National/Local - Parks/Gardens, Seattle

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  • Small Gravel Beach in Lake Union Park
    Small Gravel Beach in Lake Union Park
    by glabah
  • Lake Union Park offers Fountains and Lake Access
    Lake Union Park offers Fountains and...
    by glabah
  • pedal powered boat on Green Lake
    pedal powered boat on Green Lake
    by glabah
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    Volunteer Park Watertower Observation Deck

    by glabah Updated Oct 30, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Volunteer Park observation deck windows
    4 more images

    Located inside Volunteer Park, one of the city's oldest water towers has been rebuilt with an observation deck at the top. There is no elevator, but the two half-spiral staircases that lead to the top will provide you with lots of free exercise as you climb to the top. There is no elevator or other alternative to climbing the stairs as the structure and its use as a viewpoint predate the common provision of such amenities.

    From the top of the water tower, it is possible to have a true 360 degre view, of sorts. Downtown, the Space Needle, the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier, Lake Washington, and the ridge of the Cascade Mountains heading north are all visibile from up here.

    Best of all?
    Getting to the observation deck is absolutely free of charge, unlike the Space Needle or the Columbia Center Skyview or a few other locations with a great view.

    I found it necessary to turn the camera upside down in order to get through the grates over the windows for some of the photos I took. If you bring a step stool or ladder and carry it up all 170 steps to the top of the tower, you could also get over the top of the tightest grate and possibly get better photographs that way. The grate that is higher up has a much larger grid pattern, and would be easier to get the lens of a camera through. It would require considerable effort to drag something like that up here, however.

    NOTE: On a clear day you can see Mt Rainier just fine with your eyes, but to get it to show up with your camera (digital or film) you will need UV filters or other specialized equipment, or come here when the light is set exactly right such as near sunset. This has to do with the way standard photographic equipment works over such long distances and through air with smog in it. The photos that I have posted here are fairly typical of this phenomena: there should be snow capped mountains in photos 3 and 5, but they don't show up on film or digital camera.

    As for the hours of operation, the signs say "Open Daily at 10 AM, Closed Evenings by Security Service" without any idea as to when in the evening the doors are closed.

    The best time to get photographs of the views around Seattle is near sunrise or sunset, as that is when the mountains are most visible. Sunrise isn't going to happen at this water tower as the opening time is 10 am. In the summer, sunsets are not possible either due to the tower closing much too early. Sunset can be as late as 9:45 here. However, a rare winter clear day can provide a wonderful opportunity, as the sunset happens before 6 in the evening. For some results of this, please see my Photos from Volunteer Park Water Tower travelogue. This travelogue also features a look at one of the windows and how it is a bit hard to take photos through it due to the protective barriers. Only certain angles and certain photo equipment work (think small camera with zoom lens that can protrude between the wires, and being very selective about the angles at which you can shoot).

    The signs do say that it is possible to call 684-4555 for more information about the water tower or Volunteer Park. It does not, however, give an area code for this phone number.

    The observation deck also has a set of historical plans and documents relating to the creation of the Seattle parks network, and the plans created by the Olmstead Brothers, who made a special trip from New York to explore Seattle. At the time they said that there was nothing from stopping Seattle from becoming one of the top cities in the world in terms of its parks system.

    I can't possibly imagine dragging the park benches and display boards all the way up here on those staircases!

    The web site below is for Volunteer Park and not specific to the water tower.

    How to Get Here:
    The official address of the park is 1247 15th Ave. E. The best bus route to take to get here is bus route 10, which also serves the Capitol Hill community. You can drive, but on a really clear day it will be difficult to find parking as everyone else will be here for the views and to enjoy the sunlight. Bus route #10 is somewhat slow, but it does run fairly frequently.

    See also:

    My Volunteer Park Tip
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/1e6da4/
    The outside of the water tower is shown in photo 3 on this tip.

