Hotel depends a lot on budget and desired features. Also how close to Point Defiance. There are a number of chain hotels & motels around I-5 and the Mall. The Silver Cloud Inn is near Point Defiance and is on water front. C. I. Shenanigans is a seafood restaurant just down Ruston Way from there but it arrived after we had left the Tacoma area so have never tried it.
Anthony's at Point Defiance is part of a chain of NW seafood restaurants and is fairly reliable. While not strictly seafood we have always had great meals at Stanley & Seaforts overlooking the port (over by the Tacoma Dome). Nice sunsets and evening light from downtown and the port.
Besides Point defiance check out the Museum of Glass featuring many pieces by local, and wold famous, glass artist Dale Chihuly.
You can't beat the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, which is a great complement to the Museum of Glass, bridge of glass (and the great glassworks in the old Union Station nextdoor. Point Defiance is not very far away at all. Just a short drive.
If you really want a waterfront location, The Silver Cloud would be your best choice, but then you'd still have to drive or take public transportation into downtown to the Museum of Glass, Washington State Museum, etc.
Go see Stadium High School. If you haven't seen it, watch "10 Things I Hate About You" first. Seeing the school only takes a few minutes but it is cool. The Almond Roca people have a factory outlet. It isn't that exciting, but it is made in Tacoma. Look up Brown & Haley.
Do you remember watching the film strip of the bridge falling apart in school? That bridge was at the Tacoma Narrows. They just put up a fancy bridge there. It's not Galloping Gertie of course, but still cool.
Point Defiance is nice, and has a ferry over to Vashon Island. You can get from Vashon to West Seattle via the Fauntleroy ferry if you want to go that way in or out.
I think there is still a Steamers down by the ferry terminal at Point Defiance and one at Titlow Beach. Good Seafood. Katie Down's. Harbor Lights, Dukes Chowder, CI Shenanigans and the Lobster shop are all on the Tacoma Water front - which is Ruston Way. The Lobster Shop has a great Twilight Dinner special for a great price. I think it is from 430 to 6 pm. CI Shenanigans has an early bird dinner too. You will need reservations at the last 2 for sure. I would look them up and check out the menus. You can parasail from one of the restaurants on Ruston Way...or watch others as you dine on a restaurant patio.
Point Defiance has a Rose Garden, Fort Nisqually, and the Point Defiance Zoo. Dowtown Tacoma has really been revitalized and has some great shops and restaurants along Broadway. Museum of Glass. Washington State History Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum.
I don't know what hotels there are close to Point Defiance, but the Silver Cloud on Ruston Way looks great. We stayed in one on Union Lake in Seattle and if was wonderful! I would look up hotels here on Tripadvisor for Tacoma. Pearl is a main street going out that way, 6th Ave is a cross street.
Come out and see little Puyallup. Fun little downtown with antique stores, shops, and restaurants - plus Pionner Park right in the middle of it all, with a great Saturday market.
If we decided to take the ferry over to Seattle for the day, where is the terminal and which ferry would we take? Or can we take a ferry and then a water taxi if we didn't want to drive?
You can take the Point Defiance ferry (located at Point Defiance...) to Vashon Island. Then drive to the north end of Vashon, and take the Fauntleroy ferry to West Seattle.
Drive around the waterfront to the water taxi if you want to go all the way downtown. You'll have to find somewhere to park the car, as it is not a car ferry.
You could go one way via the ferry route, and return by highway. The ferry route will be slower than driving, except at rush hour, and even then maybe slower. But it will be interesting.
4 days to spend there. We are planning on Fort Defiance for 2 days.
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