Tuesday, June 30, 2020

5 Ideas for a Safe and Fun Summer in Washington!

Hey everyone, it’s Megan!
I hope the summer has treated you well thus far, despite the restrictions we are all facing. I myself have found it challenging to keep busy, and I’m always looking for new things to do in the area. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some items off of my summer to-do list; some of which have been crossed off already, while others have yet to be explored. Taking the context of this summer into consideration, it’s important to tailor your activities to current safety guidelines, so the following ideas will all be social distance-friendly for that purpose. Because I’m writing this with a PLU audience in mind, I have specifically included activities that don’t require extensive travel from the general Tacoma area. So, without further ado – here are five ideas for a safe and fun summer in WA!

Rodeo Drive-In Theatre

Port Orchard, 43 minutes away from campus

The family-owned Rodeo Drive-In Theatre is Washington’s largest outdoor theatre complex, with 3 projection screens and a total capacity of about 1,000 cars! Although drive-in theaters are often perceived as a ‘blast from the past’, this activity has experienced a rediscovery of sorts in recent years, and today they are nearly as well-attended as back when our grandparents would go! Bring some friends, some lawn chairs, and pocket money for snacks!

I have yet to check this one off my list, but I am determined to make a night of it sometime this summer! The Rodeo Drive-In Theater is currently up-and-running, and in compliance with Phase 2 reopening guidelines. Gates open 7:30 pm Friday-Tuesday (closed on Wednesday and Thursday), and the show starts at dusk. Check out their website here for a weekly movie schedule, advance ticket purchase, as well as some more detailed information about what to expect. A night at the drive-in theatre will be a memory for the books, and the best part is that there are very few COVID-restrictions due to the nature of this activity; you are automatically socially distancing!

Northwest Trek Wild Drive/Wild Walk Experience

Eatonville, 35 minutes away from campus

The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is located in Eatonville, WA, and they are dedicated to conserving native Northwest wildlife and natural habitats. Under normal circumstances, Northwest Trek allows visitors to roam their parks and interact with the habitat, but in response to COVID-19 they are now offering alternative experiences; the Wild Drive and/or Wild Walk Experience!

The Wild Walk is the new, safe way to experience the Norwest Trek’s central exhibit area. It allows you to walk down a one-way path to see native wildlife like grizzlies, bald eagles, otters, cougars, wolves, and more – while staying safe, healthy, and socially-distanced. Some things to keep in mind: wear a mask, bring a water bottle, and they don’t take cash!

A map of Wild Walk experience at Northwest Trek.

The new Wild Drive is the other way to see Northwest Trek. This is a separate ticketed experience from Wild Walk, and it offers an hour-long tour of their facilities from the comfort of your own car! You tune into a specific radio-frequency to get the tour audio, and you meet bears, cats, canines, and so much more on the trip. You can order tickets online off their website here, and if you’re interested; act quickly! They seem to be going fast!

Anderson Island

Ferry departs from Steilacoom; Island is 20 minutes away by ferry

This is perhaps my most recent endeavor, as I took a trip to Anderson Island this past week. Anderson Island is the southernmost island in the Puget Sound, and is accessible by boat or a 20-minute ferry ride from Steilacoom. Although the island has a limited array of activities, you don’t need more than one; the old swimming hole. The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole, or Lowell Johnson Park, has two separate, cordoned off swimming areas – one for the “Big Kids”, and the other for the “Little Un’s”. The park features a floating “V” dock, water slide, sandy beaches, a sand volleyball court, and picnic areas. It is known as “The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole” by locals because of its historic origin as a gathering place for bathing before electric power was introduced to the Island in the 60’s. Today, it’s just a really good place to spend a summer afternoon.

Although there might be some concerns about social distancing, I wanted to include this idea after my own experience traveling to Anderson Island this week. The old swimming hole was not very crowded despite the amazing weather, and it was very easy to maintain social distancing as few people are spread out over a large area. Some features, such as the floating dock, are a little less distanced, so I’ll leave that up to your discretion. I had a really nice day on the island, however, and would highly recommend this hidden jewel to anyone looking for something to do nearby! You can buy walk-on tickets if you don't have a car, and remember to check the ferry schedule here to plan your trip ahead of time.    

