Your 2015 Seattle Parks and Recreation Winter Bucket List

For many of us, winters in Seattle are just something we have to get through – three months of cold and rain before the sun decides to break through in March. But treating the season like a chore is waste. There are dozens of opportunities to make memories and learn something during the winter months, and you should take advantage of them (mainly because we’re hosting).

So put on your best flannel and anorac and grab that Seahawks beanie. We’re going out.

Talk derby
Adult Roller Derby is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with over 60 leagues forming weekly. Seattle Roller Derby is athletic, instructional, non-violent, a great workout and has an amazing community. This January, join Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Roller Derby to learn the sport! Citywide Derby will take place at Ballard Community Center from Jan. 9 – March 12! This training program is for all skill levels and includes the possibility of forming teams. Participants must provide their own equipment. Register online here using barcode 143707.

Explore tides
Explore the beach during winter nighttime lowtides with Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist staff and volunteers. Discover what creatures we see on the beach during the colder months. Dress for the weather and for tide pooling (i.e., bring boots, hats, gloves and a good flashlight). The adventure lasts from 8:30-10:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Meet at Constellation Park (South Alki Beach). Go here for details.

Eat well
Nothing goes together like parks and pancakes. We’re hosting FIVE community pancake breakfasts this season to raise money for recreation scholarships. Helping a neighbor in need by chowing down on some syrupy goodness sounds pretty darn sweet.

  • Hiawatha Community Center, 8 a.m.-noon, Jan. 31, $5 for kids, $6 for adults
  • Delridge Community Center, 10 a.m.-noon, Feb. 6, $4 for kids and seniors, $6 for adults, $10 for a couple
  • Bitter Lake Community Center, 9 a.m.-noon, Feb. 22, $5 per person
  • Rainier Beach Community Center, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., $3 for kids and seniors, $5 for adults, $20 for a family (5+)
  • Loyal Heights Community Center, 8 a.m.-noon, March 6, $6 per person


Dance away
Pull that prom outfit from the closet, grab your kiddos and boogie over to Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center on Friday, Feb. 12. We’ll be playing tunes from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s and bringing back our famous chocolate fountain. This Sweetheart Soiree is $3 per person and takes place from 6:30-8 p.m.

Scare Nian

According to Chinese mythology, Nian is a beast that comes out of hiding every year around Chinese New Year to attack people. His weaknesses are loud noises and the color red. Join the International Chinatown District Community Center and the Chinese Information and Service Center in a colorful, festive celebration to welcome the Lunar New Year and keep Nian at bay. You will be immersed in traditional music, cultural music and live entertainment. There will be appetizers and performers doing the Lion Dance, magic, Kung Fu and more. Save the date for this free festivity 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 at the community center.

Learn something
You’ve been to Discovery Park many times, but usually to hike the trails or enjoy the ocean view. From 2-4 p.m. on Feb. 27, join us on a journey through time – before the land was a park or even a military base. Explore the land and discover who walked the beach many years ago. The tour is free and is recommended for those 12 and older. For more information, go here.

Feel good
Start 2016 by doing something that’s good for your body. Belltown Community Center hosts a H.U.M.P. Day fitness class on the second Wednesday of every month. For just $5, you can participate in Capoeira, yoga or dance aerobics. Want more? Every second Friday the center hosts Burlesque Fitness. Spice up your exercise routine and meet some new people. Bonus points for feathered boas and bedazzled outfits. For details, go here.

Dive in
Take the family to Medgar Evers Pool on the third Saturday of the month for a dive-in movie. Take a dip while watching a movie projected above the pool. The “box office” opens at 6:15 p.m.; show begins at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call the pool directly.

Witness blessings
After a long closure, it’ll soon be time to open the Japanese Garden’s gate for another stunning season. Join with your community in 2016 to witness a Shinto blessing and usher the garden into another successful year. Have your cameras ready! For more information, visit the garden’s website closer to the event.

Get toasty
Hanging outdoors isn’t always desirable during Seattle winters. Layers on layers of clothing and Gor-Tex are required. But, with a crackling fire and good company, suddenly being outdoors doesn’t sound so bad. We offer the chance to safely build fires on two of our most picturesque beaches year round. Confidently leave the confines of your winter cave and stargaze at Golden Gardens or Alki Beach with hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows. For information on our beach fire programs, go here and here.


