Back to Outdoors

Five great places to watch something

Unexpected viewpoints of the South Sound

The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail is a unique place to watch wildlife and is a short drive from Tacoma. Photo credit: Kristin Kendle

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

Most of the time we spend our lives rushing between points A and B - running errands, getting to and from work, hurrying between appointments and friends and obligations. How often do you just stop and look at what's around you? Chances are you don't. And, really, not just anywhere is a good place to stop and smell the roses. You have to plan. You have to strategize and pick the right place - a place that has something to offer. Fortunately, the South Sound is an interesting region with some downright nifty places to watch things. Here are a few.

Port of Tacoma Observation Tower, One Sitcum Plaza, Tacoma
The Port of Tacoma is the smoking, stinking heart of Tacoma's industrial side. Most South Sounders might pass the port on I-5, make a comment about the ships, and drive on past. But the port is an interesting place. It's home to more than 40,000 jobs. It handles more than 70 percent of the waterborne commerce going to Alaska. It's worth a stop, yet you might not want to go stand just anywhere. Fortunately, the Port of Tacoma Observation Tower offers a place to watch the action. The three-story tower gets you a view of the Sitcum Waterway, where you can watch ships arriving, trains loading and unloading, and other port activity.

Fifth Avenue Bridge and Tumwater Falls Park, Olympia
Salmon are an integral part of the Northwest and show up in historical and contemporary art, in area streams and rivers, and on menus aplenty. But salmon are also intrinsically interesting to watch as they return to the local streams and rivers to spawn. One such river is the Deschutes River in Olympia. You can watch salmon on their journey at two points along the way. Stand on the Fifth Avenue Bridge in downtown Olympia in late August/early September, and you'll see salmon making their way toward the river as well as seals going after the salmon. Or go to Tumwater Falls Park and watch salmon battling their way up the river.

Tacoma Narrows Airport Observation Deck,
1110 26th Ave. NW, Gig Harbor
For aviation buffs or families with young kids (kids love planes - it's a sure bet), watching planes take off and land is a fine way to spend an hour or two. Tacoma Narrows Airport gets a little bit of everything with about 48,000 take-offs and landings each year. The observation deck offers shelter and tables, so you can watch planes any time of year. In sunny weather, bring a picnic. There's also an onsite restaurant with space to watch planes.

Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail, 100 Brown Farm Rd. NE, Nisqually
The Northwest is filled with unique animals on both land and sea. Sure, you can go stare at the Sound and hope to spot something other than seagulls, but for a truly unique place to watch wildlife, head to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has walkways and trails all around its wooded areas and wetlands, but prime watching territory can be found on the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail - a boardwalk that stretches out over the wetlands. There are many platforms along the boardwalk. Choose your spot, then sit in silence and watch the wildlife around you, which includes birds, beavers, deer, river otters, salmon and other fish.

Saltar's Point Park Bridge, Steilacoom
Saltar's Point Park in Steilacoom is the kind of place you go to get away from it all. It's quiet and has a nice stretch of beach, but it also offers an excellent and slightly unexpected viewpoint - a footbridge leading down to the beach. Rather than cross immediately, stop and stay a while. Right beneath the footbridge are train tracks. Stand and wait. Double and single decker freight trains and Amtrak trains will pass beneath you, and it's a vantage point you're unlikely to find anywhere else.

Read next close


Sometimes a fantasy

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search