Top 12 Parks in Seattle

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Renowned as the Emerald City owing to plentiful evergreen forests and lush greenery, Seattle overflows with outstanding outdoor spaces allowing visitors to connect with iconic Northwest nature.

Park NameHighlights
Discovery ParkSeattle’s largest park, featuring diverse ecosystems and scenic trails.
Seward ParkOffers old growth forests and lakefront trails.
Washington Park ArboretumA botanical garden with a wide variety of plant species.
Woodland ParkHome to the Woodland Park Zoo and Rose Garden.
Volunteer ParkFeatures a conservatory, water tower, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
Alki Beach ParkProvides beach access with views of Puget Sound.
Carkeek ParkOffers trails, playgrounds, and beach access.
Kubota GardenA Japanese garden with waterfalls and ponds.
Lincoln ParkFeatures beach access, a pool, and trails.
Gas Works ParkA park with a unique industrial history and great city views.
Magnuson ParkLarge park with sports fields, a beach, and off-leash dog area.

From vibrant flower gardens, to soaring old growth forests, to beaches dotted with snow-capped mountain views – Seattle parks offer access to pristine Pacific Northwest landscapes and scenery.

Discovery Park

Name and Location: Discovery Park is a 534-acre park located at 3801 W Government Way in Seattle, overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

History and Significance: Originally a military installation called Fort Lawton, Discovery Park has an extensive history from native inhabitants, early settlers, and military families before opening to the public in 1973 as Seattle’s largest city park.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy 2 miles of protected tidelands, forest trails, meadows, bluffs, a lighthouse, visitor’s center, playground and spectacular views of mountains and sea.

Visitor Information: Open daily from 4am to 11:30pm. Free public parking available at the park. Lifeguarded swimming seasonally.

Spanning over 500 acres, Discovery Park stands out as Seattle’s largest and most ecologically diverse park – encompassing towering sea cliffs, sandy beaches, thick forests, wetlands, meadows replete with wildflowers, and scenic hiking trails. The park provides visitors with a profound sense of nature’s grandeur. Walk the 2.8 mile Loop Trail to experience it all including epic views of the Olympic Mountains and majestic Puget Sound.

Seward Park

Name and Location: Seward Park is a 300-acre park located on Lake Washington at 5902 Lake Washington Boulevard S, Seattle.

History and Significance: Acquired in 1911, Seward Park is one of the oldest parks in Seattle and home to the landmark old-growth forest. Miles of trails, lakefront beaches, picnic areas, amphitheater and playground serve city residents.

What to Expect: Jogging/biking loops circle the peninsula through forest and along the lake. Swimming, kayaking, classes in the Audubon center plus outdoor movies and concerts during summer.

Visitor Information: Open daily 4am to 11:30pm. Free parking lots available. Swimming areas unguarded so at your own risk.

At almost 300 acres situated on a forested peninsula along scenic Lake Washington, Seward Park delights visitors with old growth forests, vast picnic areas, 2.4 miles of biking and walking trails encircling the lake, and lots of beachfront access for swimming and canoeing in summer with mountain views year-round. Resident eagles fish the lake while charming countryside tucked outside the city enthralls.

Washington Park Arboretum

Name and Location: Washington Park Arboretum is a public park located at 2300 Arboretum Drive East in Seattle, WA, on the shores of Lake Washington.

History and Significance: Established in 1934 by the University of Washington, it is a living research collection of over 5,500 plant varieties across 230 spectacular acres open to visitors.

What to Expect: Visitors explore cultivated gardens like the Azalea Way and Pacific Connections in addition to natural wetland trails circulating through one of the oldest arboretums in the country.

Visitor Information: Free public access daily dawn to dusk. Several free public parking areas. Visitor center and gift shop onsite.

Spanning 230 acres of vibrant botanical diversity near downtown Seattle, the Washington Park Arboretum serves as a living museum with over 5,300 plant species across open wetlands, Japanese gardens, native woodlands, and peaceful trails that visitors adore. Brilliant fall color, towering conifers, and tranquil ponds paint idyllic scenery in this urban escape managed by the University of Washington.

Woodland Park

Name and Location: Woodland Park is a 90-acre park located at 1000 N 50th Street in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle.

