The merry-go-round at newly updated Rodgers Park on Queen Anne. Credit: JiaYing Grygiel
More than any other park in the city, this is the one that’s near and dear to my heart.
For five years, my family rented a house near David Rodgers Park on the north slope of Seattle's Queen Anne Hill. This was our park.
In this beautiful neighborhood spot, you’ll find tall trees, gravel walking paths, plenty of space to roam. The park covers nine acres, parts of which are really steep. When we get snow, it’s where the neighborhood kids gather with their sleds.
And now this park has an updated, accessible and thoroughly awesome new playground.
We’ve moved away from Queen Anne, but every so often we’d drive by to monitor progress on the playground renovation project. After the old wooden play structure came down (termite damage, ugh), the site sat untouched for months.
We were excited to see construction begin this past summer, and the pace really picked up after school started. One day there was a slide, then a bridge, then another slide. Then came the big day: The chain-link construction fence finally came down earlier this month. Let the kids play!
Park designed with community input
Two Halloweens ago, Seattle Parks and Recreation set up a table on Queen Anne Avenue asking trick-or-treating families to weigh in on different playground designs. The one I voted for won! It’s nature-themed, with neutral greens and browns that blend into the peaceful, forested setting.
Rodgers now has two play structures, a big one designed for kids ages 5–12, and a smaller sidekick for kids ages 2–5. Some of the steps are shaped like leaves, and everything is metal because... termites. There’s a new rocking snail where the sandbox used to be, and a smaller merry-go-around that replaced the old one from the ’70s. The shaky old bridge is now a sturdy metal one.
A new mulch-filled concrete circle holds a swing set with two toddler swings and two regular belt swings. The old set only had toddler swings. In order to increase the footprint of the swings, this new swing set was moved to an open area so it wouldn’t hurt the roots of an enormous 100-year-old maple tree.
Do you have nerdy kids? I do. We found a panel at the playground listing all the states in the order they were admitted into the Union. On the flip side is a map numbered correspondingly. (Washington is 42 out of 50.) I couldn’t believe it. It was like this feature was custom-designed for us.
There were a few finishing touches still to be done when we visited. Orange netting protects the grass trying to grow at the edge of the new sidewalk. New picnic tables and benches will be installed between the play structure and swings offering the perfect vantage point for caregivers.
The $400,000 play area renovation was paid for by the 2013 King County Park Levy. The updated equipment meets standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. That new curved sidewalk was specifically designed with a gradual, ADA-compliant slope, which is no easy feat on Queen Anne Hill. It’s good for wheelchairs, and strollers and bikes, too.
There are lots of ground-level features built into the playground, including two drums, a xylophone, raindrop sound makers and a three-in-row game. Compared to the old play structure, the new steps aren’t nearly as steep and they incorporate lots of landings. It’s better for all kids, with and without disabilities.
Rodgers Park is located on the north side of Queen Anne, on the slope between the crown of the hill and Seattle Pacific University. Street parking is easy. Park restrooms are located next to the playground and they’re not pretty, but functional. (They’ve been identified as “needing work,” but a remodel isn’t part of this playground renovation project.)
In addition to the new playground, further down the hill you'll find three tennis courts and a big soccer field with a track around it.
Rodgers is the quietest of the three major parks on Queen Anne. The other two are usually hopping: West Queen Anne Playfield and East Queen Anne Playfield, better known as Big Howe and Little Howe, respectively. Rodgers generally offers a quieter experience.
Parents should know that neighbors unofficially use Rodgers as an off-leash area because there is so much space and not many people. Nervous pups and kids need to be on the lookout for unleashed dogs. Kids should also watch out for a sizable drop from the concrete wall to the mulch at the playground.
David Rodgers who?
This park was named in honor of David Rodgers (1864–1923), a Belfast-born master ship fitter who lived in Seattle from 1900 until his death. He was known for cranking out vessels quickly for the war effort and helping to put Seattle on the map.
Rodgers Park is just three blocks off Queen Anne's main drag, Queen Anne Avenue, where you’ll find literally everything you need to make kids happy. Try out board games at Blue Highway Games (2203 Queen Anne Ave. N.) and pick up gourmet sandwiches next door at Homegrown (2201 Queen Anne Ave. N.).
But let’s be real, our everyday go-to is the Trader Joe’s (1916 Queen Anne Ave. N.) where my kids are sample station and checkout sticker experts.
If you go...
Open hours: The park is open daily 4 a.m.–11:30 p.m.
Getting there: Metro route 13 goes right by on 3rd Avenue West; street parking is easier on the other side of the park (nearer the playground) on 1st Avenue West.
More great playgrounds to visit: