There are so many parks in Seattle that it’s easy to see how it earned the nickname
Emerald City. Varied and beautiful, you’ll have a different experience at each park, several of which made my list of the best things to do in Seattle.
If you’re curious about which parks are right for you and your travel buddies, this Seattle local has you covered.
In addition to popular, crowd-pleasing parks, this list will sprinkle in some unique options and local favorites too. Whether you want fantastic views and photo ops, crave nature walks, and family-friendly spots, or want to play sports and get on the water, there’s a Seattle park to suit you.
Table of Contents
- 25 Best Parks in Seattle
- Alki Beach Park
- Jefferson Park
- Green Lake Park
- Discovery Park
- Lincoln Park
- Kubota Garden
- Volunteer Park
- Kerry Park
- Golden Gardens Park
- Olympic Sculpture Park
- Seward Park
- Washington Park Arboretum
- Gas Works Park
- Lake Union Park
- Carkeek Park
- Freeway Park
- Schmitz Preserve Park
- Pier 62 and Waterfront Park
- Warren G Magnuson Park
- Genesee Park and Playfield
- Myrtle Edwards Park
- Waterfall Garden Park
- Oxbow Park
- FAQs About Seattle Parks
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25 Best Parks in Seattle
🔖 Bookmark for Later: Check out this list of what to pack on your Seattle visit, which includes useful ideas for things to bring to the parks, and look at this breakdown of the Seattle neighborhoods so you can choose a park in a neighborhood that interests you!
Alki Beach Park
Beloved park on the west side of Seattle with a sandy beach, delicious dining, summertime volleyball tournaments, and Olympic Mountains views
Alki Beach Park is one of the top parks to visit in Seattle if you want to feel like you’ve been transported to a quaint little beach town.
Alki Beach Park is always buzzing with activity in the summer months. Volleyball matches, sandcastle building, seal-watching, and sunbathing are some of the main things you’ll see. Running, rollerblading and scootering are popular along the paved path, and bike and kayak rentals are available for those who want to get in on the fun.
Restaurants are plentiful in the area, and you’ll have no problem finding a brew, some good fish and chips, and ice cream to keep you satiated. During the warmest days in Seattle, Alki gets quite crowded. Despite this, it’s one of the best parks in Seattle to check out and a great destination for families.
⛴️ How To Get There: You could drive to Alki, but a more fun way to get here is to take the water taxi from downtown. You’ll have spectacular views of the skyline and Space Needle during the 15-minute ride. When you exit the water taxi, you can get to the beach via bus, scooter, or a leisurely 2-mile walk by the water.
A Beacon Hill park with meadows, a driving range, a community center, and a volunteer-run food forest
Jefferson Park is a gem of a park in the Beacon Hill neighborhood that rarely feels crowded. The pup-friendly park boasts underrated views of the Seattle skyline, and has a paved loop trail and meadows, along with a playground, spray park, and skate park that make it a fun destination for children of all ages.
In addition to a driving range on its east side, one of the park’s most notable features is the Beacon Food Forest on its western end. This 7-acre community-run garden is free to enter, wander, and harvest from. Volunteers from the neighborhood help with garden upkeep to ensure the neighborhood can continually benefit from the local ecosystem.
Because of its relaxed atmosphere and open, communal feel, Jefferson Park is one of the top parks I recommend on a visit to Seattle.
Green Lake Park
Popular public park in the Green Lake neighborhood with boat rentals, athletic fields, and kid-friendly spaces
Green Lake Park is located in the aptly named Green Lake neighborhood in north Seattle. It’s one of the most popular spots for outdoor recreation lovers.
Stop at Greenlake Boathouse if you want to get out on the water via kayak, stand-up paddle board, or water bike. Don’t want to get on the lake? You can bike, rollerblade, or jog around the paved 2.8-mile loop, or play baseball, frisbee, and soccer on several athletic fields. Families with young kids can take them to the wading pool, the playground, or the swimming beach.
As a bonus, restaurants are close and plentiful on the east side of the lake. Options range from Mediterranean to tapas, hot pot, and more.
Green Lake is one of the most popular parks in Seattle, which means it can be crowded, even on days you’d least expect it. Parking is not always readily available so visitors may want to park somewhere on the street or take the bus instead.
