I love gardens and public green spaces, and one of my favorite places to visit in Seattle is the Arboretum. The Arboretum is a large park with beautiful plantings of trees, shrubs, and some flowers. It is on Lake Washington and some of the paths take you down to the shore, or even to a walkway over the water that connects to the University of Washington. I have visited in every season and it is beautiful no matter when you go.
One of my favorite visits was in December with an old travel buddy. We spent several hours wandering the paths in the crisp air. The ponds were frozen over and the ice was thick enough in some places to walk out on it a few feet (very carefully!). While it was cold, it was sheltered from the wind and a wonderful place to get some fresh air on a clear day.
In spring, the trees are leafing out and in bloom and the place fills with walkers, picnickers, and families. You could make a day of it and visit the cherry trees at UW campus and then head to the Arboretum for a walk. When Seattle starts to warm up, everyone goes crazy heading outdoors to enjoy it and there is more exploring to do at the Arboretum than somewhere like Green Lake where there is only a single trail. I haven’t visited the Japanese Gardens yet, but on my next visit I definitely will!
In summer, I love to take a picnic and relax on the grass. The other very fun way to visit the Arboretum is by water! Directly across from the Arboretum, UW has a Waterfront Activities Center where they rent canoes and rowboats for a very low hourly rate – even lower if anyone in your group has a UW affiliation! When I visited by canoe, we saw many herons, ducks, and turtles exploring the marshy area that the Arboretum borders. We saw other groups land their canoes and picnic, but we spent all of our time paddling and admiring the wildlife and views of the park and lake.
Of course, in fall you can see changing leaves and enjoy some of Seattle’s best weather. I have only biked through in fall, but will have to make time next year to see where the best fall color is. I can’t wait!
Photos via Flickr users epsilonimages, Curt Smith, Joe Wolf, Scooter Lowrimore, Terri Stewart, and Raquel Samanyl