The spruced-up downtown of this port city is anchored by a historic Beaux-Arts rail station and some excellent Chihuly glass exhibits. Sure, the industry is still there, but now so are museums devoted to the works of its native son, up-and-coming galleries, excellent waterfront parks, and 19th-century mansions converted into B&Bs. When you’re not strolling through town, head to one of the small, pretty beaches.
At the new Hotel Murano, each of the 21 guest-floors honors a different artist (from Australian Cockburn to Chihuly), and rooms are filled with one-of-a-kind handblown pieces.
Museum of Glass
Visitors can watch molten glass creations being blown in the Museum of Glass’s (MOG) Hot Shop, a 90-foot stainless steel cone and working studio. This downtown museum pays homage to hometown luminary, Dale Chihuly (the artist responsible for the spectacular Fiori di Como chandelier in the lobby of the Bellagio in Las Vegas), but also celebrates contemporary glass art from the 20th and 21st centuries. It hosts a permanent collection, as well as rotating exhibitions and outdoor installations, including Chihuly’s “Bridge of Glass.” MOG is free every third Thursday of the month from 5-8 p.m.
Tacoma Art Museum
The museum pays tribute to native son and world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, and surveys Pacific Northwest art from oils to jewelry.
Tuck into fish-and-chips and clam chowder at this waterfront restaurant.
Savor real-southern fried catfish, corn cakes, okra, and candied yams.
The Red Hot
At this Tacoma tavern, the experience is as much about the beefy bundles of joy as it is about the cold brews. It's like Cheers, only better—a watering hole with some of the most delicious and inventive red hots (another name for your regulation wiener). Try pairing The Chicago (an all-beef dog with the usual garnishes) with Everybody's Brewing Local Logger Lager, or The Coney (an all-beef dog with mustard, chopped onions, and chili) with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.