Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park in Ballard is one of many fabulous places in the city to spend a summer day. There is something to do for just about anyone at Golden Gardens. This 87-acre park has a lot more to offer than just a sandy swimming beach for those brave enough to swim in the chilly waters of Puget Sound. The northern upper section of the park offers a shady off-leash area for dog lovers in a lovely forested section of the park. There are steep stairs running from the forest down to just above the beach for those looking to strengthen their legs or anyone who is simply a glutton for punishment!
The southern section of the beach at Golden Gardens is sandy and great for those wishing to take a swim, while the northern section of the beach is more rugged and rocky for those looking to explore. At low tide there is an endless supply of shells and creatures for those wanting to search and explore. You will find everything from anemones and sea stars to beautiful shells hidden amongst the beds of eelgrass and tide pools. This is a great park to bring your children and explore year-round, so outfit the clan with slickers and boots in autumn and enjoy a day with the beach mostly to yourselves.
For those more interested in wildlife than volleyball, there is a wetland area at the north end of the park where numerous species of birds and turtles can be spotted basking in the sun. It’s not unusual to see hummingbirds and Bald Eagles within moments of one another at Golden Gardens and the Osprey enjoy this as a fishing spot as well. At low tide there are often numerous Great Blue Herons foraging close to shore and if you watch them long enough, you will see them strike and capture their prey. It’s a wonderful opportunity for any nature enthusiast, photographer or birder.
There is a large parking lot running the length of the beach with plenty of handicap spaces available and a boat launch at the south end of the park. A smooth sidewalk runs the length of the parking lot and a small bridge crosses the wetland area stopping at the edge of the beach where there are several benches available for those that just want to sit, watch, and listen.
Golden Gardens offers sweeping views of Puget Sound and the snow-capped Olympic Mountains all year long. This park is a fabulous place to watch the sunset or grill your favorite summer foods near the picnic and children’s play area. So whether you are interested in being one with the sand and a good book or exploring the shoreline, Golden Gardens is a great place to spend a lazy summer afternoon.
The park is located just north of the Ballard Locks and Shilshole Bay Marina at 8498 Seaview Pl. NW.