Tacoma, Wash. (Dec. 1, 2020) – In a year filled with challenges to the continuity of celebrations and traditions, the Holidays can offer the chance to retain or regain a sense of magic, wonder and community. By keeping to Holiday traditions when it is safe and responsible, and creating new traditions when the opportunity presents itself, winter in Tacoma and Pierce County can be an anchor in an otherwise chaotic year.
Here are some suggestions for familiar traditions that can be dusted off and made new again, or genuinely new ones to start the season on a high note. Find a complete list at www.traveltacoma.com/holidays.
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Tacoma
November 27, 2020 – January 3, 2021; 5 – 9 p.m.
The spectacular holiday tradition is still going strong this year, with 700,000+ lights, 3-D animal displays, and a longer light tunnel than ever before for the perfect Holiday pictures. New safety protocols are in place, so we recommend purchasing your timed tickets in advance. 
Spanaway Park, Spanaway
November 21, 2020 - January 3, 2021; 5:30 – 9 p.m.
A two-mile drive along Spanaway Lake, lit by more than 300 displays makes Fantasy Lights the largest drive-thru Holiday lights experience in the Pacific Northwest. Pass around a thermos of hot cocoa in the car and tune into the pre-set radio station with a special selection of Holiday music to truly illuminate your season.
Washington State Fairgrounds, Puyallup
December 4, 2020 – January 3, 2021; 5 – 10 p.m.
The traditional Holiday festivities at the Washington State Fairgrounds have transformed into a drive-thru experience with festive light displays, tons of fair food favorites, and holiday music to round out the joy. Bring the family to get into the spirit of the season with scavenger hunts, and a hot cocoa/coffee/cider bar. Purchase timed-entry tickets in advance.
Gig Harbor Waterfront, Gig Harbor
Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020; 5 p.m.
It’s a boat parade, but you don’t need a boat to enjoy it. All along the Gig Harbor waterfront, lighted boats will float past, playing festive music, usually with a couple Santas thrown into the mix. Bring the family, some chairs, and some hot drinks, and find some space at one of Gig Harbor’s waterfront parks and watch as the boats make two loops around the harbor.
Lakewood Towne Center, Lakewood
Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020; 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Decked out military vehicles, emergency vehicles with more lights than normal, and festive and funky construction trucks. Instead of lining the streets for the big Lakewood annual parade, the “floats” will line the streets, and you and your family can stay in your car and drive by, keeping a safe, respectful distance.
Downtown Sumner
All Winter
A general ambiance of small-town Americana settles over downtown Sumner, and is built into a Main Street lined with boutiques, bakeries, bookstores, and antique shops, with Holiday music piped in throughout the downtown area. Downtown storefronts are elaborately decorated, a red-and-green bridge-lighting show each day at dusk lights up the Cannery Way Bridge, and be on the lookout for a moving elf that earns $25 in Downtown Dollars to the first to spot it.
Longmire and Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park
All Winter
This year, the Ranger-led snowshoe tours at Paradise are on a COVID-required hiatus, but in the meantime, you can rent snowshoes the National Park Inn General Store at Longmire ($14.50 for adults, $10.50 for children for a full day). Then, revel in a day of hiking around Longmire (the Trail of the Shadows is a great short hike), or road-conditions permitting, take them up to Paradise for wide-open snowfields and views that will stop you in your tracks. Whenever you’re heading to the mountain, plan ahead.
Ashford, Elbe, Eatonville
All Winter
When you’re looking for some true social distance while staying close to the ones you love, think about booking a night or a weekend away at a cabin or lodge at Mount Rainier. Fireplaces, firepits, hot tubs and heated pools surrounded by pine trees and firs are just a few of the ways your family can enjoy some time together, away from the electric lure of screens. Although many of the cabins do include wifi, so take it as you will.