Jack Block Park is an undiscovered slice of paradise for transportation buffs located on the West Seattle side of Harbor Island. The land is a Port of Seattle environmental reclamation project so there is no access to the beach, but there are plenty of docks and bridges to explore. Look carefully – this time of year you might glimpse a harbor seal pup resting on the beach. The crowning glory is a 45-foot tall observation tower. Don’t be put off by the elevation gain: the entire park is accessible by a stroller-friendly path which winds up the hills.

Look across the water at the spectacular view of downtown, framed by Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier. Then turn around and watch the container units load onto semi-trucks at Terminal 5. Barges and trains line the walk. Cargo cranes move up and down. Airplanes fly overhead. Ferries, cargo boats, and cruise ships cross Elliott Bay. Informational signs help to explain the process if your little one erupts in a string of questions.

There is also a sandy kids’ play area with large, colorful buoys to climb on and a circle of white boat ties to run through. Nearby is what might possibly be the best rolling-down hill in Seattle (with the possible exception of the kite hill at Gas Works Park). Guaranteed dizziness!

The paved paths and large dock areas also make this a great place for tyke-sized biking. And there are plenty of picnic tables, so you can bring a lunch or snack. Didn’t pack food? The iconic Salty’s is next door, has a kids’ menu and serves lunch from 11:30 – 2:00 p.m. Or head further down Harbor Avenue SW to Alki for your pick of restaurants.

Note: This park gets quite a bit of off-leash dog traffic, so it may not be the best place for pooch-spooked kids.

Getting there: Look for the whimsical entry gate along Harbor Avenue SW and follow the driveway to a parking lot. Or, take the King County Water Taxi from downtown and walk about fifteen  minutes south from the dock.

–Karen McHegg