Zoo Lights Tacoma

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Zoo Lights Tacoma is a much-awaited annual winter wonderland event that transforms the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium into a magical place of festive decorations and twinkling lights.

This Christmas light show offers visitors of all ages, from locals to overseas travelers, a memorable holiday experience filled with enchantment from mesmerizing light displays. It illuminates the entire venue with over 800,000 colorful and vibrant lights.

Zoo Lights Tacoma
Festival highlights

You can be amazed by curtain lights, net lights, icicle lights, rope lights, and meteor shower lights, forming a breathtaking symphony of illumination. But you should not miss the classic favorites, such as the Seahawks tree, giant tiger face, fame tree, giant Pacific octopus, narrow bridges, and Sasquatch. You can also walk through the tunnels of twinkling lights or take selfies with lit-up butterfly wings.

There are other activities and entertainment besides the light exhibition. You can visit the Picnic Pavilion and roast s’mores or munch some pudgy pies while warming around the fire. So, as you plan your next holiday trip, make Zoo Lights Tacoma part of your itinerary.

Zoo Lights Tacoma Dates (2023-2024)

Zoo Lights Tacoma typically runs from late November to early January. For the 2023-2024 event, the festival dates start from November 24, 2023, until January 1, 2024. Before the holiday season begins, mark these dates on your calendar.

You can invite your family members or favorite travel buddy to witness the Zoo Lights’ breathtaking displays of fairy lights, blinking Christmas lights, awe-inspiring animal-themed creations, and many other light installations. 

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The iconic Zoo Lights Tacoma occurs in Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium at 5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, WA 98407, United States. This zoo and aquarium are where you can find more than 9,000 specimens which represent 367 animal species. 

If it is your first time visiting Tacoma, WA, you can choose from different modes of transportation to reach the zoo lights venue. 

By Bus 

You can take the Pierce Transit bus to Zoo Lights Tacoma if you prefer public transportation. The closest bus stop to the zoo is located on Pearl Street, just outside the park entrance. From the bus stop, it’s a short walk to the entrance of Zoo Lights Tacoma.

Don’t forget to visit the Pierce Transit website or call their customer service for up-to-date bus schedules and routes.

By Car

The zoo lights venue is easily accessible by car. If you’re coming from Seattle, take I-5 South and follow the signs for Tacoma. Take exit 132A to merge onto WA-16 West toward Gig Harbor/Bremerton.

Continue on WA-16 West and take the exit toward 6th Ave/Highway 16 West. Then, follow the signs for Point Defiance Park/Zoo. You can find ample parking available at the zoo.

Rideshare Services

You can also use rideshare services like Uber or Lyft to get to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. All you need to do is open the rideshare app on your smartphone, enter “Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium” as your destination, and request a ride.

This option is convenient if you don’t want to drive or navigate public transportation.

Biking or Walking

Biking or walking to the zoo lights venue can be a fun and eco-friendly option if you live in the Tacoma area or stay nearby. The park has bike lanes and pedestrian paths, making it safe and accessible. But be sure to check the park’s website or local biking/walking maps for the best routes to the zoo.

Zoo Lights Tacoma

If you liked Zoo Lights Tacoma, you might want to check out these other amazing zoo lights as well:

Denver Zoo Lights

Hogle Zoo Lights

Zoo Lights Tacoma Festival Hours 

The zoo lights usually start from 4:30 PM to 10:00 PM. So, you have enough time to witness the different light installations that captivate everyone with their creativity and beauty. You also have the perfect moment to bond with your loved ones.

Each light exhibition offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience, from illuminated animal sculptures to dazzling light tunnels. The LED curtain lights add a touch of elegance and grandeur to the displays, creating a mesmerizing visual appeal. So, make sure to arrive at the zoo lights venue on time to experience all these amazing light installations.

Cost to Visit the Festival 

The zoo lights admission is available on timed online tickets only. Check out the ticket prices below:

Mon to Thu Ticket 

  • Member Price: $7
  • General Price: $14

Fri to Sun Ticket

  • Member Price: $9
  • General Price: $18

2 and Under Ticket

  • Member Price: FREE
  • General Price: FREE

You can take advantage of the FREE parking. But please note that Wild Access discounts are unavailable for Zoo Lights Tacoma. Also, Aquariums are closed during the festival of lights.

Weather and What to Wear 

While you are excited to experience the activities in the Zoo Lights, bringing the proper clothing is recommended. This ensures that you will stay comfortable and safe throughout your visit. Also, you need to be familiar with the weather in Tacoma, WA. 

If you visit Tacoma in November, expect the weather to be very rainy and chill. The average daytime temperatures are in the low 10s C (low 50s F). 

In December, the city becomes very rainy and brisk. In most cases, expect single digits C (40s F) average daytime temperatures.

As you travel to Tacoma in January, the weather remains very rainy and brisk. So, you can experience single digits C (high 30s F) average overnight temperatures. 

