From the towering Space Needle to bustling Pike Place Market, Seattle boasts countless must-see sights. But before you finish writing your itinerary, don’t forget to check out one of the magnificent beaches in the Emerald City. To help you pick the right stretch of shoreline for your Washington state getaway, U.S. News evaluated expert and traveler opinion to determine the top Seattle beaches. Whether you’re looking for stunning views of the Olympic Mountains or plenty of family-friendly amenities, you’ll find it at these scenic Seattle parks.
(Note: Some of the following activities, attractions and locations may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. New policies may be in place, including capacity restrictions, reservation requirements or mask mandates. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State and local tourism boards before traveling.)
Stretching 2.5 miles along Elliott Bay – and briefly featured in the iconic film “Sleepless in Seattle” – Alki Beach is a Washington state favorite. Along with conveniences such as public restrooms and ample parking, Alki Beach boasts several nearby restaurants where beach bums can grab a bite to eat. Reserve volleyball courts for a small fee, although you must supply your own net and ball, or explore a paved pathway parallel to the shoreline that is perfect for jogging, rollerblading and biking. Come summer, beachgoers can even enjoy a sunset bonfire at designated fire pits. Water temperatures sit in the mid-40s and 50s, so come prepared with a wetsuit if you plan on swimming.
Address: 2665 Alki Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98116
This local hangout on the shore of Lake Washington is loved by families for its large grassy area and ample facilities that include plentiful parking and a bathhouse with restrooms. Madison Park Beach offers children’s play equipment, diving boards and tennis courts. What’s more, lifeguards are stationed on the beach in summer, so parents can have peace of mind while soaking up some rays. The northern section of Madison Park Beach has historically been considered Seattle’s unofficial gay beach, offering a spot for LGBTQ parkgoers to gather; today a variety of visitors enjoy this popular beach. When you need a break from the beach, the Washington Park Arboretum and the Seattle Japanese Garden can be found within 2 miles of Madison Park, and there are plenty of nearby restaurants to grab a bite to eat. Keep in mind that although the beach is popular among swimmers, there’s not much sand to be found here.
Address: 4201 E. Madison St., Seattle, WA 98112
Located on the Puget Sound, Golden Gardens Park features stunning views of the Olympic Mountains. Here, you’ll find picnic tables, volleyball courts to reserve, a boat launch and a pier where anglers can cast a line. If those amenities aren’t enough reason to start planning your visit, the park also offers several scenic hiking paths, including Seattle’s popular Burke-Gilman Trail, and an off-leash dog park – though pets are not allowed on the beach itself, per city code. Soak in the family-friendly atmosphere with a picnic lunch and some beach games. For ultimate relaxation, you can spend the day lounging on a hammock while reading your favorite book, or visit during summer to enjoy a beach bonfire.
Address: 8498 Seaview Place NW, Seattle, WA 98117
Spanning 534 acres, Discovery Park is the largest city park in Seattle. In addition to 2 miles of sandy coastline, this majestic greenspace offers several miles of footpaths and breathtaking views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges. Hike the scenic out-and-back North Beach Trail, then cool off with a dip in the Puget Sound. When you’ve tired yourself out from swimming, learn about the region’s Indigenous history at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in the park. Meanwhile, younger visitors will enjoy the recently renovated children’s play area, which includes swings, climbing equipment and a zip line. Don’t forget to snap a photo of the charming West Point Lighthouse before you head out for the day.
Address: 3801 Discovery Park Blvd., Seattle, WA 98199
For a relaxing day by the water, look no further than Seward Park. With roughly 300 acres of old-growth forest and grassy coastline, plus ample parking, this spacious urban park on Seattle’s Bailey Peninsula never feels too crowded. Work on your tan at Seward Park’s quiet beach or make use of the boat launches before strapping on your helmet for a bike ride around the Seward Park Perimeter Loop. Then learn about the area’s robust bird population by attending one of the Seward Park Audubon Center’s educational programs and events. Along with conveniences like picnic tables and restrooms, this popular park offers an art studio, children’s playground and amphitheater.
Address: 5900 Lake Washington Blvd. S., Seattle, WA 98118
Note: The Seward Park beach, while still accessible, is expected to be closed to swimmers for the duration of summer 2022 due to lifeguard shortages. Seattle Parks and Recreation strongly recommends people only swim at beaches staffed with lifeguards.
Home to Seattle’s unofficial clothing-optional beach and a popular hangout for the local LGBTQ communities, Denny Blaine Park is a quiet refuge on the shore of Lake Washington. Surrounding the non-lifeguarded beach is an old stone wall – which once marked the shoreline before lake levels fell – and large trees that help make it one of Seattle’s most secluded destinations. Enjoy a picnic on the grass, play a game of volleyball with friends or kick back with a good book. Keep in mind that you’ll likely be sharing the space with a nude sunbather or two.
