Coming from Seattle and having gone to Woodland Park Zoo many times as a child and now as a mother, I thought, that little Tacoma zoo can't be much. WRONG!
Not only is this nestled in the beautiful Pt. Defiance Park, but it's built on a hillside that overlooks the water. The have pumped a lot of money into the zoo to make it world-class. I enjoy walking around, and it's super easy to get around. It's always clean too, which I appreciate. It's much more modern, open and clean than the dirty old Seattle zoo.
The amphitheatre is a great place for kids to learn new things about animals, and they have an aquarium right in the middle of the zoo! Granted, it's pretty small, but when you're small, you don't care.
The new KidsZone is FANTASTIC! My kids just love it there. I'm so glad that we have a membership there, since I feel that it's much more of a worthwhile investment than what we spent on the Seattle zoo. It's close, lots of FREE parking, easy to get around, stroller friendly (and they have great strollers to rent too), great exhibits, friendly staff, beautiful setting, and the biggest factor - my kids love it!