The Park Less Traveled: 7 Seattle Parks to Discover
Written by Elise Gruber
3. Olympic Sculpture Park, Downtown Seattle
It is amazing how many people have not taken their kids to Olympic Sculpture Park. Yes, parking downtown is somewhat challenging and can cost money, but it’s absolutely worth it. If you have visitors, this is an especially “wow” place to take them, with a spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains and Elliott Bay from the top of the park.
The park was ingeniously designed as a series of pedestrian-only ramps that cross over train tracks and multiple streets, so the kids never have to cross a road. The ramps eventually lead down to a waterfront boardwalk and drop you onto the Elliott Bay trail that goes all the way to Magnolia. There is even a sweet little beach with real sand at the foot of the park to the north of the boardwalk. Interspersed throughout the park are modern sculptures from the Seattle Art Museum, which can spark interesting conversations with kids. The ramps also pass through several archetypal ecosystems, represented by different gardens and trees.
Other pros: Don’t miss the giant and very real nurse log that was found in a forest and is now housed in its own building (the Neukom Vivarium) on the Broad Street side of the park. Also at the top of the park is the PACCAR Pavilion, which houses a small café and features nice grassed terraces for lunching or letting babies crawl.
Challenges: The shortage of bathroom facilities; there is only one restroom up in the Pavilion at the top of the park. Also note that you cannot ride a bike in the Sculpture Park itself, and the paths are made of small pebbles so are annoying if you’re using a stroller. But these are small prices to pay for feeling like you’re in Europe with your kids.
Logistics: There is a small, relatively inexpensive parking garage at the park and decent street parking in the area. The best entrance is at the top of the park at the corner of Western and Broad Street.