For Parents: The Five Best Seattle Parks
Coffee and trees are the traditional Seattle hallmarks. What’s not as well advertised are the city’s beautiful parks.
After living in Seattle for three years with two young children, we feel fortunate to take advantage of Seattle’s many family friendly parks. Here are our five favorites.
Gasworks Park: Although there are no children’s playgrounds at this park and the walking area is rather small, we included this park on our list for one reason: it has, arguably, the best view of Seattle. And that view overcomes any other shortcomings.
Gasworks Park is the quintessential place to take visitors to because they can take photos of the downtown Seattle skyline and the Space Needle. Gasworks also offers views of Fremont, Wallingford, U-District, Capitol Hill, Eastlake, Downtown, Belltown, and Queen Anne.
We usually start our walks in Gasworks and then head west on the Burke Gilman trail past the Aurora and Fremont bridges and then past the Google and Adobe offices that dot the trail along the ship canal. The best part about taking the Burke Gilman trail into Fremont is that you can stop for lunch at places like Paseo Caribbean Restaurant for a yummy sandwich.
Seward Park offers everything a parent wants. It has a wide sidewalk to take your strollers on, views of Lake Washington, and one of the best children’s playgrounds in the city. For hikers, Seward Park also offers dirt trails to explore.
What we enjoy most about Saint Edwards is that you can hike down the dirt trail to a spectacular view of Lake Washington, and you can do it with a stroller. We managed it several times with a double Bob stroller packed with two kids and snacks. (Although I’d also warn that pushing a stroller back up the steep hill on a dirt trail is not for those who disdain difficult exercise.)
Some of the Saint Edwards trails feel like real hiking—small dirt trails up steep inclines and down into ravines.
Saint Edwards also has the best children’s playground in Seattle. It resembles a castle and it has things to keep children occupied (which is what every parent wants) no matter the age.
And, if you are coming from Seattle, you will drive past Rainin Ribs on Bothell Way, which we think is, by far, the best BBQ place in all of Seattle.
Ravenna Park: We are a bit biased when it comes to these last two parks because they are within a mile from our home.
Ravenna is one of the few parks I’ve been to that is nestled directly in the heart of the city, and yet makes you feel like you’re in the wilderness. It has a system of trails that run along a small valley and when you’re in the valley, you can’t hear the noise of the city above.
Perhaps the best aspect of Ravenna Park is that it’s always cool. For those in Seattle without any air conditioning, Ravenna park is a great place to take your family for a walk during those handfuls of hot summer days. The temperature is often 10 to 15 degrees lower than the actual temperature.
The only drawback, and since this is Seattle it might not be a drawback for everyone, is the aroma that arrives in the park everyday, especially around 4:20 p.m. If you enjoy the smell of smoking marijuana, then this is the park for you. (I will say that the pot smokers in Ravenna that we’ve met are very respectful about kids. They will generally hide their actions and will not blow smoke near your kids. And, for some reason, they are usually in a jovial mood!)
Ravenna park also has two wonderful children’s playgrounds, and each of them are unique. Our kids love the playground on the west side.
Magnuson Park: Our favorite park. Hands down. It has everything from trails, to playgrounds, to a dog walking park, to a large hill to fly kites, to ball fields and basketball courts.
The sidewalk trail by the water is our favorite because it’s wide and rarely contains the aggressive bikers that seem to reside on the Burke Gilman trail. That is an important consideration for parents because it is exhausting to monitor our kids every step in an effort to avoid them being run over by bicyclists.
The children’s playground on the north side of Magnuson is clean and fairly new. It is has a sand box, rock climbing walls, swings, and slides. Our kids beg us to go there.