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While there is no official name for this wide swath of roadway on the far southwest side of Magnolia, it does have its own dedicated parking area, and even a City of Seattle Parks sign that indicates it as a publicly owned set of viewpoints.
The view from here runs far to the west and south, including (on clear days) parts of the Olympic Mountains.
There are benches and open grass on the slope, and the parking area at Magnolia Blvd and Montavista.
This is a popular place for local residents to jog and walk, but few people from out of town seem to have discovered this location.
The only disadvantage to it is that it is a fairly busy road during many times of day.
How to Get Here:
The nearest bus routes are #19 and #24, located at what is essentially Eastmont Way and Viewmont, except that Eastmont at this point is just an unmarked sidewalk going between houses on its way down the hill. Take the sidewalk down the hill from the bus stop and it will intersect Magnolia Blvd. at the main parking area for the viewpoints.
If driving, from the Magnolia Village area, head south and west on a maze of local roads. McGraw to Montevista to Magnolia Blvd or south on 34th to Howe to Magnolia Blvd. is probably the least confusing of the various methods to get here.
Written Dec 21, 2012
Depending on the time of year and the weather, this park could have a great view of Elliott Bay and parts of Puget Sound, or it could have a really awful view.
As you can see from my photos, my ifrst visit happened to visit on a day when the view wasn't so great.
Despite the hours listed on the web site, the posted park hours are 6 AM to 9 PM in summer, and 6 AM to 7 PM in winter. It does not list the months that are considered "summer" or "winter" months.
There are several benches and picnic tables with a few trees, and small patches of open grass. Directly across Elliott Bay is West Seattle and the Alki Peninsula.
In the area surrounding the park, it is possible to get very close to the large cruise ships and other ships that call at the Port of Seattle's Interbay facility. in the winter, this is where the Pacific fishing fleet spends the winter.
You may or may not get a view towards downtown Seattle, depending on what ships are sitting in the port facility. If there are lots of large ships, you view may be blocked. The same also goes for the potential view of Mount Rainier: it is possible to see it from here, if there is nothing large in the way.
There is a full sized athletic field here with a portable toilet next to the entry gate, but the athletic field is not that interesting to travelers - unless you need a portable toilet.
For a view of the park in better weather, please see my Photo of the Park from August 15, 2010, which is Photo 3 of my Seattle and Magnolia, August of 2010 Travelogue.
Address: 1451 23rd Ave W
How to Get There: Elliott Avenue to Magnolia Bridge. Exit bridge halfway across on ramp labeled for the Marina. At end of ramp, turn south (your only choice) and follow Marina Place south. When Marina Avenue turns towards the Marina, find a place to park beside the street. Smith Cove Park runs along the north side of Elliott Bay eastward from this sharp corner in Marina Place.
By Walking or Bike: It is possible to access this park from the Terminal 91 Bike Path. From Thorndyke Avenue West, go south on 20th or 21st Avenue West through an industrial area. Both roads end at the bike path. Turn west (right) at the end of the road and follow the bike path to its end at Marina Place, and continue follwing Marina Place. When the road makes a sharp right curve and runs along the bay, turn left into the park.
Updated Aug 21, 2012
There is no way to guarantee that these will be here when you stop by, but it might be worth checking on if you happen to be in the area:
Part of the Boeing assembly line has airplane bodies assembled in other states, and then sent by train to the Seattle area for final assembly. The long distance freight train terminates at the Interbay Yard, which is on the eastern boundary of Magnolia. The planes then wait in the freight yard for a local train to deliver them to the final assembly plant.
The normal location for these airplanes, if they are sitting in the yard, is one or two tracks east of 20th Avenue, just south of 20th Avenue West and Thorndyke Avenue West.
Google Maps Street View also has a great view of these airplanes, captured when their street view photographer visited the area.
IF You Visit: Please don't do anything stupid. There is a lot of train traffic in this yard, and there are always crew around because this is one of the locations where BNSF crew end and begin their days. Thus, there are always railroad people around even if you don't notice right away that they are around. You can take photos and visit the airplane bodies and locomotives pretty well from the public street as it is very close to the two or three tracks in question. Therefore, there is no need to get arrested for trespassing on railroad land or get hauled in for questioning by the security people that are always watching over the Boeing airplane parts that are being moved.
As stated at the top of this tip, there is no way to guarantee that there will be airplane parts here when you visit. Sometimes they are here and sometimes they are not. My impression is that this shipment happens two or three times per week. Sometimes they will be sitting here and sometimes they won't be.
