Summers in the South Puget Sound are among some of the most beautiful and mild in the country, but summers can test the integrity of thermometers all over the Pacific Northwest. Here are some specific Tacoma and Pierce County places and activities where you can try to stay cool and make some memories at the same time.

Douse yourself at a spray park

The spray parks (or “spraygrounds”) operated around the county by Metro Parks are made with kids in mind, but in this heat, there’s no judgment. They’re open to the public daily June – August, and on weekends in May and September. Here’s a list of Metro Parks’s spraygrounds >>

Find shade in parks and gardens

Nature has its own version of indoors (called shade) and there’s no place with more of it than the parks and gardens throughout Pierce County. In addition to the award-winning flowers, Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood has plenty of shady spots along the paths that wind through the trees. Five-Mile Drive in Point Defiance Park has a steady canopy of old-growth evergreen trees to provide some sought-after cover.
Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood, WA

Get out on the water

There’s often a breeze out on the water that bypasses folks in the cities, and you can even turn up nature’s A/C by paddling just a little harder. Here’s your guide to getting out on the water in a kayak in Tacoma and the South Puget Sound >>
Narrows Bridge kayak wide

Get out in the water

Go jump in a lake. Specifically, Spanaway Lake, American Lake, Alder Lake or Lake Tapps. Or if you're made of hardier stuff, the Salish Sea herself would love to make your acquaintance.  
Open water swimming at Owen Beach 01

Drink your milkshake

Pierce County is home to some of the best milkshake and malt shops in the Pacific Northwest, and we’ve ranked them for you. No matter where you are, you’re not far from some new-fangled flavors, or a tried-and-true chocolate malt. Here’s our list of the best milkshakes in Tacoma and Pierce County >>
Boathouse 19 Milkshake

Dine al fresco

Yes, these places are outside, and outside is where the sun lives, but these hotspots with outdoor dining also have umbrellas, and some of them even have a sea breeze coming off the water at no extra charge. Here’s our list of outdoor dining spots >>
Duke's waterfront dining on Ruston Way

Explore the museums

What’s the point of having one of the most convenient, walkable museum districts in the country if you’re not going to get out there and explore their fascinating, well-curated, innovative, air-conditioned exhibitions? As the forever homes to priceless pieces of art and history, museums are some of the most climate-controlled places on earth. Take advantage! And make sure and visit Museum of Glass’s hot shop, because irony is funny. 
Video Thumbnail - youtube - Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, Washington – a place for fearless exploration

Find snow and Paradise at Mount Rainier

The snowy sides of the mountain that looms over the South Puget Sound aren’t an optical illusion; That’s real snow, and even at the height of summer, it’s only a quick day hike from the Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise, in the southwest section of the park.  
Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier

Watch a movie

The age-old tradition of escaping heat in a movie theater is alive and well in Tacoma, and you’ll have your choice of a first-run theater (Century Point Ruston), a historic second-run theater (Blue Mouse Theater) or a nonprofit, art house cinema (Grand Cinema).
The Grand Cinema Tacoma

Rent a bicycle Surrey

The wind whipping through your hair as you cruise down the Ruston Way waterfront in your rented bicycle Surrey is surely enough to cool you down to a reasonable temperature, and has the side benefit of giving you some portable shade. Wheel Fun Rentals at Point Ruston is your go-to shop.
Bicycle surrey at Point Ruston

Take a drive

Just because the idea of sweating through a hike doesn’t sound particularly appealing doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of nature’s beautiful bounty. Roll down your windows (or keep them up and blast the A/C), turn up the music and enjoy pierce county by road on one of Travel Tacoma - Mt. Rainier's scenic drives.
Car lover