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Save money without missing the fun

Northwest Guardian

Published: 11:26AM January 7th, 2016

The holidays often bring new presents, special food and usually, a smaller number in the bank account.

However, there are still free and inexpensive outdoor and indoor activities do on or around Joint Base Lewis-McChord that can fit everyone’s budget.

Around Tacoma

Join in a free monthly tour of the Port of Tacoma. The next tours are Jan. 26 and Feb. 23. Bus tours depart from the Fabulich Center located at 3600 Port of Tacoma Rd. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 253-383-9463 or emailing

Admire the work of local artists provided by Spaceworks Tacoma at temporary exhibitions, or throughout downtown Tacoma and Puyallup.

Go for a walk

Visiting Tumwater Falls Park is free and close to JBLM. You can walk the half-mile around the falls to see bridges, trees, flowers, shrubs, reflective pools and massive rocks. There are also picnic facilities and play areas for children and ample parking is available.

The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to approximately 30 minutes before sunset. The address is 110 Deschutes Way SW in Tumwater.

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. The park is located at 8714 87th Ave. SW in Lakewood.

Military Appreciation

JBLM’s Northwest Adventure Center always has wallet-friendly outdoor activities to do such as the Military Appreciation Day at Crystal Mountain Wednesday and the Bavarian Ice Fest in Leavenworth or snow tubing Jan. 17.

The Bavarian Ice Fest costs $55 for ages 11 and up, $25 ages 6 to 11 and $5 ages 5 and younger.

JBLM’s NAC will take visitors to a traditional Bavarian village for sight-seeing, sledding, bratwurst and shopping.

At the end of the day, everyone can watch as the town is transformed into a beautiful display of lights on every store and block.

For those looking for something a little more thrilling, JBLM’s NAC offers snow tubing at one of Washington’s best tubing hills for $35 ages 12 and up, $25 ages 6 to 12 and $5 ages 5 and younger.

Military Appreciation Day at Crystal Mountain offers a chance to ski or ride for half the price with JBLM’s NAC. It costs $45 for transportation and gear or just $25 for transportation.

While lift tickets are not included, they can be purchased at the mountain. Military discounts are now available at the resort.

For more information on JBLM’s NAC events, visit

Children’s Museums

For an indoor adventure for families with children, the Children’s Museum of Tacoma offers pay-as-you-will donation admission.

Its newly designed museum aims to engage young children in self-directed play through innovative design, encouraging imagination and creativity.

The core early-childhood experiences form the platform for play in the Museum’s five main exhibition areas, which include Woods, Water, Voyager, Invention and Becka’s Studio.

Brenda Morrison, communications and operations director, said the museum is focused on using play to teach children using all five senses.

“Our specially designed museum experience engages young children and their adult caregivers in self-directed play through innovative design that celebrates imagination and encourages creativity,” she said.

The Children’s Museum of Tacoma address is 1501 Pacific Ave., in Tacoma. For more information, visit

The Hand’s On Children’s Museum in Olympia is another option. The large building on the waterfront is separated into eight galleries and one art studio.

There are also preschool, kindergarten, summer and parent programs including Parents Night Out and parenting workshops.

Admission is free for members, $10.95 for ages one and older, $8.95 for seniors and those with military ID, and babies are free, but still require a ticket. The first Friday of every month is also a free admission day from 5 to 9 p.m.

Hands on Children’s Museum is located at 414 Jefferson St. NE, in Olympia. For more information, visit

Army, Air Force Museums

For adults looking to learn, JBLM’s Lewis Army Museum on Lewis Main and the McChord Air Museum on McChord Field both offer free admission.

Get up close to aircraft, tanks and other military vehicles used throughout history.

Driving around throughout JBLM leads to many different displays hidden throughout the installation.

Various displays and artifacts tell the history of JBLM and events from the past.

Museum of Glass

For families, adults and couples alike, visiting Tacoma’s Museum of Glass provides an opportunity to see eccentric works of glass art, collections and exhibitions.

There’s even an opportunity to visit the Hot Shop, where visitors can witness artists creating art from molten glass. Sometimes guests offer input and help design the piece.

Pricing for military at the glass museum is discounted at $12 for adults and $5 for children.

For more information on Tacoma’s Museum of Glass, visit