Minutes from downtown Seattle, on the shore of Lake Washington, sits one of the areas most scenic nature walks, a local museum, a spectacular arboretum, Foster Island wetland and an authentic Japanese Tea Garden. Here’s how to spend a perfect day exploring Montlake Park.
Begin your day on the waterside path located in central Seattle’s West Montlake Park. The park sits in a charming neighborhood bordered on the north by the Montlake Cut, a narrow waterway connecting Lake Washington and Portage Bay. The flat terrain makes it a good choice for all ages and offers a look at the region’s flora and fauna, offering an opportunity to scout for eagles and the rodent-like muskrats that inhabit the marshland.
Enjoy the easy stroll along the Montlake Cut Waterside Trail while checking out the vibrant graffiti-painted cement walls of the waterway; a testament to the competitive spirit of the crew teams that come from all over the world each May to compete in the Windermere Cup races.
The path veers inland connecting the Waterfront Park Trail and Seattle’s beloved Museum of History and Industry. The museum offers a number of exhibits revealing the Pacific Northwest’s rich and colorful history. Visit the Boomtown display for a look at Seattle before the Great Fire of 1889 destroyed the city. Experience a 360-degree view of the surrounding area from the periscope located in the maritime exhibit.
After your museum visit, make your way back to the Waterfront Trail. Continue on about a half-mile to the trailhead to Foster Island. Situated on a natural wetland, Foster Island is ideal for bird watching. Small docks lead you to spots where you can observe the regions vast array of waterfowl including Pie-bill Grebes and Green Herons. Look closely for the turtles that pop up through the lily pads to climb onto the logs to sun themselves. An abundant variety of willow trees and cattails surround the trail giving it a sense of calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Once you reach Foster Island, enjoy a picnic or simply sit back and watch the boat traffic that flows by in an almost constant stream during the May to September boating season.
From here, continue on to the Washington Park Arboretum by following the path over the bridge to the Graham Visitors Center where maps of this lovely park are located. The arboretum boasts more than 20,000 trees and shrubs, including several species currently on the endangered list. Meander more than three miles of paths that wind through seasonal gardens designed for year around exploration.
Next, visit the Japanese Tea Garden where you can experience a tea ceremony and haiku readings in the garden. As you amble the path around the koi-filled pond, relax into the serenity of the garden. The exquisite use of plants, boulders, and water features are evidence of the care that went into constructing this garden more than 40 years ago.
From the Tea Garden follow the road to Madison Street. Turn right on Madison and walk a few blocks to Café Flora where you’ll enjoy one of the best vegetarian meals in the city. The dishes are amazing and meat lovers won’t miss a thing. It’s the perfect way to end this day exploring the natural beauty and unique culture of Seattle.
What & Where:
Museum of History and Industry; 206-324-1126
Washington Park Arboretum Graham Visitors Center; 206-543-8800
Japanese Tea Garden; 206-684-4725
Café Flora; 206-325-9100