Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Pacific Seas Aquarium, Point Defiance Park

The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
If you are a water nut like I am, you're going to love a visit to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium's new underwater playground, Pacific Seas Aquarium. 

Recently opened last fall on Sept. 7, 2018, this long-awaited addition to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is a thing of beauty and a treat for all ages.

The Pacific Seas Aquarium is one of two aquariums in the Point Defiance Zoo in Point Defiance Park, in the North End of Tacoma, WA. 

The South Pacific Aquarium, also on the Zoo grounds, is home to 16 sharks, stingrays you can cuddle, and a tropical lagoon. 

If you are a shark fan, this 225,000 gallon exhibit filled with sandbar sharks, blacktop reef sharks, nurse sharks, a sand tiger shark and a Japanese wobbegong is definitely the place to be.  The South Pacific  Aquarium has always been a favorite of mine, so I was anxious to see the new Pacific Seas Aquarium.

Pacific Seas Aquarium, Point Defiance Zoo
The Pacific Seas Aquarium has been thoughtfully designed to bring the viewer up-close and personal with many species of underwater dwellers, including a plethora of jelly fish displayed in an eye-popping display, turtles and sharks that float overhead in a water tunnel and floor to ceiling glass structures that give the natives plenty of room to roam. 

There's even a glass bubble filled with glowing, 
floating jellyfish. 

The Pacific Seas Aquarium was designed with a nod toward ocean conservation. Water in the aquarium is pumped directly up the hill from the Puget Sound, 
which is not all that far away. 

Through a complex system of pipes, the water is warmed and filtered. It flows nutrients over the animals, is treated, then flows back into the Sound with no pollution and no waste. Pretty awesome, right? 

And it wouldn't be a Point Defiance Aquarium if there wasn't space for a little human-fish interaction. The Pacific Seas Aquarium offers a hands-on, up-close experience for those brave souls who desire to stroke a bumpy sea star or the spiky skin of a sea urchin. 

The tidal pools are backed by a giant map of the Puget Sound and there's a comfy bench for weary parents. Children and adults alike will delight in this sensory experience and there's always a knowledgable staff person nearby to fill you in on the secret tidbits of tidal life.

Don't miss the fantastic sand sculpture on the zoo grounds designed and carved by sand artist, Jeff Strong. It is breath-taking!

Looking for a nice bite to eat nearby? My favorite is Anthony's which at the bottom of the hill at the Point Defiance Park entrance. Great fish and chowder. Just follow the ferry traffic and stay to the left. 

Oh, and one more thing, don't miss the multiple, beautiful  gardens when you visit Point Defiance Park! You'd better make a day of it!

April is Tulip Time at RoozenGaarde!

The Gardens at RoozenGaarde
If it's April in the Northwest, 
it's time to celebrate spring with a spectacular explosion of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and multitudinous flowering bulbs. 

You're in for a visual feast!

Just a quick trip north of Seattle 
on I-5 will bring you to the fertile farmlands of the Skagit Valley and nearby La Conner, where flowering bulbs are the stars of spring.

I visited the first week of April when the weather was beautiful and the bulbs were blooming at about 10%. Some varieties were in full bloom and others were holding out for a little more sunshine. The skies were clear and we had a full-on view of beautiful, snow-covered Mount Baker.

Hyacinth Bulbs
Sweet Hyacinths
One of the perks of visiting early in the festival was that the fields are blanketed in yellow and white from the gorgeous daffodils. So, you may not get the amazing array of colors that tulips famously give, but the sweetness in the air from hyacinths, daffodils and tiny muscari flowers (grape hyacinths) is heavenly!

After driving around the well-marked tulip route to take in the fields of daffodils, we headed for our favorite display gardens at RoozenGaarde

Fields of Daffodils at RoozenGaarde
RoozenGaarde is the grand dame of the tulip world. Established in 1985 by the Roozen family and the Washington Bulb Company, RoozenGaarde stands as the largest bulb company in the world, blanketing the fertile Skagit Valley with more than 1000 acres of field blooms and 16 acres of greenhouses. That's a lot of blooms! Flower varieties are labeled throughout the garden for easy ordering. Bulb catalogs are available throughout the garden. A discount is offered for orders placed at the gardens. RoozenGaarde is open from 9:00 am - 7:00 pm everyday throughout the Tulip Festival. there is an admission during the bloom period - $10.00 on weekends and $7.00 on weekdays ($1.00 off with Military ID) and did I mention that parking is FREE?

Every fall, the gardens at RoozenGaarde are planted with
RoozenGaarde Windmill, Skagit Valley
around 300,000 flowering bulbs in preparation for the spectacular early spring display. Visitors from all over the country and around the world visit these beautiful gardens to take in the flowers and gift shop. There is a convenient snack shop with espresso, fudge and ice cream, as well as tables and grassy lawns for a do-it-yourself picnic. 

Fields of Daffodils at RoozenGaarde, Skagit Valley
Guests are also welcome to stroll through the nearby flowering fields (it was all about daffodils when we visited) for a spectacular view of the acres of blooms. Make your plans for an overnight spring jaunt to the Skagit Valley during tulip time in April and you will have a lasting, colorful memory for a lifetime. 

RoozenGaarde is handicapped accessible and offers plenty of free parking. Flower varieties are labeled throughout the garden for easy ordering. Bulb catalogs are readily available and a discount is offered for orders placed at the gardens. 

RoozenGaarde is open from 9:00 am-7:00 pm everyday throughout the Tulip Festival. There is an admission during the bloom period - $10.00 on weekends and $7.00 on weekdays ($1.00 off with Military ID) and did I mention that parking is FREE? Nearby lodging and restaurants can be found in Mount Vernon and in the picturesque town of La Conner, WA. TIP - Beat the crowds and visit during the week!

Find more information about the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival on this link to their website.