Seattle’s Natural Edges

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By James F. Finn

A visit to Spokane and Coeur d’Alene inspired a visit west to Seattle. Delicious cuisines, technology, grunge music, and Starbucks (on every corner) delight the average visitor. For this visitor, it was a combination of the stunning views and easy access to nature.

I spent five days in Seattle and savored every minute of it. In fact, I was able to avoid spending too much time downtown. Here are some key sights that will keep you away from expensive downtown:

  • Kerry Park: The best view of downtown Seattle is from the Kerry Park overlook at sunset or at night. The exotic Space Needle and cloudy, Mount Rainier, dominate the Seattle skyline. This overlook is a popular spot to take photos and tends to be overflowing with tourists at sunset. While the view is a must-see, check the camera viewfinder for a tourist’s shoulder in the shot. Easy way to ruin a great shot when editing the final photo. This iconic skyline featured in American history textbooks and postcards is a must-see.
  • Japanese Garden: On the northeast side of the city is the Japanese Garden and the Arboretum. Authentic vegetation from Japan (bonsai trees and maple trees) and a lake filled with greedy, colorful carp – who seek to eat everything in sight – delight the eyes.
  • Lake Washington: Not too far from the Arboretum is the University of Washington. The university sits on the shores of Lake Washington. The campus waterfront center offers hourly rentals for canoes and kayaks ($10.00 per hour). The view of luxurious lakefront properties, Mount Rainier and choppy waves make it a fun ride. As I paddled the canoe, the Blue Angels flew over in preparation for a local air show. The loud hissing of the jets and condensation rings adorned the sky as I took in the scenery. For my fellow rowing friends and fans of the book, The Boys in the Boat, the lake has history. The lake is the home to the Washington Huskies rowing team and was once a former training ground for the famous 1936 Olympic crew team.
  • Discovery Park: Situated northwest of downtown on a former Army base is Discovery Park. This park is a quiet escape to see the wildlife native to Puget Sound. The beach is definitely not the soft-sand beaches of California and is instead rocky and crusted with barnacles. Yet the views of Mount Rainier (again) and of the islands in the Puget Sound are fantastic. Noted wildlife I found on my stroll included crabs, egrets and a flock of sea hawks (not the football team!). A couple hours spent hiking and sightseeing will work up an appetite. Plan to head-on over to the Ballard neighborhood for a bite to eat. Former fishing canneries have found a new lease on life by housing  new restaurants owned by renown chefs. I recommend Staple & Fancy.

There you have it. Four great destinations away from the crowding of downtown Seattle and the Public Market. If you appreciate nature, fun will be had on Seattle’s edges.

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