The Seattle parks system tied for 11th in the Trust for Public Land’s 2017 ParkScore Index ratings and has been recognized by CNN Money as one of the country’s best park cities. Seattle’s hundreds of parks, which together constitute more than 11% of the city’s total land area, have a combined 120 miles of hiking trail between them. While most Seattle parks are open year-round, the northwest seaport city does have something of a park season. And it’s drawing to a close. Before Seattle’s clear summer skies once again fill with rain clouds and the days grow dispiriting-ly short, hit up one or more of these venerated Seattle parks.
Known for its spectacular Puget Sound and Olympic Mountain views, this northwest Seattle park spans 220 acres of meadows, wetlands, and beach. Six miles of easy-to-moderate hiking trail make Carkeek Park a great destination for active family outings with young children. Carkeek Park, home to a creek through which salmon run annually, is also a salmon watching destination. Visit Piper’s Creek one weekend in November or early December to see adult chum and coho salmon born in these waters return to spawn. Carkeek Park is a 15-minute drive from AMLI Mark24.
Seattle’s largest park is also its most rugged. Since acquiring the 534-acre area from the military in 1973, the city has left Discovery Park largely undeveloped. As a result, the park is a prime spot for birdwatching and other wildlife sightings. More than 270 bird species live in the park. Tree frog, deer, and otter sightings are common. Even coyotes, cougars, and bears have been spotted on occasion.
Venturing along Discovery Park’s 12 miles of hiking trail, you’ll traverse steep bluffs, sand dunes, streams, meadows, and beaches. Dense, forested sections are reminiscent of trails in the Olympic Peninsula’s rainforest. At clearings, you’ll enjoy sweeping bay and mountain views. If you want to make a day of hiking through Seattle parks, you can hit up three others on the 30-minute walk from AMLI Mark 24. From Old Ballard, walk to the Carl S. Junior Botanic Garden. Cross the Lake Washington Shipping Canal via the Ballard Locks, and you’ll be in Commodore Park. Walk southwest through Kiwanis Memorial Preserve Park, and you’ll hit Discovery Park.
When you first set eyes on Gas Works Park, two landmarks stand out. One is the decommissioned gas plant that gives the park its name. The other is a giant mound jutting up from the park’s otherwise flat landscape, especially popular with kite flyers. Part of the defunct plant has been developed into a one-of-a-kind children’s play barn, making Gas Works Park a good playdate destination. The park, easily accessible for many Seattleites via the Gilman-Burke Trail, is just one block from AMLI Wallingford.
The scenic beach is the main attraction at this Ballard park, but Golden Gardens has a little bit of everything. The 87-acre park has a one-acre, off-leash dog area; a children’s play area; and 3.2 miles of mostly forested hiking trail. Still, the beach steals most of the attention Golden Gardens gets for good reasons. It’s beautiful in its own right, and a stunning vantage point for sunsets over the Olympics. Score one of the beach’s highly-coveted fire pits, and you’ll have trouble leaving before the park closes. Car parking is limited, and feels especially scarce in the hour before sunset. Cyclists have an easier time finding good spots to lock up their bikes. Golden Gardens is a 15-minute bike ride from AMLI’s Ballard apartments.
Good views are the norm at Seattle parks, but those from Kerry Park are especially hard to beat. Branded “The View Park” by Seattle Met, Kerry offers unobstructed views of the Seattle skyline, Elliott Bay, and the Cascades. On clear days, you can even see Mount Rainier, standing proudly behind the Space Needle. Kerry Park is another great sunset park. For equally impressive views and lighting without a fraction of the company, visit Kerry Park at sunrise. If you ever need a reminder of why you live in Seattle, the Kerry Park Viewpoint has you covered. In good traffic, Kerry Park can be reached from all of AMLI’s Seattle apartments in about 10 minutes.
If you live or work in Belltown or the Seattle Center, Myrtle Edwards Park is the place to go for fresh air. Impressive views of the Puget Sound, Olympics, and Rainier make this 4.8-acre waterfront park a popular picnic spot. Runners and cyclists also frequent Myrtle Edwards Park, home to a quarter of the five-mile Elliott Bay Trail. The trail connects Myrtle Edwards to two other Seattle parks, Centennial Park in the north and Olympic Sculpture Park in the south.
Seattle has one of the better designed and best preserved Olmsted park systems in the country. Of the Seattle parks designed by the prolific landscape architectural duo, Volunteer Park is the most impressive. Highlights of the 48-acre park include a landmark conservatory, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and a climbable water tower. In the summer months, the park is reputed to be one of the best spots for blooming dahlias, Seattle’s city flower. Additional perks of visiting Volunteer Park in the summer are a wading pool (open between 11am and 8pm) and Koi ponds, which are unpopulated during cooler months. Volunteer Park is a 10-minute bike ride from AMLI’s South Lake Union apartments and its new Denny Triangle apartment tower, AMLI Arc.
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