It’s time for you and your kiddos to hang out with your favorite “buds.” Seattle’s on the cusp of our floral awakening, between the cherry blossoms and spring blooms in our city gardens. That means getting those darling, quintessential springtime photos of our little ones romping around in the petals, right? Lucky for us, our community has a basketful of green spaces and parks filled with springtime’s bounty waiting to inspire your little gardeners to smile. Read on to find your picture-perfect spot.
University of Washington Campus
The University of Washington campus is by far one of the most popular places to view (and take pictures with!) spectacular blooms, especially if cherry blossoms are your jam. If you really want to wow your kids, the Quad is the place to be. You'll find 29 huge cherry trees, planted over 86 years ago, and capture them frolicking around in the beautiful, fluffy pink and white flowers. Don't forget you can celebrate all of the above at the Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival, taking place virtually this year, from April 9-11, 2021
COVID update: The University of Washington is asking people to enjoy the blooms virtually again in 2021. Check out the live webcams, take a virtual tour or stay up-to-date with @uwcherryblossom on Twitter.
1410 N.E. Campus Pkwy.
Seattle, WA 98195
Washington Park Arboretum
Speaking of UW, your photo opp hop would be remiss if it didn’t include the Washington Park Arboretum. Spanning from Madison Park to Montlake, just south of the U District, the Arboretum is alive with flowers this spring, including cherry blossoms, cascading yellow gold chain trees and blooming true ashes. Start your trip outside the Graham Visitor’s Center (currently closed), then let the little ones burn off some pre-pic energy as they explore the more than 200 acres of foot trails, lawns and paths leading to ponds. Once you are ready to get your Ansel Adams on, check out the iconic Azalea Way. It’s a 3/4-mile walk through the heart of the Arboretum, chock full of gorgeous flowering plants and trees. You are sure to find a spot or two perfect for snapping some heart-warming pics of your kiddos. Also, consider reserving tickets for access to the gorgeous Seattle Japanese Garden. It just reopened for the season March 6th. Psst…after your shots, don't forget to take advantage of the two-mile Arboretum Loop Trail that was just completed a couple years ago. A perfect stroll for after the camera roll!
Good to know: The cherry blossoms at the Arboretum are lower to the ground than on the Quad, so this location might be ideal for your tiniest models.
2300 Arboretum Dr. E.
Seattle, WA 98112
Rainier Beach’s gorgeous Kubota Gardens was built by Fujitaro Kubota in the late 1920s. Red and purple flowers, including large magnolia blossoms, are on display this time of year. Kiddos can navigate rocks, streams and serene ponds on the 20-acre property. Any of the gardens here provide you with a great photog opportunity, but the Waterfall At Mountainside and the Moon Bridge can also add a nice whimsical air to any Japanese garden-esque springtime shots. View the self-guided tour online here to plan out your trip. And if you want to bring Fido along as a prop, dogs are welcome, provided they are on a leash and you clean-up after them. Bonus: It’s free admission to the public.
Insider tip: While bigger kids should be able to freely explore without much trouble, toddlers might need a little help making their way across the garden’s narrow paths and bridges.
Good to know: If you plan to use a professional photographer, make sure they call the Garden ahead of time to get fee information and a permit from the city.
9817 55th Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98118
An almost 50-acre refuge in Capitol Hill, Volunteer Park was designed by the famous Olmstead Brothers in the early 1900s. The park houses the completely renovated Seattle Asian Art Museum (not currently open to the public) and a climbable water tower with 365 degree views of the city. Snap up some cutesy kiddo photos throughout the park’s immaculate landscaping and then let the little ones explore the Block play sculpture and playground. Hello, Insta!
1247 15th Ave. E.
Seattle, WA 98102
Bellevue Botanical Garden
This self-described "urban oasis" easily wears the mantle of "photo-worthy" for Eastside families, but it's definitely worth the drive for Seattle families too. Its 53-acres is divided into eleven smaller gardens, each with a distinct floral theme that makes finding the right spot for your family photo shoot (informal or otherwise) a breeze. Rhododendron Glen is blooming now through summer, when the hydrangeas will make themselves known. And the Urban Meadow adds a little pollinator education to its gorgeous and colorful blooms with the Mason Bee exhibit (psst... get the details on how your family can rent mason bees to help pollinators do their job.). It's hard to go wrong at this expansive garden.
12001 Main St.
Bellevue, WA 98005
Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden
This little-known garden just south of the city is a quiet spot to enjoy spring blooms and take sweet photos of your crew on a warm day. It's open daily from dawn to dusk, and families will find seven distinct garden landscapes on the 11-acre property. Look for draped vines, bodacious blooms and secret bridges as you make your way around the property. It's a great spot to stop and smell the flowers, learn about each garden's history and say cheese!
13735 24th Ave. S.
South Seattle College Arboretum & Seattle Chinese Garden
These gardens, nestled high atop a ridge in West Seattle, count as a two-fer in the land of garden photo-ops. Not only do fragrant, colorful blooms (and stunning views of the Seattle skyline and Elliott Bay) abound at the South Seattle College Arboretum, but you can find equally lovely flowers at the 5-acre Seattle Chinese Garden, located on the north end of the campus. The Arboretum is a “living laboratory” used by college students studying plant (and other) sciences. But it’s also a spot where kids can strike a pose worthy of framing. Parents can find more spots for a photo op at the Seattle Chinese Garden where traditional Chinese architecture blends seamlessly with the dynamic flora and fauna you can find here.
6000 16th Ave. S.W.
Seattle, WA 98106
The largest city park in Seattle, Discovery Park sits in the Magnolia neighborhood on land previously occupied by Fort Lawton. Here, kids can experience woodland trails, open fields and a beach flanked by a lighthouse. If it’s a clear day, both the Olympics and Cascades can be seen from the beach. In addition to blooming plants and wildflowers, an assortment of birds, including mallards, grebes, and—if you’re especially lucky—bald eagles can be spotted in the spring. Between the beach, the mountains, the lighthouse and the flowers in bloom, we are pretty sure your inner Anne Geddes will show through, as Discovery Park has just about everything a spring photo shoot requires. Psst...during your visit be sure to check out the awesome playground. You know your kids will want to let loose after cheesing it up for the camera.
3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, WA 98199
Surrounded by Lake Washington on three sides, south Seattle’s Seward Park offers pristine views of Mount Rainier (a pic with your mini and the mountain? Yes, please!) and plenty of spots for picnics and portraits. A plethora of fresh flowering plants join conifers and ferns in making the park especially beautiful this time of year. Wanting to capture that wilderness vibe? Head on into the Magnificent Forest where the kids can explore Seattle’s biggest block of old-growth trees, with some dating back more than 250 years. Find an awesome Douglas Fir, plop your little explorer by it, and, bam!, you’ve got your PNW-vibing pic for grandparents in the books!
Good to know: If you’ve got a kiddo or two with grabby-hands syndrome, be sure to look out for signs warning about poison oak.
5900 Lake Washington Blvd. S.
Seattle, WA 98118
— Alaina Weimer, Kristina Moy & Sara Billups