As December is typically the time to reflect on the year gone by, January is the perfect time to look ahead. As we jump headlong into the New Year, here’s what we at Travel Tacoma + Pierce County are excited about for this region in 2016. Some are projects that will break ground in 2016, setting the stage for success in years to come, and others are projects with doors set to open this year.

  1. New food: The owners of much-loved Tacoma diner Shake Shake Shake are expanding their horizons with two new projects on Sixth Avenue. A new, budget-friendly fish-and-chips shop called Fish Fish Fish will open at 3018 Sixth Avenue early this year, while next door, a new mid-century-themed bar called the Boom Boom Room is slated to open in mid-2016.

  2. New drinks: Gig Harbor’s 7 Seas Brewing is planning its first downtown Tacoma location, a taproom, brewery and barrel-aging cellar that will open in springtime near UW Tacoma on Jefferson St.

  3. New rooms: The much-talked-about McMenamins Elks Lodge is expected to break ground in February, and the long-awaited convention center hotel project could break ground this fall. The Foss Waterway hotel and Silver Cloud Point Ruston projects are also expected to begin this year, adding a total of more than 500 new hotel rooms to the area.

  4. Longer Fair: The Washington State Fair in Puyallup is extending its annual run from two weeks to nearly a full month, opening on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, and closing Sunday, Sept. 25. The longer fair will give local businesses a boost, and give families more time to enjoy what’s become a favorite local tradition of “doing the Puyallup.”

  5. New transportation: Sound Transit’s 2016 budget includes $7 million for the extension of the Tacoma Link light rail system to expand service to the Stadium and Hilltop districts and the medical centers in the area. In addition, Sound Transit's ST3 ballot measure aims to connect the airport with downtown Tacoma, but there are many proposals out there. A draft ballot package with more details is expected in March.

  6. National Park Centennial: The National Parks Service is celebrating their centennial in 2016, and as the gateway to Mt. Rainier, we’re looking forward working with our partners at Visit Rainier and others to promote the area as a destination of natural wonder.

  7. Theater upgrades: The historic Pantages Theater in Tacoma’s Theater District is getting a face lift this spring, receiving cleaning and improvements to the exterior as the first phase of a $24.3 million overhaul. Later phases will see improvements in seating, as well as seismic reinforcements in 2018-2019.