Ideas & Inspiration for Staying “Social & Distanced” During Winter in Pierce County
If you’re familiar with our winters here in the Pacific Northwest, you know that the weather can be pretty gray and drizzly! And, as a result of safety measures surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to find new, creative ways to stay social while keeping our distance to make sure our loved ones stay safe.
Here are just a few ideas we have for staying social and distanced this winter right here in Pierce County:
Pierce County Dining with the Best Outdoor Options
Dining out is one of the biggest things that people are missing in recent months. And of course, if you’re going to dine outside your home, we strongly recommend following local safety guidelines. As we’ve seen in the past year or so, rules and restrictions surrounding dining can change fast. Information found online about hours of operation or seating availability may not be accurate (restaurants are doing their best to keep up!), so it’s always a good idea to call in advance to see if a place will be open and able to accommodate your party. Another tip is to double check the social media profiles of your favorite eateries—many local restaurants and bars have been great about posting daily updates on Facebook and Instagram about their hours of operation and available services.
All that being said, Sue Kidd (well-known local restaurant critic and food editor for The News Tribune from 2004 to 2019) has a fantastic resource titled “60+ Restaurants With Covered, Heated Outdoor Dining in the Tacoma Area” on her website DinePierceCounty.com. You’ll find helpful links to menus, and perhaps most importantly, a list of the outdoor features you can expect at each restaurant (such as whether or not an area is heated, covered, and if there are any other special features).
We asked our agents for tips on the best places for outdoor dining during winter in Pierce County, and Adriatic at Oakbrook in Lakewood was a favorite spot to dine while distanced. Adriatic has a great covered outdoor space with delicious food, and we hear it’s rarely busy. You can play a round of golf (an excellent social + distanced activity, we might add!) and enjoy a cocktail and dinner after. Win, win!
Farm 12 in Puyallup is another spot where you can enjoy an expansive patio in a cozy setting, and they even have “igloos” set up for the winter. Farm 12 is especially incredible because it is run through Step by Step, a nonprofit that helps mothers. (We interviewed Step by Step’s CEO, Krista Linden, in our Meet the Neighbors series!)
And of course, you can always support local restaurants by ordering takeout and delivery.
Staying Cozy with Our Favorite Fire Pits in Pierce County
When the temperature drops, finding an outdoor spot with a firepit is the perfect way to stay cozy and spend social + distance time outside this winter. If you have the space at home to safely build a fire pit (if you don’t already have one), you can build a roaring fire to stay warm alongside on chilly nights right in your backyard (and you can roast hot dogs and marshmallows to enjoy with people from your household!). Setting up a fire table on a deck or patio is another great way to get some warmth when you’re spending time outdoors.
Camping is another fun, memorable way to spend time in the great outdoors, and you’ll find fire pits at many campsites in Pierce County. If you’re not afraid of bundling up a bit, winters in the Puget Sound area are often mild enough that camping isn’t out of the question when it comes to enjoying a mini vacation. And, one of the best things about living in Pierce County is how we’re surrounded by natural beauty. We really don’t have to go far when we want to set up camp for the weekend!
Nestled right on the shores of the Puget Sound, the 237-acre Penrose Point State Park in Lakebay on the Key Peninsula offers lots of outdoor activities, including camping (with fire pits that’ll help you stay warm), hiking and mountain biking trails, amenities for fire circles, and much more to enjoy during the winter.
Another excellent camping option awaits at Dash Point State Park. This 383-acre park in Federal Way is actually technically in King County, but it is practically in our backyard here in Pierce County (it’s just minutes from the Browns Point neighborhood in Northeast Tacoma) and it sure makes camping easy. In addition to camping, winter months offer the potential for exploring trails via hiking and biking, kayaking, beach exploration, and more.
Of course, Mount Rainier National Park is also located in Pierce County. This area can be trickier to navigate during the winter depending on where you want to go, but there are hundreds of campsites to enjoy, and even places where you can buy firewood in the park.
And a quick reminder: you must check with local city guidelines and/or campground personnel about local fire requirements and potential burn bans.
On another note, there are several restaurants/bars in Pierce County that have great outdoor areas with fire tables (and we imagine many eateries will be adding these to help customers stay cozy during our colder months!).
We also asked our agents what a few of their favorite local spots are for outdoor dining right now. Cooper's Food & Drink in Tacoma was a definite favorite, and right now you can find spacious outdoor seating that’s covered and heated, plus great food, cocktails, and daily happy hour specials. (Do note that this is part of the bar, so it’s only 21+).
The Y Sports BAR & GRILL in Spanaway has a huge fire pit and propane heaters, The Social Bar & Grill in Tacoma has several fire tables and propane heaters, and Spud’s Pizza Parlor in Tacoma also has a fun outdoor area with fires to gather around. (Keep in mind this isn’t an exhaustive list—there are most definitely more!)
Pierce County Parks with Picnic Shelters
We’re known for our rainy days here in the Pacific Northwest, and sometimes it seems like the weather can go from sunny to drizzly within seconds. This means if you’re planning a picnic, be sure to bring an umbrella, or just plan for rain and find a covered picnic shelter at a public park!
Many picnic shelters that are usually available to rent are not currently accepting reservations due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, this means that you’ll find many of them still just open as usual for public use on a first come, first served basis.
Here are just a few larger parks in Pierce County with covered picnic tables:
- According to AllTrails.com, Wapato Park in Tacoma has 3 covered picnic shelters available
- Spanaway Lake Park has 5 covered picnic shelters
- Bradley Lake in Puyallup has a covered picnic shelter
- Gig Harbor Viewpoint has a picnic shelter (4 tables under the shelter + 12 outside the shelter)
- Wildwood Park in Puyallup has 12 covered picnic shelters
- DeCoursey Park in Puyallup has a picnic shelter
- Veterans Park in Puyallup has picnic shelters
And you’ll find many other parks with covered shelters in Tacoma here.
More of Our Favorite Outdoor Adventures in Pierce County
If you need more inspiration for outdoor activities in Pierce County where you can stay social + distanced, our blog is brimming with ideas for how to get out and about in Pierce County. We’ve linked several of our favorite blog posts below, and as you check them out, just keep in mind that many of the places we mention may be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, so just be sure to plan in advance so things are open when you arrive!
- 6 of Our Favorite Dog Parks in Pierce County
- 9 Tips From Locals on Where to Fish in Pierce County
- How to Make the Most of a Visit to Chambers Bay: 7 Things Not to Miss
- 11 of Our Favorite Places to Sled, Ski & Snowboard in the Winter Near Pierce County
- Our Favorite Local Winter Getaways
- 13+ Getaways & Staycations Pierce County Residents Need to Know About
- Get the Inside Scoop on Lakewood’s Most Popular Lakes
- Tips From Locals on Walking & Running in Ruston/Old Town
- 5 Ways to Take Advantage of Living Near the Water in Tacoma
- Be Sure to Take Advantage of These 4 Unique Parks in South Tacoma
- Dust Off Those Clubs: It’s Time For Some Golf At Our Favorite Courses!
- Get Ready for Outdoor Activities in Gig Harbor & the Key Peninsula
Would you like to continue exploring Pierce County? Take a moment to check out our neighborhood guides!