By Carla Olivo, USMC Spouse

If you are stationed in the Pacific Northwest or anywhere near the Puget Sound region, you have witnessed first hand the fantastic scenery. Whether you like attending a JBLM Air Show, enjoy hiking the beautiful mountains or are just a regular at the JBLM MWR, you know how great this area is for things to do and see.

Amazing things to do near JBLM

#1 GET YOUR JAZZ ON!

Big name acts such as Jeffrey Osbourne and Maceo Parker have played Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley. This Seattle institution features live jazz music Tuesday through Sunday. They offer a full dinner menu for those looking to make a night of it. Jazz Alley also provides half-price admission for military members for the 7:30 pm set on Wednesdays, and the 9:30 pm set on Thursdays. The parking is free, but you must have reservations and a current military ID to receive the military discount.

#2 MUSEUM OF GLASS

This unique museum was inspired by the art of Dale Chihuly, a Tacoma native, whose distinctive glass bridge links the museum to downtown Tacoma. Dale’s art can be found throughout the world’s most famous museums.

#3 LEMAY CAR MUSEUM

More than 250 vintage and classic cars spanning over 100 years will delight the car enthusiast in your family! The Lemay Car Museum in Tacoma often offers special, limited-run exhibits as well as the popular race simulator and Family Zone.

#4 ON THE MOUNTAIN

You will see it from a distance long before you will get a chance to visit, but when you get the chance to head to Mount Rainier- do it! Within an hour’s drive from JBLM, you can be at the foot of Mount Rainier. During the summertime, passes are open. Just be sure to take your winter coats as Mount Rainier still has snow even in July.

#5 TRIP TO PORTLAND

A trip to Portland makes for a fun family day trip for sure. The Portland Zoo and the Children’s Museum are a big hit with kids. While adults and kids alike will satisfy their taste buds at the many food trucks downtown. Visit Voodoo Donuts for a sweet treat that can’t be beaten!

#6 HIT THE BEACH

It doesn’t always rain in the pacific northwest so when the weather clears head to Steilacoom, a beach town only 10 minutes away from JBLM. If you are looking to spend a day exploring the Pacific Ocean, rather than a nearby lake or the Puget Sound, head west to Ocean Shores, a quiet beachfront community where you can fly your kite and do some local shopping.

Set between the Olympic National Forest and the Pacific Ocean, Pacific Beach offers spectacular beaches, old growth forests, and breathtaking rivers. Go to the JBLM MWR website for more information or make a reservation directly at www.navygetaways.com, or call 1-877-NAVY-BED (6289-233).

#7 THE BLUE MOUSE THEATER

This historic second-run movie theater was built in the 1920s and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Glass artist Dale Chihuly designed the neon mice above the marquee outside the theater. It’s an experience to simply visit this theater and a great way to enjoy a movie off base for only $4 – $6 per person.

#8 Gourmet Food on a Budget

The restaurants at the Seattle Culinary Academy offer delicious, multi-course lunches prepared by culinary students at bargain prices. There are three different restaurants, each with its own theme and specialties. Buzz, the Academy’s coffee shop, also stocks pastries made by students in the “Specialty Desserts and Breads” program. Each restaurant has its own hours, which vary based on the academic calendar.

#9 CATCH A FERRY

Washington state is a beautiful place to see, especially by boat aka the Poor Man’s Cruise. Catch a ferry at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park to Vashon Island, only a 10-minute ferry ride, for beach swimming and eateries. Better yet, take the 20-minute ferry in Steilacoom to Anderson Island for waterfront dining. Head further out by way of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to waterfront towns like Gig Harbor, where you can take a gondola ride or go to the Viking town, Poulsbo.

#10 HEAD TO THE EMERALD CITY

 Seattle is a mecca for art, culture, and fun! Park downtown and walk the high-end shops or head to the pier to ride the Great Wheel. The Seattle Aquarium on the water is a must see, as well as Pike’s Place Market for specialty items and food. Chocolate lovers can tour the Seattle Chocolate Factory then head to the Space Needle for a spectacular view of the city. Don’t forget to check out the art museums too!

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