All the Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Fort Nisqually
If the last time you visited Ft. Nisqually was on a fourth grade field trip, it’s time you got reacquainted. Summer is a great time to go, especially with all the events going on.
The first after hours 21+ Homespun Happy Hour is happening at the end of this month, on June 29th. But even if you don’t go during a special event, it’s a great place to visit.
We often drive by, taking the scenic route through Point Defiance after leaving Owen Beach, but Fort Nisqually doesn’t always capture enough of our attention to stop and go in. To their credit, it would be kinda hard to pull off historic accuracy with giant billboards hanging off the palisades.
So, to catch you up on all the fun stuff you’ve been missing out on, we put together some of the best reasons to stop by:
1. The most perfect picnic spot in the city
You may not think of a museum as the place to go on a sunny day but Fort Nisqually’s grounds are about as good as it gets around here. Do yourself a favor, pack a lunch, skip the crowded parking lot at Owen Beach, and go hang out on the wrap-around porch of the Factor’s House or the field around the orchard for an afternoon. Even if you don’t get to the other exhibits, this alone is worth the trip.
2. Special events
Throughout the year, the fort has everything from a birthday party for Queen Victoria to themed escape rooms. The aforementioned Homespun Happy Hour is going to be a good time, and the Brigade Encampment later in August is a spectacle you won’t want to miss.
3. Freshest chicken eggs in all of Tacoma
The fort keeps heritage breed chickens and they can only use so many eggs in the kitchen. These are about the most well kept chickens you’ll find anywhere around here with their own mini fort within the walls of Fort Nisqually and a mobile pen to move them around the courtyard. You can buy eggs in the visitor’s center just inside the entrance, no admission fee required.
4. Hang out with a blacksmith/baker/trapper/frontiersman
A good portion of us have been intrigued by Youtube videos explaining how to build a backyard forge or log cabin. Others may have lost an hour here or there clicking through Pinterest exploring heritage crafts and recipes that are just becoming popular again. It’s not often that we actually get to meet experts in all those fields though.
5. The interpreters aren’t weird
If you ever saw that South Park episode about the living history museum where all the employees obsessively stayed in character while the kids were held hostage on a field trip, it’s not like that. You can actually talk to them like normal people and they won’t treat you like a spaceman from the future if you pull out your phone to take a picture.
6. Actual meaningful history
Fort Nisqually isn’t just a wild west fantasy land. The fort played a big role in making Western Washington what it is today and came with some really interesting stories. The whole operation was a surprisingly cosmopolitan mix of Europeans, local natives, Hawaiian Kanakas, French-Canadians, Métis, and West Indians. The interpreters at the fort would be happy to tell you some of their stories.
Images by Sierra Hartman