Your Fall Bucket List

Cheers with us
Raise a glass to conservation and animals! Join Woodland Park Zoo for the fifth annual Brew and the Zoo beer-tasting event on Thursday, Oct. 1. Sample imports, domestics, microbrews and ciders from more than 40 different breweries. The event includes tastings, live animal encounters, music and access to some award-winning exhibits. Tickets range from $30-70. For more information, go here. (This event is for the 21+ crowd only.)

Maple Viewing at the Seattle Japanese Garden

Marvel with us
In October the Seattle Japanese Garden is ablaze with fall color. Visit on Sunday, Oct. 11, during the official Maple Viewing Festival, or take a tour any time this fall to feast your eyes on reds, oranges and golds. The Maple Viewing Festival includes traditional musical performances and other activities and runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Send us your best fall-esque photos on Twitter and we’ll throw you a retweet. For more information, including garden hours and location, go here.

Cook with us
When the rain sets in and it starts getting dark at 5 p.m., sometimes you want nothing more than to go home and dive into some comfort food. The thing is, if you want to fill your belly, you have to know how to cook first. Belltown Community Center is hosting a series of cooking classes from now until Dec. 16. All classes are one-time, hands on workshops and are designed for all cooking levels. The classes each feature a different type of food or cuisine. Became an expert on cheesecake and swirls or learn how to make your own stuffed pasta. You know what they say, rain ain’t no thing when you’ve got a bowl full of ravioli. Well, we say it. Find your perfect class here.

Dance with us
Have you ever started instinctively doing side-to-side zombie arms when Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” comes on the radio? It happens to the best of us. Every year groups of people dubbed the “Thrillers” perform the famous choreography on the same day, at the same time across the world. This charitable event is called “Thrill the World.” This year, Seattle is scheduled to join in the fun at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, at Occidental Park. Head out to the park and watch it all unfold. For more information, or to participate, go here.

Kubota Garden

Tour with us
Kobuta Garden is another specialty park that boasts beautiful colors in the fall. Best of all? Kubota Garden Foundation docents offer free tours of the park every month! Go to garden on Saturday, Oct. 24, at 10 a.m. to take in the season and learn about the garden’s unique landscaping. For more information, go here.

Discovery Park

Explore with us
Explore Discovery Park after dark. From 8:30-10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25, a Discovery Park beach naturalist will lead a flashlight beach walk to examine tidepools and other marine life. Bring your family and friends for a unique city experience. Wear shoes that can get wet, dress in layers and bring your own flashlight if you have one. Cost is $5 per person. Register online here.

Fall festival

Fall with us
What are you doing for Halloween? What are you doing to celebrate fall colors and traditions? Not sure yet? Don’t worry. We made plans for you – like, 30 of them. All throughout October, our community centers, parks and pools are hosting haunted events, spooky swims and family friendly fall festivals. Dress up in costume, carve a pumpkin, bob for apples and get scared silly. All events are free or low-cost. Find an event in your neighborhood here.

Salmon in Piper’s Creek

Learn with us
Being able to watch a salmon run is an incredible benefit of living in the Pacific Northwest. November and early December is the time to experience Pacific salmon in an urban stream. Coho and chum salmon run in Piper’s Creek in during this time. Drop-in stations with trained guides are set up from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 7 – Dec. 6, to facilitate observations of the salmon and to give out tips on how to help perpetuate these runs. No need to sign up. Just come to the lower meadow at Carkeek Park and look for the salmon stewards in the blue vests.

Run with us
Earn that bird! Thanksgiving is usually reserved for food, football, family and counting blessings. This year, we’ve got one more item to add to the agenda. Head over to Magnuson Park on Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, Nov. 26, for the Turkey Trot, a 5 or 10k fun run. Feel free to bring any extra food items and they will be donated them to food lifeline. To register, or for more information, go here.


Your 2015 Seattle Parks Summer Bucket List

Remember when you were a kid and summer meant three months of sleeping in and not knowing which day it was? Blissful. But now you’re older, and people send you meeting requests in July and schedule appointments in August. You’re expected to show up to work even when it’s 80 degrees and sunny. The audacity.

At Seattle Parks and Recreation, we believe that no matter what your age, you deserve to have some summertime fun. We’ve put together a Summer Bucket List that has something for everyone. So get out your day planner, and scribble some of these events in. They’re sure to turn a ho-hum week into a hopping good time.

Big Day of Play | June 28
Set the tone for your summer at the annual Big Day of Play. Mark your calendar from noon – 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 28, to see what Seattle Parks and other community organizations are offering in the way of fun activities and healthy food. This year’s event will be held at Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center. Big Day of Play is a great way to get important information about health and wellness, discover unique opportunities to become active, enjoy healthy food and learn how recreation can change your life. For more information, go here.


