Top things to do at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

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Joint Base Lewis-McChord JBLM
A Thunderbird solo pilot performs the High Alpha during the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Airshow and Warrior Expo. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Tabatha McCarthy)

Just outside Tacoma, Washington, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) sits in some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. With two mountain ranges and the Puget Sound nearby, you’ll have no shortage of outdoor activities to indulge in on your off-time. It’s also close to Seattle, a city with no shortage of culture and entertainment to keep you busy. Here are seven top activities for service members stationed at JBLM.

If a PCS to this stunning post is in your future, make sure you check our out complete base guide here!

Here are some great things to do at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Explore the great outdoors

With the Cascade and the Olympic Mountains both nearby, take advantage of the phenomenal hiking in the JBLM area. Mount Rainier, the highest peak in the area, is only an hour away from JBLM by car. Just be sure to bring your winter coat, because there’s snow at the mountain’s higher elevations year-round.

The Pacific Northwest is known for its rain, but summers still have plenty of sunny days. If one of them happens to be your day off, make your way over to the Puget Sound beach town Steilacoom, a 10-minute drive from JBLM. Another option is to head out to the Pacific Ocean. Ocean Shores is a quaint little town right on the water where it’s fun to spend a day soaking up rays or tossing a frisbee around.

marymere falls near Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Sailors hike at Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Seth Coulter/Released)

Living on Puget Sound means plenty of options for getting out on the water. What better way to spend a day off than taking a relaxing ferry ride. Take a ferry from Steilacoom to Anderson Island or a gondola ride in Gig Harbor.

Drive a short hour and a half from JBLM, and you’ll find yourself at the wild and majestic Olympic National Park. This stunning park contains 73 miles of Pacific coastline, snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and rain forests all in one. It’s not an adventure you want to miss if you’re a fan of the great outdoors and jaw-dropping scenery.

Take in some culture

Make your way up to Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in the heart of Seattle for an excellent night of dinner and jazz. The venue is a well-known jazz spot with lots of big-name artists playing live music every day except Monday. With a reservation and a military ID, you’ll even get half-price admission on certain days of the week.

Foodies stationed at JBLM are in luck. The Seattle Culinary Academy’s restaurants offer coursed gourmet lunches for a steal. This is because they are prepared by the culinary students. With three different restaurants to choose from, you’ll be sure to be visiting a few times to get a taste of each.

Tacoma's Museum of Glass near JBLM
Fluent Steps by Martin Blank at Tacoma’s Museum of Glass

Tacoma’s Museum of Glass is one of the few glass museums in the world. The building design is breathtaking, as is the interior. Perusing the building, you’ll find four levels of glass-inspired architecture, outdoor plazas for enjoying the waterfront and mountain views, and reflecting pools to top off a truly aesthetic experience. Don’t miss the hot shop amphitheater, where you can watch expert glass artists in action.

Want to know more about JBLM? Here’s a look at its interesting history.