National/Local - Parks/Gardens, Seattle
I have some very mixed feelings about war memorials. I think it is important that we remember those fallen in conflict, but at the same time, when countries enter into conflicts for the wrong reasons and leave behind a disaster the memorials hardly do justice to the mistakes that were made.
Be that as it may, for the most part war memorials are intended to commemorate those who had little to say about where they were sent or what dangers they faced, no matter if they were in support or against the conflict.
The war memorial section of Woodland Park is probably the least visited section of the park. Some of that is because people come here with the goal of visiting the zoo, and probably don't even think about what else is in the area. Also, due to the nearby busy streets, the area isn't exactly a quiet place for contemplation as would be a more ideal war memorial location.
The primary war memorialized here is the Spanish-American war of 1898 to 1902. There are several large guns overlooking the zoo parking lot from the era, as well as a statue, walking pathways, benches and flower beds. Other than these things, the war memorial includes quite a lot of open grass and shade trees, and a few brief historic plaques.
See Also: Woodland Park includes a zoo, a rose garden, and a significant expanse of city park that isn't devoted to any particular attractions. See tips about:
+ Woodland Park (The basics of the city park)
+ Woodland Park Zoo (war memorial is on the west side of the parking lot at the zoo's south entrance)
+ The Rose Garden
How to Get Here: I-5 north, follow signs to zoo from 50th Avenue exit. Parking at the zoo is $5 per vehicle. Suggest using bus route #5, which goes right past the memorial on the west side of Woodland Park. You can also park in the city park section of Woodland Park and walk across the pedestrian bridges that link the city park section of Woodland Park to the zoo. The war memorial section is in a small area outside the zoo grounds but on the west side of the zoo parking lot on the south side of the zoo.
This wonderful park is well away from normal tourist routes, and therefore here you have some chance of getting away from most tourists. However, it is a very popular spot with local residents, and so the crowds you do see will be locals!
The park is set on the coastline of Puget Sound, and access to a small but pleasant beach is provided by a pedestrian bridge (with stairs, no ramps) over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway line. From here you can see the Olympic Mountains on a clear day. There are also a number of hiking trails through the park, picnic facilities in a number of environments (from full sun to full shade) and a small environmental learning center that seems aimed at educational programs rather than having actual displays. There are some outdoor displays of native plant gardens and the like, however.
Many of the hiking trails are fairly steep.
If you are interested in getting good views, you should explore the trails fairly thoroughly, as there are some out of the way viewpoints on some of them that provide good views to the west. For example, there is a bench on the south side of the park at the edge of the top rim that overlooks Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, but doesn't seem to be too well known.
Getting Here: Highway 99 to 100th Avenue North, west onto 100th, north onto 3rd Avenue NW. Left onto NW 110th and keep going down the hill. Bus route 28 goes to the main entrance, but you won't want to walk down the very narrow entry road. Suggest instead taking bus route 15 to the farthest north you can take it, at 115th and 13th. Walk east to 12th, then north on 12th as far as you can. Turn left onto Norcross Way. On the north side of the road, start looking for a small gap between two houses, and a "Dogs Must Be On Leash" sign. This is a small neighborhood entrance to the park that allows you to enter the park from bus route 15 without having to fight traffic on heavily trafficed roads of any sort.
As part of the University of Washington campus, the Union Bay Natural area is one of several areas owned by the University that have been reserved for naturally preserved space. During winter months, there are hundreds of water birds that winter here in the waters surrounding the natural area. Naturally, this attracts predator birds such as red tailed hawks to the area as well.
The dedicated purpose of the natural area is "to maintain and enhance vegetation, wildlife, and landscape values, while serving as an outdoor laboratory for research, teaching, and public service."
The managing department is the Center for Urban Horticulture, part of the University of Washington's College of Forest Resources.
There are approximatley two miles of trails, some of which are gravel and other of which are dirt.
The trail that runs along the edge of Union Bay provides views of Mount Rainier and a considerable expanse of the Cascade Mountains.
Much of the area is open grasslands, with the occasional winter marsh or pond of accumulated water in the small depressions in the ground.
