13 Gorgeous Gardens to Explore Now

Read next

There’s no denying Seattle is chock-full of green spaces and gorgeous views. But if you’re looking for a peaceful spot where you can picnic or let the kids roam, it doesn’t get better than our city’s botanical gardens. While you won’t find play equipment or splash pads here, you will find vibrant flowers, secret waterfalls and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. If quiet time is what you’re craving before school starts, read on for the best places find it.

Seattle Japanese Garden

Located within the Washington Park Arboretum, this garden is a must-see no matter what the season. In summer, the colors are vibrant and surround visitors under blue skies. Kids will love the bridges to cross over, koi fish to spot and turtles to admire. It’s basically a wonderland of adventure for little explorers. In order to preserve the beauty of the park, picnics and pets are not allowed. You'll need timed tickets to visit Friday through Sunday and they must be purchased 24 hours in advance. Walk-in visits are welcomed on a first-come, first-served basis Tuesdays through Thursdays in the summer.

1075 Lake Washington Blvd. E.
Seattle, WA 98112
206-684-4725
Online: seattlejapanesegarden.org

Admission: $8/Adults (18-64); $4/Youth (6-17), Seniors (65+); Free for kids 5 & under
Hours: Times vary depending on the season, check their website for the specifics.

Center for Urban Horticulture

Home of the Miller Library (who else misses storytime there?), the Center for Urban Horticulture is a city refuge that's worth a visit if you've never been (or even if you have). It's part of the University of Washignton Botanic Gardens and also includes the Union Bay Natural Area along Lake Washington. Bring the kids to explore the 16-acre garden that includes Goodfellow Grove and the Fragrance Garden, that invites you to use your sense of smell as well as sight. Although the buildings are currently closed, families will still find plenty to do here.

3501 N.E. 41st St.
Seattle, WA 98105
Online: botanicgardens.uw.edu/center-for-urban-horticulture

Admission: Free
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk

Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden

Located adjacent to the popular Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, this garden may be small in size, but it’s big on ambiance and green space. You’ll find English-style gardens and historical architecture. After exploring the garden, keep the fun going by checking out the nearby fish ladder and boats. We’re sure your little sidekick won’t mind at all!

3015 N.W. 54th St.
Seattle, WA 98107
206-783-7059
Online: ballardlocks.org/carl-s-english-garden

Admission: Free
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

Kubota Garden

This beauty located in South Seattle covers 20 acres and combines Japanese gardens with plants local to the Northwest. It is an impressive mix of hills, valleys, streams, ponds, bridges and plants. Kids will love seeing what's around the next corner and finding the hidden waterfall then hiking to the top (it's the perfect distance for little legs) where they can take in the view. There are no drinking fountains here, so be sure to pack drinks to keep the wee ones hydrated. Dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash.

9817 55th Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98118
Online: kubotagarden.org

Admission: Free
Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Seattle Chinese Garden

Located on the campus of South Seattle Community College high atop a hill in West Seattle, this little-known botanic garden is a true hidden gem. After you enter through the ornate entrance, you'll feel like you've been transported to another world among the blossoming plants, stones and water features that showcase traditional Chinese garden elements. Whether you tour the grounds or just find a quiet place to sit and relax, you'll be glad you made the trip.

5640 16th Ave. S.W.
Seattle, WA 98196
Online: seattlechinesegarden.org

Admission: Free
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk

Woodland Park Rose Garden

You're probably familiar with Woodland Park Zoo, but do you know about the secret garden (a.k.a. Woodland Park Rose Garden) located nearby? It is full of rose bushes, hidden pathways, butterflies and birds. For inquisitive kiddos, be sure to check out the sensory garden where it’s possible to smell and touch different plants and flowers. And be sure to find the center pond and count how many water lilies you can spot.

Good to know: The ideal time to visit for the best blossoms is May-August.

750 N. 50th St.
Seattle, WA 98103
206-684-4075
Online: seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/woodland-park-rose-garden

Admission: Free
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

Volunteer Park Conservatory

First built in 1912, this over 100-year-old garden complete with a glass-paned greenhouse is an awesome way to spend a day, rain or shine. You’ll see many varieties of plants including cacti, ferns and other carnivorous plants. Each plant has a brief summary beneath it, so it’s not only a cool place to hang, but also educational. Fun and learning is a win-win in our book!

