View of the Tacoma skyline reflected on the water at sunset, where to stay in Tacoma

Where to Stay in Tacoma (Best Places & Areas in 2023)

Figuring out where to stay in Tacoma is an important part of ensuring your visit to The City of Destiny is enjoyable. Tacoma is a fantastic city for solo trips and outdoor adventures. There are also tons of one-of-a-kind restaurants and unconventional bars to keep things interesting.

I’m a Washington local and have spent a lot of time exploring the many things to do in Tacoma. In this guide, I’ll help you figure out the best places to stay in Tacoma and what you can expect in each so you can continue planning your trip! 

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Best Places to Stay in Tacoma

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Tacoma? Here are my top picks: 

Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas and neighborhoods in Tacoma: 

4 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Tacoma

View of the sunset over  Tacoma Narrows Bridge seen from the West End
View of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from the West End

Tacoma is the third largest city in Washington state. Tacoma is located about 45 minutes south of Seattle along the southern end of Puget Sound. Tacoma can roughly be broken up into north, south, east, west, and central neighborhoods. 

Staying in Tacoma’s downtown or along the waterfront is generally a good idea because it’s where you’ll find some of the best Tacoma hotels. Still, other areas are equally vibrant and may be better choices for certain travelers. Here are the areas and neighborhoods to consider when visiting the city.

Downtown Tacoma

View of a man crossing by the mural on a building in downtown Tacoma on a rainy day
My husband walking by a cool mural in downtown Tacoma
Exterior view of the Museum of Glass at sunset
The outside of the Museum of Glass downtown

👉 Best Area For First Time Visitors | ✨ Best Downtown Tacoma Hotels: McMenamins Elk TempleMarriott Tacoma DowntownHotel Murano

Staying in downtown Tacoma is a great idea if it’s your first time visiting the city and you want to be close to some of the top attractions in Tacoma

Downtown Tacoma is the business center of the city and has many of the most popular hotels in Tacoma. Stay in the quirky and colorful McMenamins Elk Temple, the budget-friendly Holiday Inn Express, and many more.

If you stay downtown, you’ll want to go to museum row. Check out the Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass, Washington State History Museum, and America’s Car Museum. There are also tons of vintage shops and other boutique stores to explore along Antique Row.

Beer lovers can drink at breweries and taprooms on both the north and south ends of downtown. E9 Taproom, Black Fleet Brewery, and Odd Otter Brewing are good places to start. 

Another benefit to staying downtown is the light rail, which will take you from the Tacoma Dome to the Theater District free of cost. This is a great way to get around Tacoma if you’re visiting without a car.

Pros of Staying in Downtown Tacoma:

  • Many Tacoma hotels to choose from
  • Close to museums, vintage shops, breweries, and restaurants
  • Walkable
  • Access to the light rail

Cons of Staying in Downtown Tacoma:

  • No real “neighborhood” feel
  • Traffic can be rough during rush hour
  • Tends to feel slow at night

📚 Downtown Tacoma Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for First Timers
Google Map

North End

The author Chelsea Booker posing at the dock along the waterfront in the North End
Me on one of the many docks along the waterfront in the North End

👉 Best Area For Couples | ✨ Best North End Hotels: Silver Cloud Hotel Tacoma WaterfrontGeiger Victorian Bed & BreakfastThe Villa Bed & Breakfast

The North End encompasses a large part of Tacoma. This includes the bustling Proctor and Stadium District, Old Town, and the University of Puget Sound. The Tacoma waterfront is on the northernmost side, and 6th Avenue is on the south end.

Because the North End has various residential spots, this area of Tacoma feels much more communal than downtown. That said, it’s nowhere near boring. 

Spend time along the waterfront where you’ll have sweeping views across Puget Sound. The waterfront also has parks, walking and biking paths, and seafood restaurants to enjoy. 

There are walkable pockets in Proctor, Old Town, and along 6th Avenue. Hit up cafes, wineries, record stores, and art galleries. Dine at some of Tacoma’s best restaurants. Don’t miss out on the Proctor Farmers Market on Saturday for delicious fresh produce! 

The north end has a waterfront hotel and quaint beds and breakfasts. Both lodging options lean romantic, making this a good area for couples.

Pros of Staying in the North End:

  • Lots of interesting “sub-neighborhoods” with walkable pockets
  • Waterfront access
  • Romantic lodging options
  • Fantastic bars, restaurants, shops

Cons of Staying in the North End:

  • Pricier area
  • You’ll need a car to get around

📚 North End Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Couples
Google Map

West End & Ruston

View of Mount Rainier from Point Defiance Park on a sunny day
A view of Mount Rainier from Point Defiance Park on a clear winter day

👉 Best Area For Outdoor Exploration & Day Trips | ✨ Best West End & Ruston Hotels: Silver Cloud Hotel Tacoma at Point RustonScenic Lake View HomeRuston Retreat 

Tacoma’s West End and the teeny city of Ruston are furthest from some of the city’s livelier areas. However, they’re close to Point Defiance Park, Tacoma’s number one attraction. 

If you love the outdoors or want to take day trips to some of the small towns and suburbs around Tacoma, the West End & Ruston are great places to stay. Aside from a hotel in Ruston, lodging options in this area will mostly be rentals.

In addition to the 760 acres to explore in Point Defiance, you can spend time in Titlow Park. This peaceful, out-of-the-way park has beach access and trails and boasts views of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

For a day trip, drive across the Narrows to visit Gig Harbor, or catch the ferry to beautiful Vashon Island. If you’d rather stay close to town, go to Narrows Brewing and Antique Sandwiches for good food, drinks, and laid-back vibes.

