Wildlife Wildlife is abundant in Discovery Park, particularly birdlife: 270 different species have been logged. At ground level, coyote, chipmunks and raccoons inhabit the woods, while offshore a both a lost black bear and a roaming cougar were spotted in the vicinity of the park…then safely relocated outside city limits. Getting there The park is located 5 miles northwest of downtown Seattle in the neighborhood of Magnolia. To get there, catch bus 33 from 3rd Ave and Union St downtown. A weekend-only free shuttle runs 10am to 6pm between the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center and South Beach (by the lighthouse) in the summer (late May to early September).
Nearby restaurants Discovery Park is wild – there are no food concessions or cafes. However, it’s a beautiful place to have a picnic. If you’re coming from Ballard, stock up at Cafe Besalu or grab some sandwiches at Un Bien. In Magnolia, the main shopping hub is on W McGraw St, between 32nd Ave W and 34th Ave W.
Olympic Sculpture Park
This ingenious feat of urban planning is an offshoot of the Seattle Art Museum and it bears the same strong eye for design and curation. There are dozens of sculptures, dotted around in a calm green space that sprawls out over reclaimed urban decay, with front row views over Puget Sound. It’s one of many signs that culturally, Seattle is staking its claim to a seat at the big table, alongside cities such as Los Angeles and New York. The Olympic Sculpture Park is Seattle’s largest downtown green space, an imaginative reuse of former wasteland between the waterfront, the railway tracks and Western Ave. Zigzagging pathways cut between giant sculptural forms and angular steel constructions, dropping down to a shingle beach that is often strewn with driftwood. It’s a surprising find downtown, and a symbol of Seattle’s progressive attitude to town planning. If you have kids in tow and they need to burn off some calories, a run around the sculpture park should do the trick. The works rotate regularly, but signature pieces include Alexander Calder’s angular Eagle and Louise Bourgeois’s Eye Benches. The views over the Sound are almost an artwork in themselves, with huge open skies and giant freighters dodging the ferries shunting commuters across the Sound to Bainbridge, Bremerton and beyond. It’s all the more impressive considering that this patch of land was a mess of oil and gas works until 2007. Practicalities It makes sense to combine a trip to the Sculpture Park and a visit to the Seattle Art Museum; it’s a one-mile walk between the two, and you can stop for lunch en route at Pike Place Market. There’s no charge to admire the sculpture park but tickets are needed (and worth booking in advance) for the Art Museum. The park’s PACCAR Pavilion is a good place to retreat when it rains – and this being Seattle, it often does – and there’s parking on site. Where to eat near the Olympic Sculpture Park Bring a picnic, or walk over to Belltown or Pike Place Market and chow down at the following eateries. Pike Place Chowder Tilikum Place Cafe Black Bottle
Chihuly Garden & Glass
Opened in 2012 and reinforcing Seattle’s position as a leading city of the arts, this exquisite exposition of the life and work of dynamic local sculptor Dale Chihuly is possibly the finest collection of curated glass art you’ll ever see. It shows off Chihuly’s creative designs in a suite of interconnected dark and light rooms before depositing you in an airy glass atrium and – finally – a landscaped garden in the shadow of the Space Needle. Glassblowing demonstrations are a highlight.