History and Significance: Donated to the city in 1903, Woodland Park was developed with the help of the Olmsted Brothers firm into a recreation facility for the neighboring residential community.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy woods trails, an off-leash dog area, sports fields, tennis courts, play areas, picnic rentals and the Woodland Park Zoo adjacent to the park.

Visitor Information: Open daily 4am-11:30pm. Free street parking near entrances off N 50th Street or other neighborhood options.

Encompassing over 90 acres adjacent to downtown Seattle attractions, Woodland Park doubles as a thriving urban green space and top-tier cultural destination. Beyond sports facilities, picnic grounds and playgrounds, the park boasts the Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Rose Garden, Art Museum and famed Green Stage concert pavilion hosting free summer events. Ideal for families and those seeking convenience.

Volunteer Park

Name and Location: Volunteer Park occupies 48 acres at 1247 15th Avenue E on Capitol Hill in Seattle.

History and Significance: Named to honor Seattle residents volunteering for the Spanish-American War, the Olmsted-designed park dates back to 1904 with landmarks like the Seattle Asian Art Museum and Volunteer Park Conservatory still welcoming visitors today.

What to Expect: Sculptures, glasshouse conservatory, seasonal plantings, children’s wading pool, sports courts, expansive lawns for picnics/city views along with museums and cultural events.

Visitor Information: Grounds open daily 6am-10pm. Museums and conservatory have separate hours/admission. Limited free parking along park drives.

Situated in the heart of Capitol Hill residential area, Volunteer Park captivates through whimsical sights from a Victorian style glass conservatory showcasing exotic plants to Seattle’s most iconic water tower viewpoint providing sweeping panoramas from Puget Sound to Mount Rainier on clear days. The park also encompasses sculpture installations, lawn bowling greens, ponds, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Alki Beach Park

Name and Location: Alki Beach Park follows the shoreline in the West Seattle neighborhood running roughly from Alki Point to Duwamish Head near 63rd Ave SW and Alki Ave SW.

History and Significance: Alki Beach Park contains the site of the first European settlement in Seattle. Today the waterside park provides over 2 miles of pedestrian walkway, beaches, picnic tables and recreation opportunities for locals and visitors.

What to Expect: Beachcombing, sunbathing, swimming, bonfires in designated pits, volleyball courts, restaurants/shops nearby complement the views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

Visitor Information: Beach park area always open. Roadside parking areas may have day use fees seasonally. Lifeguards absent so swim at your own risk.

Offering sensational views of Puget Sound set against the mountainous backdrop of the Olympic Mountain range, Alki Beach allows Seattleites room to play across over 2 miles of sandy shoreline dotted with fire pits, volleyball courts, and seaside walking paths. Visit to beachcomb, kite fly, kayak or simply soak up the laidback local scene just minutes from downtown across Elliot Bay.

Carkeek Park

Name and Location: Carkeek Park occupies 216 acres at 950 NW Carkeek Park Road in northwest Seattle on Puget Sound.

History and Significance: Formerly railroad land named Hiram M. Chittenden Locks Park, features added over decades include Venema Viewpoint, Pipers Creek watershed restoration and access to both fishing and environmental education.

What to Expect: Hiking trails wander down to Puget Sound beaches near serene Piper’s Creek. The park also contains playgrounds, picnic shelters, basketball courts, arts performances and spectacular views across Salmon Bay.

Visitor Information: The park is open daily 4am to 11:30pm with off-leash pet hours. Free parking available in multiple lots.

Stretching over 220 acres across Seattle’s northwest corridor, Carkeek Park pleases families through forest hiking trails, playground zones, salmon streams, vast sporting fields for soccer and football, access to Puget sound, and the unique Golden Gardens where sunset views dazzle. Pack a picnic to unwind beside Piper’s Creek and discover why the park counts among Seattle’s most treasured urban escapes.

Kubota Garden

Name and Location: Kubota Garden Park occupies 20 acres at 9817 55th Ave S in southeast Seattle between Renton and Seattle.

History and Significance: Originally a private family garden started in 1927, Kubota Garden Park was donated to the city in 1981 and now welcomes visitors to explore its stunning Japanese garden landscapes year-round.