Summer Night Market | July 11
Maybe international travel isn’t on your agenda this year, but Seattle’s Chinatown International District is bringing it you. From 6 p.m. – midnight on Saturday, July 11, join the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area in Hing Hay Park for the Summer Night Market. This outdoor international marketplace blends the best of ethnic street food with handmade crafts under the stars in the heart of Chinatown. Outdoor performances include breakdancing competitions, Japanese beer garden, dancing and DJs.  For more information, go here. Can’t stay up late? One of the largest Pan-Asian American street fairs, the Dragon Festival, takes place the same day from noon-8 p.m.  For details on that, go here.


Emerald City Open Water Swim | Aug. 15
When you live in a city surrounded by water, sometimes you need to think bigger than a swimming pool. Join Seattle Parks for the annual Emerald City Open Water Swim at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, at Andrew’s Bay in Lake Washington (Seward Park). There will be a half-mile triangle course and a one-mile triangle course with 30-minute and one-hour time limits. Certified lifeguards will be on duty. Awards will be given to the top overall male and female swimmers. But, the best part? Win or lose, every registered swimmer will receive a specially designed commemorative swim cap and shirt. For information on how to register, go here.


Downtown dancing event in Occidental Park.

Salsa in the Street | July 31 and Aug. 14
When Seattle Parks remodeled Bell Street and turned it into a park, the project leveled all of the pavement so the sidewalk blended seamlessly into the street. The continuous level pavement encourages pedestrians, cyclists and automobiles to share the space. It also makes the park into an ideal dance floor. On July 31 and Aug. 14, Belltown Dance Studio will teach basic foot patterns and turns of the sensual, steamy and easy-to-learn Salsa dance. Slide into your strappy heels or button up your billowy shirt and get ready to heat up the street, er, dance floor. Events last from 7-10 p.m. More information can be found here.


Art in the Park | Thursdays, July 9 –Oct. 1
Lake Union Park is home to many incredible places like the Museum of History and Industry and the Center for Wooden Boats. This summer it will also be home to a unique arts and crafts market hosted by local artists. Every Thursday, beginning July 9, you can stop by the inaugural Art in the Park market from 10 a.m. – dusk. The first Thursday of the month coincides with free admission at MOHAI. Pop over to the park, take in the lake views and support local artists. There will be wares ranging from jewelry to glass art to ceramics. There are only so many opportunities for a person to shop while getting their Vitamin D. Don’t miss out. For more information, go here.


Out to Lunch Concert Series | July 9-Sept. 4
You may have to work during the week, but on Thursdays and Fridays, you can enjoy a mental vacation of the musical variety. The Downtown Seattle Association, in partnership with Seattle Parks and many other organizations have planned a lunchtime concert series to take place in downtown parks and public spaces at noon throughout the summer. The first park show will feature the Maldives and will take place Friday, July 10, in Westlake Park. For a full concert schedule, go here.


Photo by Futoshi Kobayashi Photographer

Alki Summer Fun Fest | Sept. 1
Think of it as a one-day, West Coast Coney Island. The staff at Alki Community Center are throwing a community barbeque with all the fixins: hot dogs, burgers, potato salad and fruit from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 1. There will be carnival games, bounce toys, snow cones and cotton candy. All the food is free, but games and activities will cost you $1 each, unless you buy an unlimited $10 bracelet. Cotton candy and snow cones are sold separately. So gather up the family and head towards the beach. If you want the full New York experience, head over to Alki Beach after the festivities and get a photo with the Statue of Liberty. For more information, go here.


Summer Camp | Various dates
Singing songs around a campfire, exploring the forest, paddling across the lake; memories made at summer camp are some of the most special. Seattle Parks sponsors a wide variety of affordable summer day camps, activity camps, nature day camps and special events in many areas of the city. We have camps that range from learning about barista basics, to Jedi master engineering to basketball techniques, to nature exploration. Check out our online camp brochure and find a session that’s right for the adventurers in your family.


Choose your own adventure| Any day
Create a summer adventure of your own centered around a theme that interests you. Want to see all the historical landmarks in parks? Visit every Seattle park viewpoint?  Cross all the pocket parks off your list? Visit our website where you can create a list of parks specific to one or more feature. Grab your favorite book, pack some snacks and learn a little more about your city.

As always, share your adventures with @seattleparks on Twitter!

Your Seattle Parks Spring Bucket List

Robin Williams once said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘Let’s party!’” In our fair city, spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Come out of hibernation, Seattleites.’”

