15 Best Things to Do in Lakewood, WA

Lakewood, WA
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Lakewood is a city located in Washington state under Pierce County.

It’s the second-largest city in the state, home to some of the best lakes in the country.

The city also has a rich history dating back to the 1800s.

From well-preserved historical landmarks to scenic natural wonders, Lakewood provides an excellent change of pace from urban life.

You might not think it’s an interesting tourist destination, but checking this list of the best things to do in Lakewood, Washington, will change your mind!

Check-in at the Historic Thornewood Castle

Exterior of the Thornewood Castle
Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thornewood Castle is a 15th-century architectural wonder.

The castle follows a Tudor Gothic design comprising dismantled bricks of a manor imported from England.

Because of its centuries-old architecture and design, the castle has become the setting of several movies and plays, most notably Stephen King’s Rose Red.

You can now enjoy Thornewood Castle as a bed and breakfast inn.

Sculpture garden of Thornewood Castle
Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Its beautiful restoration still maintains its gothic interiors, giving your stay a sense of mystery and romance.

While walk-in visits are not allowed, you’d be hard-pressed to miss out on the opportunity to book a room here.

The Thornwood Castle is along North Thorne Lane Southwest.

Interior of the Thornewood Castle
Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Try Your Luck at Great American Casino Lakewood

Nature and historical landmarks aren’t the only attraction in Lakewood.

They also have some exciting establishments; one of them is the Great American Casino.

Covering 23,000 square meters of land, it’s one of the biggest in the entire Washington state.

Inside, you’ll see dozens of gaming tables where you can play Blackjack, Baccarat, and Pai Gow.

It also has a restaurant that’s well known for its delicious steaks.

If you go during certain times of the week, you might chance upon some of the casino’s promo deals.

You can drop by and try your luck at Great American Casino by going to South Tacoma Way, by its intersection with Highway 512.

Splurge at Lakewood Towne Center

Whether you’re looking to load up on necessities for your trip or grab a nice dinner, Lakewood Towne Center has everything you need.

With over 60 stores, Lakewood Town Center is an excellent stop after visiting the city’s recreational parks and lakes.

Various classic American food chains, clothing brands, and department stores operate inside the mall.

There are also several entertainment establishments here, most notably a movie theater.

Located conveniently along Main Street Southwest, you can easily access the shopping mall wherever you are in Lakewood.

Play Your Favorite Water Sport at American Lake

A bird flying over American Lake
Derrick Engel / Shutterstock.com

American Lake is the largest of the seven lakes in Lakewood.

It has two large public parks, Harry Todd Park and American Lake Park, on opposite sides of the lake.

Both parks offer various activities, most notably water sports, such as jet skiing, kayaking, and motorboating.

The waters of American Lake
ECTran71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you don’t want to get wet, marvel at this vast lake while you relax or have a picnic.

You can visit American Lake through either of the parks.

Harry Todd Park is at North Thorne Lane Southwest, while American Lake Park is along Veterans Drive Southwest.

Explore Lakewold Gardens

Just north of American Lake lies Lakewold Gardens, a vast botanical space filled with lush greeneries, flowers, and several interesting buildings.

Strolling through the gardens is a serene experience, especially during a warm afternoon.

There are a total of seven garden rooms inside this massive space.

Each garden offers unique plant life and landscaping, giving you an incentive to explore.

It also has a library with a courtyard called the Carroll O’Rourke Library.

You wouldn’t want to miss this garden part, as its interiors will take you back to 1950s America.

There are more places to do here, such as viewing art exhibits and the park’s annual festivities.

You can visit Lakewold Gardens, by Gravelly Lake, along Gravelly Lake Drive Southwest.

Join Recreational Activities at Fort Steilacoom Park

Playground at Fort Steilacoom Park
Travisl at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fort Steilacoom Park is the largest park in Lakewood, bringing in about a million people each year because of its many varied activities.

Soccer and baseball fields are all available if you’re the sporty type.

There’s also an expansive trail throughout the park if you want to walk or jog.

Flying drones here is also allowed; it’s an excellent way to observe the landscape of Fort Steilacoom Park.

Tall trees at Fort Steilacoom Park
sc_images / Shutterstock.com

Also, if you’re bringing your dog, there’s a 22-acre dog park to let them loose!

The park has historical relevance, too.

It was named Steilacoom because the Steilacoom and Nisqually tribes farmed the land.

You can access Steilacoom Park along 87th Avenue Southwest.

Visit the Historic Fort Steilacoom Museum

Within the Fort Steilacoom Park lies the Historic Fort Steilacoom Museum.

While only a small museum, it offers an immersive experience of the land’s history during the 19th century.

Fort Steilacoom dates back to the 1840s.

The U.S. government established the fort in response to the public uproar of the Nisqually and Steilacoom tribes due to the events in the Whitman mission.

Today, several historic houses make up the museum.

One was an officer’s headquarters during that time, called Officer’s Row.

There’s an interpretive center and an 1858 diorama where you can see the history of Fort Steilacoom, too.

There’s also a guided tour if you want a more comprehensive understanding of Fort Steilacoom’s history.

You can visit this historic place in Steilacoom Park along Fort Street.

Join the Lakewood Summer Festival

Lakewood’s Summer Festival is one of the most anticipated events in the city.

Starting in 1996, the great summer festival has attracted thousands of people from different places in the country.

Its popularity is due mainly to the eye-popping number of fun things during this festival.

International car shows, hot air balloon festivals, outdoor movies, and extreme sports converge on Lakewood during this fun time.

There are a lot of concerts and live performances as well from groups across the country.