A little bit south of the Alki Peninsula and West Seattle is the community of Fauntleroy. A small peninsula just out into Puget Sound just north of the Fauntleroy to Vashion Island / Southworth ferry terminal. This peninsula is Williams Point, and is the home of Seattle's Lincoln Park.
The park features a number of beaches with rounded stones rather than sand, covered picnic areas, and a playground with a number of interesting pieces in it, including a cable grip that runs partway down the hill. A significant part of the park is forested wilderness with trails. The beaches are quite popular with fishermen (and a fair number of women too!). There is a small public pool in the park as well.
Views from the paved walkway (at least, if you have a clear day) include the Olympic Mountains to the west, and of course Puget Sound.
For a few more photos of the features of the park, see my Lincoln Park Travelogue.
Bus route 55 is on the nearest public street to the park, and provides reasonably quick service to downtown.
If you are driving, take highway 99 / Alaskan Way viaduct south, turn onto the West Seattle Freeway, and keep on the main road, which eventually turns into Fauntleroy Way. Turn right at the southern end of the park (you will see the forest and Puget Sound on your right) before passing the park. If you come to the ferry terminal, you have gone two blocks too far south.
The official address of the park is 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW
This park is located at the intersection of 15th Avenue East and East Garfield Street, which is only a few blocks from Volunteer Park, and is connected to Interlaken Park. There are a few benches, some grass areas with a few artificial hills that help break up the area, a number of trees to help provide shade, and a few paved walkways.
A fairly large modern sculpture is located in the south side of the park at the top of the hill along Garfield Street.
The best feature of the park is the wonderful view of Lake Washington and Cascade Mountains. The view is facing north and west, so does not provide a view of Mount Rainier, however.
To get to the park, use bus route 10, as this route runs along Garfield Street right at the southern entrance to the park. This is also the best bus route to use to get to Volunteer Park.
Running along the north bank of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, you will find a narrow strip of land dedicated to walking paths, landscaping and a few park benches. This is the Fremont Canal Park, and the dominant east-west route consists of a paved bicycle pathway, and in many places there is a segregated softer path for pedestrian traffic.
The park has a few plazas that connect it with local streets to the north.
There are a number of park benches, including one fairly large one in a shelter that is constructed over the edge of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
There are a few pieces of artwork in the park, including growing dinosaurs created with plants, a picture frame, some rock sculptures in a plaza, and a mural in the Lake Washington Ship Canal shelter.
(Note that these photos all exist in my Fremont area Artwork travelogue, as I can only put 5 photos in this tip.)
Buildings and landscaping shelter users of the park from most street noise.
There are a number of access points to the park. I used the paved bike trail and walked from Gas Works Park, but there are a number of access points between North Canal Street and the park. Westlake Avenue to Fremont Avenue, then turn left at most convenient traffic light, and left again in the next few blocks, and head down the hill to the ship canal. Any of a number of access points will work, as the bike path runs between Fremont to Ballard.
While it is not yet on any map of Seattle that I have access to (including Google Maps), this playground area with picnic tables and open grass has one of the best views of Seattle you could ask for. On a clear day, it is possible to see downtown Seattle all the way to Mount Rainier from this little park.
You will want your telephoto lens to get some of the best shots, and weed out some of the industrial area with a zoom lens is good as well, if your telephoto has zoom ability.
The location of the park is at West Smith Street and 27th Avenue West.
The nearest bus route is #24, which is on 28th Avenue West. Walk downhill from the bus stop to the playground and park, past the school.
It is possible to go back up hill to bus route #24, or continue down the hill to bus routes #31 and #33, though it is somewhat farther.
I found I was lucky enough to be staying at a place within walking distance of this wonderful viewpoint. To get to it, all I had to do was walk uphill on Barrett Street, walk south on 23rd Avenue, west on Armour Street, south on 24th Avenue 1 block to Rae Street, west 2 blocks to 26th Avenue, and then south to the park. This provided an all-uphill way to the park, rather than having to go up hills and then back down them.
