Tired of the little ones whining that they’re bored? Restless kids mean that another Saturday afternoon in the neighborhood just won’t cut it – unless you live in one of the luxury apartments on the Tacoma Waterfront at Point Ruston. The Waterfront along Ruston Way is an ideal place to look for things to do in Tacoma for kids – rain or shine.
Explore Seven Waterfront Parks
The Ruston Way waterfront has seven parks that border Commencement Bay. Each park has its own unique charm and can be accessed from the Ruston Way paved biking and walking paths:
- Cummings Park: This marine park on Ruston Way has a beautiful rock garden and dock that is a perfect way to view the entire park and take pictures.
- Dickman Mill Park: A nine-acre park on Ruston Way that was the site of the Mill which offers a glimpse into Tacoma’s history.
- Hamilton Park: This park offers access to the beach, a public dock, picnic tables and water fountains, making it the perfect spot to relax, rest and people watch. It’s the perfect place to go when you’re looking for things to do in Tacoma.
- Jack Hyde Park: Named for a Tacoma mayor who was responsible for developing the Ruston Way waterfront, the five-acre park features picnicking areas, flowers, shrubs and trees. You can also rent stand-up paddle boards from Dolan Board Sports and paddle around the Sound on sunny days.
- Les Davis Pier: This perfect fishing spot is open 24/7 and has an unbeatable view of the bay. The stairway provides easy access to the water where the kids could spend hours skipping rocks across the water.
- Marine Park: This is a great place to sunbathe and picnic! On a sunny day expect to compete for a spot on the beachfront because it’s the perfect place to lay out on a blanket to read or play a game of catch.
- Old Town Dock Park: This park reopened in 2013 after five years of renovations and deserves a visit when you’re looking for stuff to do in Tacoma. New features include well-appointed benches, improved lighting and two slips for visitors who prefer to travel to the waterfront by boat.
Things to do in Tacoma for Kids
The largest public park in the Pacific Northwest is a short drive from Ruston Way. Point Defiance features over 700-acres complete with natural forests, saltwater beaches and incredible views of the Puget Sound. Among the kid-friendly attractions:
- Nature trails: Point Defiance is filled with hiking trails that wind through the old growth forest. When you’ve had enough of the trails through the forest, you can take the famed Five-Mile Drive and walk along the vistas that offer views of the Puget Sound, the Cascades and Olympic mountains. Please pay attention to posted safety signs.
- Scenic waterfront and marina: Kids can enjoy walking along miles of beach shoreline, watching boats coming in and out of the public boat launch, moorage and fishing on the pier.
- Gardens: Point Defiance has eight unique gardens – including the Japanese Garden, Rose and Northwest Native Gardens – that provide natural sights as you walk through these serene locations.
- Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium: This is the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Pacific Northwest and features exotic animals from land and sea in an intimate setting that feels like you’re close to the wildlife. The park features special events that kids will love like:
- Aquarium feeding: lagoon and sharks
- Clouded leopard cub play time
- Special animal presentations including:
- Polar bear keeper talk
- Elephant keeper talk
The zoo also features Marine Discover Center, a Stingray cove and Garden tours.
Point Ruston Ferry Big Toy and Swing Set
Kids will have hours of fun exploring the Point Ruston Ferry Big Toy and Swing Set at the Waterwalk Playground, near Point Ruston’s Grand Plaza. The Big Toy is modeled after the Point Ruston Ferry and is free to the public.
Point Ruston Grand Plaza Sprayground
Another popular attraction at Point Ruston, the Grand Plaza Sprayground is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. Open daily from noon – 10pm, the Sprayground features an assortment of fountains and geysers as well as a state-or-the-art light show that begins at dusk. The Sprayground is free for all ages to enjoy.
Dining on the Waterfront
Along Ruston Way there are plenty of areas to enjoy a picnic lunch, as well as several family-friendly restaurants. When bringing your own lunch, settle into the picnic tables at Hamilton Park or lay a blanket along the beach of Marine Park. But, if professionally prepared fare is your choice, check out these two choice restaurants:
- Two Town Pub & Café: Boasting an open, friendly atmosphere with vibes of an Old English pub, Two Town offers beers, sodas, burgers, and sandwiches. Two Town also features a kid’s menu making it a great location for families.
- WildFin American Grill: Located on the Grand Plaza at Point Ruston, WildFin is an affordable and casual neighborhood restaurant that opens daily at 11:30. You can choose to dine in, or grab fish and chips from the walk-up fish bar.
Century Point Ruston and XD Theater
When children ask for indoor activity after exploring outdoor things to do in Tacoma, treat them to a movie at nearby Century Point Ruston and XD Theater. The luxury nine-screen theater offers the best digital entertainment and comfortable movie-watching experience making epic action films a joy to watch.
An Active Lifestyle for All Ages
If an active, full lifestyle is what you want for you and your family, check out the luxury apartments in Tacoma at Point Ruston for a family-friendly, upscale neighborhood. Ruston Way’s waterfront offers activities that contribute to a full, healthy lifestyle – easy access to paved and wooded trails, seven parks and indoor attractions that the entire family can enjoy. Apartments near Tacoma’s waterfront are available, as well as select condominiums at Point Ruston. Learn more about living at Point Ruston.