    My Photos from Volunteer Park Water Tower on 26 December 2009:
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/c250a/
    These were taken near sunset on a winter day, so it is possible to see the snow on the surrounding mountains in some of the photos. It is also possible to see the limitations of the windows installed in this structure in the very last photograph.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Photography

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    Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden

    by glabah Updated Feb 17, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    gateway and raised beds at Carl English garden
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    Located right next to the Ballard Locks, this garden is a wonderful park-like collection of trees, flowers and other plants. I happened to get my first visit in May, when all the rhododendron were in bloom.

    Most of the trails are paved, but there are one or two that are not paved.

    The gardens were created on the former barren wasteland construction site of the Ballard Locks, and in all over 40 years were spent collecting and planting them. There are over 400 species of plants.

    Benches are spread throughout the facility, and you can find a spot in the sun or shade (assuming, of course, the day happens to have enough sunlight to create either). The gardens are very well maintained, and on a warm day you will find locals having a picnic lunch here.

    On the south side of the garden, there is a set of terraced steps for those who wish to sit on the grassy slope and watch the ships and boats go through the Ballard Locks. However, there is little shade in that particular section of the garden, and it can get hot there on a summer day. See my Ballard Locks tip for a photo of this area, as it is one of the better places to watch the boats go through the locks. It is the big green grass area in the foreground of the first photo.

    The official address is 3015 NW 54th Street, Seattle Washington. It is located on the grounds of the Ballard Locks, and maintained by the same United States Army Corps of Engineers group that maintains the locks. See web site, below.

    There is no charge to enter the garden grounds, but there is a standard city parking meter at the parking lot out front.

    How to Get Here: From the Ballard area, head west on Market Street until it branches into two one way streets. The Ballard Locks parking area is one block west and one block south of this division in the road. Bus routes #17 (from downtown Seattle) and #44 (from the University District) are the two most frequent bus routes that serve the area. It is also a fairly easy walk to get here from the main Ballard business district, though much of the route is next to busy Market Street.

    Related to:
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    • Photography

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    Woodland Park: the rest of the park

    by glabah Updated Feb 17, 2012

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    Woodland Park: trails, trees and open grass
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    You will hear of the Seattle Zoo referred to as the "Woodland Park Zoo" and so it is, as that is the name of the city park where it is located.

    However, you will find that aside of the zoo, this park is nowhere near as busy as the zoo implies. People think of Woodland Park as being the zoo and zoo only, and forget that there is a "rest of the park" to Woodland Park.

    The main body of the park outside the zoo area includes a number of walking trails, picnic areas (both covered and uncovered), and an outdoor but covered horseshoe area (see photo 5). As the name "Woodland Park" implies, much of the park is in forest, though there are also a number of large expanses of open grass.

    Organized sports use facilities here for lawn bowling, bocce, and 6 wicket croquet.

    The forested area of the park is connected to the zoo, rose garden, and war memorial area by way of several pedestrian bridges that cross over the top of Highway 99, providing a wonderful traffic-free way of getting to the various popular attractions on the west side of the highway and the much more quiet forested area on the east side of the highway.

    To the east of Woodland park, the park adjoins Green Lake Park. This is also a very popular park with a walking loop around the entire lake. However, the road between Woodland Park and Green Lake Park is busy without any crossing method available other than just wait for traffic and hope for the best. No traffic signals, no pedestrian bridges, no nothing other than hope for the best. This method can take a very long time, if you run across a lot of drivers that are in a huge hurry to get places.

    Other Places inside Woodland Park include:

    + The Woodland Park Zoo (as mentioned)
    + The Rose Garden (just east of the zoo entrance)
    + The War Memorial

    Getting Here: highway 99 north from downtown Seattle. You can follow signs to zoo parking, but parking there costs $5 per car. For park itself, parking is free if you turn right off of highway 99 north of the pedestrian underpasses.

    Bus route 5 runs past the entrance to the zoo, and several serve the area around Green Lake Park. Route 358 has a stop several blocks north of the very north edge of the park. Route 44, Ballard - University District is several blocks south of the park.

