Located about 5 miles from downtown Seattle, in a densely populated urban neighborhood, you’ll find one of the area’s most beloved and accessible parks, Green Lake Park.
Green Lake Park of Seattle is our very own Central Park pint-size version. The 2.8-mile loop around the glacier-shaped lake is only long enough to keep a kid from the coach as the rest of the family goes or runs. But this does not mean that on the way around this landmark, there are not many great sights, stops and snacks. This is a step-by-step guide to eating, playing and taking a break.
Surrounding the lake is a 2.8-mile paved, mostly level path that accommodates runners, walkers, bikers, skaters, as well as those in wheelchairs. Skirting the path and creating a buffer to the busy road are beautiful green spaces; evergreen and deciduous trees, flowers, and rolling lawns. Even on the busiest days, Green Lake is relaxing.
For a child with special needs, a trip around Green Lake provides a wonderful environment with lots to see and hear without being over stimulating. The atmosphere is both soothing and interesting; the breeze through the trees, the sounds of ducks on the lake, people playing Frisbee or jogging with their dog. Stop at the wading pool and cool off, then at the park and swing. Many times my husband and I will take turns spending time with each daughter, he’ll rollerblade around the lake with Syd while I spend time walking with Veronica in her wheelchair, then we’ll meet up and switch. No worries about your pace, there’s always room on the wide path for people moving at all speeds.
Our afternoon at Green Lake Park usually involves a stop about halfway around the lake (Wallingford Ave. North) to pick up a late lunch. There are several restaurants in the area depending on your preferences: Bluewater Greenlake, Duke’s Chowder house, Zeek’s Pizza, World Wrapps, Souped Up Cafe. We usually get take out from Zeek’s and World Wrapps and sit outside where there’s plenty of room for everyone. From there we continue around the lake to the park entry and across the street to Baskin Robbins and Starbucks...a little something for everyone for the ride home.
Things to do at Green Lake
Activities at Green Lake Park are just about unlimited, a few accessible highlights are: Special needs / accessible swings in kid’s play area near the entrance of the park, wading pool about half way around the lake, life-guarded swimming, strolling around the lake or just laying on the grass to people watch. The park also contains Evan’s Pool with an ADA lift and portable access stairs.
Parking at Green Lake
Even with a handicapped placard, parking at Green Lake Park can be challenging on a sunny weekend. Keep in mind people are always coming and going, so sometimes it’s worth a few minute wait for parking in the main lot next to the pool, kid’s play area and swimming area. You can also drive around to the opposite end of the lake near the tennis courts.
I hope you have a chance to visit Green Lake Park on your next visit to Seattle, I think you will quickly see why it’s on of our family’s favorite Seattle day trips.
When you've finished your walk with the park, go the few blocks to the business district of Green Lake, where you can treat yourself to a Chocolati Café fortune-telling cookie. To sample the delicious pear gelato, head over to Bottega italiana Gelato. The next stop is Mockingbird Books, where the personnel are super-known and you can take a latte, while the Little ones browse the photo books or listen to the story, which is Monday through Saturday at eleven am. Go to the kid friendly (and recently refurbished) Rosita's Mexican Grill, when you are hungry for lunch, where nobody will ever get as much of the homemade tortillas.