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Stormy Weather: 8 Places Around Puget Sound to Enjoy It

Best parks and beaches to visit to revel in the wind, fog and rain

When we talk about the weather, we have a lot to talk about. On any given day between September and, say, July, we can have squalls, gales, fog, and rain in its many actions: pouring, spitting, drizzling, misting, pelting sideways and so on. And that’s fine with us. The weather is one of the spectacular natural forces that molds our landscape and decks it out in the lushest green. What’s more, many places around Puget Sound are best visited in conditions that call for Gore-Tex and layers. Here are a few of them.

Editor's note: These spots are fun to visit in stormy weather, but in the event of extreme weather warnings, we urge you to use your best judgment and heed the local authorities.


Lincoln Park. Photo credit: Fiona Cohen

Lincoln Park, West Seattle

Weather to see: wind

This West Seattle natural area juts out into Puget Sound and has a broad crushed-limestone trail along the seafront for people to encounter wind, waves and wheeling seabirds. The southern part of the trail has the water to the southwest, with a fine view of ferries making their way to Vashon Island and the Kitsap Peninsula. As the trail rounds Colman pool at the halfway mark, the exposure moves to the northeast. Depending on the wind, the mood could go from a roaring gale to sudden peace. The beach is full of driftwood and rocks — timeless toys that will amuse kids for hours. If the weather gets too forbidding, the parking lot is a short stroll away.

Location: 8011 Fauntleroy Way S.W. Seattle. Park for free in one of the lots off Fauntleroy Way.

Pair with: Something tasty at the Original Bakery, 9253 45th Ave. S.W.


Marina Beach Park. Photo credit: Fiona Cohen

Marina Beach Park, Edmonds

Weather to see: wind

This little play-space tucked against a marina just south of the Edmonds ferry terminal has a lot to recommend it. There’s a playground, an area of lawn suitable for kite flying (though judging from the shredded nylon dangling from nearby trees, some flights don’t end well), and a stretch of pebbles, sand and driftwood overlooking one of Puget Sounds’ windiest corners. It’s a wonderful place to watch the waves and the birds, hear and feel the wind and rain and then retreat and apply hot drinks.

Location: 470 Admiral Way, Edmonds. Park for free in a visitor space at the south end of the Port of Edmonds Marina. 

Pair with: Hot chocolate or soup at Walnut Street Coffee, 410 Walnut St., Edmonds.  


Discovery Park. Photo credit: Fiona Cohen

Discovery Park, Magnolia

Weather to see: fog

Even on a windless day, fog never stays still. It undulates, moving closer and then suddenly shrugs away. Discovery Park’s grand, sloping south meadow is the perfect place to explore the moods of fog. Trees and distant figures fade in and out of sight as you and the fog move around. You can’t see where the path you are following goes or where it came from. 

Location: 3801 Discovery Park Blvd., Seattle. To get to the south meadow, park in Discovery Park’s south parking lot, accessible from West Emerson St., and follow the trail that leads west from the parking lot entrance. Parking is free.

Pair with: A visit to Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center, off Discovery Park Boulevard. Among the attractions are interpretive displays, clean restrooms and amazing puppets.


Kerry Park. Photo credit: Fiona Cohen

Kerry Park, Seattle

Weather to see: fog

This small, hillside neighborhood park on the south of Queen Anne Hill is a wonderful place to get a new perspective of Seattle cloud cover: the view from above. It’s a famously good place to watch the ebb and flow of fog over the towers of Seattle’s downtown. Sometimes, the fog slops up the hill, spilling over to the park. When it clears again, you can find out why this park is a destination for photographers. Where there had been a cloud, like any other, there is the Space Needle, rising up in front of you, startlingly close. 

Location: 211 West Highland Drive, Seattle. Park on the street.

Pair with: Another Seattle classic: Top Pot Donuts, 325 W. Galer St. 


Saltwater Park. Photo credit: Fiona Cohen

Saltwater State Park, Des Moines

Weather to see: rain

Best known as a beach getaway, this small state park in South King County has other delights that come to the fore when the weather gets soggy. Inland, salmon-bearing McSorely Creek runs through a steep gully lined with Douglas firs, alders, maples and ferns. The habitat isn’t pristine — there’s a whole lot of English Ivy — but the park is still a wonderful place to view local forests in their ideal state: dripping.  Mosses and ferns that die back in the warm, dry months come to lush life and use the rainwater to carry their spores. The trail back into the woods has an abundance of a squelchy, clay-based mud that leaves detailed impressions of your shoes as you pass. It’s also worth checking out the park’s historic interpretive center, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Location: 25205 Saltwater Park Road, Des Moines. To park, you need a Discover Pass. There is an automatic dispenser at the park, or buy one elsewhere. Cost is $30 for the year, or $10 for the day. 

Pair with: A stop at Auntie Irene's for snacks or hot drinks. It's a couple miles from the park in downtown Des Moines, at 22504 Marine View Drive S.  


Photo credit: Fiona Cohen, Coal Creek Falls

Coal Creek Falls, Bellevue

Weather to see: rain

The best time to see Coal Creek Falls is after lots of rain. That’s when the creek swells, and the falls, usually a picturesque trickle over a boulder, become gushing, thick and white, surrounded by lush woods and birdsong. The falls are in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, a King County park in an area that once held the bustling Newcastle coal mines. The park is covered with a loose web of broad trails, many of built on old mining roadbeds. The simplest way to get there is to go to the Sky Country Trailhead, take the Nike Horse Trail (the name comes from the missile batteries that were on the mountain, once upon a Cold War), turn right onto the Cave Hole Trail, and then left onto the Coal Creek Falls Trail, which leads through some beautiful woods.

Location: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, Sky Country Trailhead, 166th Way S.E., Bellevue. Bring this map, or pick one up at the trailhead. Parking is free. 

Pair with: Lewis Creek Park Visitor Center, in the same neighborhood, at 5808 Lakemont Blvd. S.E., where you can warm up while learning all about the region’s natural history. 


Photo credit: Fiona Cohen, Told-MacDonald Park

Tolt-MacDonald Park, Carnation

Weather to see: rain

Set at the junction where the Tolt River gushes into the Snoqualmie, this is a great place to observe the power and the changeability of rivers.  Stroll up on the suspension bridge after a few days of rain and watch it rising up to flood stage, the water a strange milky greenish brown, its surface churning, its movement powerboat swift. Explore the banks and you can get an idea of just how high this river can go — there is debris dangling on the trees well above an adult’s head.

Location: Turn east off Highway 203 onto NE 40th St. and follow the signs. Parking is free.

Pair with: Pete’s Grill and Pub, 4640 Tolt Ave., Carnation


Photo credit: Fiona Cohen, Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls, Snoqualmie

Weather to see: rain

About 1.5 million people a year visit this magnificent landmark in the Cascade foothills, and none of them go away disappointed; but those who come when the river is running high are in for a special treat. The surge of water changes the character of the falls. Instead of an even white gush, it becomes a gray, ragged, wave-tossed tumult. The water lands with such force that the spray bounces out more than 300 feet. For an onlooker at one of the viewpoints, it’s like being rained on from two directions at once.

Location: 6501 Railroad Ave. S.E., Snoqualmie. Parking is free, and if the weather is especially bad, you can find a parking space really close. 

Pair with: SnoValley Coffee Company, 7811 Center Boulevard S.E., Snoqualmie


Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2015 and updated for 2016.

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