Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Vacation Travel Guide
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium showing marine life

Visit a red wolf habitat, watch polar bears swim and see elephants in a simulated forest environment at this unique zoo and aquarium.

The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is home to one of the Northwest's most comprehensive collections of regional and international animals. Learn how this unique facility has helped to save the country’s red wolf population. Explore exhibits that recreate environments in Southeast Asia, the Arctic tundra and the Andes Mountains. Touch stingrays and small sharks in the South Pacific Aquarium.

Stop at the zoo’s Arctic Tundra exhibit to see polar bears swimming in a saltwater pool. This exhibit simulates a coastal environment similar to Point Hope in Alaska. Look for Arctic foxes, large muskox and reindeer.

The Asian Forest Sanctuary is an incredible 5-acre (2-hectare) complex that recreates a southern Asian environment. Head to one of the many viewing points to look for clouded leopards, a type of wildcat naturally found in the Himalayan foothills. Spot white-cheeked gibbons, Malayan tapirs and Indian crested porcupines.

Watch brightly colored fish swimming in the facility’s massive South Pacific Aquarium and catch one of the daily shark-feeding sessions. Find the North Pacific Aquarium to see ratfish, salmon and jellyfish. Interact with more than 100 budgies in the open-air, walk-through Budgie Buddies exhibit and go for a fun camel ride.

Learn how the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium was instrumental in the recovery of the red wolf, which was facing extinction in the late 20th century. Due to ongoing efforts by this facility and other organizations, the red wolf population has grown from 14 to over 250.

Visit during the holiday season to see the zoo’s famous Zoolights event, during which over half a million lights illuminate the grounds. The decorations include 3-D animal light displays, such as a 22-foot (7-meter) wide rock crab.

The remarkable Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is located within Point Defiance Park, about 7 miles (11 kilometers) from the center of Tacoma, Washington. Ample parking is provided at the facility as well as next to the Point Defiance Park entrance.

Get up-close with more than 300 different animal species at this imaginative zoo and aquarium.

Top Hotels Close to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

The INN at Gig Harbor
The INN at Gig Harbor
3 out of 5
3211 56th St. NW, Gig Harbor, WA
The price is $124 per night from Dec 5 to Dec 5
Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Grandview Forest Park, Skansie Brothers Park, and Harbor History Museum. Performance Golf Center ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (971 reviews)
"The facility entrances could be better lighted at night. Confusing to locate especially when fog or a rainy night even while using a GPS. Hotel and staff great. My place to stay wile visiting Gig Harbor. Regards R F lynn"

Reviewed on Nov 22, 2021

The INN at Gig Harbor
Eagles Nest Brand New Construction
Eagles Nest Brand New Construction
Tacoma, WA
This family-friendly Tacoma vacation home is located on the waterfront, within a 5-minute walk of Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, Point Defiance Park, ...
5/5 Exceptional! (1 review)
Ruston/Tacoma 12/2020
"A brand new property located extremely close to the Point Defiance entrance and minutes from the new Point Ruston developments, including the soon to come Point Ruston Farmers' Market. We had a great first trip to the Tacoma area and the Owner/Manager was outstanding and extremely helpful. We really ..."

Reviewed on Dec 30, 2020

Eagles Nest Brand New Construction
Vashon Waterfront:  Great Views of Forest & Sea - Cozy, Sunny, Seaside Cottage
Vashon Waterfront: Great Views of Forest & Sea - Cozy, Sunny, Seaside Cottage
Vashon Island, WA
Situated by the ocean, this romantic cottage is 2.3 mi (3.7 km) from Owen Beach and 2.7 mi (4.4 km) from Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Fort Nisqually Living ...
4.9/5 Exceptional! (34 reviews)
Sweet cottage with a beautiful view
"Can’t say enough great things about this property. Cozy, comfortable and in a perfect location. Owner was very helpful throughout our stay."

Reviewed on Oct 20, 2021

Vashon Waterfront: Great Views of Forest & Sea - Cozy, Sunny, Seaside Cottage
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Plan a trip to see Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

The Oxford by Kasa
The Heathman Hotel

Reviews of Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

4.3

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
161
5 - Excellent 48.493975903614455%
4 - Good
127
4 - Good 38.25301204819277%
3 - Okay
38
3 - Okay 11.44578313253012%
2 - Disappointing
4
2 - Disappointing 1.2048192771084338%
1 - Terrible
2
1 - Terrible 0.6024096385542169%

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveler

Jun 17, 2019

Lots of animals were not available to visit.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 21, 2019

We didn't go to the Zoo or Aquarium. We drove through the park which is absolutely gorgeous.

5/5 - Excellent

Mike

Nov 26, 2018

Awesome Zoo! 10/10 would recommend you go. My wife and I went on a Sunday, around 10:30am. We got to see 90% of the animals eat their lunch, which was great! Great for children of all sizes and for anyone who just enjoys a good time.

2/5 - Disappointing

Verified traveler

Oct 12, 2018

good luck parking!!

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveler

Oct 9, 2018

Very small. Not much to see at aquarium

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Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

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Best Lodging Options Near Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Secret Garden Bed & Breakfast
Secret Garden Bed & Breakfast
3 out of 5
1702 Narrows Drive, Tacoma, WA
The price is $122 per night from Dec 4 to Dec 4
Secret Garden Bed & Breakfast
Eagles Nest Brand New Construction
Eagles Nest Brand New Construction
Tacoma, WA
Eagles Nest Brand New Construction
The INN at Gig Harbor
The INN at Gig Harbor
3 out of 5
3211 56th St. NW, Gig Harbor, WA
The price is $124 per night from Dec 5 to Dec 5
The INN at Gig Harbor
Vashon Waterfront:  Great Views of Forest & Sea - Cozy, Sunny, Seaside Cottage
Vashon Waterfront: Great Views of Forest & Sea - Cozy, Sunny, Seaside Cottage
Vashon Island, WA
Vashon Waterfront: Great Views of Forest & Sea - Cozy, Sunny, Seaside Cottage
Clam Cove Cottage on Southern Vashon Island Beachfront
Clam Cove Cottage on Southern Vashon Island Beachfront
Vashon Island, WA
Clam Cove Cottage on Southern Vashon Island Beachfront
"New Listing "Panoramic Water Views Close to Town
"New Listing "Panoramic Water Views Close to Town
Gig Harbor, WA
"New Listing "Panoramic Water Views Close to Town
Hotel Murano
Hotel Murano
4.5 out of 5
1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma, WA
The price is $132 per night from Dec 26 to Dec 26
Hotel Murano
Perfect Getaway overlooking the Puget Sound, Close to Ruston Point and UPS
Perfect Getaway overlooking the Puget Sound, Close to Ruston Point and UPS
Tacoma, WA
Perfect Getaway overlooking the Puget Sound, Close to Ruston Point and UPS
New listing! Family-friendly home w/ full kitchen, grill, deck & WiFi!
New listing! Family-friendly home w/ full kitchen, grill, deck & WiFi!
Tacoma, WA
New listing! Family-friendly home w/ full kitchen, grill, deck & WiFi!
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.