There’s a reason Seattle is known for being a city dressed in green. Get your fix of flora at parks within city limits, witness first-hand how global tech giant Amazon is contributing to the eco-friendly scene, and plan a day trip to the iconic Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, only a short jaunt away.
Whoever said you can’t find nature in the city has never been to Seattle. For a green space amidst the urban bustle of South Lake Union, step into The Spheres (2111 Seventh Ave), Amazon’s newest addition to Seattle’s downtown landscape. These three glass orbs are packed with biodiversity—more than 400 different plant species dwell within the structure, including a four-story plant wall, a 55-foot-tall ficus tree, and even vines wrapping around the support beams. While the structure was designed to promote creativity in Amazon’s employees, visitors are able to experience The Spheres through tours offered on alternating Saturdays and can explore any day of the week at Understory, an interactive exhibit located at the base of The Spheres.
Another great pick: While Pike Place Market is a must-visit icon in the city (sample the colorful array of produce or snag a fresh bouquet of flowers), lesser-known Pike Place Urban Garden (93 Pike St, #310) is a hidden gem located in the back that will really put you in the Earth Day spirit. More than 500 pounds of vegetables are grown here by volunteers each year, supplementing local produce for the Pike Market Food Bank. Commemorate your visit by drawing on the resident pig statue while taking in views of the Puget Sound in this surprisingly quiet area of the busy market.
A Seattle landmark, Volunteer Park Conservatory (1400 E Galer St) offers insider tours of the glass-paned structure where visitors will learn what horticulturists do while also viewing subtropical and tropical plant collections. Located in the center of the park, you can climb the 75-foot-tall water tower and admire a 260-degree view of Seattle from the highest point on Capitol Hill.
Another great pick: Discovery Park’s (3801 Discovery Park Blvd) unbeatable location on Magnolia Bluff offers visitors a multitude of landscapes. From beaches to meadows to forest groves, there’s plenty of nature to explore in Seattle’s largest park.
Just 30-minutes out of the city, a plethora of hiking options await, from leisurely walks to steep scrambles. Head east towards Snoqualmie and you’ll stumble upon the infamous mountain from Twin Peaks: Mount Si (Trailhead, North Bend). This eight-mile hike attracts both beginner and advanced hikers. An elevation gain of more than 3,000 feet will reward you with stunning views of the Olympics, Mount Rainier on a clear day, and if you’re lucky, mountain goats.
Another great pick: Poo Poo Point’s (706 Second Ave SE, Issaquah) lookout on Tiger Mountain offers both a shorter, steeper trail (3.8 miles) or a longer, less vertical trail (7.2 miles). Take your pick and celebrate with lunch at one of the summit’s picnic tables. Thrill seekers can finish the day with a flight down from the peak with Seattle Paragliding (11206 Issaquah Hobart Rd SE, Issaquah).
If you’re willing to journey further up North, brilliant views of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (311 W Kincaid St, Mount Vernon) await just outside city limits. Taking place April 1-30, this festival comes just in time for the celebration and appreciation of Mother Earth. Take in an aerial view from one of SeattleHeliTours’s (13724 La Conner Whitney Rd, Mount Vernon) helicopter tours to enjoy the millions of blooming flowers from above or sit back and relax on Shutter Tours’s (1916 Pike Pl, #12-151) busses to see the tulips up-close.
Another great pick: Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E) and its diverse array of greenery features 230 acres of walking trails through wetland, woodlands, and gardens.
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