It’s getting lighter in the mornings! The sun doesn’t set at 4:30 p.m. anymore! There are leaves and FLOWERS on the trees! No more excuses, friends. It’s party time.

Get out on the water!
Or at least watch people on the water. On the first full official day of spring, March 21, Green Lake is hosting its 53rd annual spring regatta. Hundreds of rowers will descend on the lake for a day of nail-biting sprints and friendly competition. Gather you family, take to the grandstands and cheer for your favorite teams. Find all the details you need here.

Get in nature!
Celebrate the spring equinox with someone who knows a thing or two about nature. Our naturalists are leading a night time adventure through Discovery Park to seek out croaking frogs and hooting owls from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on March 21. Taking a starlit walk with wildlife is a picturesque way to welcome spring. Register here. (#128280)

Get in on the hunt!
Nothing says spring like the explosion of pastels. In early April, our community centers, parks and facilities get inundated with hidden eggs and treats and we need your little ones to come collect them. From teen flashlight egg hunts to the annual Cal Anderson Park event (complete with bouncy toys and a DJ) we’ve got an event for every age. You can find our complete list of egg hunts here. Happy hunting.

Get your “awws” ready!
We’re not sure if it’s possible to overdose on cuteness, but we’re about to find out. From 6-7 p.m. on March 31, we’re inviting you to hang out with 15-20 bunnies inside the Alki Bathhouse. If you know of anything more therapeutic than petting adorable, big-eyed bunnies, we’re all ears. Five dollars gets you in the door for a hopping good time.

Get ready for summer!
Spring basically serves as a precursor to summer, so you might as well get prepped for outdoor swimming season now. April 18 is April Pools Day, your one-stop shop for low-cost life jackets, swimming and boating education, prizes and more. All of our eight indoor pools will be hosting their own events, but times and activities vary. Call your local pool for details.

Get your green on!
At Seattle Parks and Recreation, we celebrate Earth Day every day, but in April we go all out. We are sponsoring numerous work party events across the city with Green Seattle Partnership. Help keep our parks and green spaces thriving this season and sign up for an event here. If work parties aren’t your style, we’ve got other ways to celebrate. Miller Community Center is hosting its Earth Day Celebration and Plant Exchange on Thursday, April 9. Meet other gardeners in your community and swap seeds, tools, supplies and tips.

Get out your GPS!
The best treasures are those that hide in plain sight. This month, we’re noticing brilliant blooms popping up all over our parks. We asked our senior gardeners for their favorite places to spot spring color and compiled a list of this season’s must sees. Draw out a route for yourself and take in the scents of spring. Have a favorite park that isn’t on our list? Tell @seattleparks on Twitter!

Get ready to row!
Seattle athletes have taken home Olympic gold medals for rowing. We have a reputation for being fierce competitors on the water. But, most of us, well…have never been in a shell. Let’s change that. June 6 is National Learn to Row Day! Yes, that’s a thing. Come over to the Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center to learn what the sport is all about and learn the fundamentals. The event is free for adults and teens (though 12-15-year-olds need to be accompanied by an adult and 16-17-year-olds need a parental/guardian signature). Find more information here.

Get your wheels ready!
Seattleites bike year-round, but they start enjoying it in the spring. Every year beginning in May we close Lake Washington Boulevard to motorized traffic on certain Sundays and encourage people to take in the waterfront scenery on two wheels. This year we’re kicking off Bicycle Sundays on May 3. Grab your family and come ride with us. At the end of the route, we’ll have a bike safety event with activities for the family near the entrance of Seward Park. Go here for details.

Get to a …PARK!
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Just go to a park! There are so few people in this city who can boast that they’ve visited every park in our 400+ park system. And how wonderful is that? With a park system as vast and varied as ours, there is always somewhere new to explore. Visit our A-Z parks list and make your own bucket list of the next 10 places you’d like to visit.

Your Seattle Parks Winter Bucket List

The holidays are over. You’ve seen snow flurries and below-freezing temperatures. Perhaps you’ve consumed one too many holiday cookies. And you’re starting to remember it rains here, like, all the time. You’re searching for “real estate in San Diego” and “vacation homes in Maui.” You must escape this gray city!

Well, slow down there, partner. Sure, our city may be a little wet in the winter, but it’s still one the greatest cities in the world, year-round (in our unbiased opinion). We’ve put together your Seattle Parks Winter Bucket List giving you 10 reasons to look forward to the weeks ahead. So before you do anything rash, read on. San Diego may have sunshine, but it’s no Emerald City, and if you wear socks with sandals in Maui, you might not fit in.

