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Seattle Parks: What Families Can Do This Summer

New activities are now allowed in Seattle parks: small gatherings, lake swimming, more

Nancy Chaney

Published on: June 15, 2020

Swimmers at Mount Baker beach in Seattle Lake Washington new summer activities in Seattle parks 2020
Swimmers at Mount Baker Beach on Lake Washington (prepandemic). Credit: Seattle.roamer/Flickr CC

Seattle-area families now have a few more ways to play outside. It's that little light at the end of the quarantine tunnel getting a bit brighter. (Plus, it looks like June-uary weather is ending this week — whew!)

Seattle Parks & Recreation announced Friday that it's now allowing expanded activities in parks, with King County partly into the second phase of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's reopening plan. Many people are referring to this stage as "Phase 1.5."

Most Seattle parks have been open throughout the stay-at-home order, though playgrounds, buildings, fields and some parking lots have been closed.

What's now open

Here are the highlights of what's newly permitted in Seattle parks:

  • Gatherings of up to five people from different households (larger gatherings are still not allowed and physical distancing is still required)
  • Public restrooms not previously open will now be open
  • Basketball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts and skate parks are now open to groups of five or fewer people
  • Athletic fields and playfields are open to families and groups of five or fewer people (fields will open for organized team practices beginning July 1)
  • Picnic tables and grills are available for use (picnic shelters remain off-limits)
  • Off-leash dog park areas are open
  • Boat ramps will open June 20
  • Five swimming beaches with lifeguards will open July 1; Pritchard Beach, Matthews Beach, Madison Beach and Mount Baker Beach on Lake Washington, and the West Green Lake swimming area at Green Lake Park (note that this is the swimming area by the Bathhouse Theater, not the swimming area by the community center).

Seattle Parks has replaced its "Keep it Moving" message with "Keep It Small and Simple," reminding parks users that while more activities are now permitted, they should still be mindful of practices for staying safe while recreating outdoors.

What's not open

Not everything has opened, and families will for sure feel some losses for summer, especially related to swimming and water play. Here's what remains closed in Seattle parks:

  • Playgrounds and play equipment
  • Wading pools and spray parks (these will be closed all summer)
  • The city's two outdoor pools, Colman and Pop Mounger, and all indoor city pools (these will be closed all summer)
  • Swimming beaches,  aside from the five listed above, remain closed
  • Community Centers and Environmental Learning Centers
  • Picnic shelters and fire pits
  • Parking lots at some major parks, to discourage large crowds
closed playground at seward park seattle stay at home orders seattle parks rules
Playgrounds in Seattle Parks remain closed. Credit: Stephan Kimmerle/Flickr CC

Special rules

Families should note that some special rules remain in place, many related to Seattle's most popular parks:

  • The following parks will close nightly at 8 p.m. to discourage evening crowds: Alki Beach, Cal Anderson Park, Carkeek Park, Discovery Park, Gas Works Park, Golden Gardens, Green Lake, Kubota Garden, Lincoln Park, Magnuson Park, Seward Park, Volunteer Park, Washington Park Arboretum, Myrtle Edwards Park, Judkins Park, West Seattle Stadium and Woodland Park
  • Parking lots at the following parks remain closed (though the parks themselves are open): Seward Park, Genesee Park, Carkeek Park, Discovery Park, Golden Gardens, Green Lake, Kubota Gardens, Lincoln Park, Magnuson Park, Washington Park Arboretum, Matthews Beach, Riverview Playfield, Volunteer Park, West Seattle Stadium and Woodland Park
  • Closed parking lots along Lake Washington include: Adams Street, Duck Bay, Ferdinand Street, Lower Colman, Mount Baker Bathhouse, Stan Sayres, Pritchard Beach and 49th Street
  • Pathways at Seward Park and Green Lake remain pedestrian-only, and the path at Green Lake allows only one-way traffic

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