Two for One in Tacoma; Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Sand sculpture in the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Photo credit, Michael Okawa.

So, my husband has been talking up the Seattle-Tacoma area for a few years now.  The schools are better than where my son and I were living.  There were more restaurants.  It’s closer to the ocean (read surfing) and ski resorts.  “You’ll love it.” He said, trying to convince me that Living in Washington would be sooooo much better than Northern California even if it would be more expensive.  (Ironically it is actually cheaper from what I’ve experienced so far.  But that is just my opinion.)

The one thing which really caught my son’s attention was his stepdad’s talk about The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.  My kid loves animals.  Probably more than he loves grilling.  And he was super excited about trying out the zoo cum aquarium’s middle school volunteer program.  But the zoo only accepts volunteer applications during a certain time of the year, and he wouldn’t have been able to apply until September.

Turtle at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Photo credit, Michael Okawa.

That was too long to wait.  So, of course the first thing we do the first day we are in Washington is head out to the PDZA (Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium).  And he was ecstatic.  While it isn’t as large as say, the San Francisco Zoo, which literally took us all day to walk through, PDZA was great fun.  We didn’t do any of the special encounters like feeding the budgies or riding the camels or the face-to-face shark dive.  It was still magical. 

My kid took dozens of photos and we spent probably more time than was strictly necessary cooing and awing over the new red wolf pups.  We also had so much fun in the Pacific Seas aquarium.  Turtles, sharks, jellyfish, and all the other beautiful creatures swam in an enormous tank two story tank.  I have always loved the ocean, but my son has never lived close to the ocean to experience what it is like to swim and dive with those creatures the way I did growing up.  Aquariums, zoos, and “animal encounters” are the closest he’s come to the breathless awe-inspiring majesty of the deep sea.

A few notes though. This facility is on the side of a very large and steep hill. Although there are ramps everywhere, it may be difficult for some individuals to walk the paths. And I would definitely want to carry a water bottle with me next time.

Elephant at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Photo credit; Michael Okawa.

Would I go here again?  Absolutely.  I had a delightful time, even if I did get lost on the way home.  One of my favorite things about my visit is how well landscaped the grounds are.  There are fun activities for children, and it’s very educational.  Just down the road is the Point Defiance Park which is full of gardens, the Five Mile Drive, and a few beach areas to explore.  It’s a great place to visit if someone is traveling through Tacoma.

My son was never able to join the volunteer program. September came a long and a new message showed up on the website that they weren’t accepting middle school volunteers. So sad.

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