Updated March 2017
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Quick-What do you do at Pt.Defiance?
If you answered, “Go to the zoo,” you’re right, of course, but Pt.Defiance has acres to explore, much of them largely unused. Today I’m going to tell you about the Native Garden and the Japanese Pagoda and some of the spots in between.
Now, a scramble around a garden may lack the, “Wow!” factor of elephant poop and Dippin Dots, but these are all free spots you’re likely to have to yourself this time of year.
The Native Garden is that spot you pass on your right just before the exit. It has a fence around it that gives it a permanent closed look, but I promise it’s open. It’s maintained by the Tacoma Garden Club, and it has different sections, each designed to showcase native plants. During the warmer months, it also has a running waterfall. It’s a great place to take your visiting inlaws in the spring. This time of year, there isn’t much to look at, but our boys had plenty of fun scrambling around the paths and exploring the gazebo.
When you’ve had your fill, you can run down the big, sloping lawn (cross the street carefully, of course) to check out the ducks at the ponds. It’s tempting to feed them, but it’s illegal and makes tons of poop, which is just gross. Instead, bring a bird book and try to identify them, or let your kids take pictures or try to count to them. Henry got to fifteen ten-y. Beat that.
In the Spring and Summer, you’ll want to ogle the gorgeous flower gardens next door, but right now, there is literally nothing to see there. If you walk across the street you’ll be at the pagoda and Japanese garden. The pagoda is only open when private parties rent it, but your kids will enjoy walking over the little footbridge and exploring the paths. See if they can find the little frog statue in the pond. You can follow trails behind to the marina or you can take the ones in the front that pass behind the tennis courts and lead to a little viewing gazebo. It’s the perfect place to watch ferry traffic or just enjoy one more million dollar view all by yourself.
If you prefer to stick to animals, the zoo is on its Winter schedule, which means you can go Thursday-Monday (special Tuesday and Wednesday openings during President’s week) from 9:30-4:00. It’s a great time of year to go. There are still animal encounters and those adorable tiger cubs. The only thing missing is the crowd! If you aren’t a pass holder, I’d give serious thought to investing in one. It will pay for itself in a couple visits. We use Christmas money from the in-laws to pay for ours.
I’ll have future posts about other less known areas of Pt.Defiance. I’d love to know the spots you consider hidden gems.
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