Spring has sprung, which means the city is blooming. If spring gardening is on your mind, we’ve rounded up an array of places guaranteed to enchant your little green thumbs and ignite some garden inspiration. From serene, restorative gardens to colorful and whimsical knolls, we’ve found the best gardens, nurseries and nature playspaces around Seattle. After a trip to one of these spots, you’ll want to dust off those trowels and get to work creating beautiful, captivating spaces for little hands to get dirty and imaginative minds to thrive in your own back yard. Let’s dig in!

Little Explorers Nature Play Garden

seattle gardens
Kathryn Mueller

Located at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the brand new Little Explorers Nature Play Garden will get your little ones on the move and invigorate their senses. Get ready to smell, touch and feel your way through the garden. Whether your wiggle worms want to crawl, balance, explore or play pretend, this place has it all. The garden, which opened April 1, is a fun and immersive nature play garden designed to nurture inquisitive minds by fostering play as well as education.

The space is designed for kiddos 3 to 5 years old, but it can be enjoyed by kids of all ages of abilities. The original design was submitted by a youth volunteer. When staff were asked to submit ideas for the space the original design was sketched on a napkin. From there, it blossomed into the beautiful space it is today. From a giant nest where children can pretend they are birds to a building space where kids can create towers from natural materials, you’ll see your child’s imagination soar.

Insider tip: While visiting the garden, you won’t want to miss the zoo’s popular Bugs Alive! Program. It returns on May 7 and is housed in the Nature Play Garden. Kiddos can meet bugs like a Chilean rose tarantula, Peruvian cave roach or emperor scorpion.

Good to know: Timed tickets to the zoo are required. You’ll need to plan and pay ahead.

Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (Apr. 1–May 1); Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (May 2–June 30)
Cost: $18/adult; $14/child (3-12); Free, 2 & under

5400 N. Pearl St.
Tacoma, WA
Online: pdza.org

Swanson's Nursery

seattle gardens and garden stores
Kathryn Mueller

Who knew a gardening store could be so fun? Swanson’s Nursery is a beloved Seattle garden store that has been around since 1924. Everything about the space, from the giant dinosaur that greets you as you walk into the spacious nursery erupting with flowers, to the adorable playhouse, quaint café and Koi fish ponds is beautiful and welcoming. Staff members are friendly and helpful and can make your trip extra special. Plus, anything you need for your garden can be found at Swanson’s Nursery. Roam through the many indoor and outdoor spaces to find the perfect plant that calls to you. Their huge selection of pots, planters and garden accessories will make your garden one-of-a-kind.

Don’t worry! You don’t have to be a gardening expert to fall in love with this place. Whether you have a green thumb or succulents are the only plants you can keep alive, the store’s promise is to be a partner to make your gardens as unique as you.

Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

9701 15th Ave NW
Seattle, WA
Online: swansonsnursery.com

Streissguth Garden

seattle gardens
Kathryn Mueller

Streissguth is a small, family-maintained Seattle garden on a steep hillside in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It’s a beautiful urban oasis with spectacular views of Lake Union, downtown Seattle and the Olympic Mountains beyond the city. The garden is a secret gem that delights an estimated 9,000 people annually. Public parking is available on the street. As you walk up the long staircase, you can choose from a number of winding trails as you work your way along the hillside. Be sure to hold onto little hands. The trails are narrow in parts.

The story behind the garden is truly one of love, another reason to enjoy this hidden gem. It’s been cultivated for over 50 years. In 1962, Dan Streissguth completed building his house north of the Blaine Street stair. Immediately, he got to work on the garden surrounding his home. In 1965 Ann moved into the house adjacent to him. She also began working on her garden. The two fell in love in the winter of 1968, and their gardens were combined when they married.

Hours: Daily, 5 a.m.-10 p.m.

1640 Broadway E.
Seattle, WA
Online: streissguthgardens.com

Bellevue Botanical Garden

best seattle gardens
Kathryn Mueller

Located in the heart of Bellevue is an urban garden oasis full of splendor for all ages. With more than 53-acres to explore, there is no shortage of adventure here. The Bellevue Botanical Garden is made up of many small gardens, each leading into and intertwining with one another. Whether you’re enthralled by rocks, waterfalls, native plants, colorful blooms or intricate art, you’ll find it all here. There are also many magical wonders to stumble upon; keep an eye out for a hobbit door and suspension bridge!

Insider Tip: Go on a Find It Challenge with your little explorers and earn a prize.

Good to know: Don’t worry if you missed your morning coffee getting out of the door. You can grab a cup at the garden. The coffee bar is open weekdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends.

