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Urban Spelunker: University Place

University Place is like Tacoma's baby sister

Grassi's Ristorante. Photos by Jackie Fender

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University Place is like Tacoma's baby sister. The region boasts pockets of idyllic residential areas partnered with a bustling main strip that houses a staggering amount of credit unions and all of your creature comfort needs. Just a hop from downtown Tacoma and a bridge toll away from our neighbors over the water in Gig Harbor, University Place is an ideal community with an excellent school system. Many may inquire, "Where's the university?" Well, there isn't one. Back in the 1800s, the University of Puget Sound intended to build a campus along Grandview, but those plans were eventually abandoned - leaving the moniker University Place and creating false advertisement since it is university-less. Here are a few sights you'll see in UP:

[Fashionistas and Feasters]
Those who mourn the loss of Affair's Café need not mourn any longer, as in its old space resides former downtown Tacoma staple Grassi's Ristorante. Not only has the café, clothing and accessory retail space moved to UP digs, it has also expanded. The walls of two neighboring office spaces have been knocked down to make room for a spacious interior that is the matrimony of retail and restaurant. The ambiance is warm featuring a wine bar and Italian cuisine. 2811 Bridgeport Way W.

[Imps and Espressos]
Any mama or papa can tell you that a café visit with the minis in tow can be a hassle. Frog n Kiwi is prime picking and a rare breed of an establishment that plays both coffee house - featuring a warm ambiance, roasted bean concoctions and a menu of pastries and paninis -  AND a kids' play place. That's right parental units: bring your kid and your laptop and partake in caffeinated beverages while letting the little ones run off steam in a play room. Open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 3601 Market Place

[An Apple a Day]
Curran Apple Orchard has seven acres highlighting more than 200 apple trees and 15 different varieties of this nature's candy. It's a serene sight, seeing these trees lined in a row, whether rich with fruit or bare during the winter months. View the wildlife, birds and bees the fruit trees lure to the area or attend one of the many events hosted here, from live summer outdoor concerts to fall cider squeezes and orchard-themed classes. 3920 Grandview Dr. W., 253.460.2530

[Tee Time, Tots and Trails]
Chambers Bay boasts glorious views and is tops for local recreation in the area. There are an abundance of trails for walkers and runners and an off-leash dog park for our furry friends. The beautiful golf course will play host to the 2015 U.S. Open Championship, and there's a playground for the little ones to run off some steam. If all of that makes you hungry, Chamber's Bay Grill is on site for your sips and nibble needs. And if you're looking for a venue for a special occasion, you can find space here. There is literally a little something for everyone. 6320 Grandview Dr. W., 877.295.4657,

[Fans of Flippin']
Burger flippin that is. Go to Lefty's Burger Shack in UP. Greasy spoon goodness delivered from a shack with handmade shakes, burgers and pickle chips. Classic drive-thru bites with outdoor picnic tables for your dining pleasure. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 8317 27th St. W., 253.565-0887

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