Park Perfection

It's no secret that the Upper Left is obsessed with parks. We kinda have a thing for the great outdoors. We might be biased, but Tacoma might be the best of best of the Pacific Northwest. Tacoma's parks and recreation are the stuff of Leslie Knope's dreams, and we guarantee there is something for everyone, so go out and find your park!

Brown's Point Lighthouse Park – Tacoma
With just over 4 acres, this is an excellent spot for a picnic and watching the ships roll into port. But if you find yourself wishing you could stay, well, you can. Become a lighthouse keeper by signing up for a one-week stay in the Light Keeper’s Cottage; it will set you back about $250 but is an excellent staycation idea. Enjoy a stroll along the beach, top-notch sunsets, or passing the time in antique rocking chairs on the porch.

Chambers Bay Regional Park – University Place
The playground of the Sound. There are 930 acres, including over 2 miles of saltwater shoreline with amazing mountain and Puget Sound views. Enjoy a walk on the beach, hike the public trails, play a round at the U.S. Open host course, or dine at Chambers Bay Grill.

Charlotte's Blueberry Park – Tacoma
Once a privately owned blueberry farm, this 53-acre park on Tacoma’s Eastside boasts more than 3,372 bushes bursting with five varieties of blueberry that are grown free of pesticides and fertilizers. Picking season typically runs from July through September, and there is no fee to pick the blueberries, which are first-come-first-serve.

Dash Point Park – Tacoma
Happy birthday to Dash Point Park. You don't look a day over 99! Celebrating its centennial this year, this park offers 700 feet of sandy beach, picnic facilities, and beach walking. While the fishing pier is currently closed for renovation, this spot is an excellent place for paddlers, with Browns Point Lighthouse and Commencement Bay to the south and a western-facing shoreline, providing perhaps the best sunset views in the city.

Dune Penninsula – Tacoma
Perhaps you've heard of a little movie titled Dune. And perhaps you've heard that an ASARCO Superfund site had been transformed into a major waterfront attraction. But did you know that here on the 11-acre Dune Peninsula, which links Point Defiance Park to Ruston Way, you can walk, jog, bike and so much more along the winding, paved pedestrian loop on the peninsula, named after hometown celebrity and author of Dune, Frank Herbert? A true victory for the environment and Tacomans. What makes this park extra is the real-life “Chutes and Ladders” experience — a series of six slides next to the east end of the bridge that shoots you down to the marina complex below. Each slide has an adjacent set of stairs for those who prefer "the ladders" and a slower descent. 

Five-Mile Drive and Trails – Tacoma
These (yep, you guessed it) 5 miles of paved roads wind through an old-growth forest and offer incredible views of Puget Sound, the Cascades and Olympic Mountains, and the Narrows Bridge. Once open to vehicle traffic, this "drive" is now a scenic haven for cyclists, walkers, and runners. 

Kandle Park – Tacoma
Kandle Park includes walking trails, a new playground, and a skateboard area. But the crown jewel is the 5-foot-deep, gradual beach-like entrance wave pool — the first of its kind in Pierce County. While we enjoy relatively mild summers, with four 25-meter lap lanes and a separate spray pool, this is the hotspot to cool down. Be sure to check online for hours and know before you go there is an entrance fee: Adult (ages 18+), $7; Youth (ages 5-17), $5; Tots (ages 4 and under), free.

Kobayashi Park – University Place
Often called a hidden gem, this 5-and-a-half-acre park is surrounded by forests and wetlands in University Place. Named for the flowing Kobayashi Creek, it's a perfect place for a picnic — or just some peace — and is part of the Chambers Creek Canyon Trail project, which features a new bridge that connects Lakewood to University Place at Kobayashi Park.

Les Davis Pier – Tacoma
Open 24/7, Les Davis Pier offers a great place to fish year-round with fantastic views. A stairway for easy access to the water and the artificial reef offshore has proved popular among scuba divers.

Owen Beach – Tacoma
Perhaps the most anticipated reopening of the year. The newly improved Owen Beach opening promises to retain the gorgeous views of Vashon Island and ferry boats and an abundance of opportunities to enjoy the water of this very special place but has a new waterfront picnic pavillion, a whale sculpture play area, improved parking and restrooms, and easier water access.

Point Defiance Park – Tacoma
We wouldn't be speaking out of turn if we said that Point Defiance is the defining feature of Tacoma. It's our pride and an abundant source of joy, and its 760 acres are so much more than just a park. From the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium to the Rose and Rhododendron Gardens, beaches, walking and hiking trails, a boardwalk, a boathouse, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, an off-leash dog park, and most famously the old-growth forest Point Defiance is genuinely spectacular. 

Puget Creek Natural Area – Tacoma
If you've ever wanted to feel like you were in Jurrasic Park but without the terror, this is the place. With 66 acres of lush growth, this park features one of only three salmon-bearing streams within the city limits. An excellent place to get lost amid the city, clear your head, and burn some major calories going up and down the trail. 

Ruston Way Waterfront – Tacoma
Ruston Way sounds like any old road, but it's anything but. This 3-and-a-half-mile paved walkway runs along the Tacoma shoreline with breathtaking views of Commencement Bay and is the perfect place to get your steps in whether they be via walking, jogging, biking, or rollerblading. The trail commences at Jack Hyde Park in Old Town and ends at Point Ruston, where you can treat yourself to any number of delectables and delights — you've earned it after all. 

Swan Creek Park – Tacoma
Home of Tacoma’s first trail system for mountain bikes, Swan Creek Park features a salmon-bearing stream, wooded canyon, upland forest, paved and natural trails, a community garden, dog park, and, of course, mountain bike trails. With a total of 373 acres – 290 owned by Metro Parks Tacoma and 83 owned by Pierce County this park is also a popular destination for bird watching and picnicking and you can spend the day knowing there is plenty of parking and restrooms.

Titlow Beach – Tacoma
This 75-acre park with extensive beach frontage, lagoon, kids' spray park, playgrounds, trails, and basketball and tennis courts offers an outstanding view of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Also, a popular scuba diving location and prime picnic place, we particularly love to see the jack-o'-lanterns in the autumn, trust us. If you know, you know.

Wright Park – Tacoma
Founded as a donation, an investment in the forever beautification of Tacoma, this 27-acre arboretum is home to more than 600 trees encompassing more than 140 species. Many of the trees are more than a century old and the park's collection boasts several "champion" trees as determined by the American Forest Association; the biggest of their species measured by trunk girth, height, or canopy spread. There are many who's who of trees including a red oak planted to commemorate President Theodore Roosevelt's visit to Tacoma in 1903 and a giant Sequoia planted to honor the U.S. Constitution's 150th anniversary. With 10 city blocks of sprawling lawns, trails, a pond, a playground and splash pad, basketball courts, statues, a botanical conservatory, and a bowling green there is no shortage of ways to love Wright Park. The newly reopened and beautifully renovated  W. W. Seymour Conservatory whose new features include a showstopping living plant wall and a steamy vivarium home to poison dart frogs.

Local Tip: 
"Sunset Terrace on 19th has a great park for kids 4 to 10 years old – not just toddlers. Best places for walking: Chambers Bay Golf Course and Ruston Way from Point Defiance all the way to Old Town, the trails of Point Defiance." — Karlen S.