Titlow Park & Lodge
8425 6th Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98465
Open ½ hour before sunrise
Close ½ hour after sunset
2019 Sprayground Hours
10 am- 8 pm
May 25- Sept. 2: Open daily
Sept 7-29: Open weekends
Titlow Park is a large grassy flat park located near a lagoon and Puget Sound at the base of 6th Avenue. The park is 75 acres.
The extensive beach frontage and estuary lagoon serve as the focal point to park visitors.
Other site amenities include tennis and basketball courts, playfields, trails, sprayground, playground and picnic areas.
The historic Titlow Lodge, formerly the Hotel Hesperides, constructed in 1911 is a central feature of the park.
Parking: Yes – designated for Park
Water Fountain: Yes – located near restroom
Surface: Wood fiber
Swings: Yes – (1) high back support swing
Ground Play: Equal number of ground and elevated play; Ground arch
Adaptive Play: Transfer system only
Sensory Play: Music, Manipulatives, Imagination
Play Tables: None
Shade: Limited, shelters near playground area
Accommodations: Tables and benches near playground
Sprayground: Yes – water spray feature with zero depth access
Since the creation of a Master Plan for Titlow Park, a variety of improvements have been made, and more are still to come.
Titlow Lagoon Restoration Project
The BNSF Railway Foundation has donated $25,000 to the nonprofit group that plans to restore Metro Parks’ Titlow Park lagoon as a potential refuge for juvenile salmon.
If you see a seal on the beach, give it room – at least 100 yards. It’s the law! Dogs should be leashed and kept away.
Harbor seals utilize shoreline locations as resting places for several hours every day to regulate body temperature, interact with other seals and sleep. Chasing, tormenting, molesting, capturing or feeding these animals is harassment and is prohibited.
If you see a marine mammal being harassed contact NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline (1-800-853-1964).
If animal has been on the beach for 48 hours or is clearly in distress (injured) contact NW marine Mammal Stranding Network (1-800-853-1964).
The Hotel Hesperides lived large in Tacoma, Washington during its heyday between 1911 and 1923. Notable Tacomans were invited to a formal dinner and dance on opening night in the summer of 1911. Today, most people living in Tacoma have no idea of the history of the wooden, chalet style building sitting near Titlow Beach at the end of Sixth Avenue.
In 1903, Aaron R. Titlow, an Ohio born lawyer living in Tacoma, purchased the northern half of the Wilton donation Land Claim (including most all the property between Sixth Avenue and Nineteenth Street). Previous to this, Puyallup and Nisqually Indians used this land with its beautiful views as a campsite.
A secluded western spot far from the downtown hub of the city, Titlow’s beach was a wonder to behold. Views of the Olympic Mountains, Fox Island and the Puget Sound dominated the skyline. Aaron R. Titlow dreamed of making this spot a destination.
Titlow’s dream became a reality in 1911 when he opened the only tourist and summer hotel on tide water in the state of Washington. The Swiss chalet styled hotel was designed by architect Frederick H. Heath who also designed Stadium and Lincoln High Schools, the former National Realty Building (currently Key Bank Downtown Tacoma), and the Central School Building. The cost was $50,000 and for his money, Aaron H. Titlow had a hotel with 3-1/2 stories, 30 guestrooms, a formal dining room, billiard room, barber shop and a ladies parlor.
Many guests from Seattle were drawn to the resort. They would arrive by steamer, which would then go on to Shelton and Olympia. The round trip fare to Titlow was fifty cents. Another traveling option was by chauffeur. A separate building was available nearby for the chauffeurs to stay in The bedrooms and bathrooms wee upstairs and there were spaces below for the limousines.
Fully self-supporting, Titlow supplied his hotel with fresh milk, eggs, chicken, vegetables, fruit and berries from his farm also located on the 200-acre property. A typical dinner would include chicken and dumplings, fresh vegetables, salad and homemade berry pie or cobbler.
Each guestroom had its own balcony, with a western view of the Puget Sound. Hundreds of steamer ships went by every day, much to the enjoyment of the guests watching from their rooms or from the veranda. Hot and cold water was piped into every bathroom in the building, which was anew design feature of its day.
The design of the dining room interior included the finest of china, silver and linens. Columns of Douglas fir supported the beamed ceilings and twenty-two Tiffany lantern lights illuminated the space. At the end of the room, a brick fireplace was lit if the weather turned chilly.
Surrounding the hotel were trees, tent camping sites and a parking lot. Outdoor diversions could be a game of tennis, a swim in the lagoon or a ride in a glass bottom boat. Activities at the beach included clam digging, crabbing, beach combing and fishing. Boat rides on “The Lady of the Lake” or “The Folly” could go across The Narrows to Wollochet Bay, Day Island, or one of the other inlets. A popular attraction for the children was the Ostrich Farm, located nearby. The giant nine foot high birds would run around to the delight of the children and the plumes were a special favorite of the ladies.
Hotel Hesperides also served other uses. during World War I officers and their families were quartered there and in the off season, young bachelors made the hotel their home.
Although Hotel Hesperides was a fine destination spot with multiple functions, by the early 1920’s it was no longer a profitable operation. Whether it was the war years or an ending of an era, Aaron R. Titlow’s dream started to lose the public’s interest. Titlow died in 1923 and the hotel closed.
In 1926 The Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma acquired the property and in 1928 the Hotel Hesperides reopened as the Titlow Beach Lodge. The lodge was closed from 1937-1941 during a Works Progress Administration park improvement project. During the project, the top 2 stories of the lodge were removed. After the remodel, part of the lodge housed the Assistant Superintendent of Parks and his family and another part was used as a rental facility.
Since 1974, Titlow Lodge has been a rental facility and headquarters for our Summer Day Camp Program with renovations in 1974, 1983, 1992 and 2011. Renovation work in 1992 included structural, mechanical and electrical upgrades. Renovation work in 2011 included new roof, window restoration, west veranda construction, new hardwood flooring, new lighting, new exterior doors and stairs, and painting inside and out.
The 58 acres surrounding the lodge is owned by Metro Parks. The extensive beach frontage and estuary lagoon serve as the focal point to park visitors. Other site amenities include tennis and basketball courts, playfields, trails, spraygrounds, playgrounds and picnic areas.