by Megan Bostic
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9 Scenic Sites for Tacoma Photogs
Do you ever have days that you just want to jump in the car, take in the scenery and snap photos? If so, you don’t have to go very far. From expansive beaches to historical structures, Tacoma offers amateur and professional shutterbugs alike, picturesque locations definitely worthy of your Facebook and Instagram, if not 9 framing.
Here is a list of 9 such places, right here in our backyard.
The Chalet that still stands at Titlow Park began in 1911 as a three story resort, the dream of the park’s namesake, Aaron Titlow. The property also included a farm, which enabled the resort to be completely self-sufficient. For some reason in the 20s, the resort stopped being profitable and closed in 1923. Since 1926 the property, along with the 58 surrounding acres, has belonged to Metro Parks. Either stroll the beach in search of resting harbor seals or other sea life, or walk the Hidden Beach Trail or Lagoon Loop. Finding scenery or wildlife to photograph should not be a problem.
This scenic 20 acres of land was donated to the City of Tacoma by Tacoma Land Company president, Charles B. Wright in 1886. The only condition? The land would be a public park forever. It has since grown to 27 acres with over 600 trees. Clinton P. Ferry (a Tacoma resident) donated a collection of statues he purchased while in Europe. In 1908 through a generous donation from William W. Seymour, President of the Metropolitan Park Board and later Mayor of Tacoma, the Seymour Conservatory was opened. The structures and the scenery make this a popular setting for photographers.
Brown’s Point Lighthouse Park:
The first lighthouse on the site was built on the tip of the point in 1901. The first keeper of the light, Oscar Brown tended the light and bell for thirty years. The area became a public park in 1964. The lighthouse, beach and greenery make this a charming site for landscape pictures.
War Memorial Park:
This small park, that lies along the Scott Pierson Trail, was built as a tribute to those who have lost their lives serving their country. The park is a stop on the Blue Star Memorial Highways, a national tribute, started in 1944, to the armed forces that have defended the United States of America. The park offers springtime flora, lush green grass, as well as breathtaking views of the two bridges and Puget Sound.
Puget Creek Natural Area:
If you’ve never been to the Puget Creek Natural Area, you probably have no idea what it has to offer. This is another park that’s land was donated for “public use forever,” by Allen C. Mason and others. The property, donated in 1888, covers 66-acres, and holds one of only three salmon-bearing streams within the city limits. Mason thought the mineral water from the springs to be medicinal. Obviously a forward thinker. The area presents visitors with a nice hiking trail flourishing with foliage under a canopy of trees, leading to Tacoma’s waterfront.
In the 1920s. Snake Lake and surrounding areas became part of the Metro Parks District. It wasn’t until the 70s that William Glundberg, director at the time, recognized its potential as a nature center. It was a battle, as State Route 16 was supposed to be constructed right over the lake. In the end, nature won and the park was dedicated in 1979. Photo opportunities can be found at Snake Lake’s Discovery Pond, or the two miles of walking trails boasting wetlands, native plants and forest. If you enjoy snapping animals, you’ll find 100 species of birds, 20 species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
I know, this is a broad category, so I’ll go into less detail. Just get in your car, find a parking spot, strap on your camera and start walking. You’ll find tons of striking views and structures. Where do I even start? If you like shooting buildings, the Theater District is a good place to start. Historic Pantages and Rialto Theaters are photo worthy, as well as the more art deco, Theater on the Square. Don’t forget to shoot the statues, murals and fountains. A walk down Pacific Avenue will take you among additional photographable edifices such as Union Station, the History Museum and the UW-Tacoma Campus. Cross the street and you’ll find yourself passing through the remarkable glass Crystal Towers, then underneath Chihuly’s Bridge of Glass. The museum’s hot shop itself offers a unique structure, the 90-foot cone of steel. Down its spiral staircase you’ll find more beauty to capture on camera including an outdoor plaza, placid reflecting pools containing icy tendrils of glass. Down in the plaza you will also have a nice skyline view of the Thea Foss Waterway and its bridge, the Tacoma Dome, and on a clear day, Mount Rainier. I could go on and on, but you’ll just have to get down there and explore downtown yourself to find all of its visual treasures.
Point Defiance Park:
Yes, another expansive venue, but you can drive through this one. Park near the park entrance and you can begin your photographic journey at the duck pond and work your way to the gardens. Park gardens include irises, herbs, native plants, roses, rhododendrons, fuchsias, dahlias, and the Japanese Garden. Don’t miss the Pagoda. Hit Owens Beach and the promenade to watch the ferry travel back and forth to Vashon Island. You’ll also find cool pieces of drift wood, the carved clay cliffs and wildlife along the waterfront. Along 5 Mile Drive are scenic viewpoints looking out to Vashon Island, Dalco Passage, Gig Harbor, the Narrows and the bridges. Stop for a few shots of the Fort Nisqually Living Museum. Point Defiance also has a number of hiking trails bursting with foliage. For animal lovers, end the day at the zoo and aquarium. You’ll find animals from our area as well as all over the world, plus majestic views of the Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains.
Again, much to see, but you can walk it in a couple of hours. Start at the end closest to Point Ruston. First you’ll hit Cummings park, trees overhead make for great nature shots all year round. Head out to the dock for a closer view of Commencement Bay and outlying areas. Next stop, Marine Park and adjacent Les Davis Pier. With views of Brown’s Point, National Historic Landmark, Fireboat No. 1, the Stadium District and Mount Rainier, there is much to photograph. There pier itself and the interesting characters throwing out crab pots or fishing also make great photographic materal. When you reach Dickman Mill Park, you’ll find a nine-acre stretch of beach as well as restored wetlands. The only thing left of the old lumber mill is the barebones, water from the bay continuously flowing in and out. At Hamilton Park, Old Town Dock and Jack Hyde Park, you can take in more of the sweeping views of the bay and surrounding landscape. There is much to photograph at the beautiful 4-acre Chinese Reconciliation Park. The park, a memorial of the expulsion of the Chinese from Tacoma in 1885, was designed, as an apology, in the style of a Chinese scholar-style garden. It is defined by walls, rockwork, landforms, informational displays, Chinese native and exotic plants, and a 6,000 square foot fresh water pond. The park also includes the Path of Expulsion, String of Pearls Bridge, and the gorgeous Fuzhou Ting (pagoda) flanked by statues of guardian Foo Dogs.
So as you can see, our fair city is not lacking of photo opportunities. Tacoma houses so many different and interesting landscapes, sites and structures, the picture taking prospects are endless. If you’ve not been to some of these remarkable and mind-blowing places, take a day and go. Or find your own picturesque adventures and tell us about them. Either way, it will be well worth the trip and you’ll have loads of material for your Instagram.