For tourists the most interesting feature of this park is that it offers a view of the Seattle skyline. The bad news is that this view does not offer any sort of look at the Space Needle these days, as the skyline of Seattle has grown to the point where downtown stands between the Space Needle and this park.
However, the good news is that on a clear day you can see parts of the Olympic Mountains, through the industrial southern part of Seattle sits in the foreground, along with the stadiums and a vat freeway and highway interchange.
The park also has a few artworks in it, as well as a picnic shelter, various benches and picnic tables, a small playground, and a small monument to Dr. José P. Rizal, who was executed for supposedly being involved with the Filipino insurrection of 1896 but had significant contributions to society and science.
The lower part of the park on the hill is a fairly large off-leash dog area, protected by spring-closed gates.
The park also is crossed by the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail.
The main photo for this tip shows downtown and Elliott Bay and the stadiums as viewed from this park. However, no mountains are visible due to the typical winter weather view being offered that day.
%How to Get Here:
Easiest on Bus Route # 36, which is a fairly frequent trolley bus route. Going south out of downtown the closest it gets to the park is 14th, which is two blocks to the east of the park. Going north back to downtown it is right at the park. Driving requires going east on Jackson and then south on 12th through a bizarre intersection to continue on 12, then swing over to 14th.
Located in a somewhat out of the way location for the International District, this small park features a playground and open space, themed around the Asian influences of the International District. The park doesn't have a huge amount of interest in it other than the Asian themed features.
There is a small shelter in the park and it is a popular lunch place for those getting takeout from the surrounding restaurants, if it is a reasonably good weather day.
How to Get Here:
Located at Lane and 7th Avenue South, it is only a matter of going somewhat south and east from Union Station. The nearest bus service is on Dearborn, which is bus route #42. However, a number of other buses are a few blocks north on Jackson Street.
This small plaza is a popular place for lunch during dry, and especially warm, days. There are various events held here from time to time (see the events section of the city of Seattle parks pages), including street performers of various types during warm month lunches and some evenings.
The Grand Pavilion in the center of the park was designed and built in Taipei, Taiwan. It is part of a celebration of the International District (which is a merging of a large number of different Asian cultures).
You will also find a small map of nearby artwork and other features of the International District. This is located on a small stone post at the center of the south side of the park.
There is a community bulletin board for finding out about local events at the far southeast corner of the park (see photo 1).
There is a dragon mural (see photo 2) on the building just north of the park.
The coldest of winter months (January and December) have far less activity here than during the rest of the year, for the most part.
How to Get Here:
Like much of downtown Seattle parking is a bit of a challenge as it is densely populated. Parking is available at a pay parking structure south of Union Station. Fairly frequent bus routes 7, 14, 36 and 99 serve Jackson Street, just north of the park.
The park is located at S. King Street and Maynard Avenue South.
With a very deep room filled with pinball machines, this tiny and relatively unknown museum in the International District is most certainly one of the places few people hear about when considering attractions in Seattle. However, if you want a good rainy day place to visit that isn't too expensive ($10 for all you can play) this is certainly one place to consider visiting.
While some of the games are fairly new, some of the others date back to the 1960s (these are currently undergoing repair).
Refreshments such as beer and soft drinks are also available.
The museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
This is definitely one of the more unknown parks in the downtown Seattle area, but it is a nice quiet place to relax, and an attractive location though it is surrounded by a large steel fence.
This location marks the starting location of what would become United Parcel Service, which started somewhere beneath the sidewalks in a basement office at this location.
Today the park features tables and chairs, and of course a large waterfall at the west end of the park, which does a lot of good in blocking out the noise of the surrounding city. It is kept fairly clean and on warmer days is a popular place for people to bring their lunch or snacks.
The park is not open very long compared to surrounding city parks. The shortest hours are during the winter months, when it is open 8:00 am to 3:45 pm.
How to Get Here: The park is located on the Northwest corner of 2nd Avenue South and South Main Street, 1 block north of the Gold Rush Museum. A large number of different bus routes are within walking distance of here. Many of these are only a block away on S 2nd Avenue Extension, which runs diagonally across the street grid east of this location. Bus route 99 from the waterfront is 1 block south on Jackson Street. The streetcar (tram) line no longer operates here, though the tracks down the middle of the street are still there.
Today the Space Needle is far more famous, and the Columbia Center is far more famous, but you will notice a much smaller, much older tower on the south side of downtown Seattle, which is still an active office building. It has a central tower that sticks up well above the immediately surrounding buildings, and so is still a little bit of a landmark.