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    Volunteer Park

    by glabah Updated Nov 2, 2011

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    view from top of Volunteer Park: artwork & Needle
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    Going east and slightly north of downtown Seattle, you will hit the Capitol Hill area of the city. Among the large old houses of this community, you will find Volunteer Park, which features a view of the Space Needle with the Olympic Mountains behind it. There are a number of gravel trails, an old water tower has been converted into a viewing platform which provides even more expansive views of the surrounding area, and a conservatory (built in 1912) with plant species from all over the world. This park is also the home of the Asian American Art Museum, which is a division of the Seattle Art Museum.

    I have put the Volunteer Park Water Tower into a separate tip as it is an attraction in its own right due to the wonderful view from the top. I have also put the Volunteer Park Conservatory in its own tip.

    The name Volunteer Park was adopted in 1901 as a memorial to the "volunteers" that served in the Spanish American war. A number of other monuments and public art works have been added over the years.

    In many ways the park is a fairly typical city park: it has a lot of trees and open grass space. There is an open outdoor ampitheatre area where sometimes you can find students from the University of Washington or other local universities practicing their plays. There are gravel and paved trails throughout the park. The busiest road is that which runs directly on the east side of the park, and that is easy to get away from.

    The official address of the park is 1247 15th Ave. E. The best bus route to take to get here is bus route 10, which also serves the Capitol Hill community. You can drive, but on a really clear day it will be difficult to find parking as everyone else will be here for the views and to enjoy the sunlight. Bus route #10 is somewhat slow, but it does run fairly frequently.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Seward Park / Bailey Peninsula (Lake Washington)

    by glabah Updated Nov 2, 2011

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    children swim at beach with mom at Seward Park
    4 more images

    In 1903, it was recommended to the Seattle City council that the Bailey Peninsula be purchased for use as a city park that would become a jewel in the southeast corner of the city. That goal was accomplished, and today this unique peninsula into Lake Washington is publicly available for anyone to come and enjoy. The name of the park is now Seward Park.

    Features include several playgrounds, covered picnic areas (some of which have grill pits), a large outdoor ampitheatre, and a paved loop trail that goes all the way around the peninsula. While the signs refer to "beaches" it should be known that these beaches are not sand beaches, but are rock beaches with smooth round stones rather than sand. This is fairly typical of beaches in the Puget Sound and Lake Washington areas.

    A huge portion of the park remains relatively untamed forest with dirt or bark dust trails. Some of this has a wide paved road through it.

    On a clear day, views from the various trails in the park include Mount Rainier to the southeast and downtown Seattle with Andrews Bay (the bay formed by the peninsula the park sits on) in the foreground. To the west and northwest you will be able to see lesser peaks of the Cascades.

    PLEASE NOTE: there is an unfortunate problem with trying to photograph snow capped mountains in the distance from an urban area: smog cuts out the mountain! In photo 2, you will see my attempt to photograph Mount Rainier from the park. Despite being able to see the mountain just fine with my eyes, the camera almost did not pick it up. You have to look very closely to find it in the photo. While I was using a digital camera, the problem is the same with film as well. UV filters do cut down on this a little bit, but unfortunately most of the time it is just necessary to enjoy the view, and not worry if the mountain will appear in the photos or not.

    While not publicly accessible, there is a fish hatery located inside the park. It is fenced off.

    During fish runs, you will probably see people fishing from the land and from a few of the piers in the park.

    Some of the picnic areas in the park may be reserved for group events by calling a number listed on the signs. There was even a wedding going on in one of these picnic areas, on Monday!, on the day I visited the park.

    How to get here: If you don't know Seattle, the once every half hourly bus #39 is a pretty easy way to get here, and stops only a block away from the entrance to the park. If you insist on driving, you can take Boren Avenue southeast out of downtown. This changes names to Rainier as it crosses Martin Luther King Way.Turn left at Orcas, and right onto Seward Park Avenue. After a very brief distance, you will see the park entrance on your left at Juneau Street.