Local Thrift Shopping

Thrifting adventures last weekend
Refresh your summer wardrobe on a budget! Although this idea is a little vaguer in terms of location, I would highly recommend hitting up some of your local thrift stores this summer. As a self-proclaimed shopaholic, I am always on the hunt for ways to renew my clothing selection, and thrift stores are by far my favorite way to do just that! Although thrifting may seem like a daunting task at first, it merely requires some patience and a good eye for potential in order for your shopping trip to turn into a success. I have countless finds from thrift stores that have now become staple pieces in my closet, and they were all under $5! I normally go thrifting on days that are a little overcast, and I give myself a small budget to work with, as well as a list of a few clothing genres to stick to. This adds a little personal challenge, and it prevents me from getting things I’m not actually looking for. Some of my personal favorites are Bargain World, Parkland Thrift Center (50% off on Saturdays!!!), Goodwill, etc. If you are looking for more upscale finds, I suggest going to thrift stores that are located in high-income zip codes; trust me, it works!

Take a Hike!

At least we tried :-)
Not a groundbreaking suggestion, perhaps, but after months inside; I think it’s worth a mention! I recall the last hike I went on, which was right around the start of quarantine. A couple of friends and I hiked Rattlesnake Ledge thinking that it would be a good idea for social distancing (surprise: we were wrong). With that in mind, I would suggest not choosing the most popular hike in the greater Seattle-Tacoma area, so hopefully you can learn from my mistakes! Washington Trails Association consistently updates their website with information regarding hiking in the time of coronavirus, which I will link here. Here are some things they say to keep in mind:
  •         Plan ahead: Aim for lesser-traveled trails, and pick a couple of backup trails in case your first pick is crowded. For a complete guide of hiking options in WA, check out WTA’s Hiking Guide!
  •        Practice physical distancing: When you see approaching hikers, give them a little “on your right (or left)!” to let them know you’re coming towards them. Give each other space, and cover your mouth when passing.
  •        Clean up: Respect public lands and communities by making sure that anything you bring with you is also brought back/thrown away properly. After all, Mother Earth is going through enough already!

Hiking is such a great way to soak up the summer while still being active, so I will definitely be giving some of our local trails a visit throughout the next few months!


Alright – I think that’s all I have for this time! I hope I gave you all some ideas for activities to try this summer, while still practicing social distancing in the process. We don’t have to be bored just because summer looks a little differently this year, and I encourage you all to make the most out of this time despite some restrictions. Stay safe, everyone!

-- Megan

Monday, June 15, 2020

What are some good foods around Tacoma?

Hi guys,
As some of you might know it, I am a huge fan of Japanese cuisines. And through my 6 years of living experience in Tacoma, I have found some great Asian restaurant around the area. These restaurants that I list below are considered good based on my standards, so feel free to give them a try when you are craving for Asian cuisines.

Around PLU - walking distance

I bet everybody is familiar with the area around PLU, so I will just list them out with less detail. 
Cheap teriyaki restaurants: Happy Teriyaki; Uni Teriyaki
Great food but not so expensive: Zen Ramen & Sushi Burrito; Farrelli's Pizza; Domino's Pizza
More expensive options: Trapper's Sushi; Marzano Italian Restaurant (require reservation)

Other than these restaurants, I've also heard that there are good foods in Marvel Food & Deli Grocery Shop.  This Russian grocery shop is a good place to shop for European ingredients; however, they also serves cooked food in the separated cafe area. Look for the Bakery sign and enter through the separate door on the left.
Here is the address: 301 133rd St S, Tacoma, WA 98444

Tacoma Area 

Dragon's Crawfish
Description: Great place to grab some seafood and share it with your friends! Their Cajun seafood boil is absolutely delicious. I dare you to try the dragon's breath spicy level!
Address: 750 S 38th St, Tacoma, WA 98418
Phone: +12533010020

Mandolin Sushi & Steak House
Description: This is a Japanese Teppanyaki (steakhosue) that offers great sushi. I've never tried their Teppanyaki yet, because the Salmon sashimi bowel that they offer is too good.
Address: 3923 S 12th St, Tacoma, WA 98405
Phone: +12533014969

Samurai's Japanese Steakhouse
Description: For me, Teppanyaki is more about performance, or the experience, rather than the food. The fried rice here, tho, is amazing. The average cost here is around $20.
Address: 3630 S Cedar St, Tacoma, WA 98409
Phone: +12534759000

Harvest Buffet 
Description: All you can eat with plenty of food choices. Go when you are hungry!
Address: 3121 S 38th St, Tacoma, WA 98409
Phone: +12534723888

