The Point Defiance Zoo is one of the best places to take kids in Tacoma. We’ve written about lots of zoo activities, but we’ve never done a post with zoo basics! If you’re new to the area or visiting Tacoma with your children, here are our best tips for how to, “Do The Zoo,” including how to save a few bucks, what to see, and when to go!
We know that many of you are zoo regulars, so please do leave a comment with your best tips, too!
- How to Save On Your Zoo Tickets: Residents of the City of Tacoma get one free zoo day a month. You do need photo id and proof of residence, such as a phone bill. Otherwise, you can save a few bucks by buying tickets in advance. There are sometimes bogo coupons in the Entertainment Book, and kids almost always get free coupons with local summer library reading programs. Otherwise, zoo discounts are very, very rare. We do suggest buying an annual pass if you’re not a city resident. They pay for themselves quickly. You can also use your membership to get discounts on special programming. Parking at the Point Defiance Zoo is free! Mark the dates in your calendar for all of the Tacoma Resident Free Days at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium!
2.How To Save On Your Trip and Souvenirs: We suggest you decide in advance if you’re buying extras once you get to the zoo. From the moment you approach the zoo there will be opportunities to buy all kinds of fun merch. Those outside the zoo are private vendors, and while their t-shirts are much cheaper, you should know that money you spend with them does Not support the zoo. The zoo has several penny pressing machines, and these are a great deal over other souvenirs. We do suggest spending a few bucks to feed the budgies and ride the carousel. The camel ride is short but worth doing once. How often do you ride a camel?
3.When to go: We think it’s best to go early in the day. Animals are much more active in the morning. If you go in the afternoon, you’ll find a lot of creatures having naps, and the budgies will be full. Alternatively, if you live closer and can go in the early evening, you may catch the animals at dinner time. Everybody wakes up for dinner! If you like a less crowded visit, go on a weekday.
4. How to get the most out of your visit: Use the map and schedule you get at the entry. There are free extras all day, like keeper talks and animal feedings, that can really enhance your experience.
5. What to see and do: Don’t miss petting the stingrays, feeding the budgies, and the touch tanks in the top part of the aquarium.
6. Where to go first: The area to the right after you enter is where to head first. We usually do-aquarium/penguins/monkeys/tigers/elephants and then end up back at the start where we decide what to see next. If there is a show going on, catch that in the theater straight ahead. If not, have lunch, and then decide if you want to go to the left-foxes, polar bears, arctic tundra-or hit the carousel and the meerkats/playgrounds/goat feeding. If your kiddos are running on fumes, the area to the left is more skippable, but you do want to see the lemurs and the meerkats. Do the playgrounds LAST (there are two), because your kids won’t want to leave. The carousel is by the exit, and it’s a nice, “Last stop.” GREAT photo ops!
7 Where to eat: Zoo food is not great. There are lots of places for a picnic, so consider bringing your own, or have a light snack and eat somewhere after-The Antique Sandwich Company is a good choice.
8. And Finally.….Point Defiance is HUGE, and has so much to offer beside the zoo. You won’t want to do more in one day, but do come back another time! If you’re one our local readers, be sure to also read about the great Critter Club at the zoo for preschoolers. You can get more information on the zoo and buy admission tickets online, here at their home page.
Did we miss your favorite zoo tip? Let us know!