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The Pacific Northwest is known for its gorgeous scenery, epic hikes and abundant wildlife.<p></p>

Immerse yourself in nature, just minutes from downtown Seattle

The Pacific Northwest is known for its gorgeous scenery, epic hikes and abundant wildlife. But did you know you don't have to drive to the mountains, or even leave King County to experience nature at its finest? Just a few minutes from downtown Seattle, you'll find hiking, biking, whale watching and wildlife-spotting—all in Seattle Southside.

Just two miles from I-5, there's a sandy beach getaway that is the perfect place to beat the heat on a hot summer day. Saltwater State Park features nearly 1500 feet of saltwater shoreline smack dab in the middle of Seattle and Tacoma, on Puget Sound. It's one of Washington's most popular state parks, and for good reason.

Here are just a handful of the activities available at Saltwater State Park:

  • Make sandcastles
  • Swim or wade in the water
  • Hike one of the many forested trails
  • Catch a glimpse of a breaching whale
  • Barbecue your dinner (or lunch, or breakfast)
  • Stay the night in a campsite on the 137-acre camping park
  • Explore tide pools or seasonal salmon spawning at McSorley Creek

Saltwater is also a diver's paradise, as the only Washington state park with an underwater artificial reef—a protected marine sanctuary—for diving.

If you're at the beach at low tide you may spot a Beach Naturalist from the Seattle Aquarium. These advocates for marine life are local citizens who volunteer to help people learn about and enjoy area shorelines. Want to know what sea stars eat? Or how you can enjoy the beach without harming it? The naturalists are there to answer all your beach-related questions.

It's important to note that you do need either a state park day pass or a Discover pass to park at Saltwater State Park. They're available at automatic kiosks at the parking lot.

Hoping to explore the area on two wheels instead of four? The Interurban Trail can get you where you need to go by bike. Running through the cities of Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Algona and Pacific along a 14-mile route, the trail showcases the scenery of the Pacific Northwest, along with historic industrial areas and suburban lands. Access and parking are located at several locations along the trail, so you can bike for a couple of hours or bike for the day.

Let's not forget the needs of our four-legged friends during these beautiful summer days. The Grandview Off-Leash Dog Park is the thing doggy dreams are made of. 37 acres of fenced-in, roam free fun awaits your canine, with plenty of water features, agility equipment and even a pond to keep her occupied for hours on end. This volunteer-run dog park is raved about by dog owners and is open from dawn until dusk every day.

Ready to plan your adventure? Contact the Visitor Center experts at the Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority for trip itineraries, restaurant recommendations, hotel reservations, and more! Visit them online at or call 206-575-2489.