We feel claustrophobic and overrated by just writing about another place in the City of Seattle, but duty compels us to continue on in coverage of our park tour. Just north of University of Washington campus is Ravenna Park, another delightful oasis in Seattle's hellscape. Ravenna Park hits all of our most important checklist items for a good park: aesthetic quality, attractive and useful playground, multiple options for play, and non-Saw bathrooms.
The park's official website offers a full geological/topographical memoir of the region, including the cheerful tidbit, "If Ravenna seems a leafy paradise now, it is only a weed patch compared with the magnificent forest it once was. Even after the original logging craze had leveled most of the virgin timber in the Seattle area, Ravenna had been saved as a haven for fir and cedar giants." We also learn of the European origins of the neighborhood's name: "W. W. Beck, the realtor who bought the land in 1887, was ecstatic when wandering among these trees. He named the place 'Ravenna' after an Italian seacoast town that was famous for its pine trees, where poets, warriors, and statesmen once strolled in a state of euphoria similar to his own."
Ravenna Park is a place you can either make a quick trip to or spend a big chunk of the day with your group. A fact that will surprise those familiar with Seattle: the actual parking area is difficult to find and has terrible accommodations. Carpooling is strongly recommended as is anticipating that you'll park somewhere else, which you'll have to be cautious of since Seattle loves its permit parking in residential areas. Decent bathrooms and a stylish drinking fountain are right by the playground.
At our visit, the wading pool wasn't available and hasn't been for a while due to budget considerations. So if you see it open, enjoy and get back to us how it went. The rules on its website make half-hearted attempts at whimsy.
Fairly tame trails 4.5 miles in length curl throughout the park (and neighboring Cowen Park), which you can navigate via this map. The part we walked was quite pretty and mostly very gentle, though there are some more challenging options available.
Ravenna Park has has a reservable picnic shelter (see pics here) and has scattered picnic tables throughout the property, even in the outfield of the baseball field (see the next section).
Tennis courts and a baseball/softball field are available for reservation. They're about the quality one would expect from a public city facility, but they're there if you need them.
Our personal favorite: a giant sand pit that we didn't plan for! Our kids forsook the cool play area and spent their time filthying themselves up. Swings? Slides? Bridge? Nah - we can play with toddler toys in the sand, Dad. Sadly we were unprepared for the chess/checker board too.
The playground is cool and there is a wide open space right nearby, plenty of room to run and play with balls. But why do any of those fun things when you can fill your shoes with sand and gripe about it for the next few weeks?