Hours: Daily, dawn until dusk
Cost: Free

12001 Main St.
Bellevue, WA
Online: bellevuebotanical.org

Kruckeberg Botanical Garden

seattle gardens
Kathryn Mueller

Kruckeberg Botanical Garden is located in the beautiful Richmond Beach neighborhood in Shoreline. The four-acre garden is a hidden gem founded by Dr. Arthur Kruckeberg and his wife. This garden tops our list because of all the tiny details that are sure to delight your little explorers.  A giant sequoia greets you as you descend the trail into a breathtaking forest. As you follow the meandering trail down into a forested hollow, whimsical secrets await. The trail is lined with colorful flora and fauna. A pond and intricate art are just a few details that may catch your eye as you go deeper into the garden. Be sure to be on the look out for fairies—we told you this place was magical. Colorful doors can be found at the bases of trees—home to the fairies of Shoreline. If little ones need to get out extra energy, a giant wooden climber may do the trick. You can’t miss it as you weave your way through the trees.

Good to know: Kruckeberg offers great opportunities to enchant kiddos and build a connection with nature. They host summer camps and fun events for all ages. When we visited, they hosted a scavenger hunt, and each child got to take home a planter!

Hours: Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Free

20312 15th Ave. NW
Shoreline, WA
Online: kruckeberg.org


Woodland Park Rose Garden

Shelly Smith

There are so many gorgeous Seattle gardens to explore, but this one certainly "rose" to the occasion. The Woodland Park Rose Garden is home to more than 3,000 roses of more than 200 different varieties. It envelopes the senses, both because of its beauty and because of the sensory garden that can be found at the far, right corner. Be sure to bring a camera. The picturesque garden is Insta-worthy. After taking a stroll through the garden, check out the zoo for a day filled with flora and fauna. Before you visit, learn about the roses you'll see online.

Good to know: The garden is located at the Woodland Park Zoo’s south entrance. It's going to be a little bit until the roses are in full bloom. We recommend visiting in late spring.

Hours: Daily, 7:30 a.m.-dusk
Cost: Free

750 N. 50th St.
Seattle, WA
Online: zoo.org/roses

City’s People Mercantile

best seattle gardens
Kathryn Mueller

City’s People Mercantile is a fun stop to swing by if you find yourself in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. The garden store, gift shop and nursery are locally-owned and operated, and it has everything you need if you’re starting a garden, or if you’re searching for something eclectic. No matter what brings you in-blooms, gardening gloves, house plants or planters, you’ll find something you won’t want to leave without. In the spacious nursery adjacent to the storefront, you’ll find an array of plants, from gorgeous blooming perennials to shrubs. It looks like it was plucked from the countryside, reminiscent of a white farmhouse.

Insider tip: Magnuson Park is a short drive away, and it's a great spot to stop for lunch, watch sailboats and burn off energy on the playground.

Hours: Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

5440 Sand Point Way N.E.
Seattle, WA
Online: citypeoplesmercantile.com

Seattle Japanese Garden

seattle gardens

The Seattle Japanese Garden is a 3.5-acre garden that is an enchanting component tucked within the Washington Park Arboretum. The garden was constructed in 1960 and has been open to the public ever since. It’s a beloved garden that was created under the supervision of landscape architect Juki Iida. Paths take visitors on a journey through nature. You'll see water, stones, lanterns, bridges and plants to name just a few. Japanese plants and Pacific Northwest native plants create a serene and meditative place to explore.

Insider tip: Admission is free on the first Thursdays of the month.

Hours: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: $8/adult; $6/Seattle resident; $4/youth 6-17 years old; children 5 & under free

1075 Lake Washington Blvd. E.
Seattle, WA
Online: seattlejapanesegarden.org

Kubota Garden

seattle gardens
Kathryn Mueller

Kubota Garden is a breathtaking 20-acre garden located in Rainier Beach. Its winding paths lead visitors through gorgeous grounds and various terrain. Down gravel trails, aside waterfalls, along ponds and through mountain sides, you can choose your own adventure. While meandering through the garden, you can find 11 ponds, two red bridges and hundreds of plants and trees, from hydrangeas to maples. Kubota Garden is owned and operated by Seattle Parks & Recreation and is beautifully maintained. If you're looking for a garden to help nurture curious nature minds and get tiny feet moving, this garden is the perfect place to plan a trip.

Good to know: The parking lot is open from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Parking is free.

Hours: Daily, dawn until dusk
Cost: Free

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

Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden

via instagram

If you love planes and plants, this is a great Seattle garden for your family. While strolling through the 10.5-acre garden, you’ll probably hear the thrum of arriving and departing planes as they zoom overhead. Its vast grounds include gorgeous floral collections of roses, daylilies, irises and fuchsias. Plant enthusiasts help make the gardens a spectacular attraction for both novice and garden aficionados. Follow the paths through various gardens, including Elda Behm’s Paradise Garden, Seike Japanese Garden, a sensory garden, and meander around streams, a pond and plenty of places to stop for a picnic.

Insider tip: This garden is located next to North SeaTac Community Center which has ample parking, a playground, rock climbing wall and skate park.

Hours: Daily, dawn until dusk
Cost: Free

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


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