Rebels By Bus

Slow Travel With Low Carbon Footprint

Tacoma: Triple Play

The trip to Tacoma is an easy one-bus ride that we’ve made several times. We headed out on February 18th to take advantage of Tacoma’s Arts Walk.  On the third Thursday of every month, the Tacoma Art Museum is free from 10 am—8pm, the Washington History Museum is free from 2—8pm, and the Museum of Glass is free from 5–8pm. 

 We boarded Intercity Transit’s 603 at Martin Way park-and-ride at 9:20 a.m.–this was recently expanded so there are plenty of spaces.  The bus makes only one stop at the Lakewood and then heads to Tacoma. We got off on Pacific Avenue in front of the History Museum a little after 10 a.m. The History and Art Museum are on Pacific Avenue. A bridge behind the History Museum leads to the Glass Museum.

 Top of our “to see” list for this trip was the Kids Design Glass exhibit at the Glass Museum. This project began in 2004 as an educational program. Kids were asked to draw creatures and the professional artist would select a design each month and make it in the Hot Shop (that fiery ovens where the glass is transformed into art).  Fifty-two creatures are on exhibit until February 2011.  Bacon boy, coyote in socks, green guy, toothy turkey, chickenpox, and the firebird, to name just a few, are a delight. 

Our museum triple play began at the Tacoma Art Museum. This is a small museum with a permanent exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s glass and three rotating exhibits. It’s current exhibits are: the secret language of animals, the movement of impressionism and a concise history of northwest art. It is a relaxed museum with plenty of room for viewing the exhibits without feeling crowded or overwhelmed.  It also has a café and gift shop.

 One of the great things about the Museum of Glass is all the public art. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass showcases his work. From the towering turqoise glass on the bridge to the two tunnels, the colors, patterns and variation of shapes are awesome.

 “The bridge is the gateway that welcomes people to Tacoma. We wanted something unique in the world, something that is full of color and offers a joyous experience to passersby both night and day.”  —Dale Chihuly

Along the waterfront, visitors can enjoy a monumental installation called Fluent Steps. It consists of 754 hand-sculpted pieces of clear glass arranged in the 210 foot reflecting pool.  It is part of the Museum’s permanent collection.

We had a nice lunch in the Museum of Glass’s café before beginning our tour. Mary is a member of the museum, so admission was free for both of us. In addition to the Kids Design Glass, we viewed the Preston Singletary exhibit, entitled: Echoes, Fire, and Shadows. This is an extraordinary blend of traditional Tlingit themes and modern glass techniques and was stunningly beautiful. Note-this is a photo from the Glass Museum.  We joined the school children to watch the artists in the Hot Shop and then visited the museum store.

Our next stop was the Washington State History Musem. This is a substantial museum with a lot to see and do; they have some youth-oriented interactive exhibits.  For this trip, we decided to make a short and focused visit. First we went to the Icons of Washington History, which will be there through July 3rd.  It not only provides background of each of the icons, it also  explores why these became symbolic of the state. Not being from Washington, I was amazed at the films of Galloping Gertie, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that collapsed in 1940. It is hard to imagine any car getting across this bridge that twisted and bucked like a bronco.  A description and pictures can be found at:

We also visited the Puget Sound Model Railroad, which will be the largest permanent such installation in Washington. It captures the scenes as the railroads existed in the 1950s and historical landmarks.

 Leaving the History Museum, we crossed the street to catch the 3 p.m. 603 bus back to Olympia, sat back and relaxed as the drive made her way down I-5.

Other Things To Do

 Tacoma is Dale Chihuly’s hometown. Not only is his work in the museums, you can find his work in the historic Union Station, the glass bridge to the Museum of Glass, and in the University’s of Washington’s Tacoma branch library. 

 Art galleries stay open late on the Third Thursday of each month. It is important to keep in mind that the last bus leaves at 8:40 pm during the week.

 In prior visits, we have visited some of the shops along Pacific Avenue across from the History Museum. A Renaissance Café is a comfortable place for breakfast, sandwiches and homemade cookies. Hello Cupcake provides sweet treats that can be brought home.

 Cost:  Bus fare is $2.50 each way, so for $5, we got bargain triple play.

 Museum Information

  They offer a good deal on tickets for all three if you visit on Wednesdays. With one ticket, gain access to all three museums!

Adult   $22
Military, Seniors (65 +)   $20
Student, Child           $18

 Tacoma Art Museum 

 Museum Hours

Wednesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm

Third Thursday, free 10 am—8pm


Members            FREE
Adults   $9
Students, Military, Seniors (65 +)   $8
Family (2 adults and up to 4 children under 18)   $25
Children age 5 and under   FREE

 Museum of Glass:

Third Thursday—free 5-8pm


Wednesday—Saturday : 10am—5 pm

Sunday:  noon—5pm


$12  Adults
$10  Seniors (age 62+), Military (with ID), Students (age 13+)
$5  Children 6-12
$36  Families (two adults and up to four children under age 18)
Free  – Third Thursday of each month 5 to 8 pm
– Sundays for college students (with valid ID)
– Children under age 6
– Museum of Glass members

 Tacoma History Museum

Third Thursday:  free 2—8pm


Wednesday – Friday:  10 AM-4 PM

Saturday   — Sunday: 10 AM-5 PM 

General Admission:
Historical Society Members: FREE
Become a member today!
Adult (18 & over): $8.00
Senior (60+): $7.00
Student (6-17 yrs): $6.00
Military: $6.00
(2 adults and up to 4 children):
Child (5 and under): FREE
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