With all the buzz on Seattle-centric news outlets yesterday about the grand 78 minutes of summer Seattle has seen so far, getting outside isn't looking all that promising. However, if the sun ever shows its face again, you'll want to be prepared for the next 78 minutes of glory. All that aside, Seattle natives are known for loving the outdoors, come rain or
Siiri Sampson 2011. If only this were today . . . Sun, why do you hate us? shine rain. So regardless of the forecast, you'll want to know the top five best parks for a picnic around the city.
From Sandpoint to the Magnolia bluffs, the Emerald City's got some of the most scenic views to be had. Even when a storm comes in, watching the clouds roll up into the Sound is an event not to be missed. On that note, go get your dusty picnic basket out of storage, throw together a few finger foods, and grab your parka--by God, we're having a picnic!
5. Olympic Sculpture Park & Myrtle Edwards (2901 Western Ave.)
Urban escape + runners' paradise? Done and done. Before the Olympic Sculpture Park came along, Myrtle Edwards Park was sorely underused by city dwellers due to obscured access and poor parking. With a renewed layout, interesting, oversized sculptures, and even a little parking, the new Olympic Sculpture Park has re-energized Myrtle Edwards and given it a whole new user base. This little piece of grass amid railroad tracks and waterfront piers is great for the spontaneous Sunday picnic of friends, coffee, and doughnuts. Rather than pulling up a seat on the gravel steps overlooking the wavy bronze-colored statues, get your breakfast to go and meander past the grain mill and the partially burned out P-I globe for a relaxing in-city getaway.
4. Kerry Park (211 W. Highland Dr.)
If ever there were a romantic cityscape to take a date to--day or night--it's Kerry Park. Perched atop Queen Anne's south-facing hillside, right along Highland Drive and looking out over the waterfront, smoochers and runners alike can watch the city go by. Kerry Park has a quaintness about it that is steeped in the history of the Counterbalance and the powerful families of Seattle like the Dennys. While small, it never feels crowded, and you can easily keep your back to the large, obtrusive metal sculptures that dot the park's brick walkway. While most people are relegated to simply getting this view during a transitional scene of Grey's Anatomy, we're lucky enough to have it just sitting there, waiting for an impromptu picnic dinner.
3. Gas Works (2101 N. Northlake Way)
Two words sum up this iconic hillside locale: quintessential Seattle. Only in the city of green, where people wear their REI shells to the opera, will you find a defunct crude-oil plant turned city park with a sundial, hazardous sediment, and access to the Burke-Gilman Trail. Atop the windy path and rolling hillside, you'll find college kids playing a game of cornhole, families flying kites, and, every Tuesday, a perfect view of the Lake Union Duck Dodge. Bring a blanket for your picnic, as there are no tables. But what it lacks in dining surfaces, it makes up tenfold in ambience. Gas Works is of course the site of July 4 fireworks viewing, but the everyday view of the water, boats, and sunsets are just as amazing.
Vintage 1965 aerial shot.
2. Magnuson (7400 Sand Point Way N.E.)
All aboard the Ultimate Frisbee and BBQ train! It's headed to Magnuson Park on the double--every day of the year. This place may be a bit off the beaten trail for anyone not living in the U District/Laurelhurst/Sandpoint area, but you'd never know it by the looks of things. Between the off-leash dog-park area and the rocky beach with public launch and swim access, this park pleases the masses. There are ample parking, picnic tables, and people-watching to be had. The perfect picnic for this Northwest gem should include something from at least one of your favorite local take-out joints, some coffee from nearby Gretchen's, and a pint or two of the local cherries being hawked across the street from the main entrance. Just be wary of all the off-leash critters, tiny tots, and boat trailers just waiting to run out in front of your car.
1. Discovery Park (3801 Discovery Park Blvd.)
By far the all-time best park in Seattle, and the most historic, Discovery Park (formerly Fort Lawton) has an expanse of acreage (534 to be exact), trails, and viewpoints. Besides the amazing views and frequent wildlife sightings, this park takes you from the bluffs to the beach within a matter of minutes, and was named the 2010 Best In-City Hiking Trail. From its military history, complete with missile battery construction, to its Native American cultural center, no park has more to offer. Pack up your 2.4 kids and the dog, and get ye to a grassy knoll for the amazing sunset.
Siiri Sampson 2011.