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Lakewood: A primer for exploration

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Lakewood, once the hunting and vacation grounds of Tacoma’s wealthy, is a thriving city with gorgeous lakes, popular restaurants, close ties to the military, history and golf courses – a place to live, shop and recreate. Before clicking back here to a live social media feed, use this primer as a way to get orientated.

Live in Lakewood

Lakewood is a diverse economic melting pot with a strong International distict, wealthy lakeside homes, tons of middle class housing, and both rental homes and apartments. Start with your realtor to find available homes, or check in with a rental company such as Park 52 to find available homes and apartments. Another great resource is the City of Lakewood for info on schools, taxes and public safety.

Shopping and Dining

Lakewood is a regional hub for many of your fast food and family dining restaurants, everything from Applebees to Chipotle, as well as major stores such as Target, Old Navy and Pier 1. The Lakewood Towne Center is a hub for this activity with food, Barnes & Noble, a movie theater with recliner seats, tons of popular stores and more. Other main streets are pathways to fast food, drug stores – just about any main store you likely need outside typical mall anchors.


Lakewood is well known as home to the oldest country club west of the Mississippi – the Tacoma Country Club right off I-5’s Gravelly Lake Exit. Situated on American Lake, the course is gorgeous, but so are the club house and the pool and dock area. The old Oakbrook Country Club is now a public course which winds through a suburban area, and near that is the Fort Steilacoom 9-hole course which is also home to a popular disc golf course.

Gardens & History

For years, the area’s wealthy had hunting and vacation lodges in and around the lakes and woods of Lakewood, which has developed a storied history of the area – some of which is embedded in the big mansions and grounds still seen today from Gravelly Lake Drive , Nyanza and others. To actually get on the other side of the gate, visit Lakewold Gardens to see an old lumber baron’s home and gorgeous grounds on Gravelly Lake – open near daily. Also, learn about other history here, everything from early race car driving to Ivan the Gorilla – embodied at the Lakewood History Museum.

International District

Lakewood is fortunate to have a large International District which is mostly Korean businesses but other Asian influences with amazing restaurants, grocery stores and other influences. Check out Pal Do World grocery store and food court. You’ll find some great Korean barbecue, kaoroke, and bakeries.


Lakewood is a thriving city with tons of resources, everything from attorneys to medical support. Dentists such as Gravelly Lake Dentistry have openings, for example, plus you’ll find all of the major banks, insurance companies and more. Military personnel can also find resources at


Lakewood has a number of hotels, but for a unique experience, stay at Thornewood Castle in Tillicum close to the Madigan Gate into Joint Base Lewis-McChord. This bed and breakfast has a rich history, and today is site for many weddings and events. A Stephen King movie was also filmed here.


The Lakewood Playhouse is a critcally-acclaimed live theater playhouse with an active board and stellar staff that produce plays that receive tons of praise from local theater critics and audiences. They produce shows throughout the fall, winter and spring seasons.


Finally, Lakewood has a few worthy places to get outdoors and enjoy everything from the sun to showers. First, discover Fort Steilacoom Park with large off-leash dog park, lake walk, running trails, woods, soccer fields and playgrounds. The public beach at American Lake gets folks into the water on hot days with lots of grassy areas, covered barbecue areas and changing rooms. Lastly, take a walk at Sealy Lake to see marsh areas and tree-lined pathways.

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