0712 Park City - Everything Park
Image: Will Austin

The Everything Park

Discovery Park
3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle

If any park can be all things to all people, this is it. There’s forest and shoreline hiking, sweeping views of Puget Sound from a 250-foot bluff, a historic lighthouse, the city’s birding hot spot with more than 270 documented species, and ample enough habitats in its 534 acres to sustain authentic predator-prey relationships—owls and voles, for example. On at least two occasions, cougars have found their way to Discovery Park; the most recent visitor was captured unharmed and removed three years ago.

The crown jewel of Seattle parks was a matter of luck and pork. Luck that after the city declined an opportunity to buy it from the U.S. Army for $1 in 1938—Seattle was wary of the maintenance cost—the army held onto it until in 1969, when Washington’s senator Henry Jackson introduced a bill allowing cities to acquire military land for parks at no cost. This time Seattle grabbed the free bait and dedicated Discovery Park in 1973.