When it comes to finding spectacular fall colors, we know New England takes the cake. But believe it or not, there’s plenty to see right here in the good ol’ Pacific Northwest. From vibrant reds and oranges, to brilliant golds and yellows, scroll down to see our favorite fall foliage spots around Seattle as well as a few day (and weekend) trip destinations worthy of some oohs and ahhs.
Stroller friendly, dog-friendly and serene, Kubota Garden in south Seattle is a hidden gem within the city. Kids will love seeing the waterfall and the fish pond and you’ll appreciate the stunning array of Japanese maples. The Garden is free to visitors and a detailed self-guided tour map is available online and in a metal box near the kiosk.
Good to Know: The Kubota Garden Foundation fall plant sales will take place on Sat., Sept. 8, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and feature locally sourced small conifers, shrubs, perennials and a collection of specimen Japanese maples, many of which can be found in the Kubota Garden. Experts will also be on hand to help you make your selections.
9817 55th Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98118
Seattle’s largest park takes up 534 acres on Magnolia Bluff, including colorful wooded areas, meadows, sand dunes and dramatic cliffs (in other words: plenty of photo opps with the kiddos). With 11 miles of trails, a new playground, plenty of picnic tables and a beach and lighthouse, there’s something here for everyone.
3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, WA 98199
Bellevue Botanical Garden
This wonderful gem, located right in downtown Bellevue, offers visitors 53 acres of cultivated display gardens, meadows, wetlands and woodlands to explore. The 1/3-mile Lost Meadow loop trail offers picturesque fall color; be sure to also stroll through the Dahlia Garden as flowers should be in full bloom through mid-November (or the first frost). The Botanical Gardens are free and open from dawn to dusk every day.
12001 Main St.
Bellevue, WA 98005
Yes, of course the zoo is here, but did you also know that Woodland Park continues on the east side of Aurora down to the south end of Green Lake? The best fall color can be found near the many picnic areas and the large, wooded dog off-leash area.
1000 N. 50th St.
Seattle, WA 98103
With 4.6 miles of walking paths and a mile of seawalled rocky beaches, you'll find plenty of trees blazing with orange, red and yellow leaves along the paths and mixed in with the kelp on the beach. Bring the jogging stroller so you can take the trails through the grassy forests and meadows, along the bluffs and down to the beach. With five picnic shelters, two playgrounds (including the newly remodeled one by the wading pool), a fun zip line and acres of play fields, this West Seattle gem is a popular spot for families and a great place to spend an autumn day.
8011 Fauntleroy Way S.W.
Seattle, WA 98136
Union Bay Natural Area
With 74 acres and four miles of shoreline along Lake Washington, the Union Bay Natural Area is a public wildlife area just a stone’s throw away from the shopping mecca of University Village. Gorgeous grasslands and wetlands combined with the backdrops of Husky Stadium, Lake Washington and Mount Rainier add to the diverse fall scenery. A popular bird watching destination, bring the binoculars and either a heavy-duty jogging stroller or a backpack for the wee ones, as the gravel trails tend to get muddy during the fall season.
Good to Know: Plenty of parking is available at the adjacent Center for Urban Horticulture.
3501 N.E. 41st St.
Seattle, WA 98105
Washington Park Arboretum
First stop: The Graham Visitors Center (where you can treat the kids to Family
Adventure Packs ($7 for two hours). The backpacks, which are supplied with field guides, scavenger hunts, magnifying lenses and activity ideas for children in grades K–6 have enough supplies for a group of up to five people. Got a bigger group? Rent the Explorer Pack designed for up to 15 people ($20 for a two-hour rental). Stroll through Azalea Way (.75 miles) past the Woodland Garden, Japanese Maples and Asiatic Maples and end up at the Seattle Japanese Garden at the south end (which has an entrance fee of $4 to $8; ages 5 & under are Free).
2300 Arboretum Dr. E.
Seattle, WA 98112
If it’s been awhile since your last trip to Mount Rainier, fall is a stunning time to go. Crowds and bugs aren’t as plentiful and the landscape never disappoints. A number of suggested day trip itineraries for families are available online, or you can check out park service recommended hikes. Psst! The Rainier Festival in Ashford takes place in Sep. 1-3, 2018
Good to Know: The Naches Loop Trail is the everything bagel of family hikes—all you need is packed into one sweet spot.
With Leavenworth Oktoberfest on the horizon (Oct. 5-6, 12-13 & 19-20, 2018), this may be a great excuse for a weekend trip. The scenic drive alone via Highway #2 or Highway #97 will be loaded with vibrant fall colors. Book at night or two at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort and take the kids on a horse-drawn carriage through town, tour the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery or visit the local fruit stands, farmers market or farm parks.
Mount Baker Scenic Byway
Beginning just west of Bellingham and winding up to the breathtaking Artist Point, the Mount Baker Scenic Byway is the only road to Mount Baker, a destination in and of itself, offering adventure for the kids along the way. Psst...make sure you’ve got plenty of room on your camera’s memory card.
—Kristina Moy & Allison Ellis