View the photo gallery. Photos by Matthew Sumi.
Let’s play a quick game of word association. Ready? Seattle. What comes to mind? Sophisticated? Urban? Cutting edge? Busy?
All of those adjectives fit the bill. Go a couple miles south of Seattle Pacific University, and you’ll find yourself in the heart of downtown, surrounded by skyscrapers, urbanites, and some first-rate shopping. The Emerald City is the epitome of big-city culture.
But Seattle has a simpler side too. Across the Aurora Bridge, a mere 4.2 miles from SPU, lies Green Lake Park, a 324-acre expanse of nature. With its friendly squirrels, good climbing trees, and nearby eateries, Green Lake has all the essentials for a fun, laid-back afternoon.
Bring your walking shoes! (Or your running shoes, rollerblades, or bike.) Green Lake boasts a 2.8-mile path that’s wide and flat — perfect for exercise of any intensity. Don’t let a little Northwest drizzle stop you. Embrace the Seattle way of doing things! Zip up your rain jacket, grab a friend, and go anyway. You’re certain to meet other Northwest natives doing laps as usual.Feeling sporty? Take advantage of Green Lake’s wide-open spaces by bringing a soccer ball, lacrosse stick, or a Frisbee. Or gather a group of friends and get a game started on one of the several baseball fields or basketball courts. Feel free to pack your tennis racket and putter too. Green Lake has several tennis courts and a Pitch & Putt (open March to November).
And of course, what’s a lake without boating? The Green Lake boat house is open April to September (weather permitting) and offers kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, and row boats — all at $15 an hour.
A trip to Green Lake begs to include a picnic. Pack a snack of your own or visit the nearby eateries. Green Lake Drive’s options range from the home-style soup and sandwiches at the Urban Bakery to the international choices at World Wrapps. Nothing fits better with a warm day at the park like some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and, on cold, blustery days, you can warm yourself with a cup of gourmet chocolate-infused espresso drinks at the Chocolati Café.
If you’re curious about what people did for fun at Green Lake a few decades ago, check out the remains of the Green Lake Aqua Theatre. A section of grandstand is all that’s left of what was once a large outdoor amphitheatre that hosted a whole gamut of performances: Olympic divers and synchronized swimmers, Rogers & Hammerstein musicals, 1980’s rock concerts — even an on-the-water wrestling match between Gorgeous George and the Masked Marvel.
The Aqua Theatre may have seen its last performance in 1979, but you can still enjoy theater on the lake at the (indoor) Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse. Located on the northern end of the lake, the Bathhouse offers six shows a season, with ticket prices ranging from $15–$21, depending on your age and the day.
In the midst of a bustling city, Green Lake Park is an organic oasis of homegrown fun. Make sure to take a break at least once to enjoy some fresh air; and when spring comes, watch the baby ducks totter across the pond on lily pads.