Good to know: Volunteer Park Conservatory is still closed to the public, but has plans to reopen September 1, 2021

1400 E. Galer St.
Seattle, WA 98112
Online: volunteerparkconservatory.org

Admission: $4/Adults; $2/Youth (13-17); 12 & under Free. Admission is always free the first Thurs. & Sat. of the month

Parsons Gardens

Few people know about this quaint garden located on Queen Anne, but it’s one definitely worth checking out when the need to become one with nature strikes. It may be small, but it is big on green foliage and beautiful flowers. Plus, you can’t beat the view of the city from the popular Kerry Park located right across the street.

650 W. Highland Dr.
Seattle, WA 98119
206-684-4075
Online: seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/parsons-gardens

Admission: Free
Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

A beautiful 53-acre garden located in the heart of Bellevue that has a suspension bridge? Sounds amazing, right? We couldn’t agree more, which is why we highly suggest checking out this garden full of dahlias, rhododendrons, ferns, roses and so much more. Take the Tateuchi Loop Trail and be sure to look for the troll house. Psst...for a completely different experience, check out Garden d’Lights, the garden's stunning light show that runs from the end of November until the first of January.

12001 Main St.
Bellevue, WA 98005
425-452-2750
Online: bellevuebotanical.org

Admission: Free
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk

photo: Metro Parks Tacoma

Point Defiance Rose Garden

If roses are one of your faves, be sure to check out this piece of heaven in Tacoma that's just down the hill from the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. It boasts over an acre of rose bushes, the oldest dating back to 1895. In addition to roses, you’ll also find a wishing well and picturesque gazebos, and a six-story slide that's just across the way. Grab your cameras and plan on staying awhile!

5400 N. Pearl St.
Tacoma, WA 98407
Online: metroparkstacoma.org/point-defiance-rose-garden

Admission: Free
Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Krukeberg Botanic Garden

This Shoreline garden, set in a wooded area over 4 acres, will make you feel as though you are in the mountains rather than the city. With over 2,000 species to see and learn about, you’ll most likely need to visit again and again to cover everything. Pack your hiking shoes and get ready to learn about native Northwest plants and exotic plant species not common to our area. Psst...check their website to learn about fun events suitable for the whole family.

20312 15th Ave. N.W.
Shoreline, WA 98177
206-546-1281
Online: kruckeberg.org

Admission: Free
Hours: Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Mar. through Oct.); Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (Nov. through Feb.)

Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden

This hidden gem located one mile north of the SeaTac Airport might not get a lot of attention, but it is one of the top botanical gardens around. A few of the highlights are Elda Behm’s Paradise Garden and the Seike Japanese Garden. Psst... dogs are allowed here, so bring that pandemic pooch along (remember your leash, please).

13735 24th Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98168
Online: highlinegarden.org

Admission: Free
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk

Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden

This Federal Way attraction is one of the largest rhododendron gardens in the world that showcases over 700 of the 1,000 species. In addition to rhodies, you’ll find azaleas, a bonsai garden, an iris field, a fern garden, a conservatory and blue poppies. Bring a pair of good walking shoes and get ready to do some good ol' plant learning.

Good to Know: Peak bloom time for the rhododendrons is mid-March through mid-May.

2525 S. 336th St.
Federal Way, WA 98003
Online: rhodygarden.org/cms

Admission: $8/Adults; $5/Seniors and Students with an I.D.; Free for kids 12  & under and military personnel
Hours: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Closed Mon.

—Allison Sutcliffe, Kristina Moy, Jeffrey Totey & Allison Rasmussen

RELATED STORIES:

10 Secluded Spots to Enjoy Your Summer Picnic

7 Spectacular Sunflower Festivals to Brighten Your Summer

75 Can’t-Miss Activities to Put on Your Summer Calendar

The Ultimate Guide to Seattle’s Best Neighborhood Parks & Playgrounds

Where to Find Seattle’s Coolest Urban Fountains