of the South Sound.

Tour the Puget Sound by Plane

Hop a scenic flight and see the spectacular sights our state has to offer. Get a bird’s eye view of Mount Rainier’s glaciers or fly eye to eye with the Seattle Space Needle and city skyline. SpanaFlight in Puyallup and PAVCO in Gig Harbor both offer scenic flights for up to three passengers, offering stunning views from various Cessna aircrafts. Take to the skies and enjoy the view from up above.

Bridge of Glass
Enjoy free entry to museums in downtown Tacoma every Third Thursday of the month. Photo credit: Gabriella Kinner

Third Thursday

Don’t miss Tacoma’s monthly Third Thursday celebration in the Museum District, where admission to various local museums is completely free of charge. Enjoy complimentary admission to the Tacoma Art Museum and Museum of Glass from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Washington State History Museum from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and the Foss Waterway Seaport from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Most locations feature special activities and live demonstrations for visitors, and many of the local art galleries downtown open their doors, encouraging passersby to stop in, mingle and enjoy local art.

Visit Your Local Farmers Market

The South Sound is home to an abundance of fantastic local farmers markets, where market-goers can enjoy locally grown crops and products from resident farmers, vendors and retailers. Enjoy everything from fresh fruits and veggies, to baked goods, flowers, and gifts. Farmers markets aren’t just limited to spring and summer, as some markets run year-round and provide exceptional produce and products no matter the season.

Become a Volunteer

Give back this year by donating some of your time to volunteering in your very own community. From planting trees and restoring local parks with Metro Parks and Penmet Parks, attending a beach cleanup with Citizens for a Healthy Bay, or helping love and care for animals placed in local shelters, Pierce County offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities throughout the year.