A 500-acre park in the Magnolia neighborhood good for restorative hikes with spectacular Olympic Mountain views
Discovery Park is the largest city park in Seattle and dominates the entire western end of the Magnolia neighborhood. Hiking trails wind through open fields and forested paths, and the stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound from the bluffs further its crowd-pleasing qualities.
It’s about a 2-mile hike to get to the shore with the iconic West Point Lighthouse, but you can also do some birding, or have a picnic in the meadows. Make sure to visit the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in the park, a united space for all Indigenous communities, which has a collection of Native Art available for viewing.
Discovery Park is the best place to hike within the city of Seattle. With buses that bring you to two separate entrances, plus several parking lots, getting to experience this gem of a park couldn’t be easier.
Huge, family-friendly park in West Seattle with forest and waterfront walking paths and a heated, outdoor pool
Lincoln Park is one of the most family-friendly parks on this list. The forested part of the park has a large playground, wading pool, a zipline, grills, picnic tables, and grassy fields for playing or relaxing. Multiple paths lead down to the waterfront where people congregate to run, bike, spot herons and seals, and watch the ferry traveling to and from Vashon Island.
During the warmer months, Coleman Pool opens. This heated, outdoor, saltwater pool for all ages is a highlight for many of the families in the area and those from further neighborhoods.
Whether you need some exercise, want to explore the shore at low tide, or simply spend a day outdoors with your family, Lincoln Park is worth exploring while in West Seattle.
👉 Pro Tip: Looking for something to eat? Across the street from the main Lincoln Park entrance is Taquitos Feliz. This small, unassuming, permanently stationed taco truck is easy to miss, but one of the best Mexican food trucks in the city. Try it out after some park exploration!
Peaceful Japanese garden in Rainier Valley with meandering walking paths through well-groomed foliage
This tranquil and historic Japanese garden in the middle of the Rainier Beach neighborhood is well-maintained and free to enter. Its distance from the city center means it rarely feels crowded and the meandering paths through flowers, trees, and shrubs make it easy to spend a decent chunk of time here.
Watch for koi fish, turtles, and ducks in and around the ponds. You’ll likely spot rabbits and squirrels throughout the rest of the gardens. A wide grassy patch inside makes a good place for a romantic picnic.
There is a small parking lot outside the garden, but it can fill up fast, and finding a spot on the street may be the best option.
Large park in Capitol Hill with a museum and conservatory, perfect for romantic or casual gatherings
In Volunteer Park, you’ll find two Seattle favorites: the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Volunteer Park Conservatory. These alone make a trip to the park worth it, but there’s a lot more tucked into this Capitol Hill gem.
The 48-acre park has walking paths encircling lily ponds and wide-open spaces for ultimate frisbee games, picnics, and letting dogs run. Near the park’s entrance, you’ll find an observation tower with an impressive view of the city beyond. An expansive playground and wading pool keep children busy, and Bruce Lee fans can see his gravesite at the nearby Lake View Cemetery.
Like the Seattle neighborhood it resides in, Volunteer Park is active and full of life. Whether you come for the museum, a Shakespeare in the Park performance, or a lunch break, this park won’t disappoint.
👉 Pro Tip: The squirrels and crows in the park are notoriously bold. If you’re picnicking here, keep a close eye on your food and don’t step too far away or you might turn around and see a crow flying off with your snacks (a lesson learned from personal experience!)
Phenomenal views of the city’s skyline draw visitors to this cozy Queen Anne park
Kerry Park is one of the best places to find breathtaking views of Seattle. This small park in Queen Anne is worth a trip for anyone interested in capturing photos of the iconic skyline.
There are a few benches for visitors to sit and relax, but since the main draw of the park is the viewpoint, most visitors don’t spend a long time there. There are no bathroom facilities and if you drive you’ll have to find street parking (if you’re not driving, I highly recommend taking the bus to spare your calves from the steep walk uphill).
Prepare for crowds during a summertime visit, and go early on a weekday if you want the park to yourself. That said, don’t pass up on a sunset visit: the glittering light over the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, and the buildings of downtown Seattle make for the perfect shot.
