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Top 5 urban walks in Tacoma

Places we like to stroll

Downtown Tacoma has a little bit of history, places to stop to eat and all kinds of places to explore. Photo credit: Kristin Kendle

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The Northwest is known for many things, among them the fabulous hiking opportunities lurking around every corner - in forests, in parks or in the nearby mountains. And while Northwest nature is tough to top, Tacoma has more to offer walkers and trekkers than beautiful forest hikes (it has those, too, though). Filled with quaint neighborhoods, historical warehouses, waterfronts and other cool cityscapes, Tacoma is also a pretty nifty city that's perfect for exploring on foot.

Waterfront/Point Ruston

There may be no finer urban walk than taking to the Ruston Way Waterfront, which spans from Chinese Reconciliation Park all the way to Point Ruston - a total of more than three miles. The way is paved and level, so it's perfect for all ages and all abilities. The views are second to none as the sidewalk traces the edge of the Puget Sound the entire way. You'll spot sea birds, tidepool critters and maybe even a seal or two. There are places to stop and explore rocky beaches, there's leftover signs of industry (most of which was destroyed in a fire, but the ruins remain), and there are restaurants and sometimes food trucks to stop for a bite to eat. Ruston Way has it all.

Possibly the finest all-around urban walk in Tacoma is along Ruston Way. Photo credit: Kristin Kendle

Narrows Bridge

In 2007, a second Narrows Bridge was completed, and with it came pedestrian access to the 2.5-mile span across the Puget Sound. Walk the bridge starting either from the Gig Harbor side or the Tacoma side, but the easiest place to park for a walk is at War Memorial Park in Tacoma. Walk through the park and cross Jackson Street to get to the bridge. Once you're on the bridge, be aware - there's no shade, and it's open to the elements. The views are spectacular. The path is paved and has mild elevation gains, but it is suitable for most walkers.

Downtown, Thea Foss and Murray Morgan Bridge

Downtown Tacoma can be an urban walker's paradise. Your best bet is to park at Tacoma Dome Station and take the light rail to Union Station. From there, branch out and take your walk in a number of directions - venture up and down Pacific Avenue to explore shops and museums. Along the way, make sure to look up. The buildings lining Pacific Avenue are often old warehouses that still have old signage painted onto their sides. Alternately, go behind the Washington State History Museum, cross the Bridge of Glass, and explore Thea Foss Waterway. You can walk all the way down to the Murray Morgan Bridge (the dark metal drawbridge you'll spot once you're on Thea Foss), and you can even climb the stairs on the bridge to get back up to downtown Tacoma. It will place you on 11th Street.

North Yakima Avenue and Stadium District

Tacoma has many beautiful neighborhoods, but a particularly beautiful stretch of street is North Yakima Avenue between Division and Fife Street in North Tacoma. The street is quiet and residential, but what makes it stand out is the sheer beauty of the homes here, many of which are large and stately. Yakima Avenue leads right into Wright Park and isn't far from the Stadium District, so it's easy to loop in Wright Park and its conservatory into your walk, or add on the Stadium District with its local businesses and shops to explore.

Proctor District

The Proctor District makes a great jumping-off point for an urban walk about town. The best routes head north out of Proctor, where you'll find views of the water and lovely homes or even forested parks to duck through (Puget Park is near N. 30th and Proctor and will take you down to the waterfront, so you can even cross-pollinate your urban strolls).

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