Explore Seattle's Great Outdoors

An abundance of natural beauty makes it a shame to stay indoors.

With the Cascades to the south and Olympic Mountains to the west, oceanfront views and an abundance of lush greenery, Seattle and its surrounding region is a paradise for hikers, bikers and lovers of the outdoors. Whether you’re looking for a local trail to tackle or a place to eat where you can soak up some sun, you’ve come to the right place. 

Explore City Parks

Greenery is not hard to come by in Seattle. The Washington Park Arboretum and Botanic Gardens are a must-see on a sunny day, home to 230 acres of rare plants. The Seattle Japanese Garden is also located at the south end of the park and is worth a peek for a small entrance fee. The lesser-known Kubota Garden is another notable landmark, featuring a magnificent amalgamation of Northwestern and Japanese flora.

Almost as prominent as the Seattle skyline, Gas Works Park is a popular picnic spot as soon as the weather starts to turn. The former gasification plant boasts picture-perfect views of the city and is great for roaming, flying kites or watching fireworks on the 4th of July.

If city views are what you’re seeking, however, a trip to Kerry Park should be on the itinerary—just be prepared to battle crowds for that famous skyline photo. If you find yourself by the waterfront, the Olympic Sculpture Park is the perfect stop after a day of exploring Pike Place Market. Owned and operated by the Seattle Art Museum, the nine-acre green space is home to an array of sculptures and public art with a backdrop of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. 

Another popular spot for the art-inclined, Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill is home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum, as well as a beautiful array of blooming dahlias. Wildlife lovers should consider a trip to Seward Park—home to 300 acres of forest land, eagle’s nests, a native plant garden and more.

For those with pups, Magnuson Park is a popular stop where you can let them roam free. The 350-acre space is north of downtown in Seattle’s Sand Point neighborhood and is the second-largest in the city, only after Magnolia’s Discovery Park.

Take Local Trails 

If walking through parks and gardens is a little too passive an activity for you, Seattle’s large variety of hiking and biking trails is sure to please—both outside and within the city limits. Rattlesnake Ledge is a popular route just a 40-minute drive from downtown Seattle, featuring 4 miles of well-maintained trails, along with views of Mt. Si, the Cedar River watershed and Rattlesnake Lake.

For more of a destination hike, make a trip to Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island. The easy, 5.6-mile route leads hikers up a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound and the town of Coupeville. If you’re looking for a quick elevation gain, head north toward Mt. Pilchuk—a short, intermediate route with a historic fire lookout at the summit. To the south, Mount Rainier National Park is home to an abundance of noteworthy trails, including Summerland—a casual 8.4 mile trek known for its mountain goats and blooming wildflowers.

If it’s a challenge you’re craving, Mailbox Peak may be your cup of tea. A destination for training Rainier climbers, the hike is less than 10 miles round-trip but has a 4,000-foot elevation gain. Let your motivation be the view from the summit, which includes a panorama of the surrounding landscape. Another strenuous choice, Kendall Katwalk makes up a 12-mile strip of the Pacific Crest Trail, consisting of a rugged, narrow path accompanied by forests and picturesque views of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Biking enthusiasts should tackle the Burke-Gilman Trail—a 27-mile route that extends from Bothell to Golden Gardens Park in Ballard. The trail traces Lake Washington for 7 miles and passes a number of noteworthy sights, including Gas Works Park and the Fremont Troll. For a slightly more rural setting, consider a trip down Centennial Trail—a 30-mile route connecting Snohomish to Skagit County. 

Savor Alfresco Dining

If it’s outdoor dining you’re seeking, Anthony’s Pier 66 is located right on the Seattle Waterfront, offering views of Elliott Bay, Mt. Rainier and the skyline. Ivar’s is also a good bet for more relaxed fare and a family-friendly setting. Perched on the north shore of Lake Union, Westward serves Northwest-inspired dishes in an impeccably designed space, both inside and out.

Bottlehouse in Madrona is a slightly lesser-known gem. Located in a charming old Craftsman, the wine bar has a revolving menu of drinks and small plates that are best enjoyed out on the patio. For the ultimate, upscale alfresco dinner, head to Ray’s Boathouse in Ballard. The dockside restaurant serves some of the freshest annual seafood dishes alongside stunning views of Shilshole Bay.

Enjoy Outdoor Concerts

In addition to Seafair, there are plenty of events in the city to keep Seattleites (and visitors) busy all summer long. Zoo Tunes at the Woodland Park Zoo is a great bet for those who want to watch live performances while giving back to help animal care. For a more family-friendly experience, University Village’s Sounds of Summer Concert Series features a lineup of both local and well-known artists, complemented by a beer garden, gourmet grub and a play area for the little ones.