Seattle summers make the unpredictable, chilly weather of the other three seasons all worth the wait. There’s no shortage of ways to relish our warmest stretch of the year, from neighborhood and citywide events to the sweet little picnic spot only a few know about. Here is a sampling of opportunities – many FREE – in the Seattle Parks and Recreation system to help you enjoy the outdoors, water, culture, and good food you’ve been waiting for!
To kick things off, the downtown parks are active nearly every day with summer surprises. Here’s the schedule!
Water Water Everywhere
Kayaks! Check out all the houseboats while renting a kayak on Lake Union. Or if you prefer, the UW campus has canoe rentals on Lake Washington that allow you to explore the marshy area of the Arboretum and surrounds. Stand up paddling at Golden Gardens is another way to get out on the water (but be careful about prolonged exposure to Puget Sound’s icy temps).
Beaches and pools are how many city dwellers cool off, at one of nine lifeguarded fresh and salt water beach parks; you’ll also find kiddos and their parents at one of two dozen wading pools or sprayparks. Don’t forget Colman and Mounger outdoor pools!
Community and Neighborhood Events
Ballard: Tingle your tastebuds at the Hot Sauce Fest, Saturday 8/18 at Ballard Commons. Features food trucks, a kids’ Root Beer Garden (plus regular beer for adults), and games.
Chinatown International District hosts Dragonfest, Saturday & Sunday 7/14 & 7/15. Watch Dragon and Lion dances, traditional Korean drumming, martial arts demonstrations, the Chinese Girls Drill Team, and much more. Explore a food walk with over 40 restaurants offering a wide array of international $3 bites.
Downtown: Greet the night sky at the popular Dancing til Dusk series at 4 center city parks.
Downtown: see recent blockbusters like Coco, Wonder Woman, The Last Jedi, and Black Panther for free as part of the Center City Cinema series in Westlake Park, Cascade Playground, Hing Hay Park, Freeway Park, Denny Park, and Bell Street Park.
Magnolia: Magnolia Summerfest & Parade, 8/3 – 8/5, at Magnolia Community Center.
Magnuson: Renegade Craft Fair, Magnuson Park, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 7/20 – 7/22
Magnuson: Movies in the Park, Thursdays in August: 8/2, 8/16, 8/23, 8/30 at dusk. Magnuson Park Amphitheater. Watch the Magnuson Community Center Facebook page for details.
Rainier: Big Day of Play returns on 8/18 at the Rainier Community Center & Playfields, 11 am – 5 pm. It’s a full day of healthy outdoor activities (like 3 on 3 basketball, yoga, dance, stand up paddle boarding) plus games, cultural events, music and food.
Around the city: Drop in for free spontaneous recreation at dozens of community centers across Seattle. Play ping pong, racquet ball, wally ball, youth and adult basketball, board games, and more. Check these catalogs for the schedule near you.
Art & Music
Around the City: Throughout the month of July, Music Under the Stars invites you to picnic on the lawn while listening to a live audio broadcast of chamber music from Benaroya Hall. Delridge Playfield, Volunteer Park, Freeway Park, Columbia Park.
West Seattle: Alki Art Fair, July 28 and 29 at Alki Beach Park, 10 am -6 pm. Art booths, food carts, live music, silent auction, and kid’s art activities.
Around the City: GreenStage’s Shakespeare in the Park and Backyard Bard free series brings Henry IV Part 1, The Three Musketeers, Two Gentleman of Verona and The Winter’s Tale to many Seattle Parks large and small throughout July and August. Check the calendar for dates and locations.
Around the City: Seattle Parks and Recreation Busker Program places musicians and entertainers throughout Seattle city parks in the season, helping bring some music and fun to public spaces. Learn more here.