Seattleites, it’s almost your day (or season) in the sun. The Washington Park Arboretum offers many activities for families to enjoy the great outdoors. Start at the Graham Visitors’ Center where you can pick up a trail map and plan your attack.
Heading south from the visitors’ center, Azalea Way offers easy walking, wandering by two ponds where kids can spy on turtles and count dragonflies. Explore the many trails that branch up the hill and look for a gazebo or exotic maple trees with peeling paper bark. Or, cross the Wilcox Footbridge (pictured) to find a small tot-lot for the kids to climb on.
A delightful Japanese Garden is located at the south end of the park. An entrance fee is required ($5 for adults, kids under 5 are free), but for an extra dollar, you can get a baggie of kibble to drop in the water for the colorful koi to fight over. Lots of turtles and ducks (and amazing plants) here too!
Head north from the visitors’ center to walk by the aptly-named Duck Bay and cross a bridge to Foster Island. Look for the beach logs that have been chewed by beavers, and listen for frogs as you walk along these quiet trails. Then brace yourself for the thrilling—if noisy—walk under the 520 bridge. The trail continues along Marsh Island as a series of boardwalks and floating bridges with canoes paddling under them. If you can manage to walk quietly, you might spot a heron.
Keep walking and you will reach the Museum of History and Industry, located beyond the north end of the arboretum. Walk through Seattle history; there is something at MOHI to interest visitors of every age.
For a different adventure, explore this area by canoe or rowboat. Rentals are available at the UW Waterfront Activities Center, where they also provide lifejackets and advice on how to safely cross the boat traffic at Montlake Cut.
Hungry? On the Montlake side of the arboretum, grab sandwich, a snack or a cup of coffee at Fuel, or if you’re ready for dinner, stop at the Montlake Ale House for beer, burgers and a kid-friendly play pit. On the Madison Valley side of the park, walk up to The Essential Baking Company for a fresh and yummy lunch, or treat yourself to ice cream at Scoop du Jour in Madison Park.