Golden Gardens Park
This pristine park-beach in the Ballard neighborhood is known for its stunning sunsets
Part park with forested trails, part beautiful beach, Golden Gardens alone makes Ballard a worthy destination.
Most people come for the beach, but the park has wooded areas for hiking that take you down to the water. An off-leash dog park adds to the appeal for those with furry companions.
On hot summer days, the beach draws Seattleites from every neighborhood. Beach bumming, barbequing, searching tidepools, and hanging out by the bonfire are some of the highlights. And if you decide to spend the whole day here, make sure you stay for the sunset. This is one of the best places to watch it in the city.
No bus will take you directly to the beach, so you’re better off driving here. However, parking can be difficult, especially on sunny days. Circle the lot several times, commit to parking further away and walking, or plan to come early to snag a good space.
👉 Pro Tip: The Seattle Aquarium hosts a beach naturalist program where local volunteers help you identify different sea creatures and marine life at low tide. Golden Gardens and a few other parks have this program so look up the dates if you’re interested!.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Expansive park featuring impressive sculptures alongside gorgeous waterfront views
An extension of the Seattle Art Museum, Olympic Sculpture Park spans nine acres along the waterfront with views of the Puget Sound and Elliott Bay on one side and the Space Needle on the other. A gravel trail guides visitors past abstract, modern sculptures and down to the water where you can make your way to Pier 62 or Myrtle Edwards Park.
Olympic Sculpture Park is just steps from Belltown’s nightlife scene, which makes this a good place to spend a relaxing afternoon before hitting up bars and pubs on 1st and 2nd for the remainder of the evening.
If you’re staying in the downtown or Belltown area, this is an easy park to get to, but parking in the area can be nightmarish. Anyone coming from further afield should consider taking the bus.
Family-friendly peninsula park in south Seattle with Lake Washington access, and space for large group gatherings
Seward Park is on the Bailey Peninsula in Lake Washington. The 300-acre park becomes a lively destination during the summer. Several trails of varying difficulties lead you through forested paths, and there are also paved walking paths catering to those with strollers, bikes, or wheelchairs.
There is a lot of shoreline access in Seward Park, so you can easily launch a hand boat or go swimming here. The amphitheater on the south end provides another place to hang out or watch performances like the Shakespeare in the Park summertime series.
With multiple parking lots, lots of open space, and a great playground, Seward Park is another family-friendly park and is perfect for barbecuing or picnicking with a large group.
Washington Park Arboretum
Meticulously maintained gardens and a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers make this a serene city retreat
The Washington Park Arboretum is an oasis of beauty within city limits. Located in the Madison Park neighborhood, the Arboretum is maintained by the city of Seattle and the University of Washington Botanic Gardens.
Visitors will encounter plants native to the Pacific Northwest alongside ones from Chile, China, and New Zealand. You can take a self-guided tour through the grounds or book a walking or tram tour with an expert. The arboretum is huge, so whether you’re going for a nature walk, want a good hike, or a romantic stroll, you’ll have plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.
While the Arboretum is free, the Seattle Japanese Garden on the south side of the Arboretum has an admission fee. Still, it’s worth checking out if you want to get the full experience of the gardens.
👉 Pro Tip: While the best time to visit Seattle for most park exploration is the summertime, the Arboretum is an excellent choice for year-round visits. The foliage is stunning in the fall, and there’s even a dedicated winter garden with colorful plants that bloom against some of Seattle’s grayest weather.
Gas Works Park
A hilly park on Lake Union with skyline views, kite-flying, and fourth of July festivities
Gas Works Park is on the north side of Lake Union, where the Fremont and Wallingford neighborhoods meet. You’ll have unobstructed, spectacular views of the rest of the city at Gas Works, making it another popular place to get that coveted skyline shot.
The rolling hills in the park make it a prime place to fly a kite, and there’s also plenty of room for picnics and a playground for kids. Bikers will love its proximity to the Burke-Gilman Trail. Gas Works is a popular destination for big Fourth of July celebrations, but if you’re going make sure to arrive early and bring something for shade- it can get really hot here when the sun’s out.
It’s important to note that cooling off, swimming, or boating in the water here is forbidden because the lake sediment contains hazardous chemicals. Gas Works is the site of a former oil plant after all, and the old steel buildings are still there as a reminder of its past.
Lake Union Park
Lakefront park in the South Lake Union neighborhood where boating, seaplanes, and museums coexist
Lake Union Park offers breathing room among the tall buildings and busyness of the South Lake Union neighborhood. It’s one of the top parks in the city, not only because The Museum of History and Industry is in the park, but because it’s so easy to get on the water from here.
The Center of Wooden Boats (one of the best places to go for those doing Seattle on a budget) offers free pea boat rentals. Other fun options for getting on the water? Rent a donut boat, a hot tub boat, or take off on an ice cream cruise.
During warmer months, the spray park opens up to keep little ones entertained. There are benches, tables, and plenty of places to sit down to enjoy lunch, play cards, or watch the seaplanes take off.
North Seattle park with an apple orchard, salmon viewing area, and beachfront just past train tracks
Carkeek Park has a lot to explore. It’s one of the northernmost parks within Seattle city limits and consists of forests, meadows, wetlands, a beach, and even an orchard.
Pipers Creek runs through the park and the Pipers Creek trail will take you past the 100-year-old apple orchard, along a coho salmon viewing area, and to the beach. To get down to the water from any trail, you’ll have to cross a pedestrian bridge over the railroad (a great spot to snag some epic photos!).
Down by the water you’ll find a play area, plenty of driftwood for makeshift seating, a grassy patch to have a picnic, and breathtaking views and sunsets over the Puget Sound. The beach at Carkeek Park is decidedly less busy than the beaches at Alki or Golden Gardens, so it’s a good space for anyone who wants some time by the water without vying for space from others.
Architecturally interesting park in downtown Seattle that hosts community events throughout the summertime
Freeway Park is on the border of the downtown and First Hill neighborhoods of Seattle. Not only is it a good retreat from the bustle of the city, but it also has a lot of architectural interest.
The park is built over the freeway, and it’s a maze of fountains, pathways, waterfalls, and concrete structures intermixed with tall pines and shady, flowering trees. Among the tall buildings and skyscrapers, Freeway Park is a real treat for downtown workers and anyone who just so happens to stumble through it while wandering the city.
If you come during the summer, you may catch a special event – from movie showings to Zumba, yoga, live music, and more. This is another park that’s great in any season and it looks especially pretty under a blanket of snow.
📚 Related Reading: Freeway Park and several others on this list are incredibly easy to get to if you’re staying downtown. To learn about other places to stay, check out my article on where to stay when visiting in Seattle (don’t worry, each area is close to really cool parks!)
Schmitz Preserve Park
A hidden gem in Seattle’s westernmost neighborhood featuring a hike through an old-growth forest
Schmitz Preserve Park is a West Seattle treasure. Several trailheads start in residential neighborhoods and wind down into an old-growth forest that makes for a quiet, secluded retreat. It’s perfectly fine to bring your dog with you through the Preserve, but make sure you also bring some good boots – the path can get quite muddy in places.
The main trail takes you down to Alki Beach, though you can explore several others that branch off from it. Identify plants, listen for wildlife, take a moment to relax by the stream that runs through the park, and you’ll begin to feel like you’ve traveled to the Olympic Peninsula without leaving the city.
There are no restrooms or spots to picnic within the preserve, but there are in the nearby Alki Beach Park when you’re ready to complete your hike.
Pier 62 and Waterfront Park
Resting point along the downtown waterfront with giant outdoor chess and checkers
If you’re exploring the downtown waterfront, Pier 62 is a fun place to stop. Not far from the main waterfront area, this park has a myriad of tables for relaxing, eating lunch, or admiring the view across the sound. Aside from that, there are games like cornhole, oversized checkers, chess, and connect four to keep you entertained.
Because of its location, this is one of the best parks to enjoy while exploring other Seattle attractions. It’s right next to the Great Wheel, Seattle Aquarium, and close to the Olympic Sculpture Park.
While this park isn’t a green space, it’s a nice break from some of the bustle of the waterfront area, and an especially good place to people watch.
Warren G Magnuson Park
Sand Point’s uncrowded, dog-friendly park with athletic fields, wide-open spaces, and lake swimming
Along the shores of Lake Washington, Warren G Magnuson Park takes up almost the entirety of the Sand Point neighborhood. This military-base turned park is the second biggest park in Seattle and it’s great for sporty visitors.
