Back to Travel

Vacationing in University Place

Photo courtesy City of University Place

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

When talking about University Place, you may be tempted to refer to it as a quiet, waterfront neighborhood of Tacoma. You might also be tempted to call it sleepy, or maybe wave your hand dismissively when a friend asks, ‘what's there to do in UP?' because you're pretty sure there's never anything to do in UP. But the truth is, University Place is anything but sleepy nowadays, and there's quite a bit to do in the area if you know where to look. Over the last few years, University Place has grown into a posh, pocket-sized travel destination for visitors interested in comfort, beautiful skylines and hipster-approved food and drink.


To get to University Place, take Washington State Route 16 (WA-16) heading north from Tacoma for a few short miles. You'll know if you've gone too far at precisely the same moment you find yourself surrounded by water, zipping across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. If that happens, well ... that's another article, so let's just say you successfully make it to University Place on a sunny afternoon.


One of the first things you'll notice when you arrive is the abundance of spas, salons and specialty shops in the city. University Place is known for its abundance of feel-good spa options, including Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, He Mauli Ola Massage and Spa, and Spa Vita Bella. Each of these options will leave you feeling pampered and ready for a relaxing evening by the fire or ready to take in the waterfront views of Commencement Bay.


Those coastal views are unsurprisingly one of University Place's largest draws. They can be enjoyed from outdoor recreation areas like Titlow Park, where soft grass gives way to a small lagoon near the shoreline. You can walk the beachfront, relax at the picnic tables, or take a short trail to the historic Titlow Lodge at this popular park.

Curran Apple Orchard Park is another great destination for taking in the views in University Place. Here, though, the views fall on the vibrant colors of apples and tree leaves. Visitors can amble through seven acres of apple trees, participate in the annual Cider Squeeze, or enjoy music in the park at the orchard's Summer Concerts series.

One of the biggest outdoor attractions in University Place is Chambers Creek Regional Park, which boasts over 900 acres of land, two miles of saltwater shoreline, and creek and canyon trails to enjoy year-round. A large, open field in the middle of the park is a great place for a picnic, too, as paragliders frequently take off and land from the spongy grass underfoot. Golfers can test themselves at the site of the 2015 U.S. Open, Chambers Bay, which shares the grounds with the regional park.


When it comes to dining, University Place has a delightful spectrum of ethnic cuisine options for hungry travelers. India Mahal, Chili Thai Restaurant, Taqueria El Sabor and Grassi's Ristorante are all located in the city proper, and each one highlights a distinctive cultural flare and spice-level. For a meal on the waterfront, head to Boathouse 19, where you'll find prime outdoor seating with a view of sailboats outside and a sleek, polished-wood dining room inside. For visitors with a thirst for a strong beer, Narrows Brewing Co. is conveniently located next door.

If you're hoping to dine in and save a bit of cash for future activities, you're in luck: Trader Joes and Whole Foods are both located on the main drag of University Place.


While there aren't many hotel options in University Place, its proximity to Tacoma, Gig Harbor and Steilacoom will not leave you wanting for a soft bed to lay your head on. One of the closest options is Silver Cloud Inn Tacoma, located just 10 minutes away on Ruston Way. The short but superbly scenic drive will deliver you to the inn in good spirits. If you dare to cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge for the night, you'll find comfy accommodations at the Inn at Gig Harbor. But, if you prefer to stay in the heart of University Place (like we do) and don't mind the closeness of a bed and breakfast, you'll have plenty of choices. The Villa Bed and Breakfast, Paradise Chateau, and Above the Sound Bed & Breakfast are among the most scenic.  

Read next close


Hanging out on the Ave

comments powered by Disqus