The one benefit of the west coast is that there is space between your neighbors and there is room to breathe. Seattle has no shortage of urban parks, so if you want to find where the locals go and the most photogenic parks in the Emerald City, travel to one of these 10 urban parks.
This iconic park is one of the most visited parks in the city. And once you see the view you’ll understand why. Catch a glimpse of the entire city, and if you’re lucky, Mount Rainier in the backdrop. West Highland Drive is one of the most beautiful streets in the city. The several-million dollar homes inspire the American Dream, only to realize that this craving is not achievable for peasants and the middle-class alike. Walk the entire West Highland Drive toward Marshall Park to overlook the Cascades, another a sunset hotspot.
Seattle Center is a cross between a public park, activity center and arts community. Events are held on the grounds here year-round, of which some are open to the public or paid events like the Tattoo or beer-tasting festival. When it’s dry, street artists and musicians flock to this park sharing their gifts to the locals and tourists alike. It’s also home to the Pacific Science Center, Chihuly Art Museum, Monorail, Key Arena, Ballet Center and more.
Alki is the Huntington Beach of Pacific Northwest. The sand is warm and the Sound is freezing, so don’t expect to swim, but sunbathe, bike or play your day away. During the summer, watch a semi pro volleyball tournament, but if that's not your thing, barbecue at one of the fire pits, rent a four-person bicycle or chillax with food truck popsicle in hand. I recommend taking the water taxi from downtown across the Sound to West Seattle. From here walk the near three-mile shoreline or taking the shuttle to Alki Beach. It’s one of the best sunset spots in the city.
Green Lake is a place where you’ll find every type of person under the sun. Sporty individuals run the perimeter and play basketball where other shirtless hippies (and even clowns) skateboard around the lake with their beatports or walk on bungee cords attached to two trees. This is a park where locals flock to during the warmer months, and while here, rent a kayak, paddleboard or a push-pedal boat for two. Locals swim here in the summer, but swimmers beware, getting the itch is not uncommon.
When in Seattle, travelers must visit the waterfront trails. The Olympic sculpture park overlooks the Puget Sound and Cascade Mountains. The sculpture park has free events during the summer, including yoga on Saturday mornings. Walk the Elliot Bay Trail toward the rose garden (use the pedestrian path and not the bike path). Keep your eyes peeled on the sky for bald eagles.
This is one of my favorite places to swim in the summer. The beach is rocky, but worth a visit as its the most accessible beach near downtown. Start your journey near MOHAI and the Museum for Wooden Boats. Venture on the trails along the lake, watching seaplanes, yachts and old wooden boats journey around the lake.
This gas factory turned into an urban park is another local hotspot. It’s a popular place for wedding photography, and the view of South Lake Union and the city ignites the “Sleepless in Seattle” vibe. If you know where to look (with binoculars), catch a glimpse of the actual houseboat used in the movie. It’s a great place to picnic, minus the goose droppings, so bring a blanket that you don’t really care about. Run, or walk, up the hill to discover a birds eye of the surrounding area.
There’s a reason why Discovery Park holds this name. There is something for everyone to discover. Explore history, beaches, forest trails, plains, bluffs, lighthouses and local wildlife, making this one of the most diverse parks in the city. Fort Lawton originally occupied the Magnolia Bluff in the 1800’s and later transformed into Discovery Park in the 1970’s.
Located on 15th Avenue East, Volunteer Park is one of Seattle’s most beloved public spaces. This historic European-influenced park is a popular place that attracts the local hipsters. The city bought the land in 1876 and by 1901 the reservoir was built to hold water piped from the Cedar River. Here, you’ll find plenty of flowers blooming around the park, but the Conservatory, a Victorian-glass greenhouse, hosts a variety of art, educational and musical events. Entry fee required. On a clear day, the park features small views of the Olympics. The Asian Art Museum is also located at Volunteer Park.
This 230-acre hidden gem sits on the shores of Lake Washington, jointly managed by the University of Washington and the City of Seattle. This is a must-visit during fall foliage and is a place to enjoy a leisurely walk or jog on the Arboretum Loop Trail. The park features a gift shop and a 3.5-acre Japanese Garden.
What's your favorite park in the city?
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