Best of Tacoma 2015: Best Hidden Gem

Point Defiance Park

By Molly Gilmore on July 23, 2015

Point Defiance Park is often said to be the Nation's second-largest urban park. While that's just a myth, it is - at about 760 acres - among the Nation's biggest.

Those acres hold a lot of recreation options - enough to attract 3.1 million visitors each year. But even regular visitors might not have discovered everything there is to see and do. In addition to the things you might expect to find in a park - a playground, picnic shelters, tennis courts and an off-leash area for dogs - this is a park with a restaurant (Anthony's at Point Defiance) and even a high school (the Science and Math Institute).

Here's a guide to some of the park's main attractions:

Wide open spaces: The park includes a wide array of landscapes - from forests to beaches - plus formal gardens, including a rose garden, a Northwest native garden and a Japanese garden. While exploring the park, you might spot deer, ducks, sea stars and even chanterelle mushrooms.

Room to roam, and run, and ride: The park offers miles of trails for walking and running, and every morning, the outer loop of its Five-Mile Drive is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists only. (Cars are not allowed before 10 a.m. on weekdays and before 1 p.m. on weekends.)

Sea stuff: The park is surrounded on three sides by water, something few parks can boast. There are beaches along with a marina and fishing pier. You can go salmon fishing in season and rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.

POINT DEFIANCE PARK, open from a half-hour before sunrise till a half-hour after sunset, 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma, 253.305.1000,