Seattle is a city in Washington State that is vibrant and exciting. If you've ever heard of places like the Space Needle or Pike Place Market then you already know a bit about this city. It's a place that caters to a variety of interests with its wide range of attractions, from art to sports and so much more. Nearly 100 festivals are put on in Seattle every year, giving plenty of options for those who enjoy the celebration scene. This bustling city also features a fantastic dining scene, especially when it comes to coffee (this is the birthplace of Starbucks, after all!).
Surrounding this buzzing city center is an entire landscape of peaceful nature reserves and trekking trails traveling through mountains, earning it the nickname of the Emerald City. If you're somebody who enjoys spending time outdoors, Seattle, with its views of Mount Rainier, has many neighborhoods to explore with numerous parks and gardens located inside the city limits.
Everyone can enjoy these marvelous parks in Seattle, with places like Elliott Bay Park and Kubota Garden in Rainier Beach. In West Seattle look for Jack Block Park, and in Rainier Valley you'll find Judkins Park and Playfield. From hiking to beachcombing, you'll have no trouble taking advantage of the fun activities that Seattle parks have to offer. Find a place for Seattle backpack storage close to a park and start your adventure in this Puget Sound city.
Washington Park Arboretum
This 230-acre green space is full of walking paths that'll bring you past rare plants and a diverse selection of flora. The grounds are well maintained, being managed by the University of Washington Botanic Gardens as well as the City of Seattle and always offer the community a calm and peaceful place to immerse themselves in nature. The park is gorgeous year-round but is an unforgettable sight during the spring and fall when you can see flowers in full bloom or vibrantly colored leaves on the trees.
As you navigate the grounds, you'll observe plant species that are native to the Pacific Northwest as well as others that come from around the globe. Some of the flora originates from China, Chile, or New Zealand, and if you want to learn more about them you can tag along on a guided walking or tram tour, or make your own self-guided experience.
Inside the Washington Park Arboretum is where you'll find the stunning Japanese Garden. Although this particular section of the park has an entrance fee, it's well worth a visit if you want to see the entirety of the arboretum. Some other areas you're free to explore include the Woodland Garden, with its huge collection of Japanese maples. Being situated on the banks of Lake Washington, you also have the option of renting a boat and heading out onto the water.
Alki Beach Park
Alki Beach Park is a lovely place to spend the afternoon and is situated just a short ferry ride away from Downtown Seattle. This is the ideal setting to plan a picnic date or a family outing since it's where you'll find some of the best views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. Of course, one of this park's biggest draws is the sandy beach where locals love to spend afternoons in the summertime.
This park is the place to be during the warmer months, with friendly beach volleyball tournaments, endless opportunities for sunbathing, and more than enough sand for sandcastle building so the kids can build the palace of their dreams. If you're lucky, you may even pick out seals from the shore.
Aside from swimming, beach activities and sports, this park has a paved path that can be used for scootering, jogging or rollerblading. Rent out a bike to ride around the property or hire a kayak and get out onto the water instead. You'll never have to go far for to dine as there are plenty of great restaurants in the area.
Golden Gardens Park
Golden Gardens Park is one of Seattle's many beautiful parks and is particularly popular among dog owners. It features an off-leash dog park towards the northeastern edge of the green space where people bring their furry friends to play, and there are loop trails that go around Puget Sound which are perfect for a small walk.
Inside Golden Gardens, there's also a beach and it's known to be one of the absolute best parks in Seattle for catching stunning sunsets over the water. At the beach, you'll also find barbeque facilities so you can make your own lunch, and the tidal pools are fun for people of all ages to explore.
If you don't feel like being at the shore, take to the many hiking trails that wind throughout the wooded areas. The trails will eventually bring you to the water so you can enjoy both landscapes. You're allowed to make campfires on the beach which is a wonderful way to end the evening.
Green Lake Park
Green Lake Park, located in the Green Lake neighborhood, is named after the lake that it sits upon and is found towards the northern edge of town. There's a pathway that follows the perimeter of the lake for three miles and is used by all sorts of people in the community for longboarding, rollerblading, jogging and walking.
There are two beaches on the perimeter of the lake and although the water is green, it's safe to swim in. Some people also say that the water tends to be warmer here than in other areas in the city but if you don't want to get wet there are also paddleboards, canoes and kayaks that can be rented at the Greenlake Boathouse. You can also go windsurfing and fishing so there's something for everybody to do.
