Zoolights has been a Tacoma tradition for many years and continues to be one of the top Christmas light displays in the area. More than a half million tiny lights decorate the grounds of the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium starting just after Thanksgiving and continuing until after the New Year each year. Other fun events make a trip to see Zoolights even better, but make sure to wear warm, waterproof clothes as this event takes place in the winter in the Northwest!
This Tacoma Christmas lights display is located throughout the grounds of the Point Defiance Zoo in Point Defiance—a large park on a peninsula in North Tacoma. Point Defiance is also the location of the Taste of Tacoma in the summer.
There is an admission fee to get in. It is usually under $10, and is cheaper for zoo members or if you buy in advance at the zoo, the zoo’s website, or from participating local vendors. Children ages 2 and younger are free. A number of combo tickets are also available, offering one Zoolights ticket and one general admission to the zoo for half off.
The best part of coming to Zoolights is checking out the lights—take a stroll with some hot chocolate and view glittering lights in the shapes of animals and highlighting the shapes of trees along the walking paths. The flame tree is one of the most iconic repeat displays—a large tree decked out in pink lights. The atmosphere is surreal and magical and is sure to be a hit with children, but is often just as cool for adults—especially if you haven’t been to something like this before.
One of the most unique things to do at Zoolights is riding a camel. Be aware—the ride is not long or extravagant and there are often lines to ride the camels so show up early. But there are few other places (if any) in Tacoma where you can ride a camel so it may well be worth it! An antique carousel is also on the premises and offers rides during Zoolights.
Getting There and Parking
Point Defiance is accessed from its main entrance on Pearl Street. You can get onto Pearl anywhere between Point Defiance and S 19th Street and head north. This will lead you straight into Point Defiance. Once you’re there, follow the signs to the zoo.
If you are coming from north or south, take I-5 to I-16. Merge onto I-16 W. Take Exit 3 for 6th Avenue and then make an immediate right onto N Pearl Street. Take this to the entrance of Point Defiance. Follow signs to the zoo.
There is ample parking inside Point Defiance. The zoo has its own parking lot and you will pass additional parking on your way there.