If you’re a food lover, there are plenty of food trucks and pop-up stalls.

Lakewood Summer Festival occurs every July.

So, if you’re planning a trip here around that time, join the festivities at Fort Steilacoom Park.

Go Fishing at Steilacoom Lake

The waters of Steilacoom Lake
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You might think Steilacoom Lake is inside Steilacoom Park, but it’s a few miles away.

Part of Lakewood’s sprawling lakes, people recommend this area for a great fishing spot in the city.

There are several spots to cast your rod, but one of the better locations is at Steilacoom Lake Bridge Fishing Area.

This spot is at Interlaaken Bridge which goes across Steilacoom Lake.

Sunset reflecting on Steilacoom Lake
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Rainbow trout is one of the most notable catches, especially during springtime.

Other species include small and largemouth bass.

There are plenty of great lakes to fish in the city, but Steilacoom Lake should be on your list.

Buy Fresh Produce at Lakewood Farmers Market

Lakewood’s Summer Festival isn’t the only annual event to look forward to in the city.

Lakewood Farmers Market is also something you should try to experience!

Unlike the summer festival, Lakewood Farmers Market is held during different parts of the year, most often in summer and early fall.

Several farms from Washington join the market, offering buyers a wide variety of local produce unique to their locales.

Plenty of vendors sell handcrafted items, too.

There are also numerous food trucks and concerts throughout this week-long event.

Lakewood Farmers Market usually occurs at Fort Steilacoom Park.

Check out the announcements so you can plan!

Hike Mt. Rainier

Scenic view of Mt. Rainier
Zhiqin Zhu / Shutterstock.com

While there is no mountain in Lakewood City per se, it is close to one of the most famous active volcanoes in the world, Mt. Rainier.

As an icon of Washington state, this massive volcano is home to various wildlife and plant life.

It has five major rivers, and its icy peaks are one of the best rewards for those who can reach its summit.

Trail lined with flowers at Mt. Rainier National Park
Dmitry Kovba / Shutterstock.com

The volcano has gorgeous subalpine meadows that will be a showstopper in anyone’s photo gallery.

An ancient forest called Ohanapecosh is home to incredible waterfalls and massive trees.

Gorgeous waterfall at Mt. Rainier National Park
poemnist / Shutterstock.com

Camping or checking in at its historical inn is enough to make you appreciate this natural wonder.

Established as a national park, there are plenty of things to see in Mt. Rainier.

You can reach Mt. Rainier National Park from Lakewood by taking Washington State Route 7.

Suspension bridge at Mt. Rainier National Park
Beach Creatives / Shutterstock.com

Feel the Rush at Grand Prix Raceway

Are you an avid kart racer?

Lakewood is home to Grand Prix Raceway, one of Washington’s premiere indoor kart racing arenas.

Grand Prix Raceway’s karts are fine-tuned and safe to deliver you a great experience.

Their racetracks are also well designed to give you a jolt of adrenaline.

The establishment has existed for over 20 years; they have competent staff who will guide you through your kart race.

They also have an axe-throwing arcade facility inside.

It’s a great secondary activity if you want to maximize your visit.

You can visit Grand Prix Raceway along Pacific Highway Southwest.

Shop for Korean Goods at Pal-Do World Market

Pal-Do World Market is a well-known and highly rated establishment that sells various imported Asian food products and fresh produce.

The place sells primarily Korean and Japanese grocery items, such as ready-to-cook miso soup, dried fish, kimchi, and plenty more.

They also sell various live seafood commonly used in Asian cuisine.

Pal-Do World Market also has a bakery that the locals will love for its Asian-French motif.

The bakery sells a wide variety of pastries, from bread to cakes.

If you’re craving some authentic Korean and Japanese food, you will find several affordable food stalls that will satisfy your cravings.

You can drop by Pal-Do World Market by driving along South Tacoma Way.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the Lewis Army Museum

Exterior of the Lewis Army Museum
Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lewis Army Museum is located at Joint-Base Lewis McChord, Washington, is a massive U.S. installation camp 15 minutes from Lakewood.

Since it is inside a military base, the Lewis Army Museum operates under the U.S. Army.

Interior of the Lewis Army Museum
Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is the only museum on the West Coast with such distinction.

You’ll find a lot of interesting military documents, uniforms, and equipment displayed dating back to the early 20th century.

Military tank on the grounds of Lewis Army Museum
Skarz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Their gallery exhibits have a lot of immersive dioramas and in-depth stories of what transpired in the camps and forts in Washington.

If you want to check Lewis Army Museum, pay a visit through Pendleton Avenue, which leads to Main Street.

Tank yard of Lewis Army Museum
Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Swim at Summers Cove

Summers Cove is along the vast shorelines of American Lake.

It deserves mention on this list because it’s a memorable getaway for those who want a relaxing swim.

Few places along American Lake can offer the same relaxation as Summer Cove, along New York Avenue, southwest of American Lake Park.

It’s a quaint portion of the lake with a sandy beach, complete with splash pads and playgrounds for the kids.

During the summer, many ice cream trucks visit the vicinity to help you cool down as you wade in its shallow waters.

Overall, Summers Cove is a beautiful all-around family area representing American Lake’s beauty.

This place is in Tacoma, Washington, 15 minutes from Lakewood.

Final Thoughts

If you’re unaware of its beauty, Lakewood might come across as an unassuming city in Washington State.

After all, most visitors prefer going to the world-famous Seattle just close by.

However, the city is filled with gorgeous natural wonders, including quick access to one of the country’s great volcanoes.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Lakewood!

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