GUIDES | September 9, 2014

Destination guide: Seattle

Eco-friendly sites in Seattle

Carrie, Founder & Chief Wanderer

Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and has such a unique history. Before European settlers arrived, the area was home to six Native American tribes, dating back 10,000 years. This influence can still be seen in the City, surrounding area, and in many local community names. The City of Seattle is even named after a Native American, Chief Sealth of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes.

Not only does Seattle have a rich history, but it is also an outdoor enthusiast’s heaven— there is just so much to do all year round. In the summer, locals enjoy the lakes and Puget Sound. In the winter, the nearby Cascades are perfect for all winter sports. No matter when you visit Seattle, there are plenty of Ecowander-approved activities to enjoy!

Here are Ecowander’s top picks:

Pike Place Market is a classic stop in Seattle, but it also helps support local farming communities. Specifically, in the summer between Pine Street and Stewart Street the vendors bring farm-fresh items daily— everything from fruits, veggies, meats, dairy, and more straight from the farm, directly to market! Pike Place Market also works with the City of Seattle to help develop farmland in a sustainable fashion and works with local farmers to help distribute their crops.

Go to the Beach

Seattle has so many great local parks to visit, it is hard to recommend only one. Gas Works Park sits on the north shore of Lake Union and offers a great view of the city. Gas Works itself provides a unique backdrop as it used to be a coal to natural gas plant but has since been converted to a park— its vast lawn areas are surrounded by the ruins of the old gas plant and a childrens “play barn” is housed in the original pump house.

Golden Gardens Park is one of the locals’ favorite beaches with many activities to offer. In addition to its spectacular view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, Golden Gardens features wetlands, hiking trails, and sandy beaches. Located more than 100 miles in from open ocean, the park is sheltered from severe weather, so the calm waters are great for sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and if you can brave the freezing-cold water, swimming. Golden Gardens also has a children’s play area and a designated area for dogs to play.

Tip: You can use the public bus trip planner to help guide you to either of these parks!

Kayak or Canoe

Seattle is surrounded by water— on the west side, it has the Puget Sound, on the north side it has Lake Union, and on the east side it has Lake Washington. With all this water, one of the best ways to enjoy it is getting out on it!  Kayaking and canoeing is such a low-impact, fun way to see wonderful views of Seattle and the surrounding area. The University of Washington offers canoe rentals directly behind the Husky Stadium and allows you to explore the arboretum in Union Bay. This gives you a unique view of the UW campus and allows you to explore the relatively calm lily-pad covered waters of Lake Washington.

Kayak rentals are also available in Lake Union through several companies, by favorite being Agua Verde. While kayaking on Lake Union you can catch different views of downtown, paddle next to houseboats and see several beaches. If you rent from Agua Verde make sure to stop in at the cafe which sources local foods before or after your adventure!

Ballard Locks

Officially named The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, the Ballard Locks, as they are known by locals, connect freshwater Lake Washington with saltwater Puget Sound. After boats enter the locks, the water level slowly lowers or raises to match the end locations water level. There are also fish ladders with cut outs for viewing to watch jumping salmon and fish migrate from the saltwater to freshwater. Also, as you make your way to the Locks, you casually stroll through botanical gardens before reaching the main attraction.

This 9 acre outdoor space consists of greenspace, sculptures and great views! Open all year, free, and with rotating and permanent exhibits, the park can be a great escape in the City. The space was a previously contaminated brownfield site and has been redeveloped to the park it is today, which benefits the local environment and residents. The Park commissioners also worked to recreate and intertidal zone to help revitalize the local sealife in the area. This Park is a win-win for the land, sea, and you!

Seattle Center Space Needle & Seattle Center

The Space Needle is another iconic destination of Seattle; it was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and remains a top tourist attraction today. While the Space Needle itself isn’t sustainable, you can enjoy the Space Needle from views throughout the city or from the ground at the Seattle Center. The Seattle Center offers an enormous amount of green space, art installations and up-close views of the Space Needle.

The Chihuly Art Center is also in the Seattle Science Center and is a LEED Silver certified facility. The exhibition hall earns extra Ecowander points as it is a repurposed building, avoiding waste and new material use.

Hope you enjoy beautiful Seattle!