Seattle is a city dotted with many diverse and sensational parks, well worth a priority placement on any itinerary. I was lucky enough to spend a bit of time exploring the green spaces and below are four of my top picks that you should not miss! Good to note, if you’re on a budget – all of these parks are free.
Ballard Locks, 3015 NW 54th St, Seattle, WA 98107
Funny. I almost missed out on visiting this park because I thought, it’s just locks – but it turned out to be one of my favorite parks. I’ve been on an Eerie Canal tour because I wanted to see locks in action and it’s pretty neat. How many times do you really need to see a boat go through a lock system though? People kayak through them, which would be a really unique experience, but our weather was a bit cruddy. Actually, I didn’t even see the locks in action – no boats even came by – and they’re not particularly beautiful to look at.
So why was this a favorite park again? There happens to be a lot more going on other than locks. For instance, the fish ladder. The locks were built over 100 years ago and they are important for water transportation, but also salmon migration. The best time of year to catch a glimpse the salmon is between June and October. You can go in a mini-museum and read up all sorts of information on the fish and the area, and if you’re lucky see a whole bunch of them like I did.
Outside lurking near the locks is probably what made this the coolest park of all. I read some signs outside about how to tell the difference between sea lions and seals, but I didn’t think I’d be seeing any. However, we saw a sea lion, a savage…savage…sea lion, and he saw a salmon. It was a natgeo moment watching this guy hunt his meal, something I will never forget.
Dusk was coming, but the park stays open till 9PM so we lingered. All the sudden I heard the familiar sound of one of my favorite birds the kingfish, looking for a fish.
So you see why this park is so amazing, right? The wildlife here is incredible! In the short time I visited I saw so much. This isn’t a big park for hiking, but join the crowds and enjoy some wild sightseeing.
Gas Works Park, 2101 N Northlake Way Seattle, Washington
There is something so intriguing about ruins, from ancient cultures like the Incas or Romans, to that house that’s abandoned down the street. Maybe it’s because they’re often off limits or they are shrouded in mystery. The ruins of America’s last coal gasification plant is the centerpiece of this park – boldly showcased on top of a hill. The rusted over vision of industrialization is indeed fenced off,
but there are some components that accessible and you won’t get tetanus from. A ‘play-barn’ houses colorfully painted machinery for kids, and well, me.
A boiler house doubles as a picnic pavilion. What kind of a city does this? I love it. Climb to the top of the other hill to check out the stunning sundial and maybe fly your kite.
It’s such a grand open grassy field, perfect for packing a picnic, playing Frisbee, or just admiring the harbor. This is Seattle, soak it in.
Kerry Park, 211 W Highland Dr, Seattle, WA 98119
Come at sunset and stay to watch the city light up. You’ll see it all from this height, from the Space Needle to the harbor.
There isn’t much room to move around here, it’s more of a ‘view’ park. Bring some quarters to take an even closer look!
PS the drive up here is one of the wildest parts. The streets are so narrow and the homes are incredible! The journeys is the destination.
Kubota Garden, 9817 55th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118
A Japanese garden that truly whisks you away to another corner of the world complete with pagoda, red bridges, unusual stones, and waterfalls.
While this park isn’t huge, out of the three it is best for taking an actual walk! The trails are winding, so be sure to grab a map. The landscaping of this park is marvelous, there are so many different trees nestled together in a harmonious forest.
Hours are very generous and the park stays open late, we came around dusk and encountered a wonderful treat. A spotted owl swooped close and landed to allow us a viewing.
It was a truly magical moment, making this garden one of our favorite memories from Seattle.