    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Fishing

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    New Park on the Water: Lake Union Park

    by glabah Written Nov 1, 2011

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    Lake Union Park offers Fountains and Lake Access
    3 more images

    Located in the old Cascade neighborhood (today the area is nearly completely rebranded for real estate investment purposes as "South Lake Union"), Lake Union Park is exactly that: a public park sitting right on the edge of Lake Union. While there are a few other parks surrounding Lake Union, many of them are quite small and not easy to find. The largest park on Lake Union is Gas Works Park, but it is on the north side of the lake and thus not that easy to get to from downtown Seattle.

    With the opening of Lake Union Park in 2011, a new publicly accessible section of the lake is available. It can (and in fact does - the Queen of Seattle is moored there regularly) serve as a boat mooring spot, a place to launch kayaks or other small craft, a picnic spot, and recreation and relaxation spot.

    In hot weather, the new spouting sidewalk water feature may be a desirable place for children (or even adults) to play in the water.

    There is a small beach, but it is a typical Puget Sound style beach with gravel instead of sand. Even so, it does provide water access to Lake Union - though I highly suggest not swimming in the water.

    The biggest disadvantage the park has is the amount of noise coming from nearby busy roads, such as Westlake and Mercer.

    In addition to the web site below from Seattle Parks, there is a dedicated park web site at
    http://www.atlakeunionpark.org/

    Parking in the area can be difficult to find. I suggest taking bus route #70 or #17 or the South Lake Union Streetcar, or other public transit to get here.

    Related to:
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    • Arts and Culture

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    Peace and Quiet

    by EdinburghRoc Updated Apr 4, 2011
    Tranqulity

    Japanese Garden is worth a visit for some relaxing meditation.
    The pond has turtles as well as brightly coloured koi.
    Washington Park Arboretum , 230-acre
    40.000 native and exotic trees, shurbs, and vines.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    rose garden

    by Jonathan_C Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Seattle rose garden

    Stroll among magnificent beds of roses that bloom pretty much all year round but peak in May-August. This 2.5 acre formal garden is a tranquil spot with a gazebo, topiaries and 280 varieties of roses.

    Seattle, like Portland, has a climate that is ideally suited to growing roses. The Seattle Rose Garden is one of only 24 "All-America Rose Selection Test Gardens" in the United States. Here you can find new varieties that are being tested before they make it to the public.

    Enter the rose garden from Woodland Park Zoo's south parking lot. The #5 bus will let you off two blocks away at 50'th and Phinney.

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    East Montlake Park: a trail through wetlands

    by glabah Updated Sep 7, 2010

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    East Montlake Park walkway over Union Bay
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    Officially speaking, the park is part of the University of Washington, but it is also operated as a city park. The park features a trail that runs along Union Bay between the Museum of History and Industry building and the Washington Park Arboretum. Not only does this trail serve as a convenient walking connection between the two locations, but also provides a wonderful pathway through the largest wetlands area that exists today in the Seattle area.

    Due to the wetlands, it is a popular place for bird watching. It is also a popular place for kayakers and canoers to put their craft into the water and explore. On my visit on August 24, 2009 I saw perhaps 12 different canoes and kayaks exploring the area - and that was on a weekday.

    The park lands surrounding the trail is made up of several islands. These islands are connected by bridges that allow very small craft to pass underneath. Watch your head! These bridges are *very* low, but people do pass under them. See photo 5 to see one of the bridges in the walkway.

    A number of short branches off of the main trail lead to various observation platforms, and there is a fairly long floating section of the walkway that allows for some great views. As seen in photo 4, one of the viewing platforms is elevated above the rest of the surrounding plants and land.

    Benches and a few picnic tables allow the visitor to sit and relax and watch traffic on the Lake Washington Ship Canal, or recreational craft of various types, or the birds that visit the area.

    Official Address: 2802 E Park Dr. E Seattle Washington

    Getting Here: Follow signs to Museum of History and Industry. By bus, the nearest bus routes are 25, 43, and 48. If you walk the entire way through the park and continue on into the Washington Park Arboretum, buses 11 and 84 serve the far south end of the arboretum, and this allows a visit with only some busy street crossing involved. If you come from the Washington Park Arboretum end, watch for a wide gravel trail that goes north from the visitor's center. Following this trail eventually leads to this section of the park.

