Tacoma beaches may not be the first things that come to mind for things to do in a town situated along the Puget Sound—the water is cold, the shores are usually rocky, and the weather is rarely warm enough to bask in the sun. Nevertheless, there are beaches in Tacoma—sandy beaches, rocky beaches; beaches with water you can get into, and others where you might just want to hang out by the shore.
Perhaps the best-known Tacoma beach is Owen Beach, located in Point Defiance Park in North Tacoma. This beach features a rare stretch of sand. On nice days, there are often many people here lounging on the sand and on surrounding grass as well. There is a boardwalk leading from the beach to the Point Defiance Marina where you can rent small boats, and you can rent kayaks on the beach. Facilities include picnic tables, a snack bar, restrooms, and picnic areas. To get here, you can follow signs from Five Mile Drive in the park or park at the marina and walk over.
This is a rocky beach, but can still be a decent place to lounge about on a nice day. The park is located on the western shore of Tacoma at the very end of 6th Avenue. There is a boardwalk along the water here and a long stretch of beach that is great for beachcoming or hiking. Scuba divers frequent this area, as do kayakers and boaters. Facilities along the beach include a few picnic tables, a shower, and bathrooms, a playground, and more picnic facilities at the adjacent park. There are also two restaurants located nearby—Steamers and the Beach Tavern, which has a pretty good happy hour.
Tacoma Waterfront Beaches
The Waterfront is one of the best areas for most recreational pursuits in Tacoma—there is ample room to hike here, benches to sit and people watch, restaurants, and there are beaches here as well. The beaches here do sometimes disappear when the tide is in, but you can still hang out by the water anyway. The Waterfront beaches are both rocky and sandy, and often have logs and driftwood along them. They are fun for beachcoming and can be found all along Ruston Way.
American Lake is largely known as a cool place to go boating, but just near the boat launch at 9222 Veterans Drive SW is also a small sandy beach. This is a small beach, but nonetheless can be a big draw for residents who live close by on warm days—so it can be crowded. Unlike the beaches on the Puget Sound, visitors can actually go in the water here, but cannot swim too far out due to the boats. Water dips are likely best for children, as is the nearby playground. This park and beach are ideal for families.
Spanaway Lake Park has two small swimming areas along this pretty lake. Calmer than American Lake as it is not quite as popular with boaters, this can be a quiet spot to take the kids. You can go in the water, but swimming areas are marked and don’t extend too far out into the lake, making them most ideal for families. The park also has playground equipment, picnic facilities, and hiking trails.
Other beaches are located at lakes in the surrounding areas. Aside from American Lake, Lakewood also has Harry Todd Park at 8928 North Thorne Lane SW. Bonney Lake Park at 7625 West Tapps Highway in Bonney Lake also has swimming areas.