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Do a lot on a little while your budget recovers

Puget Sound has plenty of entertaining options

Northwest Guardian

Published: 11:41AM January 9th, 2014

Finances take a hit during the holidays. As your budget recovers from Christmas shopping, you still can enjoy outings in and around Joint Base Lewis-McChord with free and inexpensive indoor and outdoor activities.

From museums to parks to family-friendly establishments, there is something for everyone without having to break the bank. Here are a few budget-friendly outing ideas:

For the family

The Children’s Museum of Tacoma downtown eliminates cost barriers with pay-as-you-will admission to ensure every child has the chance to learn by play.

The 8,000-square feet playspace allows children to explore the five main areas of the museum: woods, water, voyager (imagination), invention and Becka’s Studio.

Children can explore interactive elements such as a 14-foot waterfall and a 15-foot tall climbing toy.

Popular retailer Cabela’s in Lacey is known for its hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation apparel and equipment, but the store also serves as an educational and fun outing for the family. Whether you’re shopping or not, the elaborate taxidermy displays and showrooms create a wildlife museum atmosphere you can enjoy without spending a dime.

For the history buff

Learn about the history of JBLM at the Lewis Army Museum on Lewis Main and the McChord Air Museum on McChord Field. Both museums offer free admission. Learn from displays and artifacts relevant to the history of the base. Displays include vehicles, planes, uniforms, weapons and memorabilia.

The Tacoma Museum District has its Third Thursday Artwalk each month, offering free admission from 5 to 9 p.m. to the Tacoma Art Museum, the Washington State History Museum and the Museum of Glass. The next free Thursday is Jan. 16.

Right outside the museums is the 500-foot long Bridge of Glass full of large colorful displays of Dale Chihuly’s glass art.

Just a quick drive from JBLM is the town of Steilacoom, Washington’s first incorporated town. Explore the town and find date plaques of the 32 properties listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Learn about the history of the Port of the Tacoma with a monthly free bus tour. Reservations are required for the 75-minute guided tour of the Port. Reservations are required. Call 253-383-9463 or email

For the art lover Several outdoor areas in Pierce County include art displays. The One Percent for Art Project with Pierce County includes art stops in Tacoma, Puyallup, Bonney Lake and Spanaway.

Spaceworks Tacoma transforms vacant retail space into temporary exhibition space and Puyallup Arts Downtown features professional, emerging and student artists with rotating and permanent collections of quality art throughout the downtown streets.

For all things outdoors JBLM’s Northwest Adventure Center is coordinating a Military Appreciation Day trip to Crystal Mountain Wednesday. Those with valid military ID can ski or snowboard for half-price. Contact 253-967-6263.

Fort Steilacoom Park is 340 acres of trails that can be explored by foot or bike.

The park also includes a 22-acre off-leash park for dogs.

Somer Breeze-Hanson:, @somerBhanson