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Point Defiance Park

Seattle + Tacoma Metro Area, Washington

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Point Defiance Park

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  • Point Defiance Park Botanical Gardens.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Botanical Gardens.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Botanical Gardens.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Rose Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Botanical Gardens.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park tennis courts.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Lodge Visitor Center (open weekends 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Lodge Visitor Center (open weekends 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Pagoda and Japanese Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Japanese Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Japanese Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Japanese Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Japanese Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Boat Dock.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Boat Dock.- Point Defiance Park
  • The main picnic and playground area in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • The main picnic and playground area in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • The main picnic and playground area in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • Rhododendron Garden in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • Rhododendron Garden in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Rhododendron Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Rhododendron Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Rhododendron Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Rhododendron Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Point Defiance Park Rhododendron Garden.- Point Defiance Park
  • Owen Beach and Promenade in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • View north toward Vashon Island from Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • Picnic area at Dalco Passage Viewpoint in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • Gig Harbor Picnic Shelter and picnic area in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • Gig Harbor Picnic Shelter and picnic area in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • View west to Gig Harbor and the Olympic Mountains from Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • View south to the Tacoma Narrows Bridges from Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • Fort Nisqually Picnic Shelter and picnic area in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • Fort Nisqually Picnic Shelter and picnic area in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
  • Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Point Defiance Park.- Point Defiance Park
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Diversity of features. Owen Beach. Fort Nisqually. Rhododendron Garden.
Cons: 
Weekend crowds.
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Region:
Seattle + Tacoma Metro Area, WA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Team

Point Defiance is Tacoma's park. In all aspects, Point Defiance Park is to Tacoma what Discovery Park is to Seattle, Washington Park is to Portland, and Golden Gate Park is to San Francisco.

With a total of 765 acres, Point Defiance Park includes manicured areas such as the Botanical Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, and Rhododendron Garden. Amenities include the Point Defiance Lodge Visitor Center, tennis courts, playgrounds, countless picnic and barbecue areas, picnic shelters, a 7-acre off-leash dog area, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, a marina, a boathouse, a paved promenade along Owen Beach that runs just under a mile, and the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum.

The park also features nearly 400 acres of pristine old-growth forest and Puget Sound shoreline that is home to mule deer, foxes, bald eagles, native Douglas squirrels, sea lions (winter only), and harbor seals. To explore this more "wild" northern end of the park, hike along the park's roughly 10-miles of primary trails, including the scenic Outside Loop Trail, or bike the appropriately named Five Mile Drive that encircles the entire park.

Interestingly, the park was originally preserved as a military reservation following the recommendation by Charles Wilkes, whose expedition during the early 1840s set out to map the Puget Sound. By 1888, however, the area had never been used for this original purpose, and U.S. President Glover Cleveland authorized the the land to be used as a public park. Since then, aside from its existing attractions, the park has also hosted a streetcar line, the Point Defiance Greenhouse (1901 through the 1920s), the Nereides Baths (Tacoma's first indoor swimming pool, 1906 through the 1930s), and Funland Amusement Park (1933 through the 1960s).

Reservations

All of the park's five picnic shelters (Main Picnic Shelter, Rhododendron Garden, Owen Beach, Gig Harbor, and Fort Nisqually) can be reserved between April 1 and September 30 up to one year in advance by calling Metro Parks Tacoma at 253.305.1010. Most of the shelters feature potable water, sinks, and electrical outlets. The Pagoda, Fort Nisqually, Rose Garden, and Zoo are also available for large group rentals.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

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(83 within a 30 mile radius)

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