How to Get Here: Elliott Avenue to 15th Avenue West to W. Dravus Street, Left on 20th and continue straight south rather than diagonally on Thorndyke. Bus routes 33 (from downtown Seattle), 31 (from University of Washington) are nearby on 22nd Avenue, and 15th Avenue has bus routes 15 and 18 from downtown Seattle. The Elliott Bay Bike Path from downtown Seattle to Magnolia also uses this part of 20th Avenue.
For Additional Photos see my Cockpit Meets Cab travelogue. Also, one photo on my Scenery from the Train travelogue shows the plane bodies waiting to be delivered just south of Seattle.
Updated Feb 2, 2012
Opened to the public only a few months ago, this viewpoint is now yet another location that has good views of downtown Seattle and Puget Sound.
However, in all honesty, the view is a little obstructed, and you may want to walk over to the Magnolia Bridge to take a look at the view from there as well.
The viewpoint sits on the south edge of the hill on which Magnolia sits. There is a lot of open grass, and it would make a nice picnic location. The nearby road is fairly busy, but is it possible to get fairly far away from the road.
There is currently no connection between this park and anything other than Garfield Street.
I visited the site of this park several times in 2009. At that time, the area was surrounded by chain link fence, and there was little evidence that a park was to exist here. By April of 2010, a new sign existed outside the park entrance, and much of the chain link fence had been replaced by a small wooden fence that looked a bit more park-like. Photo 5 shows the state of the park in August of 2009.
How to Get Here: Elliott Avenue to West Garfield Street. Cross the Magnolia Bridge over teh railroad yard and port facilities. The park is located at the west end of the bridge, just after a turn to the left. Go past the entrance to the park and turn around, as turning left into the park off of Garfield is not safe: there is a blind right curve that prevents you from seeing oncoming traffic.
Updated Apr 21, 2010
While Elliott Bay Park is the noted public park along Elliott Bay for people to visit, Elliott Bay Marina may also be visited by the general public, at least for right now:
"PRIVATE PROPERTY" say the signs in nice, large letters, but if you just drive by in your car you will miss the little letters underneath that say "public pathway access 9:00AM to DUSK". It does not tell you what time "dusk" is. It also says "PEDESTRIANS ONLY no bike riding and no roller blading" but the path along the water is fairly short, so this area really shouldn't be a popular attraction to those wanting to do those activities anyway.
As there is no through auto traffic, this is a fairly quiet place to come, and it does have some wonderful views of the bay and the sound - depending of course on the weather you have when you visit. There is a paved pathway along the edge of the water, leading from Elliott Bay Park to the west edge of the Marina property - where the trail comes to a stop at a bench overlooking the bay. Total pathway length is approximately 2000 feet (about 600 meters).
While it is not possible for the general public to go out onto the piers and get an up close look at the hundreds of boats that call this marina home, it is possible to see a great many of them from the public trail.
Elliott Bay Park is right along the water at this location as well, so don't miss that park if you have an interest in walking along the edge of the water.
This marina also has two restaurants. One is called Maggie's Bluff and the other is called Pallisades. Both probably have better views than any other restaurant in Magnolia, and yet they are also probably Magnolia's best kept secret.
Driving Directions: Elliott Avenue West to Magnolia Bridge, and follow signs to Elliott Bay Marina. Exit onto ramp halfway across Magnolia Bridge - it is only possible to get to this ramp if you are going west on the Magnolia bridge! At the end of this ramp, turn left (the only direction you are allowed to go if you aren't a bicycle or pedestrian or port of Seattle employee) and drive towards the water. At the edge of the water, turn right and follow the road a short distance to the Entry to the Marina.
By Bicycle or Walking from Magnolia proper: From Thorndyke Avenye West, go south onto 20th or 21st Avenue, into the industrial area. At the end of either street, you will come to a bike path that curves around the edge of the Port of Seattle industrial land, and ends under the Magnolia bridge at the Marina. Turn right onto this path at the end of either street.
Address: 2601 West Marina Place, Seattle, WA 98199-4331
The web site below is for the Marina, and you must go through the "on site businesses" section to find out about the restaurants. There isn't much there about the short bit of public walking pathway.
Written Dec 10, 2009
Phone: (206) 285-4817
Truly an "off the beaten path" place when it comes to tourists, Magnolia Park is a fairly typical city park: fairly large shade trees, a few picnic tables with barbecue pits, one covered picnic area, a few pieces of playground equipment, and well maintained grass.
