Washington Park Arboretum
2300 Arboretum Drive E
Seattle, WA 98112
Washington Park Arboretum sits on the shores of Lake Washington, just south of the University of Washington. These botanical gardens are cared for by the University of Washington and the City of Seattle. Visitors find gardens filled with Japanese Maples, tree-covered trails and ponds in this 230-acre park. On the east and north side of the park is Lake Washington. The wetland area is great for exploring via a canoe or kayak. Both Foster and Marsh Islands are part of the park and have trails. The main parking on the north end is at the Graham Visitor Center. On the southeast side of the arboretum is the Japanese Gardens. Visiting these gardens requires a fee at the entrance. The parking lot is next to the ticket booth. Overall, this is a great park for a picnic, urban hiking and enjoying nature.
Volunteer Park and Conservatory
1247 15th Ave. E.
Seattle, WA 98112
Volunteer Park sits on a hilltop overlooking Seattle, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. This park first opened to the community in the late 1800s. The park is home to the water tower, a water reservoir, outdoor stage, children’s playground, the Conservatory and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Located on Capital Hill, this park offers opportunities for picnics, attending outdoor concerts or a game of Frisbee. The Conservatory is home to over 600 species of orchids and other exotic plants from around the world. There is an entrance fee. The Seattle Asian Art Museum is located within the park boundaries. It is home to the Asian art collection, and part of the Seattle Art Museum. There is an entrance fee, though first Thursday is free admission.
3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, WA 98199
Discovery Park is located on Magnolia bluff. The park contains many different eco-systems (forest, salt-water beach and meadow) with many trails through each. This park sits on a large part of the former Fort Lawton site. The forest consists of large second growth Douglas Fir, Hemlock and other indigenous flora. The lighthouse sits on the shore of Puget Sound on the west and it can be accessed by a trail. The large meadow is located on the southwest portion of the park, overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. The park is home to the Daybreak Center for Native American Culture. It holds pow-wows at various times of the year and acts as a cultural center for the Native American community in the greater Seattle area.
503 Harrison St.
Seattle, WA 98109
The Seattle Center was originally built for the World’s Fair in 1962. At the time, it was a look into what the future could look like, and one of the main attractions was the Space Needle. Today, the Space Needle still stands and visitors can take the elevator to the top for spectacular views of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier and Seattle. The Center House still stands and is home to a variety of restaurants. The EMP Museum sits on the south side, the Pacific Science Center is located on the southwest corner and the Opera House is on the north side of the Seattle Center. The International Fountain is a great location for a picnic, running through the water on a hot day or having a quiet conversation. On Labor Day weekend, the annual Bumbershoot Festival takes over the Seattle Center grounds with music, art, theater and comedy.
Tillicum Village (Argosy Cruises)
1101 Alaskan Way
Pier 55, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98101
Tillicum Village is located on Blake Island in Puget Sound and is only accessible by boat. This tour is part of Argosy Cruises and takes about four hours. Visitors learn Seattle history on the boat ride to the island, see salmon smoked in the traditional Salish way, enjoy a buffet meal, experience Salish stories and dancing and take time to explore the island trails. The island was a traditional camping site for local natives and it is believed that Chief Seattle (Si’ahl) was born on the island. Currently, it is a state park and accessible by boat.
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Karen Ulvestad is a mother and professional writer/photographer, who lives in the greater Seattle area. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in English Composition. Her background is in fitness, travel, photography and writing. She continually researches locations to visit, and/or entertainment opportunities for family outings and/or photo shoots. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.