Seattle's Private Places & Hidden Spaces

Peace. Quiet. Solitude. Impossible? Not in our favorite Seattle retreats, where you can walk, sit, and actually hear yourself think.

By Seattle Met Staff January 2, 2014 Published in the January 2014 issue of Seattle Met

Boat Spotting Get an almost-private water view at the Pike Place Market alcove.


Yes, 10 million humans descend on the market every year, and shouldering through crowds is anything but relaxing. Enter at First and Pike and step into the Main Arcade—under the clock—past the fish throwers until you reach a handful of stools and a bank of windows. Behold, in silence and with nary a tourist in sight, the toothy Olympics to the northwest and, straight ahead, Elliott Bay and the ferries skating across its surface.  86 Pike Pl, Pike Place Market,


Pacing Space The labyrinth at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

St. Paul’s Labyrinth

Peace is hard to come by among the police sirens and construction clamor in the heart of Lower Queen Anne, but if you’re going find it, it’ll be in the outdoor labyrinth at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Tucked behind a row of shrubbery at the corner of Roy and First Avenue North, it’s less a maze—no walls, just raised lines—as it is a circuitous path to enlightenment that just happens to be across the street from a froyo joint.  15 Roy St, Lower Queen Anne,



If you’re heading from downtown to Capitol Hill and you’re lucky enough to be on foot, and not in a hurry, few pedestrian courses offer a more tranquil out-of-city experience right in the middle of the city than the route through Freeway Park, a series of cement plateaus that rise through copses of evergreens, starting at Sixth Avenue and exhaling you onto Ninth at the foot of First Hill. 700 Seneca St, Downtown

Marine View Park The beach is the best part.


Despite the name, Marine View Park is most notable for its beach. But don’t tell anyone, because -Normandy Parkers have been trying to keep that fact under wraps since 1987, when the city renamed the peaceful, secluded strip of sand just north of the Des Moines marina to remove the word beach. This spot isn’t much of a secret anymore, but the steep hike down from the parking lot helps keep out the riffraff. You’ve got to want it.  20945 Marine View Dr SW, Normandy Park,



Actually, belt isn’t quite right. The verdant, three-acre swath draped along the torso of Capitol Hill, just above Lakeview Boulevard and the mighty I-5, is a cummerbund at least. Behind St. Mark’s Cathedral on 10th Avenue, the park is veined with trails and a staircase that take you past dense ivy and holly and so many trees you can barely see the sky. But that also means you can’t see the city or the freeway, and you might as well be in the forest.  1500 Lakeview Blvd E, Capitol Hill,


Water View Inside Waterfall Garden Park

Waterfall Garden Park

Though UPS abandoned its -Seattle birthplace decades ago, Big Brown left us a pretty swell parting gift: a pocket park on the site of the company’s original headquarters. Inside, a 22-foot waterfall burps 5,000 gallons of water per minute over granite boulders. Note: The iron gates close at 3:45pm in winter.
219 Second Ave S, Pioneer Square,



These gardens are quite literally a labor of love. The one-acre hillside sanctuary at the north end of Capitol Hill began as two private gardens that grew together when their owners, Ann and Dan Streissguth, married in 1968. For the next three decades the pair tended to the urban oasis, filling it with phlox, azaleas, and rhododendrons, and building winding switchback paths. And then, in 1996, they just gave it away, gifting it to the city. Broadway E & E Blaine St, Capitol Hill,


Kayaking along the banks of West Seattle on a summer day can lull you into a blissed-out, contemplative state. Look east, at the backs of the tony homes along Beach Drive—the kind of swanky pads you’d never get to approach if they were landlocked—and you’ll be treated to some of the best real estate gawking in the city. There’s one sight unlike any other: Put in at Lowman Beach, paddle about a mile north, and staring at you from a second-story deck will be a life-size statue of a naked, pigtailed woman leaning against a railing. Don’t ask why. Just appreciate the scenery. And the WTF-ery. 7017 Beach Dr SW, West Seattle



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