Competition season is upon us, and the road to Houston leads straight through the Northwest’s most misunderstood center of commerce: the city of Tacoma, Washington. Some might call this city a desert, a wasteland, a nuclear fall-out shelter of specialty coffee, culture, and acceptable things to do with your evenings. We here at Sprudge.com beg to differ – you might not know this, but both of your Sprudge.com co-founders hail from the City of Destiny. We think Tacoma is secretly kind of great. Here’s our private selection of fun stuff to do, and be sure to check out the USBC website for official event details.
First things first, get yourself to Tacoma. We recommend getting familiar with the Tacoma Link Light Rail. For our purposes during the NWRBC, the Link will be useful. Bus, train or drive to the Tacoma Dome Park n’ Ride and hop on the Link to the Convention Center. Parking is free, the Link is free, and it operates all day.
- Satellite Coffee (1122 Market Street) has multiple locations, and they serve Stumptown. Their cafe on Market is an easy, only slightly terrifying walk from the Convention Center, and you can get a shot of wheat grass with your shot of Hairbender.
- UrbanXchange (1932 Pacific Ave) is something of a hip-to-too-hip institution in the Tacoma arts community. It houses arguably the best boutique vintage clothing in Tacoma and unarguably the best vinyl shop in downtown, all at prices that would make a Portlander blink.
- 1022 South (1022 South J Street) is probably the best cocktail bar in Washington State, and arguably one of the best cocktail bars in North America. No, we’re not joking. We will be strongly encouraging you to join us there for drinks throughout the weekend.
- Fujiya (1125 Court C #1) for delicious sushi, tempura and drinks. A Tacoma institution as good as the better sushi joints in Seattle, they offer reasonably priced flights of sake and are close to the hotels and event center.
- Tacoma Bridge of Glass (off Pacific, near the courthouse entry in the 1900 block, look for signs) is free and worth your time, if you’re into glass art, romantic strolls, or roving packs of bored-looking teenagers (this was us in high school). There’s a whole outdoor component to the Museum to check out as well, and the space is open and secure 24 hours a day.
- Sanford and Son Antiques (743 Broadway) is 3 floors, 20 shops, each individually owned and operated, offering everything from vintage clothes to wine to fancy soap to hemp t-shirts. This is an awesome place to kill an hour and the building itself is gorgeous.
BY CAR (or #1 Bus From 10th & Commerce)
- Shakabrah Java (2618 6th Ave) is quite literally a Tacoma institution, and has been for decades. A cyber cafe in the mid-90s, rumored to be the first barista job of a internationally famous grand coffee poobah (we can’t say who), this cafe uses Valhalla Coffee (run by Tacoma legend AJ). Get the magic potatoes.
- House of Records (608 N Prospect) is right across the street from Shakabrah, and they have more than 100,000 records in shop. Kind of pricey, but you WILL find something you’ve been hunting for.
- Southern Kitchen (1716 6th Avenue) has awesome, terrible for you Tacoma soul food. Get the mango lemonade and fried catfish and do some jumping jacks before you go.
- Go for a gorgeous drive. The North End neighborhood of Tacoma has been the setting for some classic 90s films (“The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”, “10 Things I Hate About You”), and it’s not by accident [this has everything to do with the film’s location budget, let’s be honest]. It’s one of most gorgeous neighborhoods in all of the Pacific Northwest. Miles of huge houses, gorgeous views of the Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier looming enormous to your South, and weird, amazing old apartment buildings. Let yourself get lost.