When getting ready for your zoo lights visit, prepare the following:

  • Mittens or light gloves 
  • Fleece 
  • Warm jeans or pants 
  • Extra socks
  • Coat or jacket 
  • Rain pants 
  • Light or heavy skirts 
  • Long sleeve blouses or shirts 
  • Waterproof footwear 

Where to Sleep

Note that there are no specific accommodations within the Zoo Lights venue, but here are some of the top recommended places to sleep in the surrounding area:

  • Silver Cloud Inn – Point Ruston Waterfront

This accommodation is located in the picturesque Point Ruston development. It offers modern rooms with stunning waterfront views. You can enjoy various amenities such as a complimentary breakfast, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and proximity to different dining and entertainment options.

  • Hotel Murano:

You can find this hotel in downtown Tacoma. It provides luxurious accommodations and is famous for its stunning glass art collection. The hotel also features stylish rooms, a fitness center, a spa, and an on-site restaurant.

  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tacoma Downtown

This accommodation is positioned near the Museum District and offers comfortable rooms with modern decor. You can use various amenities, including a complimentary breakfast buffet, a fitness center, and an indoor pool.

  • Best Western Plus Tacoma Dome Hotel: 

This hotel is adjacent to the Tacoma Dome, providing convenient access to the downtown area and attractions like the Museum District. It offers comfortable rooms, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and an on-site restaurant.

Where to Eat 

When it comes to delicious food, your taste buds will be satisfied with what Tacoma offers. Before or after visiting Zoo Lights, make sure to try the following food destinations:

  • Safari Snacks

Safari Snacks is a fantastic option for quick bites and snacks during your visit to zoo lights. They offer a variety of tasty treats such as popcorn, nachos, pretzels, and soft drinks.

  • Rhino Bistro

Located near the rhinoceros exhibit, this cozy eatery with a diverse menu. It provides a range of satisfying options, from hearty soups and salads to flavorful sandwiches and wraps. They also have a selection of beverages and desserts to complement your meal.

  • Wild Wonders Outdoor Grill

Wild Wonders Outdoor Grill offers a delightful dining experience amidst the magical atmosphere of the event. They specialize in grilled favorites like burgers, hot dogs, and grilled sandwiches.

More Things to Do in the Area

Whether you plan to visit with family and friends or explore on your own, Zoo Lights Tacoma is an experience that will leave you with beautiful and fun memories to cherish forever.

But you can also find plenty of attractions near Zoo Lights Tacoma venue, from outdoor adventures to cultural and historical explorations, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

  • LeMay – America’s Car Museum

If you are a car enthusiast, you will appreciate this extensive automobile museum, housing a remarkable collection of vintage and modern cars. It is also a perfect place to admire classic models, learn about the history of automotive innovation, and experience interactive exhibits.

  • Washington State History Museum

To learn more about the history of Washington State, visit this museum. It lets you discover the region’s Native American heritage, the Oregon Trail, and the industries that shaped the state. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits and interactive displays.

  • Tacoma Nature Center

This attraction is located within Snake Lake Park. It is a great place to connect with nature. Here, you can explore the various walking trails, observe wildlife, and learn about the local ecosystems through exhibits and educational programs.

  • Ruston Way Waterfront: 

The Ruston Way is a scenic waterfront promenade with stunning views of Commencement Bay. Enjoy the fresh sea breeze, stop by one of the restaurants for a delicious meal, or relax on the beach.

FAQ

1. What parking options are available for guests attending Zoo Lights Tacoma?

Answer: Point Defiance Zoo offers on-site parking for its guests. During the Zoo Lights event, parking can fill up quickly due to the event’s popularity. It’s advisable to arrive early or consider alternative transport options. On peak nights, additional parking solutions or shuttle services might be provided.


2. Is smoking permitted during the Zoo Lights Tacoma event?

Answer: To ensure the safety and enjoyment of all guests, smoking, including e-cigarettes, is not allowed within Point Defiance Zoo’s premises. Designated smoking areas outside the main entrance are available for those who wish to smoke.


3. Can I bring my pet to Zoo Lights Tacoma?

Answer: Pets are not permitted inside Point Defiance Zoo, including during the Zoo Lights event. However, service animals with proper identification are allowed to assist guests with disabilities.


4. Will there be food and beverages available during the event?

Answer: Absolutely! Various food and drink vendors are available within the zoo, offering a range of seasonal treats and beverages to enhance the festive experience.


5. Are there any items or belongings I should avoid bringing to the event?

Answer: Items such as large bags, glass containers, drones, and loud noise-makers are generally discouraged for the safety and enjoyment of all visitors. Checking the zoo’s official guidelines or website can provide more specific information.


6. Is Zoo Lights Tacoma wheelchair accessible?

Answer: Point Defiance Zoo is designed to be accessible for all guests, and the pathways used for the Zoo Lights event are wheelchair-friendly. Additionally, the zoo may offer wheelchair rentals for those who need them.


7. Are there additional costs within the Zoo Lights event beyond the entrance fee?

Answer: While the entrance fee covers access to the light displays, there may be additional costs for some attractions, activities, or experiences within the event. It’s a good idea to check ahead or budget for potential extra expenses.


8. How does the zoo manage events during adverse weather conditions?

Answer: Zoo Lights Tacoma is an outdoor event and typically runs rain or shine. However, in extreme weather conditions, certain sections might be temporarily closed or the event might see adjustments. Guests are encouraged to check the Point Defiance Zoo’s official communication channels for weather-related updates.

Sources:

https://pdza.org/event/zoolights/

https://facebook.com/PtDefianceZoo/

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