Seattle’s favorite parks – and parks to be

I was delighted by how many responses we received from last week’s question of the week (What’s the park that’s nearest you? Your favorite? How often do you visit?). You confirmed how much we all love our parks, and I was impressed by how often we use our amenities. Ours is a city of active and outdoorsy people who appreciate our parks and green spaces and use them to stay fit and sane.

Whale Tale Park, near Alki

Here are some of the parks mentioned as the closest or favorite. This is just a partial list, so forgive me if I don’t name your response. Alki Beach Park (our slice of a California beach town), Cal Anderson (re-named in 2009 after civil rights activist and legislator) Dearborn, Green Lake, John C. Little Sr. Park (where you might run into a member of the Little family), Kinnear Park (lots in process there with a special shout-out to the FOLKPark community group), Lincoln, Longfellow Creek Trail, Maple Leaf playground and playfields, Meridian Park, Mt Baker Park, Myrtle Reservoir (great views), North SeaTac, Orchard Street Ravine (I haven’t visited this one), Pratt Park, Ravenna Park (so refreshing on hot summer days), Regrade (I love walking by the dogs playing there in the middle of the city), Roanoke, Sacajawea, Seven Hills Park, Soundview Park, Summit Slope Park (one of Seattle’s newest parks; so great that it’s already a favorite), Tashkent (named for a sister city), Thomas C. Wales, Trolley Hill Park, Volunteer Park, Westlake (currently home to bright blue trees), and Whale Tale Park, near Alki.

Thank you to my friend, Salem Bin Talib, a Humphrey Fellow who lived and studied in Seattle last year, for the reminder of our good fortune to live in Seattle where we have over 400 parks. Via Facebook Salem pointed out that his city in Yemen has only three parks, all of which are currently occupied by the army.

 For @WedgwoodCC, who specified the park yet-to-be-built in Wedgwood as their favorite–I hear you! I know you are working on this Seattle City Light land transfer to our Parks Department. Your park will happen–it takes patience and persistence. I know! 

While I enjoy so many parks across the city, my favorite park in Seattle is the yet-to-be Waterfront. This is the park that I have spent years working on, the park that I dream about.

A possible waterfront overlook.

Nearly every day I walk along the current Waterfront Park, which runs from Pier 57 to Pier 59. I start around the Ferry dock, and pass our wonderful Seattle Aquarium, and some days when time allows I get as far north as Myrtle Edwards. I love the grain terminal with its perennial flocks of seabirds and bats taking shelter among the grain elevators. I love the smell of the sea that surrounds me down there, the seagulls calling, the views of our working Port, the Olympics, West Seattle, Magnolia, and Blake and Bainbridge Islands as well as the scent of the lovely plantings along the way.

I can’t wait until the day, a few years from now, when we Seattlites and our visitors can stroll along our new Waterfront all the way from Safeco Field to Smith Cove. We’ll be able to walk along a tree-lined pedestrian corridor, passing cafes and stopping to touch the water, listening to birds drawn to new native plantings, enjoying other people energized by the art and music along the way.

Visualize this: You and I could take in an afternoon ball game with one of our winning sports teams, and then decide to spend another few hours together enjoying what will be a waterfront like no other. We’ll stroll the promenade from Washington Street separated safely from cars and trucks.

Perhaps we'll stroll a promenade.

We can take time to put our toes in the Sound if we’re brave enough, and enjoy the migrating salmonid darting among the crevices of our new seawall.

We can stop for an hour in our Aquarium (I am a member…you can be my guest!). After appreciating the Aquarium’s Window on Washington and visiting our baby otter, we may decide to pick up a few things at the Pike Place Market. This will be a delightful walk because we can stroll with ease between the Aquarium and Pike Place Market. The new pedestrian connection will take us – above the traffic – right up to the Pike Place Market vendors. 

I will undoubtedly want to stop for flowers and produce, and perhaps we’ll purchase a loaf of fresh bread and plus-gras butter and cheese, our favorite beverage, and take our picnic to – where else? The Olympic Sculpture Park. After soaking in the view of the sunset, we may feel sufficiently invigorated to walk back through Myrtle Edwards Park, skip a few rocks into the lapping waves along the way, and decide what’s next. What’s next?! The Lake to Bay Loop of course! So up and over Elliott across the new Thomas Street bike and pedestrian bridge that connects us right to the very base of Seattle Center.

Now, the rejuvenated Center with its range of dining options and old and new arts organizations might be our stopping point – or not. We may take in Hunger Games III at the IMAX, walk around the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum and enjoy our beautiful new Children’s Garden east of the Center House. And if we’re feeling ambitious we may check on the Star Trekkies at the EMP or jump on the Monorail and head right back downtown.  And that’s just for starters!

I am inspired by the idea of our green, connected city, humming around Elliott Bay with life. Yes, this is the park that I dream about. If you’d like to help me turn this dream into a reality, there are so many ways to get involved. For information about Seattle’s partnership with other governing bodies, community groups, waterfront businesses and others, please visit waterfrontseattle.org. For specifics on timeline and process, take a look at their FAQ.

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