Destination: Tacoma

Tacoma skyline, Tacoma Dome in background. Photo: Shawn Granton

Recently we found ourselves in Tacoma, Washington, a city about 2 1/2 hours north of Portland and just south of Seattle. Tacoma has had a reputation in the past of being a place that you skip over on your way to Seattle or Portland. But that perception has been changing over the last decade or so. We spent a day here to check out what’s going on, thoroughly enjoying ourselves while keeping an eye out for meeting spaces.

We decided to spend the night at Hotel Murano, conveniently located in the heart of downtown and adjacent to the Tacoma Link Light Rail which connects downtown to the Tacoma Dome. (Alas, we didn’t have a chance to ride the streetcar on this trip. Next time!) The Murano is a boutique hotel with an impressive view of the city. It’s named after Murano Island off the coast from Venice, Italy, an island considered to be the center of Old World glass art. That name is significant, as Tacoma is now a New World center of glass art, with the nearby Museum of Glass just a few blocks from the hotel. The Hotel Murano features glass art throughout, with a different featured artist on each of its floors.

photo via

Hotel Murano is not just a great place to stay, but it’s a great space to have an event! Their 30,000 square foot flexible use space can host corporate events, executive retreats, association meetings and leadership seminars.

After a hearty breakfast, we left Hotel Murano and explored Tacoma’s Museum District. Besides the aforementioned Museum of Glass, there’s the Tacoma Art Museum, the Childrens Museum of Tacoma, and the Washington State History Museum, all within a five minute walk from each other. The building the Washington State History Museum occupies resembles Tacoma’s old Union Station, located next door. Further afield (but only a 10-15 minute walk away) is Lemay-America’s Car Museum and Foss Waterway Seaport Museum. Want to visit all six museums? You can get a pass for all six museums, good for one year, which will save you about 25% off full ticket prices!

Plus, these museums are good places to have events. The Tacoma Art Museum can accommodate events ranging from intimate gatherings of 25 to a cocktail-style standing reception for 500+ guests. The Children’s Museum of Tacoma can accommodate up to 200 guests, combining the museum’s playscape gallery, lobby, or cafe to create a unique venue. The Washington State History Museum offers a variety of spaces to suit a wide variety of events, from small parties, plus an auditorium with over 200 seats.  The Lemay-America’s Car Museum has 165,000 square feet to play with, plus an adjoining 3.5 acre field for outdoor events. Or, you can rent out the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum which can host events of up to 350 people with its dramatic window wall giving a great view of the waterway.

Speaking of event spaces, of course we can’t neglect to mention the location of the Greater Tacoma Convention Center, also located within the very walkable Museum District. Its 50,000 sq ft, column-free Exhibition Hall, 13,650 sq ft  Ballroom, and eleven Meeting Rooms can handle conventions and meetings large and small. Plus, the 300-room Convention Center Headquarters Hotel, located adjacent to the Convention Center, is slated to open in 2020.

Following our exploration of the Museum District and the adjacent Thea Foss Waterway, sustenance was sought. We followed the half-mile Prairie Line Trail, a rail-trail, up the hill from the waterfront, through the University of Washington Tacoma campus to 7 Seas Brewery. The brewery occupies a giant building once home to the Heidelberg Brewery. The brewing tradition lives on, and the tap room (atop the building) offers a great view of the city. (We hope one day they build an awesome deck to go along with the view.)

The tap room is a cavernous space that also offers an awesome restaurant, 3uilt (pronounced Built). 3uilt has a bit of something for everyone, including a great selection of vegetarian and vegan options. There’s also a Valhalla Coffee stand in the tap room as well, for those of you not wanting beer. (But if you want beer, 7 Seas makes some tasty ones!) Plus, adjoining the main room is a side room, the Tacoma Room. Its 750 square feet can host about 40 people in a banquet setting. This would be good for a rehearsal dinner or small reception. Larger events can spill out into the main tap room area, which would be good for a corporate mixer.

We had brought our bicycles along, so after the tasty beer and hearty lunch we were itching for a little ride. We found our way to Old Town Tacoma (northwest of downtown) and took a ride along the waterfront. The path parallels Ruston Way from the Chinese Reconciliation Park to Point Defiance Park. We were greeted with a great view of Commencement Bay, cute little parks, and evidence of Tacoma’s industrial past. It was about a three mile ride to Point Ruston, a new mixed-use waterfront development with shops, restaurants, and apartments. It was getting late, so we turned around to get back to the car and get on the road towards home.

We only got just a taste of Tacoma. There’s a lot more we’d like to do here, including a romp ’round Point Defiance Park. We’ll be back soon…

4 thoughts on “Destination: Tacoma

  1. Shawn
    Great article, very comprehensive!
    Thank you
    please come back any time especially spring and summer when we host many weddings and receptions outside by the water!

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