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There's not much grass at Waterfall Gardens, but that won't bother you for long. The dominant materials in this Pioneer Square park are wood, concrete and water. It's like stepping into a Zen water and rock garden. The splashing water drowns out traffic noise and soothes the soul, while the few plants stir gently in the breeze. Benches provide a welcome urban respite. There's a plaque on the outside wall commemorating, the birthplace of the United Parcel Service.
The Olympic Sculpture Park began as a commitment between the Seattle Art Museum and the Trust for Public Land, and quickly grew into a green mecca of architectural art and beautifully crafted landscapes. The park contains mathematical sculptures, new-wave basket weaving and the artistic greenhouse designed by the likes of artists Tony Smith, Pedro Reyes and Mark Dion. The Olympic Sculpture Park is nestled besides the Puget Sound and is managed by the Seattle Art Museum. The views include both the Seattle port and the Olympic mountain range. Admission is free all year long.
Technically, the northern half of this park is Elliott Bay Park, but the whole waterfront strip runs so seamlessly together that no one ever refers to it as anything but Myrtle Edwards. The park is a bit obscure but also pleasantly quiet, filled only with joggers and cyclists enjoying just over one mile of winding bike and pedestrian paths that run along Elliott Bay. The views over the bay are spectacular, especially at sunset and the white columns at the northern end lend an eerie industrial feel to the park.
Located in Volunteer Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Volunteer Park Conservatory is a botanical garden made up of five different houses. Modeled after the Crystal Palace in London, these ornately, victorian style greenhouses hold various botanical wonders. Each greenhouse holds a different variety of plants, from succulents, ferns, palms and bromeliads to cacti and seasonal flora. A Seattle staple since 1922, the extensive collection has grown thanks to generous donations from the public and private benefactors. Visitors can roam through the greenhouses for a small fee of USD 4 or choose to take one of the tours on offer. Be sure to visit the website for further details.
Volunteer Park displays the Olmsted brothers' late-Victorian urban style of park design. Vistas of rolling lawns, carefully clumped shrubbery, tree-lined drives and carp ponds almost make you feel like you're strolling with top hat and cane in hand. The Kew Gardens-style glass conservatory, filled with humid tropical and arid desert environments, is free to all. At the southern end of the park stands a 75-foot brick water tower with a spiraling staircase and a 360-degree view of the Seattle area, from the Olympics to the Cascades. The view is a bit obstructed by the bars on the windows, but it's lovely in late afternoon sunlight. The park's name commemorates Seattleites who volunteered for the Spanish-American War. The park is also home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
Located on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill, Kerry Park is a popular park in Seattle that is renowned for providing the beautiful panoramic views of the city. With Mount Rainier as a picturesque backdrop, this park is popular with locals and tourists alike. At night, the view of the city from the park is breathtaking and dream-like which makes it perfect for pictures.
This garden, designed by world renowned garden designer Juki Iida, is a tranquil heaven of three and a half acres. The garden has coordinated plantings of maples, pines, mosses, ferns around a pond that has turtles and goldfish. Tea ceremonies are also performed on the second, third and fourth Saturday of every month. Observing this special ceremony is free, but participation is charged. The garden is at its peak bloom during mid May and is well worth visiting for its fresh colours and fragrances. For some days the times may vary, please check the website.
Gas Works Park is an example of urban renewal at its best. Take an old gas-processing plant that has outlived its usefulness, and transform it into something everyone can enjoy. Located on the north shore of Lake Union, the park has excellent water views and a spectacular, unobstructed view of the city skyline. It is a popular spot for concerts, bikers, kite flyers, families on picnics and just about everyone else. This is also a prime spot from which to view the fireworks on the Fourth of July.
This 200-acre (80.93 hectare) park is a must-see for every Seattle visitor with even an hour of free time. With its lush green spaces, its breathtaking Japanese Garden (open 10a daily), and its abundance of rare trees, plants and flowers (more than 40,000 species), it is one of the brightest jewels in the Emerald City. Scenic and aptly named Azalea Way cuts a path through the park. The Graham Visitor's Center can be rented for social events, meetings and seminars for 45-75 guests. Rates include kitchen and audio-visual equipment. Call or visit the web site for detailed information and hours.
Just a few blocks south from the beach blanket and ice cream shack mayhem of Alki Beach, Schmitz Park is a veritable time warp back to a Seattle before the European settlers came. Home to the only remaining stand of old-growth forest in the city, it's been left alone for wanderers to discover. Some of the cedars are 800 years old!
The Seattle Chinese Garden (also known as Xi Huan Yuan) is not only the largest of its kind in the United States, but also one the largest outside China. Offering gorgeous views and a continually changing array of plants, the park includes several pavilions built using traditional Chinese materials and techniques. Visitors can view slide presentations of the construction process as part of docent-guided tours. Tours are free and last 90 minutes. For easiest access, park at the north entry.
The Ravenna Park and Cowen Park together form a beautiful stretch of greenery along a ravine which provides a much needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The lush green grass and huge, shady trees are covered in snow during the winter months and make for a great sight. The park offers areas for playing tennis with multiple courts, athletic fields for soccer or baseball, playground for children and hiking trails along with area to cycle.