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More Than an Urban Park: Discovery Park

Seattle is known for its urban attractions like Pike Place, the Space Needle, and neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and the U District. But, there are also hidden gems that provide an escape from the concrete and showcase nature within the bustling city. Discovery Park, located on Magnolia Bluff, was the first Seattle city park I went to, and I’m excited to go back. Discovery Park creates a nice environment for Seattleites to walk, jog, hike, and enjoy a nice view only a short drive away from main attractions in the city. 


The City of Seattle website succinctly describes Discovery Park and its value to the surrounding communities:

“Discovery Park is a 534 acre natural area park operated by the Seattle Parks and Recreation. It is the largest city park in Seattle, and occupies most of the former Fort Lawton site. The site is one of breathtaking majesty. Situated on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, Discovery Park offers spectacular view of both the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges. The secluded site includes two miles of protected tidal beaches as well as open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, active sand dunes, thickets and streams. The role of Discovery Park is to provide an open space of quiet and tranquility away from the stress and activity of the city, a sanctuary for wildlife, as well as an outdoor classroom for people to learn about the natural world. Maintained in its semi-natural condition, the park will continue to offer a biologically rich and diverse natural area for urban dwellers and an unmatched opportunity for environmental education.”

When I went to Discovery Park, I walked through wooded trails and then on a beach trail, spending some time on the beach and rocks around the lighthouse. The lighthouse is a tranquil view and great photography opportunity while the beach provides great views of Puget Sound and mountains. 

While the park isn’t the most accessible by public transportation—although you can take bus routes 31 and 33 to get there from the University of Washington in a little over an hour—its general proximity makes it a great option for an afternoon activity or summer sunset. Ubers and Lyfts are a reasonable option as the park is only 6 miles from UW and downtown Seattle. It’s also in a great location for a stop while spending time in Magnolia, Fremont, or Queen Anne. 

Discovery Park is also right by the Ballard Locks and Botanical Garden, so this area is a great location to add to your itinerary for your next day of exploring Seattle. There are lots of food options on Ballard Ave like Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, the Matador, and Asadero. 

Amelia Nathan

Washington '22

My name is Amelia and I am studying Comparative History of Ideas and Math at the University of Washington. I was born in California but love my home in Washington and when I'm not writing, I love hiking, painting with watercolor and alcohol inks, and watching crime shows!
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