15 Best Parks In Seattle – The city parks of Seattle are a perfect blend of urban and natural design. Early designers planned for green space to be within a half-mile of every residence in Seattle. That objective may be genuine, given the abundance of pocket parks and bike routes. However, some parks stand out above the others, and whether you’re a visitor to Seattle or a long-time resident, it’s worthwhile to visit the best of the city’s parks.
A few renowned parks, such as Discovery Park, provide a flavour of the Western Washington countryside. These locations feature rich rainforest flora and sweeping views of Puget Sound. Other lakefront parks on the other side of town have freshwater views of Lake Washington.
Walking through several of Seattle’s best parks offers a journey through history, from Olmsted Brothers’ hallmark designs to retired military forts, in addition to bits of Pacific Northwest paradise. It is not necessary to be familiar with each park’s history in order to enjoy a visit, but it is inescapable at places like Gas Works Park.
You can learn more about Seattle city parks before visiting if you’re planning a specific activity. With our list of the greatest parks in Seattle, you can have a great time on your next city adventure.
Best Parks In Seattle
Table of Contents
Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest city park, with 534 acres. It serves three purposes: it is a green respite in an ever-developing city, a wildlife sanctuary, and a venue dedicated to environmental education.
It has a beach, a forest, sand dunes, meadows, an environmental teaching centre, and stunning views of the Olympic and Cascade mountains. The West Point Lighthouse is worth seeing on its own, plus the play area was recently refurbished.
It has several pathways that wind through its diverse landscapes, as well as a beautiful sandy shoreline facing Puget Sound, which includes the historic West Point Lighthouse.
The park’s varied scenery and sheer expanse add to the sense of escape. The complex is built on the ruins of the late-nineteenth-century Fort Lawton. It’s a region of lush coastal splendour with miles-long views across the water, with grassy meadows surrounding the retired army installations.
The easiest approach to learn about Discovery Park is to simply walk up and wander around. The East and South lots near the entrances are the two most visible parking spots.
The Loop Trail, which encircles the inland section of the park with a nearly three-mile walk, is the most popular way to explore. The Loop Trail also links to the Beach Trail, which runs next to one of Seattle’s nicest beaches and has the West Point Lighthouse.
Alki Beach Park
Alki Beach Park is a must-see city spot along the water’s edge. The park is located in West Seattle and is accessible by water taxi from downtown. It has a popular walking path and 2.5 miles of Puget Sound shoreline. And, unlike some other metropolitan beaches, Alki Beach’s sand is pleasant to walk on.
The vista across Puget Sound, including the not-so-distant Seattle cityscape, is equally stunning from Alki Beach Park. Beach blankets and umbrellas abound on hot summer days at this popular beach. Overcrowding isn’t an issue because there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out their belongings. On weekends, though, parking might be difficult.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Olympic Sculpture Park, which is part of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), seamlessly blends art and nature in one location. The museum/park is free to enter and can be strolled through at one’s leisure or while on a tour.
The nine acres are filled with sculptures and a beach, all of which are located beneath the Space Needle on Elliott Bay, with the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop. But keep in mind that this is a museum, thus no touching the sculptures is permitted.
It’s one of the city’s largest green spaces, including a number of interesting sculptures. The park is managed by the Seattle Art Museum, which is a mile south.
Before the Olympic Sculpture Park debuted in 2007, the land was much more industrial. Today, a creative Z-shaped route lined with artwork descends from the park to the waterfront. It’s a popular spot for a midday stroll, a picnic, or a fantastic view of Elliot Bay and downtown.
It is free to visit the sculpture park. Myrtle Edwards Park and Centennial Park are linked by a trail that runs north of the sculpture parks.
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Golden Gardens Park
Golden Gardens has it all when it comes to parks in Seattle. It is located in North Seattle and encompasses the Ballard neighborhood’s extreme northwest corner. Along with plenty of natural space and wetlands, the park also has a large sandy beach that attracts visitors throughout the summer.
The beach has around 300 feet of sandy beachfront, so there’s plenty of room for volleyball and setting up an umbrella. Bonfires in designated fire pits are other popular activity, in addition to sunbathing and beach games.
And Golden Gardens is more than just a beautiful beach. The park’s hiking trails wind through magnificent Pacific Northwest scenery. On the park’s north side, there is also an off-leash dog area that is highly popular with dog owners. A concession stand and restrooms are among the park’s other features.
Golden Gardens has some nice vistas as well. The Olympic Mountains are seen on the horizon, with Puget Sound as a backdrop. Expect to spend a few hours here as a quick getaway from the city.
Green Lake Park
Green Lake, in northern Seattle, is a neighbourhood based around its namesake lake, and the park has a strong sense of community.
This natural reserve for plant and bird life is a one-stop-shop for park-goers, including a large grassy area, swimming, boating, sports grounds, and a 2.8-mile route. Those who aren’t planning on picnics will be pleasantly surprised by the variety of food options available in the park’s vicinity.
East Green Lake Beach is the focal point of Green Lake Park. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer on a swimming platform just beyond the shoreline. Near the shore, there are also boat rentals and a walk-up café. Both sides of the dunes have a bike route that leads to large lawn areas and ideal picnic sites.
On the other side of the lake, West Green Lake Beach offers similar amenities. The lake is a popular area to bring a bicycle and spend the full day exploring because there is so much to see and do. Woodland Park and the Woodland Park Zoo, on the south side of the lake, also allow visitors to spend time outside.
