Top 20 Seattle attractions

Golden Gardens

free admission

Golden Gardens is one of Seattle's best kept secrets, with panoramic views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

Golden Gardens is in the bustling Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, 20 minutes from downtown Seattle.  It has a sandy beachfront, off-leash dog area, kiosk, playground, picnic table, and trails. 

Golden Gardens is located at 8498 Seaview Avenue NW, 98117. There are 3 main parking lots at Golden Gardens; at the marina, behind the beach, and an overflow parking lot up the hill from the beach.

10 best things to do at Golden Gardens

1. Relax on the sandy beach, enjoying incredible views of the snowcapped Olympic Mountains.

In summer, the water temperature at Golden Gardens rarely increases above 54 degrees, making the water too chilly for swimming. However, Golden Gardens is popular for sunbathing, volleyball, picnics, and soaking up the fun atmosphere.  Kids frolic near the shoreline, building sandcastles and wading in the creek. There's also a modern playground with a pirate ship!  Elsewhere the park is full of life.  Dogs excitedly roam the off-leash park, and a trail also meanders through tranquil wetlands at the northern end of the park.  At the end of the day, friends congregate around fire pits to watch the glorious sunset over the Olympics.

In winter, the beachfront at Golden Gardens is a place for quiet contemplation, where visitors enjoy brisk walks along it's sandy beach, while watching the drama of winter storms roll over the Olympic Mountains. 

See the snowcapped Olympic Mountains from Golden Gardens.

2. Order delicious food at Miri's Snack Shack at the Golden Gardens Bathhouse.

Choose from a great selection of food at Miri's Snack Shack, including picnic platters, acai bowls, fruit cups, chicken wraps, popsicles, and coffee, iced tea and cocoa.

3. Take your kids to the fun, pirate themed playground at Golden Gardens.

This pirate themed playground has equipment for both big and little kids, including swings, slides, climbing equipment, and a super popular pirate ship!

4. Throw a frisbee or kick a ball in the large, lawned recreation area at Golden Gardens.

5. Continue north past the lawned area, to the lagoon and quieter section of the beach.

Follow this dirt path along the grassed area, to the lagoon at the northern end of Golden Gardens.

The dirt path passes a lovely grove of trees overlooking the water. This is a great place to hang-out if you'd prefer a more shaded area of the beach, and it's not unusual to see hammocks strung up between trees.

The dirt path eventually ends at the lagoon, where you can observe abundant wildlife like mallard ducks and red-eared slider turtles on the bridge.

Cross the bridge over the lagoon to the northern section of the beach at Golden Gardens.

The northern section of the beach is a little quieter, with views across to Bainbridge Island.

Bring a bucket, spade and beach chair, and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.

6. Gather around a firepit on a summer evening, and watch the sun sink below the Olympic Mountains at Golden Gardens.

Gather a group of friends together around a firepit, at one of the designated fire rings.  Bring your own wood and s'mores, and enjoy a gorgeous sunset.

7.  Book a volleyball court, picnic shelter or table at Golden Gardens.

Book one of five volleyball courts at Golden Gardens, in high demand during summer (reserve)

There are also 2 picnic shelters and 17 tables at Golden Gardens, perfect for a get together (reserve).

8. Visit Little Coney near the marina at Golden Gardens, with hamburgers, ice-creams and milkshakes.

9. Take the 0.5 mile waterfront path at Golden Gardens.

This easy, flat walk can be completed in about 15 minutes. 

The path starts at the Eddie Vine Boat Ramp (near Little Coney icecream), then flanks the waterfront at Golden Gardens, passing Miri's cafe and the Bathhouse. It then passes a grove of trees overlooking the beach near the grassed recreation area, before ending at the wetlands and lagoon at the northern end of Golden Gardens. The final section of the path is across a bridge that leads to a more secluded section of the beach at Meadow Point.

10.  Stroll 2-miles along the stunning beachfront from Golden Gardens to Carkeek Park.

One of Seattle's best walks is along the 2-mile stretch of beach from Golden Gardens, up to Carkeek Park. You'll know you've reached Carkeek Park when you see the green pedestrian overpass above the railway line, visible from the beach.

This lovely walk is perfect for beachcombing, and low tide yields a bounty of fascinating sea life, including moon snails, crabs and sea stars. Check tide tables, as this stretch of beach is only accessible at low tide.

Know before you go

  • Golden Gardens address:  8498 Seaview Avenue NW, 98117.  
  • Parking:  There are 3 main parking lots at Golden Gardens; at the marina, behind the beach, and an overflow parking lot up the hill from the beach. These parking lots get busy on summer weekends.  
  • Kiosk:  The historic Golden Gardens Bathhouse at the beach has a kiosk, restrooms, and an event space popular for weddings.  Another option is Little Coney near the marina with hamburgers, ice-creams and milkshakes.
  • Restrooms:  Yes.
  • Playground: Yes.

Fun things to do in nearby Ballard

Stop by the Ballard Locks 2-miles south of Golden Gardens, with a lovely botanical garden, and a fascinating fish ladder where you can observe salmon swimming upstream.  Ballard is also very close, with a superb selection of trendy restaurants, chic cafes and independent shops. The excellent Nordic Museum is a few blocks from Ballard Old Town, documenting the fascinating Nordic history of this area with artifacts, videos and interactive multimedia.

Great restaurants near Golden Gardens

Visit Ballard for an excellent selection of restaurants and cafes including the Matador and Senor Moose for mexican food, or Café Besalu for coffee and french pastries. Enjoy waterside dining and fresh seafood at Ray's Boat House, or caribbean food at Paseo, both less than 1-mile south of the Golden Gardens entrance on Seaview Avenue NW.

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