It isn't that great a place to play sports of most type (improvised disc golf might be an exception, but there isn't a set up course here for that), as the entire park slopes very steeply to Puget Sound. There are tennis courts, but those are across Magnolia Way from the park's parking lot on a fairly level piece of ground.
Therein also exists the reason why I bother mentioning this park here: even during the summer months, when there are lots of leaves on the trees, you will find that the lowest two benches in the park have a fairly nice view out to Puget Sound. This view would be even better in the winter time, when fewer leaves on the trees would block the view.
The view isn't as spectacular as it is from nearby Ella Bailey Park, but it is a view at least, and the park is a fairly quiet and enjoyable place once you get away from the rather busy Magnolia Boulevard.
The main entrance to the park is at Magnolia Boulevard West and approximately West Hayes Street, though there really isn't a good intersection here to identify the location.
Updated Sep 10, 2009
While wandering through Magnolia searching for some public lands with good views of Seattle and Mount Rainier, I came across this park, which occupies an oddly shaped sloping triangle of land formed by Magnolia Way West and Thorndyke Avenue.
There really is nothing here of any interest to travelers, so for those who see this park on the maps and are looking for what I was looking for, seek elsewhere. This park doesn't have a view of much of anything.
I did find one of the park's picnic tables a useful rest stop while waiting for a bus going east. The bus stop on Thorndyke at the north end of the park is served by bus routes 31 and 33.
In addition to a few picnic tables and benches in a mowed grass field, the park has a small untamed forest on the east side, with a number of signs saying that people are prohibited from riding their bicycles through the forest. (Anyone crazy enough to ride a bike through that tangle of blackberry vines and bushes isn't going to be stopped by a sign asking them not to do so, but apparently that is lost on whoever decided to put these signs here.)
If you do want a better view, then walk up the hill to Ella Bailey Park, which has an absolutely wonderful view of downtown, or walk downhill to the Magnolia Bridge which also has a great view.
Written Sep 9, 2009
While in my wanderings through the Magnolia area, attempting to find a good viewpoint (and Magnolia has a few, just very well hidden) I came across a dead end street running south from West Galer Street that is basically a continuation of 28th Avenue West. The street runs for approximately 50 feet, and then comes to an abrupt end right at the edge of a cliff overlooking Elliott Bay and Puget Sound.
Apparently, the neighbors aren't too happy about having a public street with such a great viewpoint right next door, and in fact the house on the west side even has a sign saying "Pedestrians Prohibited from This Side of Street". Therefore, I stayed on the non-prohibited side of the street - at least as best as I could tell. It isn't exactly clear where the line of demarcation is between prohibited for pedestrians or not-prohibited for pedestrians.
Furthermore, even if pedestrians are prohibited, it doesn't seem as though anyone has thought to prohibit parking there.
The views I got were OK, but would have been spectacular if Mt. Rainier had decided to show itself on that particular day. Downtown Seattle is easier to see from Ella Bailey Park just up the hill from here, but this spot gives a much better 180 degree view towards southern Seattle, directly south towards Vashon Island, and west to the Olympic Mountains. Ella Bailey Park does not have a view to the west at all.
Written Sep 9, 2009
While it is named "Bay View Playground" and while it is possible to see parts of downtown Seattle (and on a clear day, Mount Rainier in the distance), the park really doesn't have any great views. In fact the only place you can actually get views is at highest point in the park, at the intersection of 24th Avenue and Raye Street.
You are better off walking up the hill to Ella Bailey Park, which has a much better view, if you have come here looking for a view of the city and the Mount Rainier.
The park does feature sports fields (which Ella Bailey Park doesn't have much of) and playground equipment, and restroom facilities (which Ella Bailey Park also lacks).
There is a plan to extensively change the arrangement of the playground equipment here, including adding a climbing rock and a paved loop for tots on wheeled equipment of various types.
Written Sep 8, 2009
Connecting the Magnolia neighborhood with Queen Anne and the rest of Seattle across the long, narrow canyon now occupied by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway's Interbay Yard, the Magnolia Bridge is notable due to the views it has of downtown Seattle (on a clear day this includes Mt. Rainier) and the new cruise ship terminal just south of the bridge.
The bridge features an intersection about halfway through it, which can lead to somewhat congested conditions.
There is a butterfly shaped sculpture that hangs over the east end of the bridge, and a small memorial attached to the railing on the west end of the walkway.
There is no walkway on the north side of the bridge, so sidewalks that lead there simply end at the end of the bridge. If you plan to walk on the bridge, cross to the south side of the street before you get to the bridge, as traffic moves fast, and the curves at the west end are quite blind.
Updated Sep 8, 2009