Home #WHERETONEXT USA The Wonders of Point Defiance Park in Tacoma

The Wonders of Point Defiance Park in Tacoma

Are you planning a visit to Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, which is a jewel in the crown of Metro Parks Tacoma? It is an extensive urban park that covers 760 acres and attracts more than 3 million visitors every year. There is a zoo with many attractions, an aquarium, beautiful beaches and bay views, a boathouse, the Fort Nisqually museum, an old-growth forest, and ferries to Vashon Island.

As there are so many things to see just spending a day will not be enough; therefore plan your trip to include the best attractions. This guide will cover what to do at Point Defiance as well as give you all other details about it.

Point Defiance Park Overview – Location, Parking & Hours

  • Street: 5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma WA 98407
  • Phone: (253) 305-1088
  • General operating hours for the park are from thirty minutes before sunrise until thirty minutes after sunset
  • Amenities: barbecues grills – boat lockers – drive-up boat launch – boat moorage – bike racks – fishing pier – picnic shelters – off-leash dog park – restrooms year-round/seasonal – trails – drinking fountains/free parking 

Point Defiance was originally established as a military reservation when the Wilkes Expedition passed through this area during the 1840s. According to some historical accounts, Wilkes forts here and across the narrows in Gig Harbor could “defy” the world. The area was never used for any military purposes and in 1888 became an authorized public park known today as Point Defiance.

Nowadays it remains one of the top attractions around Tacoma City. People come here to take delight in ancient woodland walks, gaze at Mount Rainier’s overhanging shores, or enjoy panoramic vistas from high cliffs. Bald eagles, woodpeckers, red foxes, mule deer, and such marine mammals as harbor seals, and seal lions are also here in abundance.

  1. Fort Nisqually (replica): an old Hudson’s Bay Company trading post with original buildings that have been restored and actors dressed in period clothes.
  2. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA), is the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Pacific Northwest.
  3. Owen Beach: a famous Tacoma beach full of driftwood and convenient for beach walking along its picturesque shoreline.
  4. Dune Peninsula: this place has been recently redeveloped into a wonderful reserve that offers walking as well as hiking tracks.
  5. Boating facilities – marina, boathouse, and Tacoma Yacht Club are all at your service.
  6. Anthony’s At Point Defiance: A waterfront restaurant featuring seafood from around the Pacific Northwest.
  7. Ferry Terminal at Point Defiance – ferries to Vashon Island
  8. Playgrounds at Point Defiance as well as tennis courts etc
  9. Several gardens like the Japanese garden

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

The zoo opened its doors in 1905 making it home to not only the biggest combined aquarium but also the zoo within Washington State, USA no other than Tacoma Zoo found on 29 acres of land located within Point Defiance Park itself; it has more than 9000 creatures representing some 365 different species coming from every corner of the globe there are about people visiting this destination each year thus makes among most visited tourist places by locals. 

Hence, they visit annually County statistics indicate that over 600 thousand visitors come out from their homes specifically going sightseeing End the quote new sentence incorporated above paragraph.

Instead, if defiance Park is best known because of some scenes during the night when most lights shine brightly illuminating everything Zoolight annual holiday light display since its establishment in 1988. It is the longest continuous illumination period in the region. The display is free, but a separate Zoo Lights ticket must be purchased for the walk-through exhibit.

When you check the calendar for the zoo events in Tacoma, you will find other occurrences like World Tiger Weekend and Pride Celebration. You should also consult PDZA’s map of the Tacoma Zoo.

Point Defiance Zoo Exhibits & Attractions

There is so much to see and do at the zoo it can be overwhelming to know where to start! Here is a quick look at some of the main exhibits and zoo highlights that you won’t want to miss.