What to Expect: Walking paths meander past waterfalls, ponds and streams crossed by iconic orange bridges amidst landscaped hills, waterfall rocks, bamboo and flowering plants across the site designed in traditional Japanese garden style.

Visitor Information: Free public access daily 9:00am to 7:00pm off Renton Ave S. Street parking available near park entrances. Trail access may have weekday closures for events.

Transporting visitors to serene landscapes evoking Japanese heritage and tranquility, the stunning Kubota Garden spans 20 acres nestled in South Seattle. Towering waterfalls, red bridge crossings, and gorgeous mountain vistas play against vibrant foliage, rainbow koi ponds, and Fujin-Raijin guardian statues. Peaceful paradise awaits just steps outside urban rush.

Lincoln Park

Name and Location: Lincoln Park is a 135-acre regional park located at 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW along the shore of Puget Sound in West Seattle.

History and Significance: Purchased by the city in 1922 after logging and settler activity, Lincoln Park today provides preservation of natural habitat with old growth forest, trails, saltwater beach recreation, pool, cultural events and spectacular mountain views that draw visitors year-round.

What to Expect: Swimming, kayaking, fishing, trails for walking/running, viewing platforms, outdoor concerts, play areas, athletic fields, picnic shelters plus colossal old-growth trees make the diverse park accessible for all ages and interests.

Visitor Information: Park open daily 4am to 11:30pm year-round with lifeguards on duty seasonally at designated beaches.

At almost 140 acres situated along Puget Sound’s Fauntleroy shoreline, Lincoln Park charms through old growth forests, lush ferns thriving on sea cliffs, dedicated bird habitat, lengthy beach access, and stunning mountain views from Colman Pool and the seawall trail leading to quaint Three Tree Point Lighthouse. Popular with beachcombers and trail runners year round.

Gas Works Park

Name and Location: Gas Works Park sits on 19 acres projecting into Lake Union at 2101 N Northlake Way in Seattle.

History and Significance: The former site of a coal gasification plant, Gas Works Park preserves the industrial relics as a piece of living history while hosting events and providing green spaces for recreation along Lake Union.

What to Expect: Visitors picnic and play on the Great Lawn against a backdrop of the rusting gasworks towers and frame peak views of downtown Seattle and Lake Union boat traffic from the sundial viewing platform.

Visitor Information: Park open daily 4am – 11:30pm. Street parking available near Northlake Way park entrances.

Preserving vestiges of the former Seattle Gas Light Company facility, Gas Works Park enthralls through an open hillside furnishing striking views across mountain-dotted Lake Union and downtown Seattle. Kite flying prevails when winds whip while concerts pack the expansive lawn on balmy summer nights. Locals adore this iconic post-industrial playground.

Magnuson Park

Name and Location: Warren G. Magnuson Park sits on 350 acres at 7400 Sand Point Way NE on Lake Washington in northeast Seattle.

History and Significance: Once the historic Sand Point Naval Air Station, today Magnuson Park offers city recreation spaces, wetlands, athletic fields, boat launches while preserving some original buildings containing facilities like the Children’s Theater and art studios.

What to Expect: Tennis courts, play fields, walking trails, picnic shelters, boat ramp, swimming beach, off-leash dog zone plus access to Lake Washington fill the large multi-use park space with year-round activity options.

Visitor Information: Park open 4am until 11:30pm daily. Street parking readily available near park drives and trailheads to access various sections of this expansive former military site.

Nestled alongside Lake Washington spanning over 350 acres, Magnuson Park oozes recreational appeal through miles of biking and walking trails, vibrant sports fields, picnic shelters, tennis courts, lawn bowling greens, a sandy swim beach with stellar mountain views and the delightful Off Leash Dog Area. The park also houses art studios, performance venues and a wetlands nature trail for birdwatching.

Though stereotyped as drizzly and damp, Seattle overflows with vibrant green spaces that enable locals and visitors to readily connect with iconic Northwest nature and scenery through any season. From secluded old growth forests to lively urban parks and beaches – Seattle offers access to pristine Pacific Northwest landscapes and vibrant recreation amid an exceptional emerald landscape.

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