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Discovering Seattle’s Discovery Park

As Seattle’s largest park, Discovery Park rests at an astounding 534 acres on the shores of the Puget Sound in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle.

Local Insight from NICOLE DEMERS-CHANGELO

“Discovery park is a good place for a quick and easy hike for all ages. The park also has an education center where many of Seattle’s kids have had their birthday parties. Near the education center is a large playground that is equipped with a zipline. From 2015-2018 the historic officer quarters were redeveloped into luxury homes and made Discovery Park one of the most unique neighborhoods in Seattle to call home.”

DISCOVERY PARK, A BRIEF HISTORY

Originally used as the U.S. Army Fort Lawton surplus land, the Army offered to sell the park back to the City of Seattle for one dollar, but the city refused in 1938. The land was ultimately dedicated as Discovery Park in 1973, but Fort Lawton continued as an Army Reserve facility until it was officially closed in 2012.

VISITING DISCOVERY PARK

Discovery Park has many things to, well, discovery. From natural wildlife to trails and educational experiences, the park definitely offers a full-days-worth of fun. The Seattle Audubon Society has compiled a list of 270 species of birds one might find inside the park and nearby waters; but one might also see harbor seals, Townsend’s Chipmunks, and California sea lions if they’re lucky.

Several drivable roads wind through the park, leading you through the forests to the West Point Lighthouse and beach area, the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center, sport courts, and other awesome areas to explore local wonder.

The WEST POINT LIGHTHOUSE is closed to the public but can still be accessed and it a great photography opportunity. The surrounding bluff is largely rocky, but the surrounding beaches are sandy and ripe with driftwood and oceanic opportunities.

The DISCOVERY PARK ENVIRONMENTAL LEARNING CENTER is a hands-on learning experience that employs games, props, and activities to engage visitors and enhance their understanding of the active ecosystem at Discovery Park.

Every quarter, they offer new programs depending on the season and public’s interests, so stay updated with upcoming opportunities, check out current offerings, and/or pre-register here.

Fancy a hike without leaving the city? The Discovery Park Loop Trail runs 2.8 miles through the park connecting to other trails, including the South Beach Trail, North Beach Trail, and Hidden Valley Trail. While much of these trails are level and loopy, there are parts of steeper incline and one can easily

The main part of the non-walking portion of Discovery Park rests on the southeast side of the park, and include the South Parking Lot, playground, and sport courts. The Discovery Park Playground was recently renovated in 2017, to provide new picnic tables and seating; in addition to new play equipment, including climbing structures, a zip line, swings, a tree-house structures.

Nestled between the conifer forests are acres of restored wetlands, thickets, streams, roaming meadows, active sand dunes, dramatic seaside cliffs, forest groves, and two miles of protected tidal beaches.

There are about 200 feet of accessible shoreline, combined between the northern and southern sides of the West Point Lighthouse. Access is restricted to boats arriving by water only.

Combined, these awesome displays of natural habitat create a massive urban oasis, nestled between active neighborhoods and bustling highways to and from one of Washington’s busiest cities. Relax the stress away in this tranquil, wildlife sanctuary.

Within walking distance to several Magnolia, Briarcliff, and Lawton Park areas, this Seattle oasis is perfect for a day out in sunny, Seattle weather.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Seattle’s Discovery Park? Watch for wildlife? Relax in the sun or play on sandy beaches? Simply explore or stay active with sports or a daily run? Share your favorite experiences in the comments below!


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