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Seattle's Top 10 : Urban Retreats

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For safety reasons, Seattle parks close by 10pm or 11pm, and it’s best not to visit them afteer dark.


  1. Greenlake

    The well-worn paths in this lake’s  sylvan setting take visitors around a placid lake in a quiet neighborhood north of downtown. Mirror-smooth or gently rippling with the wind, Greenlake’s mesmerizing surface lets minds wander freely. It’s packed on weekends, especially in summer months when sunbathers flock to the grassy areas for day-long solar treatments.

  2. Volunteer Park

    Between 1904 and 1909, the Olmsted Brothers turned these 45 acres of hilltop into a bucolic grass meadow with a fantastic view. The park now houses the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the Volunteer Park Conservatory, and an observation tower . It’s also a notorious gay pick-up scene at night.

    • 1247 15th Ave E

    Volunteer Park Conservatory
  3. GasWorks Park

    Set up in 1906 as a gasification plant to light the streets of Seattle, this became the first industrial site in the world to be recreated into a public park. The park has been scrubbed several times over the years, much of the oversized, industrial machinery either remains on exhibit, or sits rusted and threatening like industrial mastodons behind high security fences. It has a high, grassy kite hill – topped with a sculptor’s sundial.

    • 2101 N Northlake Way

    • 206 684 4075

  4. Woodland Park Rose Garden

    New visitors to the Woodland Park Zoo often bump into this gated area near one of the Zoo entrances. Others, nearly a quarter million annually, make sure to wake up and smell the roses. About 5,000 individual plants and 280 varieties of rose turn this 2.5 acre corner of north Seattle into a technicolor dream.

  5. Schmitz Preserve Park

    The scant remains of the temperate rainforest old growth trees give a clue of what Seattle must have resembled before European settlement. Schmitz is essentially a deep, wide, heavily wooded ravine surrounded by residential streets, but street noises disappear among the magnificent trees and native plantlife.

    • 206 684 4075

  6. Lake Washington Arboretum Japanese Garden

    Stroll the Lake Washington Arboretum’s 230 acres of carefully cultivated landscapes and rare tree species. The gardens, a living page of Japanese history, were built in 1960 according to plans by Japanese designer Juki Iida. These include a traditional sculpture, a stream, exotic flora, ponds, and a teahouse.

    • 1502 Lake Washington Blvd E

    • Adm

  7. Seattle Chinese Garden

    Discover one of the largest Chinese gardens outside of China at the South Seattle Community College campus. Built by artisans from Seattle’s sister city, Chongqing, the garden spans two separate cultures. Using horticulture, rocks, and water, the Sichuan-style garden integrates China’s history, art and architecture, philosophy, and literature into a wondrous microcosm of the universe.

    • 6000 16th Ave SW

    • 206 282 8040

  8. Center for Urban Horticulture

    The University of Washington established the CUH in 1980 in order to exert more control and achieve sounder management of the Arboretum. It includes a library, a herb garden, pleasant strolling meadows, and weekly master gardener meetings.

    • 3501 NE 41st St

  9. Golden Gardens

    In Ballard’s far northwestern edge along Puget Sound, the wide sandy beaches of Golden Gardens take on the characteristics of a cherished vacation spot. The Olympic Mountains stand to the west, a marina lies adjacent, and Lake Washington Ship Canal is nearby so pleasure crafts are always in view. There are two wetlands, a wooded area, a stream, and a loop trail.

  10. Lincoln Park

    On the road to West Seattle’s Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal, this is a versatile recreational find for those looking for hilly trails, picnics by the water, or even a dip in Colman Pool.

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