    Related to:
    • Kayaking
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Birdwatching

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    Grand Army of the Republic Cemetary

    by glabah Updated Sep 7, 2010

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    Flag, Humble Graves, Seattle's Civil War Cemetary
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    I stumbled across this memorial completely by accident. It is a small memorial to the war dead, including a flag pole and a bulletin board of upcoming events.

    The cemetary was established in 1895, as the Seattle area was rapidly losing its veterans of the Civil War. The cemetary area also includes an open grass area on the west side of the park, which is empty of graves and is a place designated for people to walk there dogs, in order to prevent people from having the temptation to allow their pets relieve themselves on the graves or near the graves. It is not allowed to have pets in the cemetary area itself. As seen in photo three, this open grass area is separated from the cemetary by a very low shrub line so there should be no question as to what section is off limits to pets.

    While Howe street is narrow and paved, the entry driveway for the cemetary is dirt and appears essentially unchanged since the cemetary was created in 1895. You may well be walking on the very dirt upon which Seattle's Civil War veterans were brought in to be laid to rest. The brick entryway is fairly new, however, having been completed only a few years ago. Across the dirt driveway from the entryway is an engraved memorial stone.


    In our youth our hearts were touched wth fire
    We have shared
    The incommunicable experience of war
    We have felt, we still feel
    The passion of life to the top
    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.


    Along with the official web site of the City of Seattle (below), the park also has a "Friends of the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetary" group with a web site as well:
    http://www.fgar.org/

    Other than a gravel turn-around for vehicles, a brick entry way, the graves, and a flagpole, there is little in this park, and the graves are all very simple stones, which is probably to be expected: the usual people that fought in that war were not wealthy, and probably died without much available to spend on grave stones.

    In order to help with the upkeep of the cemetary, visitors are requested to not leave any plastic or other artificial flowers on the grave stones.

    How to Get Here:

    North on 15th Avenue East until you pass Volunteer Park and the Lakeview Cemetary. Turn left onto E Howe Street. Cemetary is on north side of the road, slightly west of 14th Street and east of 12th Street. Bus route is trolley bus route number 10, from downtown Seattle, which stops at Grandview Place and E Garfield Street. Route 49 at 10th and Howe is closer, but requires somewhat of an uphill climb to get to the cemetary.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

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    I-5 Collonade Park: Mountain Biking Park

    by glabah Updated Sep 7, 2010

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    Primary goal of I-5 Park is Mountain Biking
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    While the sign at the park also says the Interstate 5 Collonade Park includes "Picnic Areas" and "Off Leash Dog Areas" the fact is the bulk of the park is devoted to various mountain biking trails, many of them quite difficult in their appearance. The park has warning signs that say that these trails are designed to test the skills of mountain bikers, and such bikers should wear the proper safety equipment if trying these trail features. Most of the features have a sign, which gives the feature a name, and a difficulty rating.

    The photos should say it all, I think, other than the fact that the scale isn't really obvious in the photos. Most people, when they take a look at what is here, have a response that contains quite a few words that are incompatible with VirtualTourist's censorship system.

    You will find signs in the park giving all manner of warnings about wearing the proper safety equipment, and not tackling areas of the park that are beyond your abilities, and so on. They highly recommend that people examine each feature on foot before tackling the feature on a bike, so that you know exactly what you are getting into. Features range from the very tame to the absolutely astounding. Plus, keep in mind that the parks namesake columns that support Interstate 5 can also represent a very hard obstacle should you get off course.

    In the words of one of the warning signs:


    + Trails and man-made features in this park are designed to challenge your bike handling skills. You will encounter tight switchbacks, banked turns, rock rollers and bridges embedded in the trail.

    + There are also optional detours for advanced riders. Options contain difficult technical features such as teeter-totters, elevated narrow ladder bridges, log rides, steep rock chutes, drop-offs and other man-made structures.

    + Ride within your ability and work your way up to the more difficult features.