  • Pacific Seas Aquarium featuring sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, etc
  • South Pacific Aquarium with sharks, and touchable stingrays among others (reopening 2023)
  • Asian Forest Sanctuary is a 5 acre habitat consisting of a bamboo forest, waterfalls, tapirs, elephants, and tigers
  • Arctic Tundra
  • Red Wolf Woods
  • Rocky Shores featuring sea lions, seals, otters and seabirds
  • Budgie Buddies
  • Kids’ Zone contains meerkats, reptiles, goats…lemurs & amphibians.
  • Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater has animal shows.
  • Nature Play Garden (new in spring 2022!)
  • Art on display includes glass jellyfish as well as bronze statues.
  • Daily animal experiences as well as chats by zookeepers
  • Paul Titus Carousel ($2 per ride)

Point Defiance Zoo Tickets & Membership

  • Adult admission: $20 online/$23 at gate/$20 military
  • Youth (3-12 years): $15 online/$17 gate/$15 military discount available!

No need for separate tickets for the Tacoma Aquarium since admission into this area is inclusive of what’s paid to enter the zoo.

Any Point Defiance Zoo Free Day allows free entry to Pierce County residents who provide proof of residency. It usually happens once or several times a year when there are days with free admission.

The state provides discounts off ticket prices for Point Defiance Zoo as well as memberships to people receiving income assistance or participating in foster or kinship care programs.

To save money on zoo purchases and special events, get discounts on zoo-related items by joining Point Defiance Zoo memberships. A regular membership is free for admission to Point Defiance Zoo, 50% off Zoolights, a 10% discount at the Point Defiance Gift Shop, camp discounts, and early registration as well as free member-only events. Combo membership has these same things plus includes Northwest Trek discounts and free admission to it.

Tacoma Zoo members are charged $90 per individual and $165 for households with grandparents or other membership choices.

Point Defiance Zoo Hours & Location

  • Address: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, 5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, WA 98407
  • May 28 – Sept 5: 9 am -5 pm daily
  • Sept 6 – Sept 30: Mon-Fri: 9 am–3:30 pm; Sat & Sun:9 am-5 pm
  • Oct1- Dec14 : Thurs-Mon:9am-3.30pm; Tues Wed-closed
  • Dec15-Jan2: Daily from 9.30 am-3.30 pm

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum

As if a zoo, aquarium, beach, and marina were not enough to keep you busy, in Pt. Defiance Park there is also a living history museum that offers a unique interactive experience suitable for the whole family. The Hudson’s Bay Company outpost of Puget Sound is known sometimes as the “Point Defiance village” where Fort Nisqually stands today. 

This Tacoma landmark houses the Factor’s House and Fort Nisqually Granary which were relocated from present-day DuPont in what was once part of Hudson’s Bay Company buildings in the country dating back to 1843.

Fort Nisqually was an important international trading center exporting primarily beaver pelts but also livestock and crops which went to Alta California as well as the Kingdom of Hawaii and Russian Alaska.

To have the experience of living in Puget Sound in the 1850s, there are costumed actors and interactive displays as well as a museum.

Tickets, Hours & Location of Fort Nisqually WA

  • Location: Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, 5519 Five Mile Dr, Tacoma, WA 98407
  • Phone: (253) 404-3970
  • Hours: Daily from eleven am to five pm.
  • Tickets: $9 for adults; military personnel and seniors pay $8 while kids between four and seventeen years pay $6. Families having two adults and up to five children will part with $30.

What is Tacoma Like?

Tacoma, WA, offers a blend of urban amenities and natural beauty, making it an attractive location for those considering a move. The city boasts a diverse job market with key industries including military, healthcare, and education, despite a slightly higher unemployment rate at 7.3%. The cost of living in Tacoma is approximately 9% higher than the national average, which is relatively moderate compared to nearby Seattle.

The housing market in Tacoma is competitive, with properties often receiving multiple offers and selling rapidly. The median home value stands at around $492,800, reflecting a vibrant real estate sector that has been attracting new residents. 

Additionally, Tacoma’s cultural scene is lively, featuring numerous museums, a thriving music scene, and outdoor activities such as visiting the expansive Point Defiance Park. This array of attractions, coupled with the city’s economic opportunities, and as stated by lots of movers, has contributed to an increased interest in moving to the area.