It’s that time of year again, when Seattle fall colors are beginning their crescendo. So grab the kids and find a local viewing spot to take in autumn’s hues, giant leaves and all. From vibrant reds and oranges, to brilliant golds and yellows, scroll down to see our favorite fall foliage spots around the city, as well as a few day (and weekend) trip destinations worthy of some oohs and ahhs.

Editor’s note: Please remember to follow social distancing, group size and mask wearing guidelines when you visit these gardens and parks.

Kubota Garden

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, total stand-outs this time of year. The Garden is free to visitors from sun up to about 9:30 p.m. any day of the year, and a detailed self-guided tour map is available online or can be found in a box near the kiosk. Is anyone else thinking perfect picture spot?

9817 55th Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98118
206-684-4584
Online: kubotagarden.org

Discovery Park

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 fall photo opps with the kids. With 11 miles of trails, plenty of picnic tables and a beach and lighthouse, there’s something here for everyone to enjoy this autumn. It's also a place where you can spy salmon this time of year. You'll find all the important info about the self-guided Salmon Bay walking tour here.

Covid update: The parking lot remains closed and the park closes at 8 p.m.

3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, WA 98199
206-386-4236
Online: seattle.gov

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. Psst... keep your eyes peeled for the hidden door that's sure to delight your Littles.

Covid update: The Visitor's Center and Trillium Store remain closed. The Copper Kettle Coffee Bar is open daily for take-out from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

12001 Main St.
Bellevue, WA 98005
425-452-2750
Online: bellevuebotanical.org

photo: Melinda Wong

Woodland Park

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.

Covid update: Woodland Park closes at 8 p.m.

1000 N. 50th St.
Seattle, WA 98103
206-684-4075
Online: seattle.gov

photo: Bonnie Gilbert

Lincoln Park

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 and acres of play fields, this West Seattle gem is a popular spot for families and a great place to spend an autumn day. Don't forget your Tuffos at this beachside park!

Covid update: The parking lot remains closed and the park closes at 8 p.m.

8011 Fauntleroy Way S.W.
Seattle, WA 98136
206-684-4075
Online: seattle.gov

Union Bay Natural Area

With 74 acres and four miles of shoreline along Lake Washington, the Union Bay Natural Area is a public wildlife hotspot 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
206-543-8616
Online: botanicgardens.uw.edu

Washington Park Arboretum

Azalea Way is calling and you must go... to find some of the most spectacular colors in the heart of the city. Whether you bike the two-mile loop and keep your eyes trained on the colorful maples, or wander the many trails that make their way around this 230-acre park, you can't go wrong spending an afternoon at this oasis. Add timed tickets to visit the Seattle Japanese Garden at the south end of the Arboretum ($4-$8/person; free, ages 5 & under) and the kids will be worn out just in time for nap.

Covid update: The Graham Visitor's Center remains closed and the park closes at 8 p.m.

2300 Arboretum Dr. E.
Seattle, WA 98112
206-543-8800
Online: botanicgardens.uw.edu

photo: Rachael Brandon

Mount Rainier

If it’s been a while 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 Naches Loop Trail is the everything bagel of family hikes—all you need is packed into one sweet spot. Don't forget to bring your cameras! 

Online: visitrainier.com

photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

Leavenworth

Because we're all looking for an excuse for a weekend road trip this autumn, Leavenworth is showing off its best fall colors. The scenic drive alone via Highway #2 or Highway #97 will be loaded with vibrant fall colors in early October. Book at night or two at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort and see if you can spot salmon at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery or visit the local fruit stands, farmers market or farm parks for the season's fresh bounty.

Online: leavenworth.org

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

feature photo: Michael Morse from Pexels

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