The park also has several athletics fields that you can use for various sports like soccer, baseball or frisbee. There's even a playground and a wading pool that families with young children adore. You'll find several restaurants around the park too, so you can go out to grab a tasty meal before or after spending time outdoors. This park is a lovely spot to go birdwatching if that interests you.
Olympic Sculpture Park
The Olympic Sculpture Park is part of the Seattle Art Museum and is a fantastic location to experience art and nature all at once. It's free to enter and you can either explore the area at your own pace or follow along on a tour. In total, the park encompasses 9 acres of space and is situated right underneath the famous Space Needle. From inside the park, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains.
The main draw of the park is its sculptures which bring a modern artistic twist into the natural landscape that the park is found upon. Some of the sculptures are huge and guests should remember to respect and not climb on them, like you would in any museum.
Once you've finished up at the park, continue on to another nearby greenspace, like Myrtle Edwards Park for example. There's also a place called Pocket Beach that's not too far away and Pier 62 can be reached easily from here as well. If you've had enough of outdoor adventures for the day you'll find lots of bars and pubs nearby, so feel free to go exploring around the rest of Belltown.
At 534 acres in size, Discovery Park is by far the largest city park in all of Seattle and is located in the Magnolia neighborhood. Being the biggest park in the city, it's fairly popular but rarely gets too busy since there's so much space and it has some incredible natural areas to explore. While you're here you'll be making your way around tidal beaches, through forests and past sea cliffs. The forested trails are a wonderful place to escape from the sun, and those who are looking to bask in it can head to the beach.
Families can take advantage of the newly renovated play and recreation areas. They're now fully equipped with a zip line, new picnic tables, as well as different play equipment. As the largest park in the city, this space is used by more than just the people of Seattle but also its animals and is an important wildlife sanctuary. The park is also used for environmental education.
While you're in the park you should make a point to stop by an important landmark, the West Point Lighthouse. From there, you can see incredible views of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound and the beautiful city skyline. To learn more about the area and its history, check out the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center which also displays Native Art.
Gas Works Park
This 19-acre Lake Union park is one of the most unique green spaces in all of Seattle and attracts parkgoers from all over. It's constructed on what used to be a gasification plant for the Seattle Gas Light Company and remnants of the site's former industrial uses can still be spotted today, like remains of metal generators. Take a look over the water for spectacular views of the Downtown Seattle skyline and South Lake Union.
Because of the gas plant that formerly inhabited the area you aren't allowed to swim or fish in the lake due to hazardous chemicals, so keep that in mind. However, you can participate in activities like kite-flying or picnicking, and the park is used as a venue for festivities during the Fourth of July celebrations as well. Those visiting with children will definitely want to spend some time in the playground, too.
Thanks to its close proximity to the Burke-Gilman Trail, you'll definitely see bikers in the area. After you've made your way around the park and are ready to settle down, make sure that you find a shady place since the hot sun can get intense.
You'll find this Seattle park in the center of Capitol Hill. This public space is home to the Volunteer Park Conservatory, a beautiful botanical garden housed inside a Victorian glasshouse, and it features a nice selection of flora. If you want to admire more beautiful flowers, take a walk around the grounds to see the dahlias. These flowers, donated to the park by the Puget Sound Dahlia Association, bloom in July which is the best time to visit.
Another reason to spend time at Volunteer Park is because it's home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum where you can see some incredible masterpieces. Spend time in the museum before taking a stroll on the walking paths taking you past lily ponds and fields. The open spaces are perfect for playing games of frisbee, having a picnic, or letting your dogs run around, although there's no off-leash area. On site, you'll find wading pools and a playground.
At a bit over 48 acres in size, you can spend a good couple of hours at Volunteer Park. It's a significant locale to visit whether you're a local or a tourist, since it was officially declared a landmark back in 2011. Fun fact; the space that now holds the park was formerly a cemetery. However, the bodies were displaced when the park was built.
The best parks within the Seattle city limits
These are only a few of the great parks you can visit in Seattle and there are even more that offer nice sites to spend time outside. Making your park viewing itinerary? Add Magnuson Park, Lincoln Park, Carkeek Park, Seward Park or Occidental Park, which is near King Street Station.
Looking for more of an exciting place for an outdoor adventure? There are many bigger parks outside of the city center of Seattle like the North Cascades National Park where hiking trails wind through forests and up mountains. Read this guide on the best day trips from Seattle and grab your walking shoes. If the beaches mentioned above piqued your interest, you'll love these beaches near Seattle.