The Cinderella act is for real; Tacoma's shiny new downtown museums truly herald an urban renaissance. The old scrub-adub mill town still lurks in the background, but look closer.
At downtown's south end, the University of Washington, Tacoma, has transformed a neighborhood of early-1900s warehouses into a sturdy brick campus. The U.S. Courthouse, a Beaux-Arts train depot in a former life, houses a collection of Dale Chihuly glass in its rotunda. North of downtown, the Stadium-Seminary Historic District is an architectural costume party of styles, from French château revival to Northwest contemporary.
As you ramble, notice details like the historic Pacific Avenue streetlights, a fusion of classical Greek and art deco.