Hands down, Wright Park in Tacoma is one of the best parks in the city, right up there with the biggest park in town—Point Defiance. Wright Park is ideal for a leisurely stroll, feeding the animals or taking your kids to the playground, but it also has one special feature that makes it unique among all the parks here—the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory. The park is located between downtown Tacoma and the Stadium District, making it the best green space for those who live in the more urban parts of the city.
Wright Park was first established in the late 1800s with land donated by Charles B. Wright. Today, it is a 27-acre park that is unique among Tacoma parks. While there is no shortage of green spaces in this city and in the general area, Wright Park is more than simply a space and has many things to do within its bounds. It is possibly the most historic park around, and it features artwork and a botanical garden open to the public.
Things to Do at Wright Park
One of the most scenic areas is the duck pond, which has a fountain and islands in the middle of it, as well as a bridge at the center of the pond. Many of the park’s paths go around or near the pond. Ducks, seagulls, and goldfish all live on or in the pond. While it's no longer legal to feed the animals at the park, you can still kick back on a bench or in the grass and enjoy the scenery. Along with the waterfowl, the squirrels of the park are friendlier than most and will often run up to you if you have any food they are interested in.
The park is also a good place to be active. The park's sports courts include basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and spaces for lawn bowling. For kids, there is a playground as well as a sprayground, which is a fun paved area with structures that spray mists and jets of water.
One of the cooler facets of Wright Park is that it is home to a number of statues and public artwork. If you enter from the Stadium District/North Slope Side on Division Street, you will see the Greek Maidens, perhaps the best-known statues at the park. Placed in 1891 and created by Italian sculptor Antonio Canova, these statues were once nicknamed Annie and Fannie. Two other statues of similar composition (sandstone and concrete) and also donated in 1891 are the Fisherman’s Daughter located at the pond and the Lions located at the South Yakima entrance to the park.
The park also has a few bronze statues. Not too far from the conservatory is a bust of Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright and poet, dedicated in 1913 and originally commissioned by the Norwegians of Tacoma. Near the community center in the southwest part of the park is The Leaf, a statue of a young girl and an old man created by Larry Anderson. Larry Anderson is the same artist who also made a sculpture called Trilogy located on the pond and showing three children running together.
The W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory is a botanical garden located at the center of the park and open to the public. With 300-500 plant displays up year-round, and with seasonal displays always changing, the conservatory is great to check out on a romantic stroll or as an educational place to bring the kids. It was built in 1907 and 3,000 panes of glass were used in the structure. It is listed on a number of historic registers from the city’s up to the national list. There is a suggested donation of $5 to enter, but no official enforcement of the donation most of the time, but the structure depends on donations to help fund operations.
Usual hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Wright Park is home to a few events and festivals throughout the year—the Tacoma Ethnic Fest in late July each year. This festival brings on international music, food and vendor booths, and lots of fun for all. Other festivals regularly held at the park include Music and Art in the Park and an Easter egg hunt in the spring.
The conservatory also hosts a few events throughout the year. Plant sales take place in spring (May) and fall (September) each year. On the second Sunday of each month, there is live classical music in the conservatory. There is also a Valentine’s Day event, Halloween event, and holiday event in December.
Where Is It?
Wright Park is located at 501 South I Street, Tacoma, Washington. The park is bordered by Division Street, 6th Avenue, S G Street, and S I Street.