Once a Navy facility, today this 350 acre park is Seattle's second largest. During my visit (August of 2009) there was a significant construction project ongoing on the south side of the park, and there are rumors that this will eventually lead to some very significant improvements in the park. Parts of the park certainly have remains of the old navy base scattered through them.
You will find a few odd structures here and there, plus foundation remains, and the main front entrance of the park features an extensive guard station that you would expect at a military installation.
However, here the guard station has been closed, and partially redecorated in keeping with the new purpose of the area. The far northern reaches of the land is still being used by the ships operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The plan is for those ships to be relocated to a new facility sometime in the next two years.
Another part of the land and former military structures appear to now be used for the Seattle Parks & Recreation offices and equipment maintenance. The park features about 1 mile of shore line on Lake Washiongton.
It is possible to see Mt. Rainier in the distance, and the ridge of the Cascade Mountains running north for quite a distance. I was unable to see directly south and southwest to downtown due to the construction project that has fenced off a vast part of the park. However, most likely under normal circumstances it is possible to see downtown Seattle from here as well. A large portion of the park is dedicated to sports fields: baseball, football and soccer are the primary ones. There is a kite flying hill (a small raised hill where the wind is slightly better, for those wanting to fly kites).
Several paved trails lead throughout the park, including one that runs parallel to the shore line.
The park has an extensive fenced off-leash dog area, including a number of trails and, at the northern end, an off-leash dog beach to allow dog owners to play "fetch" into the water for dogs that like to swim. Near the entrance to the off-leash dog area, there is also a fairly extensive playground.
According to park literature that I have seen, there is a lifeguarded beach here as well, but the season is quite short. For example, for 2009 the life guards were on duty from June 27 to August 23. Since I chose to visit on a fairly warm August 26, there was no lifeguard at the beach. The beaches on the west and northern sides of the park appear to be mostly small rocks rather than sand. It is possible that a more traditional sand beach is also available here in the area that was fenced off for the construciton project, but unfortunately I have no idea due to the size and scope of the fenced off area.
A number of old institutional buildings remain at the site, and as time goes on it is likely that some of them will be demolished (one large structure was apparently demolished in early 2009 for the current construction project that is ongoing as this is written), and possibly more will be converted to some other use. Along with the artwork at the main entrance, there are a few other works of art inside the park.
There is what looks like a series of submarine fins sticking out of the ground on the west side of the park. Forming a long line through the park, with one of the pillars near a soccer goal, there is a series of stones that are also are used to calibrate instruments.
The closest bus routes are #74, #75 and #30. All go to the University of Washington campus, but #30 continues through the Fremont neighborhood and south along the western edge of Lake Union, ending at the Seattle Center. #74 operates as an express from University of Washington to downtown Seattle.
Most of the time, large highways cut a very ugly scar through urban areas. For the most part, this is true of Interstate 5 though Seattle.
In one area on the west side of downtown Seattle, however, a park has been constructed directly above Interstate 5. The common name on most of the maps as well as some of the signs is "Freeway Park" but the official name is now "Jim Ellis Freeway Park". This is only fitting, as for many years Freeway Park was the official name of this park. The new name was adopted in 2008, after 40 years of bonds that funded this and many other features that now make Seattle a much more livable place. Jim Ellis was the mastermind behind this "Forward Thrust" series of bonds, and thus the honor of having this park his bonds helped fund feature his name.
In the park there are several attractive modern fountains (only one of which was turned on when I visited on May 28) and a number of benches and pathways that are made far more pleasant than are the areas where the freeway is not covered.
The official address is 700 Seneca Street, and a number of bus routes go near this park. See the Seattle Metro bus route map (featured on their web site) for precise location.
The park actually features quite a network of paved trails, sidewalks and staircases connecting varous parts of the street and sidewalk system, so it is a little complicated to give an exact street address or intersection. Generally the park is between Union and Spring street and between 6th and 9th Avenues. A map of the park is located in the park, and it provides the best idea of the shape and location of the park. See photo 2.
