The Most Beautiful Picnic Spots in Seattle

‘Eagle’ sculpture in the Olympic Sculpture Park
‘Eagle’ sculpture in the Olympic Sculpture Park | © Aaron / Flickr
Photo of Samantha Ladwig
13 September 2018

Summer is (still) in full swing, and Seattleites are taking advantage of the clear skies and sunny weather, including enjoying meals outside.

Surrounded by water and mountains, Seattle is a hot spot for outdoor enthusiasts. And while the city offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities, there’s nothing quite like a simple picnic in the park. Luckily for locals and tourists alike, the Emerald City is overflowing in lush green spaces with scenic views. Below are eight of the most beautiful places to have a picnic in Seattle.

Waterfall Garden Park

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Waterfall Park | © basic_sounds / Flickr
Unlike some of the other parks on this list, the Waterfall Garden Park is a smaller, more intimate man-made picnic space. Wedged between buildings, its privacy, 22-foot (6.7-meter) waterfall and Japanese garden serve as an escape from the booming city life. It lies in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, behind Occidental Square Park, at the original United Parcel Service Building. Because of this, it’s often called the UPS Waterfall Garden Park. This tiny oasis is perfect for a midday sandwich.

Washington Park Arboretum

Park, Botanical Garden
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Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle | © Rosewoman / Flickr
When it comes to popular Seattle parks, the Washington Park Arboretum is at the top of the list. The park offers 5,500 different plants from around the world, walking trails and one of the largest Japanese Maple Tree collections. The famed Seattle Japanese Garden, one of the oldest of its kind in the entire nation, occupies 3.5 of the park’s 230 acres. In short, the arboretum is an ideal spot for an all-day picnic hangout.

Dr. Jose Rizal Park

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park, Seattle
A view of Seattle from the Dr. Jose Rizal Park | © David Sprankle / Flickr

Seattle’s hills may be an obstacle when it comes to getting around the city, but they’re vital to its parks. These hilltop green spaces provide unique views of everything from the city to the Puget Sound to the Cascade Range to the Olympic Mountains. When it comes to the Dr. Jose Rizal Park though, the Beacon Hill hot spot offers views of them all. The park covers a whopping 9.6 acres of the neighborhood and includes a play area, fields, picnic tables and even an off-leash dog park. For those looking for something a little more spacious for their picnic, the Dr. Jose Rizal Park is the way to go.

Golden Gardens Park

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Golden Gardens | © Wonderlane / Flickr
Lay a blanket down and relax, or explore the beach’s tide pools, at Golden Gardens Park. It’s a local favorite, meaning it’s sure to be full on a sunny day. But with over 88 acres of beach, wetlands and trails on top of the one-acre off-leash dog park, there’s plenty of space for an enjoyable picnic – not to mention the fact that no matter how many people fill the park, nothing takes away from the breathtaking mountain views.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Museum, Park
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Alex Calder’s ‘Eagle’ (1971) is the centrepiece of the Olympic Sculpture Park
© Benjamin Benschneider / Seattle Art Museum
The Olympic Sculpture Park is the largest park in the downtown neighborhood, and it’s all thanks to the Seattle Art Museum. In 2007, the local museum opened the green space to exhibit some of their more extensive, colossal works in their collection. Each piece – made by artists like Beverly Pepper and Alexander Calder – is set against the backdrop of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains. With lush greenery, beautiful scenery and unique sculptures scattered all over, the Olympic Sculpture Park is essentially a theme park for art aficionados and a perfect picnic spot.

Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden
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Carl S. English Jr. Gardens | © Linny Heng / Flickr

When people think of Seattle’s botanical gardens, usually the first one to come to mind is Washington Park Arboretum. But near the iconic Ballard Locks is another botanical garden that’s sure to please plant enthusiasts. With over 1,500 plant varieties and 500 species from all over, the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden features Mexican pines, rhododendrons, and palms, with annual fuchsias and lilies. After touring the garden, lay a blanket down and have lunch in one of their scenic fields.

Fourth and Madison Building

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Seattle, buildings
Find a park on the seventh floor of a building in downtown Seattle | © Hammerin Man / Flickr

Formerly known as the IDX, the 40-story Fourth and Madison Building stands in the middle of Seattle’s downtown area. Its modern architecture blends in with its surrounding high-rises, making it an easy structure to pass by. But that doesn’t make it any less of a neighborhood gem. Located on the seventh-floor rooftop of the privately owned building is a public garden. With views of downtown and the Puget Sound, benches and greenery galore, this hidden gem is one of the best low-key areas in which to sit, eat and relax.

Green Lake Park

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Green Lake Park, Seattle
Green Lake Park makes for a lovely picnic spot | © Seattle Parks / Flickr
Easily accessible, family-friendly and just plain beautiful, Green Lake Park is a traditional park in every sense of the word, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t unique. The century-old park is home to an almost three-acre lake that doubles as a sanctuary for local wildlife. As a neighborhood highlight, Green Lake Park is always booming with Seattleites. Thankfully, there’s enough field area to lay out a blanket and enjoy your lunchtime feast.

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