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Urban Spelunker: Tacoma's Ruston Way Waterfront

Walk, drink, eat, repeat

Katie Downs Tavern. Photos by Jackie Fender

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Ruston Way instantly calls forth memories of sea-breeze blown hair, "Summer Time" blaring on the radio and Tacomans arriving en mass to cruise, stroll and pass around a ball or Frisbee of sorts. This scenic strip allows dog walkers, joggers, diners and cruisers to take in majestic views of Commencement Bay and boasts two miles of park play, delectable dining and pure warm weather fun. Here are a few sites fellow urban spelunkers will spy with a visit:

[Sips and Slices (of Pizza Pie)]

There are several dining options along Ruston Way, but Katie Downs Tavern and Eatery has something the rest do not: pizza. This 21 and up establishment serves up sammies, appetizers, brews and booze and has a fabulous outdoor deck on which to enjoy it. And while everyone else may have seafood on the noggin, Katie Downs serves up pizza, too. It's also conveniently located amid ample walking space to work off those delicious extra calories. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 3211 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253.756.0771

[Historical Sites]

Fire Boat No. 1 has been an outdoor historical installation since I can remember. Its brightly painted enormous mass serves as a chunk of Tacoma history: it was one of the first boats built on the West Coast designated for firefighting. It served its purpose for 54 years and now stars as a Ruston landmark.

[Chowda Hounds]

Seaside establishments beg for one dining staple here in the Northwest, and that's clam chowder! Duke's Chowder House serves up tasty chowder alongside an array of other menu items with a focus on seafood. Tasty craft cocktails and a casual vibe waterside can be found here. Duke's also has a great deck made for water viewing.11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3327 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253.752.5444

[Outdoor Art]

The Ruston Way pedestrian path welcomed a much-needed expansion recently that will eventually play home to retail and commercial space. Along the Point Ruston Path, you'll spy a 33-foot mosaic of an octopus that is compelling and just plain cool. This large outdoor art installment is a collaborative creation by Oregon's Anna Fornachon and Tacoma's Jeremy Gregory. More of the same is anticipated as the project expands.

[Brews ‘n Bites]

Ram Restaurant and Brewery is a local chain that delivers delicious house-brewed concoctions paired with tasty bites. It's a great place to grab cocktails with friends in the roomy bar or deck when weather allows.  It's also family friendly: on Mondays, "Kids Eat For $1" with an adult entreé purchase. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, 3001 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253.756.7886

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