How the Garden Grows: Our Favorite Green Spaces

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By JORDAN LUSINK, Communications Coordinator

We asked our 5th Avenue family to share their favorite green spaces around the Seattle area. We are lucky to live in a part of the country (and world) where there are a wealth of options in this particular category. Though we’re stuck in a rainy spring, we’re looking forward to the beautiful days ahead, when we can take a breath away from our busy lives and stressful events, with this round up of some of the green spaces that our fans love.

Washington Park Arboretum

The Arboretum is a public park, operated jointly by the University of Washington, Seattle Parks and the Arboretum Foundation. Washington Park also includes the Japanese Gardens, which require an entry fee. But there’s plenty in the park that you can enjoy for free. The Arboretum covers 230 acres, with both hikes (and other activities that you can do on your own) and activities sponsored by the Arboretum, like classes, tours and boating.

Carkeek Park

Carkeek Park is located in northwest Seattle, and covers 220 acres of forest, meadows, wetlands, creeks and beach. The park also contains an Environmenal Learning Center open for school and educational programming and rentals. There was previously a park with the same name located on site where Magnuson Park is today, and was relocated to its current location in the 1920s.

Woodland Park

Woodland Park, which contains the Woodland Park Zoo, covers just over 90 acres and also includes an official rose garden, trails, picnic areas, ballfields, a miniature golf range, a variety of other activities and meets the border of Green Lake Park. This spring, Woodland Park is also working on finalizing the development and construction of a sensory garden, which will add enhanced sight, touch and smell elements to increase accessibility.

Ravenna Park

Ravenna is a wee park composed of a wooded ravine just north of the University District. It’s got a great play area for children, plus a wading pool! Who doesn’t love those?

Golden Gardens

Golden Gardens 1
Ryan Lane, CC By 2.0

Golden Gardens park, named and developed in 1907, is located in Ballard and includes the Bathhouse as a waterfront event location. The park also has a great off-leash area for dogs.

Point Defiance Park

Point Defiance is a 760 acre park located in Tacoma. The park holds a number of exciting destinations, including the Point Defiance Marine, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, the Rose Garden, the Rhododendron Garden, Fort Nisqually (pictured above on the right), Five Mile Drive and more. It is the largest urban park in Pierce County, and began as a military reservation in the 1840s, transitioning into a public park under President Grover Cleveland in 1888.

Kubota Garden

Kubota Garden is located in the Rainier Beach area of Seattle, and is a 20 acre park which blends Japanese garden concepts with native Northwest plants. The park was established by Fujitaro Kubota via his Kubota Gardening Company in 1927. Unfortunately, the Garden was abandoned for four years during World War II, as Kubota and his family were interned at Camp Minidoka in Idaho. However, after the war, Kubota’s sons rebuilt the business and Kubota himself maintained the garden until his death in 1973.

Discovery Park

Discovery Park was one of the most common responses we received from 5th Avenue fans. The Park is located in the Magnolia neighborhood, and is the city’s largest public park at 534 acres, complete with nearly 12 miles of walking trails. A frequent location from which to view wildlife, the park is built on the former grounds of Fort Lawton, and includes the West Point Lighthouse.

Gas Works Park

Gas Works is a pretty iconic park in Seattle, having been featured in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You. The park is located on the north shore of Lake Union, and provides a fantastic view on the Space Needle and the South Lake Union area of Seattle. Located on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, the park contains remnants of the sole remaining coal gasification plant in the United States.

Seward Park

Seward Park occupies all of the Bailey Peninsula, covering 300 acres of forest land, including an old growth forest (the last surviving within the city), a bike and walking path, an amphitheater, a native plant garden, an art studio, miles of hiking trails, shoreline, beaches and more. It was named after former US Secretary of State William Seward. The area has been inhabited since the glacial period, including by the People of the Large Lake (today referred to as the Duwamish tribe), before it was purchased by the city in 1911. The Tudor-style house at the entrance to the park, originally the Seward Park Inn, was renovated and is now used as the Seward Park Environmental and Audobon Center.

Parsons Gardens

Parsons Gardens is an itty-bitty less than half acre city park in the Queen Anne neighborhood. The Gardens were previously the private garden of the home of Reginald and Maude Parsons. In 1956, their children donated the property to the city.


Paradise, located on the south slope of Mount Rainier at Mount Rainier National Park, includes the Paradise Valley and the Paradise Glacier, which is the source of the Paradise River. It is the most popular destination for Mount Rainier visitors, and is the prime winter-use area of the park, with activities including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and tubing.

Cougar Mountain

The Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park covers over 3,000 acres in King County, in an area sometimes referred to as the “Issaquah Alps.” Cougar Mountain is also home to the Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Whatcom Falls

Whatcom Falls is a park in Bellingham, complete with four sets of waterfalls and miles of hiking trails, as well as a fishing pond for youth, tennis courts, athletic fields, picnic tables and two playgrounds. Whirlpool Falls is a popular swimming hole within the park.

What are your favorite green spaces? Let us know in the comments!

To find more stunning parks, both free parks and those requiring entry fees, visit Seattle Parks or Washington State Parks, or look for the Parks Department in your own city.

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