Pros of Staying in West End & Ruston:

  • Great for exploring outdoors
  • Quiet and peaceful
  • Access to small towns for day trips

Cons of Staying in West End & Ruston:

  • Not as many hotel options
  • Feels removed from the rest of the city
  • You’ll need a car to get around

📚 West End & Ruston Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Outdoor Exploration and Day Trips
Google Map


The author Chelsea Booker and her friend posing near the fountain and lake at Wright Park in Hilltop on a rainy day
Me and my friend hanging out at Wright Park in Hilltop on a rainy day

👉 Best Area For Authenticity & A Sense of Community | ✨ Best Hilltop Hotels: Elegant Tacoma CondoDreamy Tacoma LoftConverted Victorian Home

The Hilltop neighborhood is just west of downtown Tacoma. Despite its past reputation of being a rougher part of the city, it’s gone through many changes over the years. The Hilltop of today is much different than it was even twenty years ago.

If you want to stay in a place with a tight-knit community and a strong feeling of local pride, then Hilltop is a great option. The neighborhood is largely residential, so lodging options are primarily rentals. Despite this, there are some great places to hang out. 

Visit Wright Park to try lawn bowling in the summer or go on walks at any time of the year. Zodiac Supper Club, Bar Rosa, and Peterson Bros 1111 are all excellent spots to grab a drink and a bite to eat and socialize with locals. 

Hilltop is a great place to stay in Tacoma if you want to be close to everything. Here you’ll have easy access to all neighborhoods around Tacoma like South Tacoma and McKinley. The Tacoma light rail will also be expanded through Hilltop in late 2023, so getting around the neighborhood will be even easier in the future.

Pros of Staying in Hilltop Neighborhood:

  • Close to everything
  • Authentic, neighborly feel
  • Light rail extension planned

Cons of Staying in Hilltop Neighborhood:

  • Some areas are rough around the edges
  • Mostly residential, with not many walkable areas
  • No Tacoma hotels in the area, rentals only

📚 Hilltop Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Authenticity & a Sense of Community
Google Map

Tips for Staying in Tacoma

Tip 1 – Rent A Car

View of the illuminated Tacoma skyline and highway at night

Even if you’re staying in public transit-friendly downtown Tacoma, you’ll want to have a car to visit other parts of the city. Tacoma is quite sprawling, and public transportation isn’t always the quickest or most convenient way to get around. 

I recommend renting a car with Discover Cars so you can save time and money and don’t have to limit your excursions.

Need a Car Rental?
Discover Cars

To compare car rental agencies, Discover Cars is a great site. They often find cheaper rentals than other sites!

Tip 2 – Visit a National Park

Tacoma is located between two of the best places to visit in Washington: Mount Rainier National Park and the Olympic National Park. It takes a little under 2 hours to reach either park from Tacoma. If you love hiking, camping, and breathtaking vistas, plan a day trip to one of these parks while staying in Tacoma. 

Tip 3 – Visit Tacoma During the Summer

Summer is by far one of the best times to visit Western Washington. Tacoma comes alive with activity in the summertime. Plan a summertime visit if you’re interested in attending festivals, farmers markets, or want to get on the water.

📚 Related Reading: Planning a trip to western Washington? Read this article to figure out the best times to visit Seattle and other great cities in the state!

Tip 4 – Explore the Greater Tacoma Area

View of the billiard and arcade inside a bar in South Tacoma
The game room in one of my favorite bars in South Tacoma

While this list includes the best places to stay for travelers, you’ll have the best experience if you also spend time in some of the other areas in Tacoma. 

There are great Tacoma restaurants, bars, and activities in South Tacoma, Mckinley, and Central Tacoma. Some of the neighboring towns and suburbs like University Place and Puyallup have hidden gems and fun things to do as well. 

Tip 5 – Listen to Local Recommendations

Since I have friends who live in Tacoma, I’m always getting great suggestions for new places to go and cool events to check out. 

Tacoma locals are friendly. I highly recommend chatting with them when you’re exploring to get insight into fun things to do in the city that you may not even know about. You just might discover a cool bar, learn about an art pop-up, or get suggestions for secret spots to view Mount Rainier at sunrise.

Tip 6 – Visit Tacoma Museums

View of the displayed native baskets in the Washington State History Museum
A basket display in the Washington State History Museum, which is free to visit on the third Thursdays!

Tacoma is known for its excellent museums and visitors should plan to check them out no matter which area you’re staying in. 

The Tacoma Art Museum, Washington State History Museum, America’s Car Museum, and Museum of Glass are the top museums in Tacoma. Several museums are even free to visit every third Thursday of the month.

FAQs About Where to Stay in Tacoma

What are the best areas to stay in Tacoma?

The best areas to stay in Tacoma for visitors are downtown Tacoma, the North End, West End, and Hilltop.

What are the best hotels to stay in Tacoma?

The best hotels in Tacoma are McMenamins Elk Temple, Silver Cloud Hotel on Tacoma Waterfront, and Holiday Inn Express Suites. All three of these popular hotels have desirable amenities, are in great locations, and are top-rated by travelers. 


Now you know what the best Tacoma hotels are and where to stay in Tacoma on your next visit. No matter where you stay, make sure to explore the city with open arms and you’ll have an excellent Grit City experience!

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