Seattle's largest public park sits on a sea bluff that's high enough to pierce the city's infamous fog, revealing gorgeous views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain Ranges. Wander its 11 miles (18km) of paths through forest groves, meadows fringing coastal cliffs, and active sand dunes on the protected tidal beaches. Once a military installation, the area now serves as an open space and wildlife sanctuary. Stop into the Daybreak Star Center, which celebrates American Indian culture and hosts the city's pow wow in mid-July. Around 25 drum groups and 500 dancers converge here for the event, along with close to 10,000 spectators.
By Amanda Castleman, AFAR Local Expert
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Above the fog, on top of the world
From a hilltop high enough to be above the fog on a fall morning, looking south toward Mt. Rainier; when "The Mountain is out," as Puget Sound residents say, everything else pales...This glacier-covered volcanic giant presides over the entire landscape. When the fog blankets the valleys, urban and suburban sprawl disappear--enjoy the feeling of being alone with sky and mountain, on top of the world, even if only for a morning. (With Seattle's undulating topography, there's no shortage of hilltop vantage points--try the cliffs above Puget Sound in Discovery Park, the top of the Water Tower in Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill, or Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill, not to mention the top of the Space Needle or the observation deck of the Columbia Center, the tallest skyscraper in the city.)
By Joseph Cyr, AFAR Local Expert
An Urban Hiking Getaway
With just over 11 miles of trail winding through it, this 534-acre military installation turned city park is my favorite way to get away from city life for a few hours. Located in the Magnolia neighborhood, Seattle's largest public park is just a short trip from both downtown and the North Seattle neighborhoods. The Loop Trail takes you through meadows, forested hillsides with views of Puget Sound, down to a rocky beach, and West Point Lighthouse. It's just the right dose of wilderness with a touch of history to balance out urban life in Seattle.
By Adina Marguerite Pease, AFAR Local Expert