Seattle’s Volunteer Park

What’s the best Seattle view that is free? I suppose many will say Kerry Park on Queen Anne, which is an iconic view of the skyline – but finding parking and dealing with the traffic headaches make it a tad annoying.

Instead I give to you: The historic water tower at Volunteer Park.

The historic Volunteer Park water tower was built in 1906. You can climb 107 steps to the top for 360-degree views of the surrounding city.
The historic Volunteer Park water tower was built in 1906. You can climb 107 steps to the top for 360-degree views of the surrounding city.

The tower, which was built in 1906, looks something like a castle and features 107 steps to the top. You are afforded 360-degree views of Seattle, the Olympic Mountains, the Cascade Mountains, the Bellevue skyline and Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Volunteer Park is located on Capitol Hill, features tons of parking and has more than just a pretty view (sorry Kerry Park).

I recently visited before a Yankees-Mariners game I was going to with my family. Rather than sit in traffic and arrive at game time, I decided to head to Seattle in the early afternoon and while looking for something to do, stumbled upon Volunteer Park.

Am I ever glad I did.

There are lots of big views of the Space Needle from Volunteer Park.
There are lots of big views of the Space Needle from Volunteer Park.

The park which was built by the city of Seattle and fine-tuned by the Olmsted brothers from 1904-1909 features not just the tower, but lots of open fields to play in, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the Volunteer Park Conservatory, a pair of ponds and the famous Black Sun statue that offers distinct views of the Space Needle.

I parked outside the park and made my way to the water tower initially. I get a bit of the vertigo when climbing structures, but I figured I didn’t drive all the way up to Seattle by myself to just look at the tower from the base. So up I went. It’s a pretty short climb, really.

The Corpse Flower, which is not flowering in this picture. This ultra rare plant is stunning to see in person.
The Corpse Flower, which is in the early stages of blooming in this photo, is an ultra rare plant is stunning to see in person.

The history of the park is told on signs at the top of the tower, and the sunny weather made for spectacular views.

After descending, I wandered around checking out some of the spectacular old houses nearby on 14th street. The art museum wasn’t open, so I was content in just looking at the statues out front. I skipped the Black Sun statue as there were tourists all over it.

While I didn’t have time to sit and read a book, or just enjoy the sun, there were plenty of folks doing that. The trees and open fields of the park make for a sublime place to spend an afternoon. I have a feeling it would also be amazing in the fall, as the street through the park is lined with deciduous trees.

The Volunteer Park Conservatory only costs $4 and features a Corpse Flower. It is a must visit.
The Volunteer Park Conservatory only costs $4 and features a Corpse Flower. It is a must visit.

I decided a quick trip to the conservatory was in order before I left for the game, so I paid my $4 and checked it out.

The only conservatory I have visited previously was in Wright Park in Tacoma, which is smaller than this one. The star of the show is the Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum). This rare flower takes 7-10 years to bloom for the first time and then varies from 3-10 years to bloom again. The bloom only lasts 48 hours.

One of the stunning houses located near Volunteer Park in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
One of the stunning houses located near Volunteer Park in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Beyond that death flower, there were tons of interesting cacti, tropical plants, carnivorous plants, ferns and more. It is really worth a visit for all the colors and smells.

So, if you want the best free view Seattle has to offer and some cool museums to boot, be sure and visit Volunteer Park.

– Craig Craker

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Randy Craker says:

    Cool story son!

    *Randall J. Craker*

    Superintendent

    Northwest District Church of the Nazarene

    *rjcraker@nwdistrict.org*

    509-466-0452

    *From:* Traveling the PNW [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] *Sent:* Wednesday, August 31, 2016 5:48 AM *To:* rjcraker@nwdistrict.org *Subject:* [New post] Seattle’s Volunteer Park

    travelingthepnw posted: “What’s the best Seattle view that is free? I suppose many will say Kerry Park on Queen Anne, which is an iconic view of the skyline – but finding parking and dealing with the traffic headaches make it a tad annoying. Instead I give to you: The historic”

    Like

  2. Tina McKenzie says:

    Makes we want to go and then sit in the Fall sunshine with a good book! I’d never heard of this park. Thanks.

    Like

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