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A playground with children playing. On the ground in the foreground is an orange circular design. In the distance is various assorted playground equipment. Shutterstock

Seattle’s 16 coolest playgrounds

From fire trucks to gardens

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Seattle has more than 400 parks, so naturally, we have a lot of playgrounds. But which are the ones that are really something to write (or Instagram) home about?

Plenty of playgrounds are fun or fan favorites, but for this list, we were looking for something innovative or unique. Is it designed around art, like Artists at Play or the Donnie Chin International Children’s Park? Does it have a standout play structure, like Roxhill Park (aka the castle park); the whale, lighthouse, and boat at Whale Tail Park; the cars at Powell Barnett; or the salmon slide at Carkeek Park? Is there an experience that’s hard to find elsewhere, like sliding down to the splash pad at Jefferson Park? Then there’s something like the Seattle Children’s Play Garden, which reimagines the playground entirely for kids of all abilities.

Regardless of your playground needs, there’s probably a little something for everyone on this list—zip lines, slides, swings, and wildflowers alike.

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Saint Edward State Park

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Yes, this one’s a bit outside Seattle in Kenmore, but it’s worth it. The playground is massive, built mostly by volunteers with input from area kids—and has a large, fort-style wooden play structure as well as a fenced-off area for kiddos under five. The park itself also has 3,000 feet of shoreline to explore.

Carkeek Park

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Up in the north end, Carkeek Park has an extremely Seattle playground, complete with a salmon-shaped slide—like, you go through the salmon.

Salmon Bay Park

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This Loyal Heights park’s most visible feature is a play structure that looks like two circus tents—or maybe a a tilt-a-whirl. It’s fully equipped with a merry-go-found, a sandbox, a swing set, and an extremely popular zip line.

West Woodland Park Playground

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The zoo is only one of many attractions around Woodland Park—including a beautiful playground with climbing rocks, a elaborate domed net climber/jungle gym, and other creative designs. The park’s sensory garden, newly opened in 2018, is another great place to explore.

Meridian Playground

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One major favorite of Seattle kids is Meridian Park, surrounded by a garden wall and featuring a sculpture of Carl from Good Dog Carl. The landscaping is designed with both kids and history in mind—a historic apple orchard remains from the site’s time as a home for young girls, and Seattle Tilth built a children’s garden atop a filled-in swimming pool.

Wallingford Playfield

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Until recently, Wallingford Playfield was one of the city’s last holdouts with wood-and-steel play structures. But this summer, it got a big renovation, and it’s still pretty cool, with a two-story fort, a percussion area with bells and drums, and a combination climbing structure and merry-go-round.

Volunteer Park

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There’s all kinds of stuff to do in Volunteer Park, from the Seattle Asian Art Museum to the Conservatory to an amphitheater, so it makes a perfect family outing—but it also has a great playground, last renovated in 2013 with musical elements, a climbing wall and climbing rocks, and creative slides. Lake View Cemetery is visible in the background.

Artists At Play

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Seattle Center is a goldmine for kids’ play areas, including the International Fountain and the nearby whale structures. But the newest addition is Artists at Play, a colorful, artist-designed playground with a carousel, a climbing net with a hexagonal pattern, and a long, tubular slide.

Powell Barnett Park

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The coolest part of this Central District playground is probably the multiple pretend vehicles for kids to drive around in, including a fire truck. Another play structure takes the form of a rocket ship. The largest structure features climbing walls and slides with a spacey-looking design.

Occidental Square

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The second in a more recent effort to get playspaces into Seattle’s downtown core, this Pioneer Square playground plays on the Occidental’s Gold Rush aesthetic with climbing structures and swings that appear to be made out of logs on top of rubber turf, fenced in by a circular, wood-slat bench.

On a grassy field, a playground is made out of logs, including a climbing structure to the left and some swings ahead. Courtesy of Downtown Seattle Association

Donnie Chin International Children's Park

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The real highlight of this International District park is a bronze dragon sculpture by Gerard Tsutakawa that kiddos can climb on, but it also features more conventional play equipment and drums. A 2012 renovation added three more sculptures by Stuart Nakamura.

Seattle Children's Play Garden

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Appropriate to its name, the Play Garden is both a playground and a garden—although the garden is part of the play, too. Next to Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Play Garden is designed for kids of all abilities to have fun, and includes a water feature, a see-saw, a pickup truck for playing in, and even animals like bunnies and ducks.

Alki Playground and Whale Tail Park

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While the centerpiece of this park is the titular whale tail, it features several nautical features perfect for integrating into a beach day, including a lighthouse-inspired play structure and a boat.

Jefferson Park

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Jefferson Park’s large play area features not just fun equipment to climb and play on—including a big zipline—but a couple of slides leading down to a splash pad.

