Artists at Play at Seattle Center
Artists helped design this next-level playground (pictured above) in the shadow of the Space Needle, but clearly someone diabolical came up with that 30-foot-high slide, which can be accessed only via a spiderweblike climbing structure. Littler, less-fearless kids will appreciate the interactive musical play area and sculptural swing set.
Planes buzz constantly overhead, skyline and mountain views are everywhere, and the Delridge park’s recent expansion bestowed a new rope-climbing dome, some aviation-inspired public art, hillside slides, and tons of space for general running around. Best of all, there are two ziplines—kids can learn the fine art of waiting their turn another day.
Lake Sammamish State Park
A brand new playground rises up against Lake Sammamish’s south shore like a micro Las Vegas strip—an oversize toadstool, a replica mining camp, and all manner of structures to spin, climb, zip, and swing on. When the adjacent beach restoration wraps up this spring, this place will be unstoppable.
Powell Barnett Park
This grassy swath in the Central District brings together the best features of any good park: a wading pool, basketball hoops for full- and mini-size players, an ample toddler playground and a climbing-and-slide situation for older adventurers who are so over basic monkey bars. Not to mention some exercise equipment for adults on the off chance you have energy to burn too.
Saint Edward State Park
The former seminary grounds in Kenmore feel like summer camp, from the winding drive through the woods to the bevy of trails. But mostly because of the giant wood playground (a rarity in an increasingly plastic world), perfect for acting out various explorer or pioneer scenarios. Reminder: Bringing your car into a state park requires a Discover Pass ($30 per year, or $10 for a single day).
Yesler Terrace Park
Somehow this space packs a plaza spray park, mini soccer field, into its compact multi-level footprint. The city’s ongoing (sometimes controversial) redevelopment in the area added this park in 2018, complete with top-notch climbing structures and hilltop views from Beacon Hill to Elliott Bay to peeks of downtown skyline. Artificial turf covers short steep inclines between each level; the built-in slide is fun, but never underestimate the appeal of a full-body roll down that grassy slope.
A giant paved loop beckons bikes and scooters; dual ziplines cut down on waits. A sort of lookout fort situation encourages exploration over by the tunnel slides, and we haven’t even touched on the playground, soccer fields, driving range, spray pad, and skate park. One of Seattle’s original Olmstead creations, Jefferson Park offers adventures big and small, for kids across various age groups. No wonder that tiny parking lot is always full.
Can we be real? The salmon-shaped slide that defines this wooded playground provides major novelty factor, but as slides go, the short ride down from that enormous faux salmon maw is pretty tame. The nearby railroad overpass platform, however, offers the genuine (and noisy) thrill of watching passing trains from above.
And for more...
Linnea Westerlind’s excellent blog, Year of Seattle Parks, chronicles her visits to public spaces around Seattle, with searchable categories like waterfronts, picnic spots, or particularly epic playgrounds.