The Ultimate Neighborhood Guide to Downtown Tacoma, WA 
On the bottom edge of Puget Sound lies Tacoma, Washington, a city of just over 219,000 people. It’s part of the larger South Sound region with a population of about 1 million. After a period of decline, Tacoma made a comeback in the 1990s with a ton of development and restoration. Now, young and old alike enjoy all that Tacoma has to offer. With the waters coming into the middle of the city, the area is picturesque with tons of amazing areas and charm.
Living in Downtown Tacoma
People who live downtown love the views of Mt. Rainier, the Cascade Mountains, Commencement Bay, and the Port of Tacoma, where you can see commerce in action with the loading and unloading of cargo ships. Downtown Tacoma is one of the most affordable places to live in the area. Condominiums, lofts, single-family, and vintage homes are integrated within these neighborhoods:
The Foss Waterway
The Thea Foss Waterway area is a popular downtown Tacoma neighborhood that is great to hang out or live in. There are condominiums for purchase, museums to visit, and a waterfront walkway where you can find restaurants, parks, picnic areas, and kayak or paddleboard rentals. You can walk there from central downtown and access the waterfront via two bridges and a glass elevator.
The Theater District
Along with the restoration of old buildings are two theaters – the Pantages Theater and The Rialto. Dating back to 1918, these are venues for music and theater. A more modern venue was added in 1993 called Theater on the Square. Lofts with tall ceilings and original bricks have sprung up throughout downtown and are trendy homes.
Tacoma’s charm shines through in the Pacific Avenue area. Renovated brick buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s are now shops, museums, lofts, restaurants, and more. Local hangouts include:
- Zeek’s for wood-fired pizza
- Matador Tacoma for cocktails and Mexican food
- Harmon Brewing Company for Tacoma’s flagship craft brews
Plus, check out Dale Chihuly’s art inside Union Station (now a US District Court).
Tacoma Downtown has a few more neighborhoods worth mentioning.
- Stadium District is a historic neighborhood with a grocery store, coffee shop, boutiques, and eateries. There you’ll also find Wright Park, a 27-acre park with a conservatory, arboretum, hundreds of trees, walking trails, and a pond. Stadium district is one of several neighborhoods known for revitalizing the neighborhoods to include single-family homes mixed in with mixed-use business districts.
- St. Helens has stunning views of Commencement Bay
- Dome District has shopping, restaurants, and the Tacoma Dome, where conventions and concerts occr.
- McCarver Neighborhood has newer condominiums and townhomes and a maple-lined central street.
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Downtown Tacoma has everything within easy walking distance or via a free Link Light Rail. You’ll still want that car to get to neighboring cities, off to the mountains, north to Seattle, or south to Olympia.
Working in Tacoma
There are plenty of opportunities to work for small and large businesses in the downtown area. Tacoma is home to lumber company Simpson, and food companies, Roman Meal and Brown and Haley. Fun fact: candy giant Mars, Incorporated, started in Tacoma in 1911. The biggest employers in the area are Joint Base Lewis-McChord (an army base 9 miles south of the city), MultiCare Health System, the State of Washington, and Tacoma Public Schools.
The Downtown Tacoma Partnership will work with you to start your own business if that is your dream.
The Tacoma Public Schools serve the area with 36 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, and ten high schools. There are non-traditional high schools, alternative high schools, and charter schools. Downtown Tacoma is also home to the Tacoma School of the Arts for high school students and numerous private schools.
The University of Washington built a campus that incorporates some of the area’s historic buildings. Other colleges close by are the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma Community College, City University of Seattle-Tacoma, and Bates Technical College.
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There are so many things to do in Downtown Tacoma. Pacific Avenue has unique shops, and restaurants in classic buildings. Another option is Antiques Row, with several multi-level antique stores. Find hidden treasures at Lily Pad Antiques, and many more. Tacoma Mall is on the city’s outskirts for big store shopping experiences – think Macy’s, Nordstrom and JC Penney.
Tacoma’s Museum District is comprised of world-class museums, including:
- Tacoma Art Museum
- Museum of Glass
- Washington State History Museum
- The Children’s Museum of Tacoma
- Foss Waterway Seaport Museum
- America’s Car Museum
Each of these offers a unique perspective of the area.
If you haven’t realized, Tacoma cherishes its old buildings, incorporating them into neighborhoods. There are 165 individual city landmarks and 1,000 historic properties scattered throughout the metro area. Some near downtown are:
- Engine House No. 9 – a fire station from 1907 that is now a pub and microbrewery.
- Fireboat No. 1 – built in 1929 and now is a National Historic Landmark.
- Stadium High School
While some may find the rainy pacific northwest weather an adjustment, there are plenty of sunny days to enjoy the waterfront and the mountains. Metro Parks Tacoma maintains over 50 parks and open spaces in and around Tacoma. We mentioned the easy walk to Foss Waterway, plus where 6th Avenue meets the water is a scuba diving area. Downtown’s Frost Park has sidewalk chalk contests. Those with pups can take them to Rogers Off-Leash Dog Park.
Venture a little further to Port Defiance Park with a 5-mile drive leading to Owen Beach, Fort Nisqually, and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. The Cascade Mountains, Mt Rainier, and Mt. St Helens are very close for wilderness seekers.
Moving to Tacoma
Downtown Tacoma retains its charm with many historic buildings, a friendly atmosphere, and a close-knit community. It is worth checking out if you enjoy an urban atmosphere. It has culture, education, unique homes, and always new mixed in with the old.
Ron Rougeaux, located in Olympia, Washington is a highly skilled and knowledgeable real estate agent. PNW Homes Group are committed to their key core values of trustworthiness, integrity, and loyalty providing quality service is his highest priority. Whether you are buying, selling, or curious about the market, PNW Homes has the answers.
A local Tacoma real estate agent is ready to help you find your dream home!
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