Smith Tower was constructed in 1914, and when it was completed it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. 38 stories makes it taller than almost all structures in Portland, Oregon, and so even though it is dwarfed by modern Seattle it is still even today a fairly significant tower.
The tower has an observation deck that is open all days during the busier months, and during the rest of the year the observation deck is only open on Saturdays and Sundays, 10 to 4. These hours are open to variance for an assortment of reasons, especially private events, and it is recommended that you call ahead. The entrance price is $7.50. The hours are posted on the web site, and it should be noted that the operating hours change on a month to month basis depending on the month - that listed here is only a simplification of the operating hours.
It should be noted that the observation deck is a wrap-around outdoor deck, and thus you need to dress for the weather. There is always a fairly cold wind blowing off Puget Sound in this part of downtown, and even in summer it would not hurt to take a few warmer clothes with you to the top of the tower just in case you have trouble with this cold wind.
Unfortunately the views offered from the top of the tower are no longer quite as spectacular as they once were, as Seattle has grown much taller and obstructs the view to the north now. However, it is still possible to see south to Mount Rainier, the various lesser Cascades peaks, and the Olympic Mountains. This is still quite a bit more scenery that what you get in observation platforms in a number of other cities.
Supposedly, the elevators that bring passengers from the ground floor to the observation deck are the last manually operated ones on the west coast.
How to Get Here: The tower is located at 506 Second Avenue, at the southern end of downtown, in the Pioneer Square area. A vast number of bus routes and several train routes serve this area, it is located in the "Ride Free Zone", and so it is easy to get to by public transit. Parking in downtown Seattle can be difficult, but there are scattered parking garages around the area including one by King Street Station.
Behind St. Mark's Cathedral, there is a bench on the edge of a bluff that overlooks Lake Union, Queen Anne Hill, and pretty much the entire western part of Seattle. This bench is usually empty, but it has some of the best views of the city and the Olympic Mountains.
Grab something to eat along Broadway or bring a lunch to this peaceful spot and just enjoy looking at this remarkable city. It is a great place to get your bearings, too - you can see the Locks, downtown, the Stadiums, the ferries, and I-5 for miles.
Saint Mark's is located at 1022 E Tenth Ave, just north of the Broadway neighborhood. You can see the huge cathedral from I-5 on the hill near the Mercer St exit. Drive into the parking lot and around behind the cathedral. Go to the farthest corner of the lot and you'll see the bench.
(And be sure to check out the Cathedral Shop if you have a minute - they always have beautiful and interesting objects there!)
Located in Pioneer Square Park at Yesler Way and James Street, this small bust and signs are a monument to the man after whom Seattle is named.
The bust faces approximately northwest, down 1st Avenue.
To the back of the bust there are two signs. The northwest side of the signs have a message written in the Chinook language, and the southeast side of the sign have the message written in English.
The sign on the left side of the bust reads "Chief Seattle now the streets are our home"
The sign on the right side of the bust reads "Far away brothers and sisters we still remember you"
The bust sits on a pedestal which is located in the center of an approximately 3 foot (1 meter) diameter basin of water. The basin sits on a second pedestal.
The plaque under the pedestal reads:
Cheif Seattle Fountain
Comissioned by the City of Seattle Board of Parks Commissioners
Despite Seattle's fantastic scenery, my favorite tour of Seattle had no mountain scenery and no Space Needle. It was actually the Seattle Underground Tour in Pioneer Square and the only light of day we saw was looking up through those little glass squares in the sidewalk that you probably won't even notice until you are under them.
Like pretty much any modern city, Seattle had its very own 'great fire.' In 1889 much of the downtown was leveled. Rather than rebuild like most normal people would do, the city of Seattle decided to use the fire to its advantage and rebuild in a way that would eliminate many of the city's problems including a very stinky sewer system. They built everything one floor up! The new street level was at the level of the previous first floor, and the old street level ended up below ground.
The guide was funny enough to keep my attention, but not so comical that the message got lost in the jokes, as he told us about Seattle's less than clean history and how ground level came to be where it is today.
Tours start in Doc Maynards at 610 1st Ave.
This Seattle Public Library is one of the nicest (and newest) additions to the downtown Seattle area. Wonderful architecture makes people want to come in and read books.... and this is very well architected!
Lots of sun soaks through the glass enclosures, which makes it a wonderful place to read!
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