Address: 200 Lake Washington Blvd. E., Seattle, WA 98112
Flanked by the Burke-Gilman Trail and overlooking Pontiac Bay, Matthews Beach Park is the Emerald City’s largest freshwater swimming beach. Youngsters will love exploring the nearby playground, and a small basketball court is available to anyone looking to shoot some hoops. Meanwhile, the park’s wide verdant lawn and several shady trees are ideal for a midafternoon snooze. Matthews Beach also offers restrooms and picnic tables, which make this a convenient destination for families. Although Seattle’s pleasant summer temperatures (average highs sit in the low 70s) make for idyllic beach days, you won’t be the only one taking advantage of the good weather – arrive early to beat the crowds and secure parking.
Address: 5100 NE 93rd St., Seattle, WA 98115
Note: The Matthews Beach Park swimming beach, while still accessible, is expected to be closed for the duration of summer 2022 due to lifeguard shortages. Seattle Parks and Recreation strongly recommends people only swim at lifeguard beaches. Keep in mind, select beaches may close throughout the year due to bacteria levels as well.
This secret oasis in northern Seattle may be quite a different experience from the renowned shorelines of Malibu and Miami, but its charming position on the Puget Sound makes it a favorite among Seattleites. Bordering railroad tracks and boasting stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, Carkeek Park is considered a hidden gem for its unique atmosphere. Take in the sunset from Carkeek Park’s sandy beach, or pack a picnic to enjoy alongside the park’s signature driftwood. Miles of hiking trails can also be found here, in addition to a kid’s playground. While visiting, keep your eyes peeled for bird species like loons, grebes, hawks and herons that frequent the park.
Address: 950 NW Carkeek Park Road, Seattle, WA 98177
Whether you’re looking for a scenic location to enjoy a picnic lunch or you want to take a leisurely stroll along Lake Washington, Madrona Park has you covered. Featuring a swimming beach with seasonal lifeguards, reservable picnic areas and a steep hillside where visitors can soak up some sunshine, this beautiful neighborhood park is a peaceful place to spend an afternoon. If you’d rather work up a sweat, a few short hikes are available nearby and a dance studio can be found in the southern section of the park.
Address: 853 Lake Washington Blvd., Seattle, WA 98122
Lincoln Park boasts one of the top shores in West Seattle. Sitting about 4 miles south of Alki Beach, this tranquil park offers trails for hiking or biking that total almost 10 miles, including a waterfront walking path along the Puget Sound. Lincoln Park is also incredibly family-friendly: An outdoor heated saltwater wading pool with a waterslide and diving board is available to kids, as well as multiple athletic fields and picnic shelters. There’s also a play area that features equipment like a saucer swing, cable ride and sand table.
Address: 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle, WA 98136
One of Seattle’s best swimming beaches, historic Warren G. Magnuson Park has something for everyone. It includes more than 4 miles of walking trails, a boat launch, a community garden, tennis courts, sports fields, a children’s playground and an off-leash dog area. Parkgoers come here to swim laps in Lake Washington, fly a kite on Kite Hill, or even windsurf in the small but consistent waves; winter and spring bring the best winds. After tiring yourself out in the water, delve into the park’s fascinating past – Magnuson features a historic district with more than 20 structures from the 1930s and ’40s. Culture hounds will enjoy the art deco and Colonial Revival-style buildings in the park, along with public art installations.
Address: 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115
Located about 15 miles east of downtown Seattle on Lake Sammamish, Idylwood Beach Park appeals to travelers who prefer a laid-back beach experience. Complete with a bathhouse and restrooms, picnic shelters and tables, and a playground, Idylwood is perfect for both large and small gatherings. Families can utilize one of the park’s many grills, and swimmers can take advantage of the park’s wide wading area. Anyone looking for activities to get their heart pumping can have friends join them in a volleyball tournament or get out on the water in a rented canoe.
Address: 3650 W. Lake Sammamish Parkway NE, Redmond, WA 98052
While you’ll have to travel a bit to reach this enchanting beach destination – about 15 miles from downtown Seattle – the sheer beauty is worth the trek. Situated north of Carkeek Park in the nearby city of Shoreline, Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is known for its killer views of the Olympic Mountains, which can be seen rising over the Puget Sound. Not only does this beautiful stretch of sand come with lots of open space for beachgoers to spread out, but it also offers an off-leash dog area, restrooms, trails, picnic tables, a play area and public art.
Address: 2021 NW 190th St., Shoreline, WA 98177