Seward Park is a one-of-a-kind natural environment in Seattle’s southeast. Bailey Peninsula, which juts out from the shoreline, is included. The park encompasses the entire peninsula, covering around 300 acres. The peninsula’s remote terrain, as well as the park’s placement in a quieter southeast Seattle neighbourhood, provide a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with nature.
The park’s paved 2.4-mile walking trail also helps you get away from the rush and bustle of the adjacent city. Numerous dirt trails branch out from the main pedestrian path, running through lush greenery. An old-growth forest with towering western red cedars and bigleaf maples covers much of the park’s back half. Keep a watch out for the eagles and hawks that frequently pass through the region.
The park’s extensive shoreline invites activities such as sunbathing, swimming, and boating. An amphitheatre, pottery workshop, and the Seward Park Audubon Center are all located in the park. While travelling to Seward with a plan is a good idea, many people prefer to arrive with a free afternoon.
Carkeek Park, just a few miles north of Green Lake, with 220 acres of everything from forest to wetlands to a Puget Sound beach.
Carkeek is a popular, but not overcrowded, natural area with a lovely beach. It’s located on the southern edge of the Broadview neighbourhood in northwest Seattle. The park is around 200 acres in size and includes a long stretch of Puget Sound shoreline.
Pipers Creek flows through the park before reaching Puget Sound’s saltwater. Other features in the park include lush forests, wide meadows, and the seaside shoreline, in addition to this riparian corridor. Because of the diversity of environments, there are activities to suit practically every interest.
In the park, trail runners and hikers will find plenty of dirt trails to follow. The spacious lawn area and playground are popular with families. The historic Piper Orchard is also a must-see for history buffs. Carkeek Beach is a beautiful site to visit for sunsets because of the park’s western aspect.
Thanks to all of the volunteers who have volunteered their time over the years to successfully restore Piper Orchard and bring salmon back to Pipers Creek. Enjoy the casual glamour shot of the Olympic Mountains across the river, of course.
Washington Park Arboretum
The Washington Park Arboretum, located in the Madison Park district near Union Bay, is a 230-acre urban oasis. With the support of the Arboretum Foundation, the University of Washington and the city of Seattle co-manage this beautifully manicured property.
Several trails make their way through the park, with explanatory signage and plant identification along the way. Picnic benches also line the natural space, providing various opportunities to take a break and take in the scenery. The Graham Visitor Center, located on the park’s northern edge, is where visitors may obtain park maps, bathrooms, and other visitor resources.
The Washington Park Arboretum’s trails are home to a diverse range of flora. Japanese maples, azaleas, and rhododendrons are just a few examples. The arboretum is open from dawn to sunset every day of the year, and entrance is always free.
Volunteer Park is located in the middle of the city, on the north side of Capitol Hill. This breathtaking natural space was created in the late 1800s by world-renowned landscape architect John Olmstead. It is now regarded as the crown gem of the Olmsted Brothers Park & Boulevard system in Seattle.
The park has a total area of slightly over 40 acres. The Volunteer Park Conservatory and Asian Art Museum, run by the Seattle Art Museum, are located there. Within the old Victorian Greenhouse of the conservatory, there are five distinct settings to discover. The Asian Art Museum, meanwhile, is housed in a 1930s Art Deco structure and exhibits regional art.
A tiny reservoir with a view of the city is another prominent park feature. Near two planted lily ponds and a historic water tower with an observation deck, this prominent perspective may be found. The park is also punctuated by several large open green spaces, including a designated Great Lawn.
Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park is a one-of-a-kind passive natural space on the north shore of Lake Union, directly across from the downtown skyline. It’s difficult to pinpoint what makes this park unique. It’s either the breathtaking view of downtown from across the water or the scenic ruins of the former coal gasification plant that once stood on the site.
Gas Works’ historic industrial architecture has been reclaimed and designated as public art. And seeing these visual reminders of the city’s industrial roots in the midst of landscaped lawns and walking trails provides a unique perspective on public space.
The park’s centrepiece is a massive earthen mound that enhances the breathtaking view of the lake. Enjoy some time on a blanket while observing the various boats on the water, with the skyline as a backdrop. Gas Works is one of the city’s most popular sunset sites.
The outstanding feature of this modest pocket park is its spectacular perspective of the metropolitan skyline. It’s less than a mile north of the Seattle Center and Space Needle, at the top of Queen Anne Hill. This high vantage point offers views of Elliot Bay, the Olympic Mountains, and Mount Rainier in the distance, in addition to the city skyline.
Visit Kerry Park on a clear day if possible. It’s becoming more and more popular among photographers. Expect to share the space with photographers and tourists alike as the sun sets. On the residential streets that surround the park, parking can be a challenge.
Myrtle Edwards Park & Centennial Park
Myrtle Edwards Park is a public park on the Elliot Bay waterfront, less than a half-mile southwest of Seattle Center and the Space Needle. The Olympic Sculpture Garden is a popular way to get to this lovely waterfront location.
A 1.25-mile paved cycling route runs alongside the shoreline on Myrtle Edwards. There are also primitive dirt trails that go throughout the area. The park’s outstanding views of the Olympic Mountains across the sea are a big draw, in addition to the trailside scenery bordering the corridor. On clear days, the not-so-distant Mount Rainier can also be seen when gazing south toward downtown.
The paved bike track extends north of Myrtle Edwards into Centennial Park, which is run by the Port of Seattle. Before being renamed in 2011 to commemorate the port’s 100th anniversary, this park was known as Elliot Bay Park. The concrete walk winds its way through the park’s 11 acres, providing stunning views along the route. During the summer, Centennial Park is also home to a beautiful rose garden.