Milk tea shops:

Bambu Tacoma

Description: Really good milk tea shop that offers varieties of Vietnamese drinks as well as some milk tea.
Address: 773 S 38th St, Tacoma, WA 98418
Phone: +12532123882

Share Tea (in Tacoma mall)
Description: A traditional Taiwanese style milk tea shop located in Tacoma Mall. (Btw, Tacoma Mall reopened on June 8th)
Address: 4502 S Steele St, Tacoma, WA 98409
Phone: +12535333483

Donut shop:

Krispy Kreme
Description: You should definitely try their original kreme donut! (High Caloric Warning)
Address: 4302 Tacoma Mall Blvd, Tacoma, WA 98409
Phone: +12534726888


Sushi Ari Japanese Restaurant 
Sushi Ari | Puyallup, WA – Art LoieDescription:  "The Best Sushi in Puyallup" as they said. This sushi restaurant opens at 3 pm in the afternoon. They have many different Japanese Donburi and many tasty sushi!
Address: 206 39th Ave SW, Puyallup, WA 98373
Phone: +12534462900


Mama's Pho
Description:  This is one of the best pho places to go to in Tacoma area. Their food is cheap but real good! Try out their Set 26 if you want some extra extra proteins.
Address: 9312 S Tacoma Way #150, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone: +12535822211

New Gangnam BBQ
Description:  A Korean BBQ restaurant that offers high quality BBQ buffet. They also have a lot of tasty Korean food here.
Address: 9104 S Tacoma Way, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone: +12535811200

Tacoma Szechuan
Description:  This is the only Chinese restaurant I know around the area. I serves decent Szechuan Chinese cuisines. I can't eat very spicy food, so I always ask for little spice.
Address: 9701 S Tacoma Way Unit 102, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone: +12535810102

Cho Dang Tofu (Alternatively: Ho Soon Yi Restaurant)
Description:  Both of these Korean restaurants are very good, but many of my friends consider Cho Dang Tofu to serve the best Tofu soup around the area. Ho Soon Yi Restaurant, however, have more food options. Their prices are about the same though.
Address: Cho Dang Tofu: 9701 S Tacoma Way #101, Lakewood, WA 98499
              Ho Soon Yi Restaurant: 8501 S Tacoma Way, Lakewood, WA 98499

Food Corner in Pal-Do World Market
Description:  Pal-Do World Market is a Korean grocery shop, and there are many small Korean restaurant in its food corner.
Address: 9701 S Tacoma Way Unit 102, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone: +12535817800

Milk tea shops:
Hi Bubble Tea
Description:  A milk tea shop that offers most of the "traditional" milk tea options that you can think of. It's quite sweet, however, so I recommend a 70% sweetness.
Address: 8510 S Tacoma Way Ste F, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone: +12533145308

T-Town Cafe
Description:  This Korean cafe that has the best shave ice around the area. They also have good beverage for you to enjoy.
Address: 8515 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma, WA 98499
Phone: +12535841524

Federal Way

Tokyo-ya Ramen
Description:  This ramen restaurant is kind of far away, but it is worth trying if you happen to be around the area. I think it has better ramen than Zen. The dinning environment is good.
Address: 31507 Pacific Hwy S, Federal Way, WA 98003
Phone: +12065926552

Bangkok Garden Street Food 
Description:  Delicious delicious Thai food. It's located right next to Tokyoya Ramen. So have fun choosing between these two if you enjoy both Thai food and Ramen. I recommend the Pad see ew noodle.
Address: 31509 Pacific Hwy S, Federal Way, WA 98003
Phone: +12539468833

85°C Bakery Cafe
Description:  A Taiwanese bakery shop that also offers good milk tea! I once bought 8 egg tarts and 2 cups of milk teas from them. Also located right next to Tokyoya Ramen.
Address: 31503 Pacific Hwy S, Federal Way, WA 98003
Phone: +12064292506

Share Tea
Description:  There is a share tea in Federal way too!
Address: 31217 Pacific Hwy S #B-101, Federal Way, WA 98003
Phone: +12065926029

Beautiful sunset in PLU

So that's about it for my recommendation of good restaurant around Tacoma. I hope these good foods can fill your stomach up properly, and make your day even better!~

Best wishes,
Bryan Yuan

Credits: Food images taken from Google