Back to Travel

The crafted, the curated

Exploring one Tacoma’s most carefully curated neighborhoods: Proctor District

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Have you ever wondered what makes Tacoma's Proctor District so damn charming? We have, and we think we've figured out just what it is: Proctor is a boutique neighborhood. It'sa small district packed with locally-owned and operated niche stores in which every detail -- every window display, bushel of fresh produce or handmade sign -- is carefully curated for customers with a little time on their hands. This "boutique" charm, coupled with recent infrastructure and economic expansion in the neighborhood, have led to Proctor becoming an unexpected hub of urban life in northern Tacoma.   

To get to Proctor, one should know that it's not as conveniently located as other districts in the city. It's located just south of Point Defiance Park and west of Stadium and Old Town districts, meaning it's landlocked on all sides. Don't let that bother you, though, as there are several handy shortcuts into the neighborhood. You can follow North 21st Street all the way to North Proctor Street, then hook a quick right; or you can take North Stevens from 6th Avenue towards Point Defiance Park. The extra five or 10 minutes in the car will be forgivable when you find yourself surrounded by Proctor's colorful, restored homes and lush yardscapes.

The neighborhood's residential charm extends itself to businesses, as well. Brick front facades and floor-to-ceiling windows allow visitors to amble from storefront to storefront on treelined streets. You'll find some of the most curious shopping venues in the city on these streets, including Culpepper Books. This gem of a bookstore is run by veteran book-seller and owner Jerry Culpepper, who packs used, rare and out-of-print books onto the delightfully crammed bookshelves. Around the corner is Pacific Northwest Shop, where the motto is "all local, all the time." PNW Shop is a hyper-local gift shop that sells local fudge, glass ornaments made with Mount Saint Helens volcanic ash, and Tacoma-themed bumper stickers and playing cards. Another gift store in the area is Compass Rose, whose wares include handmade jewelry, stationary and apothecary items.

If entertainment is what you're after, leave the shopping behind and make your way to everyone's favorite movie house, Blue Mouse Theater. This second-run theater has been operating since 1923. It boasts incredibly cheap tickets (a mere $6 for adults) and a reputation for the best popcorn in town. For something livelier, head to Chalet Bowl, a true "neighborhood bowling alley" where you can still bowl without fear of strobe lights and techno music assaulting your senses mid-day. Chalet Bowl has local beer on tap, freshly baked pizza and 12 bowling lanes to try your hand at a perfect game. Peaks and Pints, the neighborhood bottle shop and taproom, makes the entertainment list as well, with its mountain-themed décor, wood-burning stove and fireplace, and frequent themed events.

Proctor also has a diverse lineup of dining options. For quick or light fare, try popping into Waffle Stop, where almost every item on the menu involves hot and crispy waffles, or Alegre Bakery & Gelato, where you can nab house-made gelato, baked goods and espresso drinks to cure a sweet tooth. Proctor Farmers Market, which is one of the most popular farmers markets in the city, is also a solid bet for on-the-go food if you find yourself in Proctor on a Saturday afternoon. More formal dining establishments include Pomodoro Italian Restaurant and Bar and Europa Bistro, both of which are known for fine Italian fare.  

Because of its out-of-the-way location in North Tacoma, overnight accommodations in Proctor are few and far between. Fortunately, they're stellar options, all the same. The closest hotel is Silver Cloud Inn Tacoma, a waterfront hotel located less than five minutes from Proctor. Most rooms at Silver Cloud Inn come with stunning waterfront views of Commencement Bay. Travelers will also find bed and breakfast accommodations in Proctor through Airbnb. These listings are a bit slim for the picking, but with enough planning and preparation, visitors can find themselves living in the true spirit of Tacoma's Proctor District: nestled under a soft blanket with a window view on a quiet city block. Whether you stay at a hotel or bed and breakfast, you'll most likely find yourself content after a long day of walking around the neighborhood, sampling locally-crafted beer and getting lost in curio shops as the rain drizzles outside.

Read next close


The windy drive to Tenino

comments powered by Disqus