It’s no secret that Seattle has an abundance of lush city parks, but sometimes it feels like everyone is visiting the same spots. Beat the crowds by exploring these lesser-known city parks and private spaces that few people realize are open to the public.
Downtown Rooftop Deck
Enter the office building located at 4th and Madison, take the elevator up to the 7th floor, and follow the sign for the public garden. Visit this rooftop deck on a weekday during the lunch hour and you’ll find it busy with downtown workers, but the deck wraps around a third of the building so you won’t have any trouble finding a spot to sit, and the crowds thin out after the lunch rush. Catch peekaboo views of the Space Needle, Great Wheel, and CenturyLink from the deck. A large grassy area in the center surrounded by tables and trees makes this an ideal spot to enjoy a sunny day in downtown Seattle. Bonus: WiFi is available on the deck.
Location: 925 Madison St. Seattle
Hours: 7:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Monday - Friday
Pier 66 is a dock redeveloped by the Port of Seattle into an urban park and cruise ship terminal. When there are no cruises docked at the terminal Seattleites can enjoy the stunning combination of waterfront and downtown views. There’s no garden or grass area on the deck, but there are plenty of benches at the pier to sit and take in the views.
Location: 2225 Alaskan Way Seattle (also accessible at the intersection of Western Ave. and Bell St.)
Hours: 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m., daily, closed when a cruise ship is docked in the terminal
Olympic Sculpture Park Pocket Beach
The Olympic Sculpture Park and the surrounding Myrtle Edwards Park straddling Seattle’s Belltown and Uptown neighborhoods are popular spots for a reason. Waterfront paths for walking and biking, sculptures that dot the landscape, and skyline views make this one of the most scenic parks in the city. If you start walking along Elliott Bay Trail at the corner of Alaskan Way and Broad Street, you’ll find a small pocket beach just down the path. The pocket beach never seems to be as busy as the rest of the park. It’s the perfect place to sit on the rocks or logs and watch the waves wash over the shore in relative solitude.
Location: 2901 Western Ave. Seattle
Hours: Open daily, 30 minutes prior to sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset
The UpGarden is part of Seattle’s P-Patch Community Garden program. It’s a thriving garden at the top of a parking garage in Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood--a green oasis in a parking lot. The downtown skyline is visible on one side, Queen Anne hill on the other, and the Space Needle at nearly every turn. The public is welcome to visit the garden but fruits, vegetables, and flowers in each garden plot are reserved and maintained by gardeners so don’t pick anything when you visit.
Location: 300 Mercer St. Seattle
Hours: Public welcome during daylight hours
Boren Street Plaza
Tucked into a gentle slope between two office towers in South Lake Union you’ll find an extended walkway with benches, tables and cheerful greenery. Much of plaza is covered so it’s a great spot to enjoy the outdoors even when it’s drizzly. Wander in next to Maslow’s restaurant (380 Boren Ave N, Seattle) or from the other end at Cascade Coffee Works (1130 Thomas St., Seattle) and meander through the plaza until you find a good spot to sit and stay awhile. Tables and chairs are abundant just outside Cascade Coffee Works, and benches dot the rest of the space. Owned by Amazon, this quiet plaza in the South Lake Union neighborhood is open to the public.
Location: Between Boren Ave. Seattle
Hours: Open daily