Though you must suffer with the drive through the hellscape that is Seattle west of I-5, Golden Gardens Park is totally worth it. Golden Gardens is the single best thing about Seattle, the likely reason God hasn't wiped out that town with an earthquake or tsunami (although He did allow the plague of hipsters). While the park was outside our project of visiting parks in Snohomish County - Aimee's department at work was hosting a party - it is probably the very best park we visited all summer.
Most parks in the area close at sunset, but Golden Gardens closes at 11:30 p.m., so it is evening gathering-friendly.
We're going to rave quite a bit about this place, so we'll start by complaining. Getting there is a pain. The park is tucked away down winding roads, and to get there, you must first traverse the traffic-rich, traffic engineering intelligence-light roads, assuming your vehicle doesn't pull down a utility pole as it catches on one of the countless low-hanging utility cables.
When you eventually get there, parking is the next chore. Spot-stalking abounds. In peak weather, barring some fantastic luck, your parking spot is likely to involve a bit of a hike, which gets complicated when you're shepherding small children, carrying their gear, bringing food and equipment for a picnic, or a permutation of that set. There are tons of spots spread out over a few lots, there just happens to be many, many people waiting to fill them.
But even as claustrophobic and misanthropic as we are, being in the crowd is totally worth it there. Golden Gardens is one of the most diverse-use and aesthetically pleasing parks we encountered. Restrooms (with showers/foot showers on the exterior) are located right between the playground and the beach. The building is rentable for weddings, parties, etc., as are the picnic shelters. They're actually pretty affordable, surprising for a city that loves to nickel (Nickels?) and dime its residents and visitors.
Joggers and walkers can enjoy the ADA compliant trails, though they could probably do without this low-res map. Take your dog to the off-leash area and bask in the company of Seattleites who almost literally worship animals. The basketball half court feels like an afterthought, but it's there if you need it.
Our kids had a great time on the unique playground. The ship design of one of the major pieces is cool, but we really like the rope net climbing dome, one of our handful of favorite pieces of play equipment we saw on our park tour. A large field neighbors the playground, excellent for improvised ball or Frisbee play. Decent seating for parents/chaperones and a clean environment round out a very nice play area.
An actually sandy beach! It's like a reverse-oasis for Western Washington. Aimee's department gathered for a cookout on the beach, so we got to enjoy a great spot for hours. Fires are permitted in the designated fire pits, but they are first-come, first-serve, so make sure somebody is dispatched early to reserve your pit. The views of the Puget Sound are beautiful and the beach was well-maintained and friendly to bare feet.
Our only complaints about Golden Gardens park are the usual day-to-day nuisances of life in Seattle: traffic and parking. This place is too beautiful, too useful, and too much fun to deserve a fate like being located in Seattle.
|Watching for potential tsunamis|