Plant a tree for peace

Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy Planting
Winter is when we honor some of our country’s most important legacies. Commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, planting a tree to celebrate peace and social justice from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17 at Discovery Park. The whole family is welcome and the event is free. Instructions and supplies are provided. Find more details in our environmental learning centers brochure.

Full Moon Trek
Dancin’ in the moonlight! Everybody’s feeling warm and bright…and exploring Discovery Park! From 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31, take a guided hike and experience Discovery Park from the perspective of a nocturnal animal. The views in the park are always beautiful, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it bathed in starlight. The Full Moon Trek event costs $5 per person and is designed for ages 8 and older. Find registration information here.

All-You-Can-Eat Pancakes
We’re hosting pancake breakfasts three out of four weekends in February. Need we say more? February is the month of love and we’re showing our community appreciation with short stacks. Hiawatha Community Center hosts its annual all-you-can eat pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. – noon on Sunday, Feb. 8, followed by Delridge Community Center’s sweetheart pancake day from 9 a.m. – noon on Saturday, Feb. 14. Bitter Lake Community Center is hosting an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast from 9 a.m. – noon on Sunday, Feb. 22. All events range in price from $4-6 per person with tots eating for free.

What will you discover at the Aquarium?

Halibut, sea otters and jelly fish, oh my!
There are numerous reasons why Seattleites love the Seattle Aquarium, but one of the main reasons to love it during the winter months is that it’s indoors. You can leisurely marvel at the Aquarium’s numerous exhibits no matter what the weather. This fall, the facility opened a new spotted lagoon jellyfish exhibit and this January the Aquarium is hosting a series of “Visit Hawaii in Your Own Backyard” events. Round up the kiddies, grab your grandparents or call up a friend – it’s time for a field trip.

Neighbor Appreciation Day
Free cookies, free coffee, free swimming, free lunch. Why? Because your city appreciates you! Saturday, Feb. 14, is Neighbor Appreciation Day and we’re celebrating our vibrant communities in Seattle community centers and pools. Stop by Belltown Community Center on Feb. 13 for treats, or visit Queen Anne or Montlake Community Center on Feb. 14 for cookies and coffee. South Park Community Center is serving up pancakes from 10 a.m. – noon. Evans Pool is hosting a potluck lunch and free swim on Feb. 14 and Southwest Pool has a free swim with refreshments. For details and event times, visit our Events Calendar.

Lunar New Year Celebration
Seattle’s annual Lunar New Year Festival takes place in February in International District Chinatown’s Hing Hay Park. Kick off the Year of the Goat with entertainment, a $2 tasting menu, children’s costume parade and authentic cultural activities like Chinese calligraphy drawing, origami, face painting and more. Visit the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area’s event page for more information.

Japanese Garden Opening Day Photo by Laurel Mercury

Japanese Garden Opening Day
After three months of seasonal closure, the Seattle Japanese Garden will reopen to the public on Sunday, March 1, with a celebratory Opening Day First Viewing. Help bring the garden out of its winter hibernation and rejoice in knowing that spring is on the horizon. For a detailed list of the day’s activities, visit the garden’s website closer to the event.

Pi Day Race in Magnuson Park
At Seattle Parks, we’re huge advocates of nature and fitness, but, we’re also big fans of pie. Show off your geeky side and join hundreds of runners in Magnuson Park for the Pi Day Dash, a 3.14-mile run on 3-14-15 beginning at 9:26 a.m. (GET IT?! If so, this event is for you). Race organizers promise there will be pie for the masses. Register in advance here, and learn about sponsors, course details and volunteering opportunities.

Firehouse Mini Park

Children’s Play Areas
Little kids don’t care if they get grass stains and they certainly don’t worry about their hair getting frizzy. The muddier and muckier, the better! No matter the season, children need to get outdoors and stretch their legs and imagination. Be adventurous this winter and see how many of our children’s play areas you can cross off your list. With more than 100 playgrounds in the city, you can check out a different spot every weekend.

Treasures found inside the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Summer in the Conservatory
The weather outside is frightful, but the Palm House is so delightful. A balmy 72 degrees in fact. The Volunteer Park Conservatory recently reopened after months of renovations, which means Seattleites have a beautifully remodeled respite from the winter rains. In the five houses of the Conservatory, one can find palm trees, orchids and most importantly, heat. Take a stroll through the Conservatory and enjoy a little summer in January. The Conservatory offers FREE docent-guided tours of the houses and its plant collections by reservation. Tours last from 30-60 minutes (minimum two weeks’ notice required).