Capitol Hill Parks

When it is rainy and drizzly and gross out as often as it is in Seattle, people get real stir-crazy. Best way to combat the winter blues? Step out into one of Capitol Hill’s lush green spaces!

Seattlites love their trees and parks almost as much as they love coffee shops – it’s all about finding that perfect balance between cozy conversations with friends over a hot cuppa and quiet moments on a park bench with a good book. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Volunteer Park is truly a great city park. Like any large city green space, it’s perfect for walking, running, biking, playing, and picnicking, but there’s so much more to this park. The Water Tower, built in 1906, provides spectacular views of Seattle, and unlike the Space Needle or Columbia Tower, it’s free. Along a tree-lined drive, there’s also a Conservatory that dates from 1912 which is modeled on London’s Crystal Palace. It includes both native Northwest species such as ferns and seasonal flowers as well as plants often associated with drier climates like palms and succulents. Volunteer Park is also home to the Asian Art Museum, housed in an amazing 1933 Art Deco building. Seattle has long been a destination for Asian immigrants, and this collection showcases art from the homelands of this important part of Seattle’s history and its peoples. During the summer, Volunteer’s Park’s outdoor amphitheater hosts both music concerts and Shakespeare in the Park performances put on by companies such as the Seattle Shakespeare Company and GreenStage.
  • Interlaken Park sits on the north end of the hill. Densely forested with numerous trails for the urban trail runner snake down through the ravine between Capitol Hill and Montlake. This isn’t a park to take your kids to swing, this is a park to get lost in. As you wind your way through Interlaken it’s easy to forget you are in the middle of a city, you could easily be miles away from anyone.
  •  Thomas Street Gardens is a neighborhood oasis and P-Patch tucked into Thomas Street mid-block. Its beautiful, wrought-iron gates and arch covered with a climbing vine give it a distinctive Parisian feel.
  • Cap Hill parents can also rejoice in the amount of playgrounds and parks with play equipment. The Spring Street Mini-Park is a cute corner playground which includes a mini climbing wall for children and benches and picnic tables for parents and families.
  • The Firehouse Mini-Park, situated next to the old Firehouse #23 used from 1910-1964, boasts a child’s size fire engine among its play equipment.
  • The triangular McGilvra Place includes play equipment for adults also. Driving by one day, I did a double-take when I saw two young men playing ping-pong on the stone table in this cement mini-park shrouded by old shade trees and bordered on three sides by Madison, Pike, and 15th streets.
  • Tashkent and Seven Hills Parks are perfect examples of local neighborhood parks intended for residents to enjoy. Tashkent provides amazing, large shade trees and benches, as does Seven Hills, but Seven Hills also has a large grassy area perfect for summer picnics and playing children and an art feature made of seven boulders representing the Seven Hills of Seattle, from which the park gets its name.

Finally, we come to the park that is the true meeting place for Capitol Hill residents on sunny, summer days (and even in the winter too). On a hot Seattle day, nothing is better than to get a salted caramel ice cream cone from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream store on Pine St. and then walk across the street to watch a kick ball game or a bicycle polo match at Cal Anderson Park, both of which are regularly played here by fun-loving adults, not children. This park stretches three city blocks between Denny Way and Pine Street, and includes various courts for adult sporting activities, a children’s play area, and a fountain with pools including one for wading.

To learn more about the myriad of parks around Seattle, check out the Seattle Parks and Recreation web site: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/