Kerry Park is one of Seattle's 'postage stamp' parks -- relatively small, and perched on the south end of Queen Anne Hill. KP is surrounded on 3 sides by city blocks full of very elegant old homes, but the 4th side offers *the* view of Seattle -- one made famous in countless calendar photographs taken from the park. Standing at the railing on a clear day, you can see Elliot Bay, Mount Rainier, the entire Seattle city skyline, as well as the distant beaches of West Seattle. It's a great spot to watch sunsets or moonrises from, as well.
One does need a car to get there most easily -- one with a strong engine and brakes, as Queen Anne Avenue is a *steep* hill! One drives up QA Ave (also called the 'counterbalance') to Highland Drive, where one makes a left turn. About 2-3 blocks further on Highland is Kerry Park, on the left, hard to miss.
A great place to relax. It costs about $4.00 to enter. You can also buy fish food to feed the koi in the pond. If you didn't sit down and enjoy the garden, it probably will take you 20 minutes to see the entire garden.
Ok, so for locals, especially those living in the area of this park, it's hardly "off the beaten path". But most visitors probably don't make it out to the beach at Golden Gardens. The water in Puget Sound is cold, so only the very brave (or very young) take a dip in the salt water. But I have seen sunbathers floating on rafts, which seem like a great idea, unless you float too far out.
If the wind is right, you may see kite-boarders on the north end of the beach. I find it fascinating to watch them. And there are often people flying regular kites, as well.
Depending on the time of day/time of year, you will see a few or many sail boats, as the beach is next to a public boat launch and there are several marinas nearby.
And, best of all, on a clear day you have a glorious view of the Olympic mountains across the sound.
There's a beautiful old bathhouse that was built in the 1930's and restored in 2004, complete with a snack bar that's open seasonally, and restrooms open year-round. The bathhouse is available for rent for private functions, too.
Plenty of parking is availalbe, and the bus (I think #46) will take you there, as well. It's about a 2 mile walk from Old Ballard - just follow Market Street West / North until it ends.
The high-adventure way to get to the park is to take the trail down the hillside behind the beach (Where NW 85th St. ends). On weekend mornings, I like to stop at the organic coffee shop - Caffe Fiorie - at the top, then take the trail / stairs down to the beach, via the dog park. There is a direct route and a small system of trails, depending on your choice for adventure level : )
I enjoyed stumbling onto Capital Hill. There is an Asian Museum, a water treatment/ storage facility, which is quite old (1906) and a sculpture by Isamu Noguchi called "Black Sun". It is 10 feet tall and carved from a 30-ton block of black granite. You can go to the top of the "Aqua Pura" tower and get a great view. The grounds are beautiful, quiet and relaxing.
A perfect spot for a romantic picnic!
You can see an additionl picture of the pond and the Black Sun sculpture (showing downtown Seattle and the Space Needle in the background) and the nearby Japanese Garden (at the Arboretum) in my Seattle trip page.
Out of this wood do not desire to go:
Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no.
I am a spirit of no common rate;
The summer still doth tend upon my state;
And I do love thee: therefore, go with me;
I'll give thee fairies to attend on thee,
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,
And sing while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep;
And I will purge thy mortal grossness so
That thou shalt like an airy spirit go.
Peaseblossom! Cobweb! Moth! and Mustardseed!
(A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act iii, Scene 1)
What better way is there to spend a sunny afternoon that to lie in the grass in one of Seattle's lovely parks and watch a free Shakespeare performance. The members of Greenstage put on a comedy and a history/tragedy every summer for a theater experience that ranges from 'good' to 'outstanding'. Check their web site for locations and times.
If you liked the show be sure to stick around and talk with the actors. They'll impress you with their Seattle 'dedication to craft' and deep knowledge of Shakespeare.
If you want to get off the beaten path, you should really leave Seattle. Hiking opportunities are limitless in the summer. Skiing is a good choice in the winter. Take a ferry to the Olympic Peninsula, admire the wild flowers on Mount Rainier, survey the damage caused by Mount St. Helens. Seattle is only a small, albeit culturally-diverse, part of the state of Washington. Get out and see some other parts for yourself.