There’s a variety of playfields for soccer, frisbee, baseball, tennis courts, and jogging and biking trails throughout. The park also has a sizable off-leash dog area that makes it an exciting destination for pups. Whatever activity you have your heart set on, you can probably do it at Magnuson Park.
The park is also home to the Magnuson Park Hangar where numerous events take place throughout the year, most notably the Seattle night markets. Because it’s relatively removed from the rest of the city, parking is usually easier here than at the parks closer to the city center.
Genesee Park and Playfield
Mellow, Columbia City park with an off-leash dog park and plenty of space for kids to play
If you’re looking for a laidback park that’s good for children and dogs, the Genesee Park and Playfield is it. With a wide grassy expanse, fenced, off-leash areas, and a playground, this is another family-friendly park. This park is close to Lake Washington, so you could easily follow a path to the lake after you’ve picnicked, played soccer, or run along the trails.
If you’re here during the summer, stop here during Seafair. You’ll be able to watch the Blue Angels perform from the comfort of this cozy neighborhood park.
Myrtle Edwards Park
A small park in Belltown for sun-chasers, and bikers, and with pretty views
Myrtle Edwards Park is one of several highlights on the Elliott Bay Trail. Its 1.25-mile-long path makes it great for bikers and walkers alike. Views of the Olympics, Mount Rainier, and the Puget Sound add to its charm.
A small, sandy area makes it a fine place to dip your toes in the water on really warm days, and you’ll find people lounging around on driftwood, at picnic tables, in the grass, or on the rocks for hours when the sun’s out.
As with many of the parks in the downtown area, it’s better to go there by bus or foot. And because of its proximity to the Olympic Sculpture Park, visitors can easily hit up both parks in one day.
Waterfall Garden Park
Secluded Pioneer Square park that brings calm to hectic city living
Waterfall Park is a public space in Pioneer Square that provides respite from an otherwise rowdy neighborhood. One of Seattle’s smaller and more unique parks, this hidden gem also marks the birthplace of the UPS.
The park has a man-made 22-foot waterfall which is a calming backdrop for people taking a break to read, eat lunch, or catch up with friends. Pretty potted flowers and trees add to the relaxing atmosphere.
If you’re in the neighborhood, Waterfall Park is a worthy stop to take a break from exploring and enjoy one of the little-known and unexpected parts of Seattle.
Quirky, tiny park in Georgetown with a notable art installation
You can’t miss Oxbow Park. Despite its small size, it’s got a feature that makes it stand out: the giant hat and pair of boots that earned it the nickname “Hat and Boots Park”.
The hat and boots were originally designed to draw customers to a gas station in the 50s. Now, this Seattle landmark is in a small park in the middle of the Georgetown neighborhood, an eclectic homage to the neighborhood’s history.
This quirky bit of outdoor art is the park’s big draw though it also has a playground and cute community P-Patch. Since it’s a park in a residential neighborhood, you’ll need to find a place to park along the street. And if you’ve had your fill of the park after snapping a photo with the hat and boots, you’re only a short walk from the main Georgetown strip of restaurants, bars, and cafes.
📚 Related Reading: Want to get out on a hike after all your park adventures? Check out my article on the best hikes near Seattle to help you decide where to go!
FAQs About Seattle Parks
What is the largest park in Seattle?
Discovery Park is the largest park in the city of Seattle at 534 acres. The park encompasses forests, meadows, beaches, and bluffs.
How many Seattle parks are there?
There are over 485 parks in Seattle. These range from small playgrounds to vast, 100+ acre green spaces for hiking.
Is alcohol allowed in Seattle parks?
According to Seattle Parks and Recreation, alcohol is not allowed in the parks.
Seattle’s parks are some of the best places to explore on a trip here. Which parks piqued your interest the most? Let me know in the comments.
Planning to take some day trips from Seattle and want to see more PNW parks? I suggest visiting Bellevue or Tacoma, both of which also have great green spaces. Or check out my list of other top places to visit in Washington for some other solid destinations!
I hope I’ve helped you discover some of the best parks in Seattle!
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