Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

9 Seattle neighborhood parks where your kids can play for hours

And some others to try if the playground is full

What does the perfect day at the park feel like? The kids burn off energy and engage their muscles, imaginations and social energies. You refresh yourself by being in a pleasant setting. Everyone returns home feeling better than before. The size or the fanciness of the facilities don’t matter so much as what happens when you get there.

But some parks are just more comfortable and inviting than others, so today we look at some of Seattle’s loveliest neighborhood parks. They aren’t the fanciest, the biggest or the most famous. (For a guide to those, try this story.) But people love these parks and return to them again and again. If your family’s schedule lands you in the right neighborhood on a nice afternoon, check them out.

We’ve added less-trafficked alternatives, in case there’s a long wait for a spot on the climber.

Alki Playground

5817 SW Lander St

This playground combines comfort (close bathrooms, clear sight-lines, accessible climbers) with enough whimsy to inspire a whole universe of pretend play. There’s a boat, a whale tail, a sandbox stocked with neighborhood toys and a climbable tree. Even though there’s a spectacular beach less than a block away, it’s easy to see how many families spend hours here.

Backups: Hiawatha Playfield 

Roxhill Park, a.k.a. Castle Park

2850 SW Roxbury St

The official name of this place is “Roxhill Park” but the neighborhood kids call it “Castle Park” for its elaborately turreted climbers. Beyond the climbers, there’s more to explore here: playfields, a skate park, picnic areas and trails through nearby wetlands.

Backup: Westcrest Park

Othello Playground

4351 S Othello S

There is so much to do in this park. Explore the large, up-to-date playground with a sandbox and a zip line. Test your skills on two basketball courts, one for big people and one for smaller people. There are tables with chessboards embedded in them, a big slide in a hillside, and lots of steep grassy slopes to run or roll down. There are trees big and small — some of them are climbable — and an ancient pear tree, mostly fallen down, that kids like to play house in. There’s also a stage set up in a spot that makes a natural amphitheater.

Backup: Brighton Playfield

Powell Barnett Park

352 Martin Luther King Jr Way

This rectangular patch of land has a big playground packed with things to climb and spin on, a tricycle maze, and broad shade trees. There’s also room to play basketball, toss frisbees and picnic. The bathrooms are in a whimsical building that looks like a castle. It’s a true community hub, and on nice weekend days, it’s often packed.

Backups: Peppi’s Playground, Garfield Playfield, Spruce Street Mini Park, Firehouse Mini Park

Ella Bailey Park

2601 W Smith St

Seattle is a city of scenery, so this Magnolia neighborhood spot is far from the only playground with a dramatic view. But it is the only park with both a view and a big open field that puts people in an open space with far horizons, an unusual sensation in Seattle’s landscape of buildings, trees and hills. Plus: tourists don’t come up this way.

Backup: Bayview Playground

Salmon Bay Park

2001 NW Canoe Pl

If you’re looking for shade, there’s plenty under this park’s giant Douglas fir trees. The big sandbox is stocked with toys from the neighborhood. It’s fun to race toy trucks down one of the steep slopes near the playground, or play games in the trees, or help your friend zip faster on the zip line. One drawback: the bathrooms are steeply uphill and just out of sight of the playground.

Backup: Loyal Heights Playfield

Meridian Playground

4649 Sunnyside Ave N

Set between a century-old apple orchard and a landmark historic building, the Meridian playground has a certain amount of old-world grace in its atmosphere, helped along by the whimsical art celebrating beloved children’s books. Beyond the playground and the orchard, there’s a gazebo nearby to run around in, and a mostly-flat playing field that hosts the Wallingford Farmer’s market on summer Wednesdays and turns into a giant mud pit every October.

Backup: University Playground

Ravenna Park

5520 Ravenna Ave NE

This park provides a leafy oasis in the middle of a dense and hectic part of town. To the south, the University District; to the north, the urban area around Roosevelt High School. But in the ravine, green and relevant quiet, and a nicely set up playground, complete with charming turtle structures.

Backup: Froula Playground

Maple Leaf Reservoir Park

1020 NE 82nd St

This is a very inviting 16 acres. You can linger by the flowers at the playground which is next to a children’s garden. You can zip on the zip line, run on the field, wobble a bike or a unicycle along a paved surface, or try a game of basketball.

Backups: Dahl Playfield, Northgate Community Center Playground

More about playgrounds

Great places to play outside: 6 of Seattle’s nicest small playgrounds

Seattle playgrounds reopening after COVID closure