what we heart about tacoma
Tacoma is shipyards and colleges. Thirty miles south of Seattle, it’s known for thick forests and miles of waterfront. Explore Point Defiance Park, kayak on Puget Sound, eat Vegan Gluten Free Belgian Waffles at Red Elm Cafe, or enjoy a Dirty Chai at Anthem Coffee while you’re there. We double-thumbs-up recommend making a day trip to the mountain Tacoma is named after during your stay.
Dash Point State Park looks like a rainforest and smells like Christmas. Walking its trails makes me feel like Kathleen Turner in “Romancing the Stone.” I try capturing its majesty on my phone, but not even the pano setting can do the Tacoma, Washington park justice. The trails are challenging enough to feel like purposeful hiking, but not beyond the ability-level of someone new to hiking.
Located in Federal Way, the main draw of the park is its beach. Since we visited during the summer of social distancing, we stuck to hiking the two times we visited. Street puddles almost kept us from venturing into the woods when we went to the Norpoint Way entrance. We feared mud. Our fears were unfounded, because once in the forest, the paths were unaffected by the rain. That’s how thick its tree canopy is.
Rating: Double-Thumbs-Up Fun!
Point Defiance Park has 760 acres to explore: trails, gardens, a marina, zoo and aquarium, a living history museum, and more. Again, we kept to ourselves exploring the trails in the interest of maintaining social distance. The woods are a peaceful retreat and the trails are fun and easy-peasy to hike.
Rating: Double-Thumbs-Up Fun!
Ever Google something that you don’t think many others have? While we were in Tacoma, I Googled “Vegan Waffles Near Me.” I’m not vegan, but I am dairy-free, so when it comes to waffles and waffle mixes, I go for the vegan option. That’s how I found Red Elm Cafe.
Red Elm Cafe is owned by three sisters. Their Instagram feed contains a mix of scrumptious waffles, coffee art, breakfast and lunch time eats, and social justice posts. We haven’t met them, but gosh do we like them.
Our order: a Vegan Gluten Free Belgian Waffle (hemp milk, vegetable oil, and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Waffle Mix) for me and a Turkey Sausage and Pepper jack Egg Sandwich on Sourdough for Chris. He requested salsa for his sandwich as well.
Thinking about the waffle’s crisp, soft, golden perfection, makes me want to sing “The Best I Ever Had” by Vertical Horizon. That waffle alone is worth visiting Tacoma again.
What did Chris think of his egg sandwich? To know Chris is to understand his breakfast particularities. I’ve witnessed several egg sandwich disappointments over the years. Too much cream cheese spread, not enough hot sauce, too cold, tastes pre-made, soggy bread, stale bread, forgotten hot sauce, a tomato anywhere (re: soggy bread), etc. Whenever he gets a breakfast sandwich I await his verdict on it with bated breath. Can you feel the suspense?
A bite. A smile. Chris praised his egg sandwich as having just the right amount of spice. He proclaimed it warm, homemade, and delicious.
Rating: Double-Thumbs-Up Yum!
When it comes to drinking coffee not made by me, Starbucks, or Caribou Coffee, I research. While reading The Best Coffee Shops in the Northwest on RAVE, I saw Anthem Coffee. As I write this, there are eight locations in the area. RAVE’s review mentioned Anthem’s Dirty Chai. I decided it give it a try. The Dirty Chai comes with a choice: vanilla, or spicy. I went vanilla, requested an extra shot of espresso, and asked for coconut milk at their Old Town Tacoma location.
If snickerdoodle cookies could be a delicious coffee drink, they would be a Vanilla Dirty Chai. My drink gave me all the cozy feels! I’d visit Tacoma for a Vanilla Dirty Chai — it would be reason enough.
Chris enjoyed his coffee, black.
Results: Double-Thumbs-Up Yum!
Tacoma is Mount Rainier’s original name, given to it by the Salish Indiians. Remember to pack water and snacks when you go! When we went, we thought we’d be on a casual walk among wildflowers. We were wrong. How wrong? Watch our We Climbed Mount Rainier and Wondered About Bears video.