With a growing glass-arts scene and a thriving waterfront, Tacoma adds a bit of glam to its gritty reputation.
DRIVE TIME: 2.5 HOURS
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WHEN THE NORTHERN Pacific Railway selected Tacoma as the site of its western terminus in 1873, the metropolis acquired the nickname “The City of Destiny.” The destiny it embraced, however, was of the industrial variety. Today the city’s waterfront, once lined with pulp mills and copper-smelting plants, is being transformed into a bohemian district dotted with art galleries, boutiques, museums, and marinas. Not to be missed is the city’s Museum of Glass, one of only three of its kind in the country. Here you’ll find glass installations by native Tacoman Dale Chihuly, arguably the country’s most famous glass artist, among other works. All of this makes Tacoma more than just a place that’s fulfilling its destiny; it’s now a destination itself. —AH
Friday, 5 p.m.
Check-In: Hotel Murano
You’ve only got to step into the ultra-mod lobby of Hotel Murano (named after the tiny island near Venice where glassblowing has been a tradition for more than 800 years) to see evidence that Tacoma is home to a burgeoning glass scene. The spindly arms of the Massimo Micheluzzi chandelier that’s suspended from the ceiling resemble the tentacles of a giant octopus. But that glinting marvel is just the beginning: Each floor in this boutique hotel (created by the same people who brought the Hotel Lucía and Hotel deLuxe to Portland) features sculptures by a different glass artist, like the pieces by Australia’s Cobi Cockburn on the 12th floor and those by Tacoma’s own Dante Marioni on the 14th. Pony up for one of the rooms on the 24th or 25th floors (dedicated to the works of Peter Bremers and William Morris, respectively), and you can compare notes with other guests during the free wine hour held each evening for those who bunk on the very top. $169–$469; 877-986-8083; www.hotelmuranotacoma.com
Saturday, 10 a.m.
Museum of Glass
Linked with the downtown arts district via the Chihuly Bridge of Glass (a 500-foot-long, rainbow-colored pedestrian tunnel of glass and light) this 13,000-square-foot museum features exhibits like a 40-year retrospective of works by the Italian maestro Lino Tagliapietra. After exploring the museum’s galleries, you can watch world-renowned artists work at the Hot Shop Amphitheater, an in-house glassblowing studio. 253-284-4750; www.museumofglass.org
Saturday, 5 p.m.
Dinner at the Lobster Shop
Seafood’s the thing at this restaurant on the shores of Puget Sound. The New York Times has crooned about the hot lobster dip, a gooey blend of artichoke hearts, onions, Parmesan, and mayonnaise. (Really, how can you go wrong with that?) But you’ll be pleased with any of the simply prepared entrées, like Australian rock lobster tail basted with sweet cream butter. Afterward, take a glass of Fonseca 20-year port on the outside deck and watch the twilight roll in across the water. Finish the evening with a walk along Ruston Way, a two-mile-long, Pacific Northwest version of Venice Beach, where strollers, skateboarders, and cyclists all share a paved path along the shore. 253-759-2165; www.lobstershop.com
Sunday, 9 a.m.
Point Defiance Park
That quintessential Sunday drive? Forget about it. Instead, slip on your walking shoes and head to the trails that wend around the peninsula of this 702-acre park, one of the country’s largest urban parks and home to one of the biggest madrona trees in the country (it’s 23 feet around). Start at Vashon Island Viewpoint, where, as the name suggests, you’ll have a prime shot of the island a mile and a half across the water. Then follow the Outside Perimeter Trail to the northwest, through old-growth fir, hemlock, and cedar. Here, you may well feel like you’re on a familiar hike in Forest Park—until you pop out at the Dalco Passage Viewpoint, where the sting of salty, whipping winds and vistas of the Tacoma Narrows and the town of Gig Harbor remind you that you’re not in Portland anymore.