John C. Little, Sr. Park

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This is one of Seattle’s newer parks—put in just under two decades ago as part of the mixed-income New Holly development—but has rapidly become a favorite, with both a large play area and a community garden. The park is also home to an outdoor preschool.

Roxhill Park

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Known to kids all over as the “castle park,” this playground is—you guessed it—shaped like a massive castle. After the playground was rebuilt, it gained a smaller, bonus castle off to the side, with tons of space to explore. It also includes slides and other more traditional playground equipment.

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Saint Edward State Park

Yes, this one’s a bit outside Seattle in Kenmore, but it’s worth it. The playground is massive, built mostly by volunteers with input from area kids—and has a large, fort-style wooden play structure as well as a fenced-off area for kiddos under five. The park itself also has 3,000 feet of shoreline to explore.

Carkeek Park

Up in the north end, Carkeek Park has an extremely Seattle playground, complete with a salmon-shaped slide—like, you go through the salmon.

Salmon Bay Park

This Loyal Heights park’s most visible feature is a play structure that looks like two circus tents—or maybe a a tilt-a-whirl. It’s fully equipped with a merry-go-found, a sandbox, a swing set, and an extremely popular zip line.

West Woodland Park Playground

The zoo is only one of many attractions around Woodland Park—including a beautiful playground with climbing rocks, a elaborate domed net climber/jungle gym, and other creative designs. The park’s sensory garden, newly opened in 2018, is another great place to explore.

Meridian Playground

One major favorite of Seattle kids is Meridian Park, surrounded by a garden wall and featuring a sculpture of Carl from Good Dog Carl. The landscaping is designed with both kids and history in mind—a historic apple orchard remains from the site’s time as a home for young girls, and Seattle Tilth built a children’s garden atop a filled-in swimming pool.

Wallingford Playfield

Until recently, Wallingford Playfield was one of the city’s last holdouts with wood-and-steel play structures. But this summer, it got a big renovation, and it’s still pretty cool, with a two-story fort, a percussion area with bells and drums, and a combination climbing structure and merry-go-round.

Volunteer Park

There’s all kinds of stuff to do in Volunteer Park, from the Seattle Asian Art Museum to the Conservatory to an amphitheater, so it makes a perfect family outing—but it also has a great playground, last renovated in 2013 with musical elements, a climbing wall and climbing rocks, and creative slides. Lake View Cemetery is visible in the background.

Artists At Play

Seattle Center is a goldmine for kids’ play areas, including the International Fountain and the nearby whale structures. But the newest addition is Artists at Play, a colorful, artist-designed playground with a carousel, a climbing net with a hexagonal pattern, and a long, tubular slide.

Powell Barnett Park

The coolest part of this Central District playground is probably the multiple pretend vehicles for kids to drive around in, including a fire truck. Another play structure takes the form of a rocket ship. The largest structure features climbing walls and slides with a spacey-looking design.

Occidental Square

On a grassy field, a playground is made out of logs, including a climbing structure to the left and some swings ahead. Courtesy of Downtown Seattle Association

The second in a more recent effort to get playspaces into Seattle’s downtown core, this Pioneer Square playground plays on the Occidental’s Gold Rush aesthetic with climbing structures and swings that appear to be made out of logs on top of rubber turf, fenced in by a circular, wood-slat bench.

On a grassy field, a playground is made out of logs, including a climbing structure to the left and some swings ahead. Courtesy of Downtown Seattle Association

Donnie Chin International Children's Park

The real highlight of this International District park is a bronze dragon sculpture by Gerard Tsutakawa that kiddos can climb on, but it also features more conventional play equipment and drums. A 2012 renovation added three more sculptures by Stuart Nakamura.

Seattle Children's Play Garden

Appropriate to its name, the Play Garden is both a playground and a garden—although the garden is part of the play, too. Next to Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Play Garden is designed for kids of all abilities to have fun, and includes a water feature, a see-saw, a pickup truck for playing in, and even animals like bunnies and ducks.

Alki Playground and Whale Tail Park

While the centerpiece of this park is the titular whale tail, it features several nautical features perfect for integrating into a beach day, including a lighthouse-inspired play structure and a boat.

Jefferson Park

Jefferson Park’s large play area features not just fun equipment to climb and play on—including a big zipline—but a couple of slides leading down to a splash pad.

John C. Little, Sr. Park

This is one of Seattle’s newer parks—put in just under two decades ago as part of the mixed-income New Holly development—but has rapidly become a favorite, with both a large play area and a community garden. The park is also home to an outdoor preschool.

Roxhill Park

Known to kids all over as the “castle park,” this playground is—you guessed it—shaped like a massive castle. After the playground was rebuilt, it gained a smaller, bonus castle off to the side, with tons of space to explore. It also includes slides and other more traditional playground equipment.