Outdoor Spots in Seattle

Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Graham Bishai.

Gas Works Park

2101 N Lorthlake Way; (206) 684-4075 ; www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/gas-works-park; open daily 6am-10pm

On the former sight of a coal gasification plant (yes that’s a word, and its not funny) for a Seattle energy utility. Today, its a public park situated just North of downtown Seattle and Lake Union. It may not be gasifying any coal, but the plant is still right there in the center of this park. Though fenced off from access, this big, old, rusted contraption provides a cool #aesthetic of old-time industry. The park has a steep hill, right next to the former plant, which at the top offers excellent views of the city skyline over Lake Union. Young folks come and hang out here on afternoons, enjoying the sun and the views. Kids take advantage of the breeze and fly kites.

Free; wheelchair accessible

Discovery Park

Discovery Park Boulevard; (206) 684-4075; www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/discovery-park; open daily 4am-11:30pm

Discovery Park is barely an urban park—it’s more like a mostly undeveloped reserve of nature that happens to be near a city. Still, as the grandest of Seattle’s parks, this expansive wooded waterfront gem has a lot to offer besides trees and grass. A basketball court, tennis court, and hiking trails are just some of the features that are contained in its 534 acres. Know where you’re going, because signage is sparse and it’s easy to get lost. The tip of the park is home to the picture-perfect West Point Lighthouse and offers jaw-dropping views, especially at sunset. But the edge of the park is actually two miles away from the entrance or visitors center, so quite a ways to walk. Plan accordingly or arrange a ride. On clear days, you can see the Olympic Mountains across the Puget Sound, and on an especially good one, Mount Rainier south of the city.

Free; wheelchair accessible

Olympic Sculpture Park

2901 Western Ave; (206) 654-3100; www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/olympic-sculpture-park; open daily 30min. before sunset to 30min. after sunrise

In this modern outdoor sculpture garden, a path zig-zags toward the water, crossing a street and railroad tracks, with sculptures every 50 feet or so. It’s not a long walk, and about halfway down you can relax and look out over the water. The view of the Puget Sound is fantastic. If you’re coming from the nearby Seattle Center and/or via the Western Ave entrance, once you get to the bottom, you’ll be on the Elliott Bay Trail, which runs between downtown and the northern suburbs. You can choose whether to walk the trail into the city, or toward another park, Myrtle Edwards Park. For the sculpture park itself, budget 20 minutes or so, and more if you want to sit or take a close look at the sculptures.

Free; wheelchair accessible  

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