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DESTINATIONS
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You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to parks in Seattle.

5 Essential (and Easy to Get to) Parks in Seattle

BY KELLY KNICKERBOCKER
Rain or shine, Seattleites love a park. They’ve got plenty to choose from, too. The city is home to nearly 500 parks spread out across 6,441 acres — and we’re truly talking about right in the city. Drive a little bit out of town and you’ll soon reach even more, including
nearby national parks
like Mount Rainier National Park. Big and little, beachside and bluffside, in the downtown core and sprinkled in neighborhoods throughout town, there’s no shortage of urban natural areas to explore in Seattle. (Looking for even more places to get outside? Check out our guide to
what it's like living in Seattle
.)
Whether you’re planning the perfect picnic or lacing up your boots for an in-city hike, here are five of the best parks in Seattle.

1. DISCOVERY PARK

Situated in the northwest corner of Seattle in the Magnolia neighborhood,
Discovery Park
is the city’s biggest public park, spanning a whopping 534 acres. The former military base turned picturesque urban playground boasts more than 11 miles of walking trails and 140 feet of elevation. Entering the park, you’re quickly treated to expansive views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains across the water. From there, duck into the evergreen canopy and wind your way down to the rocky, driftwood-studded Discovery Park Beach and the historic West Point Lighthouse.

2. GAS WORKS PARK

One of Seattle’s most unusual public spaces,
Gas Works Park
is a preeminent urban green space built on the site of an old coal gasification plant. (You may recognize it from an iconic scene in 10 Things I Hate About You.) The plant was a distinctive and beloved landmark, and some of its original structures still stand, including an array of metal towers and pipes. Gas Works sits directly on Lake Union across from downtown (and
Sentral SLU
), providing top-notch views of both, whether you’re picnicking, boat-watching, kite-flying, or frisbee-tossing. The view is especially lovely from atop the “Great Mound,” a giant earthen hill that was created using rubble from building foundations.

3. KERRY PARK

Nestled on the south slope of the Queen Anne neighborhood, this iconic pocket park offers one main attraction — but it’s a heavy-hitter. All those swoon-worthy panoramas you’ve seen on Pinterest or Instagram of Seattle’s skyline and the Space Needle with Puget Sound in the foreground and Mount Rainier rising in the back? That’s
Kerry Park
. On a clear day, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more awe-inspiring vantage point!
Pro tip: After you’ve snapped some photos, continue walking down West Highland Drive to Marshall Park. It draws significantly fewer crowds but provides sweeping westward views of the Salish Sea and Olympic Mountains.

4. ALKI BEACH PARK

When temperatures rise and the sun is shining, Seattleites flock to the 2.5-mile stretch of shoreline known as
Alki Beach
in West Seattle. Grab your towel, bathing suit, and bike and hop on the King County Water Taxi departing from downtown. Once you’ve docked in West Seattle, enjoy a flat, scenic joyride to one of the city’s only sandy beaches — and one with views of both mountain ranges, Puget Sound, and the not-so-distant skyline to boot. Not the sunbathing type? Nearby
Lincoln Park
is another great option. Its forested landscape features plenty of hiking trails and a paved walkway along a picturesque stretch of shoreline.

5. SEWARD PARK

Southeast Seattle’s
Seward Park
is located on a peninsula that juts into Lake Washington, overlooking Andrews Bay on one side and across the lake to Mercer Island on the other. The 300-acre park is home to some of the city’s last tracts of old-growth forest — a potent reminder of the ancient natural wonders at Seattle’s doorstep. Beyond the impressive bigleaf maples and western red cedars, there are oodles of activities to consider at Seward Park — winding hiking trails, paved walking/biking paths, a fishing pier, an arts center and amphitheater, little lakeside beaches, a playground, and more.

WANT TO HAVE THESE PARKS RIGHT IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD?
Live in Seattle at
Sentral SLU
or
Sentral First Hill
.

ABOUT THE WRITER 
Though raised in Texas, Kelly Knickerbocker moved to Seattle more than a decade ago and still loves discovering — and sharing — its secrets, writing about the city’s artists, food, drinks, travel, and real estate. You can usually find Kelly on her bike or paddleboard cruising along Seattle’s paths and waterways…or sipping a German-style brew at the conclusion of her ride.

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An Insider Guide to Seattle’s First Hill Neighborhood
An Insider Guide to Seattle’s South Lake Union Neighborhood
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