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Spouse adventures

Fun and informative tour of Tacoma and Olympia

Spouses on tour strike a pose in front of Union Station in downtown Tacoma. Photo credit: Leah Jones

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Sometimes people can be a little hesitant to do things military-related. We've all heard the term "mandatory fun." Luckily, these tours sponsored by the Armed Forces Community Services are anything but stuffy or regimented, in fact, nothing about our trip felt military-related except for the survey at the end.  

Monica Ulibarri, our friendly and knowledgeable tour guide, led tours for military spouses when she lived in Italy and came up with the idea to do the same thing here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  These tours are a great way to learn fun and interesting facts about the area like great restaurants, where to shop, and even the best places to park.  They're also a way to get to know other military spouses who may be new to the area, in fact several of the participants were trading numbers and setting up get-togethers by the end of the day.

The Spouse Tour participants at Owen Beach in Tacoma. Photo credit: Leah Jones

The first stop on our tour was Owen Beach at Point Defiance in Tacoma.  We walked around the rocky shores of the Puget Sound and learned about different things to do at Point Defiance, like the zoo, rose garden and playground, as well as a little about Vashon Island that we could see in the distance. We then took a drive around the 5-mile Drive to check out more of Point Defiance, including Fort Nisqually and the wooded dog park.

Next, we drove through downtown Tacoma and stopped for a photo at Stadium High School, featured in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, this landmark over-looking the Sound looks more like a castle than a high school, and was one of my favorite Tacoma sites.  We then continued on to a stop in front of Union Station where we were given some time to check out the different shops in the area.  A few people ventured into "Hello Cupcake" to grab a sweet treat while others fueled up at Starbucks.  

The second part of our tour took us down I-5 and into Olympia where we stopped in the middle of downtown and grabbed lunch. We then drove around the Capitol building and past several interesting shops and eateries.  We then headed back north and drove through the towns of Dupont and Steiliacoom and finally into Lakewood.  Our last pit stop was at Hess German Bakery and Deli where we were given a free sample of their soft pretzels. This tour is definitely a must-do for anyone new to the area or anyone who just wants to check out the local area and get some tips and advice on things to do.

There are two pick up spots for the tour, Waller Hall on JBLM-Main or the Service Member Family Readiness Center on McChord Field. You receive a bag with magazines, maps and itinerary along with other goodies. Tours run once a month and go to Tacoma and Olympia or Seattle. The next tour will be October 13. Sign up online at or call 253.967.3633.

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