Top Five Outdoor Adventures in Seattle

Erin Wing - Seattle
June 21, 2011

Have you heard? It rains in Seattle! That's why when the summer sun (finally) makes its debut, Seattleites head out in droves to bond with nature and enjoy the lush, green landscape (thanks, rain!). From multitasking parks to U-pick farms to hikes for kiddos of all ages, here are some of our Seattle summer favorites.

Lincoln Park, West Seattle

Located along Puget Sound and chock full of amenities, Lincoln Park is so much more than a neighborhood play structure (but it's got a large one, and it's shaded, too!). Entice the tykes with the promise of the best zip line in town, a free wading pool or Colman pool, all located within the park. Grab a shovel and comb the beach while you gawk at pretty western views of the Vashon Island ferry on Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Picnic at one of many shelters in the park, or go a few blocks South to Endolyne Joe's for some comfort food with great picks for kids.

Magnuson Park, Northeast Seattle

Located along the shore of Lake Washington, Magnuson is loaded with outdoorsy options. It's home to one of the area's permanent orienteering courses and boasts draws like the ever-popular Kite Hill; two boat docks, one for motorized boats and another for kayaks and canoes; an enclosed beach and a wading pool; and one of the most popular dog parks in Seattle where kids love to watch the frolicking Fidos. Families can play at the enormous, newly updated playground, which includes kid-sized basketball hoops and three climbing structures, and get their hike on at the wooded Promontory Point trails in the south part of the park. Be sure to stop by the 7-Eleven across the street for a Slurpee, the quintessential summer treat!

Washington Park Arboretum, East Seattle

Zen in the city, the Arboretum is a Seattle summer must-do. Stop first at the Graham Visitor Center to rent your Family Adventure Pack, which contains field guides, scavenger hunts, magnifying lenses and activity ideas for children in grades K-6. (Use the restroom here before heading out, since restroom facilities are only located on either end of the park.) Then enjoy the labeled trees and plants as you stroll along grassy Azalea Way or hike the many dirt trails. Take a break at a small tot-park near the quaint Wilcox Footbridge. More time? Visit the Japanese Garden and feed the already plump Koi fish. When you're finished, drive down Madison St. for a slice at Mad Pizza and a cone next door at Scoop du Jour. Scoop du YUM!

Mercer Slough Blueberry Farm, Bellevue

Here's a hands-on experience that kids of all ages can really get into: July through October is prime berry picking time! Our favorite for ease and accessibility is the Mercer Slough Blueberry Farm in the heart of Bellevue. You'll find plenty of blueberries -- plus reliable hours and convenient parking -- and a surrounding nature park with wetland trails to really stretch those legs before the drive home. For other berry picking options, check the Puget Sound Fresh searchable farm list. Always call ahead to verify availability and hours; many farms require cash or check only.

Rattlesnake Lake, North Bend

Peaceful and remote -- but only an hour from Seattle center on 1-90 -- Rattlesnake Lake is a great choice for families with young children (don't worry, you won't encounter any actual rattlesnakes!). Wee ones will love to skip rocks across the serene lake; bring kayaks for an uncongested boating experience. Walk the 1.5 mile Lake Trail or try hiking partway up the more challenging Rattlesnake Ledge trail. (There's a great view of the lake about one mile up.)  Check out the interactive water cycle exhibit at the Cedar River Watershed Education Center, and if it's raining, you can enjoy the sound of amplified rain drops in the Rain Drum Courtyard. On the way back to I-90, lunch at the family-friendly (and delicious!) Riverbend Café, or grab snacks for the trip at the nearby Cascade General Store.

For all destinations, pack shoes to get muddy and wet, arrive early for the best parking and minimal crowds, and call ahead to check for special festivities or closures.

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