    + Control your bike at all times. Examine each trail and obstacle before riding it.

    + Mountain biking is an inherantly dangerous sport.

    + Always wear a helmet. Body armor is highly recommended.

    RIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK.


    Each of the features in the park are named. In many cases, signs are posted near the feature giving it a name, telling about the name, giving hints on how to tackle the feature, and even some local nature information that relates to the feature.

    The dog park is OK. It is only a gravel area with little else to recommend it other than it is fenced in, has a water spout for filling the water dish, and there are some concrete risers for getting some vertical exercise.

    There are several picnic tables, and while they do offer a slight view of Lake Washington, there really isn't too much to recommend their location. There are better locations in Seattle if you want a decent view. Several of these are located along the staircase that follows the general course of where Howe Street would be if it were a through street in this area.

    The "public artwork" in the park are only a few black and white paintings on the pillars supporting Interstate 5, and not really worth the effort to come here if you are wanting to see good art work.

    As I am no mountain biker, the most useful way for me to describe the features in the park is through photographs. Therefore, along with these five photos that are a part of this tip, please also see:

    Collonades Park Park I
    Collonades Park Part II

    Getting Here:

    Fairview Avenue E. and turn right at Howe Street, Blaine Street or Garfield Street. There is on-street parking on streets surrounding the park, but there are also a large number of businesses and residences that surround the park. This means that actually finding a place to park may not be that easy, and I did not see any available places during my visit to the park. Seattle's buses are equipped with bike racks, and there are several bus routes near the park. This includes bus route 25 at the top of the park, and trolley bus route 70 on Fairview Avenue that connects this area to most of downtown Seattle and to the University of Washington. Fairview Avenue also has less frequent service from routes 66, 71, 72, 73, and 83. Trolley bus route 49, which also connects the University of Washington with downtown Seattle, is several blocks away on 10th Ave East, but getting to the park from there means going downhill on one of several staircases, however.

    A photo in the Travelogues shows a view of the park entrance from Howe street. The staircase going up the hill goes through the northern third of the park.

    Another photo in the Travelogues shows the entrance to the park as seen from Blaine Street. Here, the park pathway is steep gravel. The off-lease dog area is behind the bushes on the right side of the gravel pathway.

    If you enter the area by turning right from Fairview Avenue onto Garfield, you will come to a wall of weeds. You can either go north to the Blaine Street Entrance, or south approximately one block to a very hidden entrance to the park approximately one block south of Garfield. A photograph in the Travelogues also shows this entrance. The off-leash dog area is to the left side in the photo. This entrance, however, is extremely well hidden, but it is just north of the big electonic gate that protects one of the local parking lots for a nearby business.

    The park is on the left side of Lakeview Blvd, but as it sits in a steep canyon it is possible to drive right by it and not notice it for what it is. Please see another photo in the travelogues that shows the entrance as seen from Lakeview Blvd.

    A number of other minor entrances to the park also exist. For example, E. Newton Street has an entrance of sorts to the park where Newton comes to an end at Interstate 5. This entrance also serves as the continuation through the park of a connecting bike path.

    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • Cycling

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    Saint Edwards State Park

    by glabah Written Aug 27, 2010

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    Saint Edward State Park is old Catholic facility
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    Located in the far northeast corner of Lake Washington, Saint Edwards State Park is a former Roman Catholic educational facility that was moved into state parks ownership to preserve this place as one of the last remaining undeveloped places along Lake Washington.

    While not in Seattle proper, the pak is reasonably close to Seattle, and would make a good partial day trip.

    As the park has its own entry as a location in the VirtualTourist database, I have put most of my photos and several tips there. However, as it is also a valid recreational destination close enough to Seattle, I have put this tip in Seattle to act as a pointer to the location.

    My VirtualTourist Page about this park is located at:
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/5f9c8/da68e/

    The park contains a number of trails, some of which allow mountain biking. There is also a very popular playground, open space around the historic buildings that are an extensive picnic area, and some sports facilities.

    The web site below is the official Washington State Parks Web Page for the park.

