courtesy Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Where to see living dinosaurs
Wait, aren’t dinosaurs extinct? Yes, but a few creatures survived that mass extinction 65 million years ago. Birds are the only living dinosaur descendants — think about that the next time you’re eating a drumstick! Other creatures living today that are related to dinosaurs include alligators and crocodiles, lizards, snakes and turtles.
Dinosaurs are in the reptile group, and this zoo is home to more than 85 species of reptiles, including alligators, lizards and snakes. The Reptile Zoo was founded in 1996 by a high school biology teacher turned reptile evangelist. You can pet a tortoise here and see critters like an albino alligator and a turtle with two heads.
Find it: 22715 State Route 2, Monroe
Cost: $9.95 adults, $7.95 for youth ages 5–17, $6.50 for tots ages 3–5, ages 2 and younger free
In winter our favorite spot at the zoo is the large aviary in the tropical rainforest exhibit. It’s indoors and toasty warm, but you do have to watch out for birds pooping overhead. If you’re searching for a more prehistoric-looking creature, check out the Komodo dragons, which also live in an indoor exhibit. They are the world’s largest lizards and distantly related to dinosaurs.
Find it:5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle
Cost: $15.50 adults, $10.50 for ages 3–12, ages 2 and younger free (winter season rates)
Sharks have been swimming since dinosaurs roamed the earth, and you can spy the sharks up close at the fantastic Pacific Seas Aquarium exhibit.
If you’re at least 8 years old and very brave, you can even swim with the sharks. Plus, PDZA has some nifty little reptiles and amphibians, including a green iguana, a black and white tegu, some frogs and a blue-tongued skink, among others.
Find it: 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma
Cost: $20–$22 teens and adults, $16–$18 for kids ages 5–12, $12–$14 for tots ages 3–4, ages 2 and younger free
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated for 2020.