    Related to:
    • Cycling
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Madison Park

    by glabah Written Aug 25, 2010

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    Madison Park is popular Lake Washingtong beach
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    Over 100 years ago, this park was privately owned and one of the most popular beach front parks in Seattle. Today, while it may not be the most popular in Seattle, it certainly is a very popular swimming park on Lake Washington.

    There are life guards on duty, but only during certain hours.

    The sand is trucked in and dumped here, and there are some fairly sharp rocks under the sand. You may therefore want to bring water-proof shoes, especially late in the summer as the sand is worn away by the heavy use.

    How to Get Here:

    Take Madison Street all the way to the end of the road at Lake Washington. Bus routes 11 and 84 go right past the park.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Beaches

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    Cascade Playground: peaceful place in SLU

    by glabah Updated May 27, 2010

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    Cascade Playground: open field and playground
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    South Lake Union has become populated with a number of good restaurants. Some are good, and some are exceptional, and some are of average quality.

    Unfortunately, virtually all of them face busy streets, of which the South Lake Union area has an oversupply. The problem is that it seems like half of Seattle comes through here on its way to the suburbs to the north.

    If it is a nice day, and you want to eat outside, where do you go?

    There are a few select parks throughout the South Lake Union area, but many of them are close to traffic as well.

    Cascade Playground, while also having a playground for kids (as the name implies), a small natural area on the south side, and a huge open grass field for all manner of games, also has a few picnic tables, several benches, and is located off of busy streets. What traffic noise there is is somewhat blocked by the type of landscaping around the edges of the park.

    Here, you can find some quiet reading and contemplation space, though the only view is of the vast fields of new appartment and office buildings that have come to flood this part of town.

    The northeast corner of the park contains a storage structure that appears to have been made out of one of the remains of an old industrial building that used to exist on this spot.

    How to Get Here depends on where you are coming from. Fairview Avenue is a very busy place, and there are traffic lights to cross it at Harrison and Republican. The nearest bus route is an electric bus route on Fairview, which is bus #70 to the University of Washington from downtown Seattle. It depends a bit on where you have gotten your take-out lunch. There are several nearby eateries, including Southlake Grill, Paddy Coyney's, and Kapow Coffee.

    Address: is 333 Pontius Ave. North. It is bounded by Harrison Street, Minor Avenue, Pontius Avenue and Thomas Street.

    Odd Note: with this tip added, written on the 27th of May, I have 477 Seattle photos, 87 tips, 7 Seattle videos, and 7 Seattle Travelogues. That is more than enough 7s in one sitting!

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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    Golden Gardens Park: Olympic Mountains View

    by glabah Updated May 7, 2010

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Golden Gardens park features a beach on the Sound
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    Located in the northwest corner of the Ballard area, and far outside most tourist iteneraries, you will find this park to feature trails through forest land, beaches that are extremely popular with the locals, and an off-leash dog area that is fenced to keep some control over where the unleashed dogs go.

    Views, particularly from the beach, are of the Olympic Mountains and Puget sound in the foreground.

    For walking with views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound, a better location is Discovery Park. The beaches here in Golden Gardens park are better, closer to parking, and better equipped with picnic tables, benches, and other such facilities. Golden Gardens is also right next door to a very large marina complex, for those who are coming to visit Seattle by boat.

    Getting Here: I arrived by bus on route 48 at the top of the hill, and walked down the staircase from the intersection of NW 85th Street, 32nd Avenue NW, and Loyal Way NW. Bus route #17 from Ballard gets a little closer to the north end park entrance. The closest bus route to the beach is #46, but it only operates every once in a while during weekdays, and appears to be primarily aimed at commuters that live in the marina to the south of the park.

    Driving here involves getting to the Ballard Locks (follow the signs) but continue past the locks on the main road, which at first is NW 54th Street, but soon after the locks changes names to Seaview Avenue NW. The beaches will be on the left side after you pass the very large marina. The forested section of the park is on the right on the hillside.

    The address is 8498 Seaview Pl. NW

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Beaches

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