Beyond The Fall Colors In and Around Seattle, AKA Ultimate Guide - Kid 101

Beyond The Fall Colors In and Around Seattle, AKA Ultimate Guide

If the temperature drops low during the nights early in fall then the colour will appear earlier, so the peak times to view fall colour will vary from year to year. If the winds come early then the leaves will sadly all be on the ground! Traditionally, however, the best time for fall colour in Seattle is during the first three weeks of October, a relatively short time period in which to squeeze in all the beautiful places on our list.

 Kubota Garden

About:  Head into the garden to view the varied colours, from the gold of the euonymus, the pops of red from the Japanese maples, and the golden orange gingko trees. There are free fall colour tours of the garden starting at 10:00 am on the following Saturdays and Sundays: October 20- 21, and October 27-28. Taking a tour will ensure you see all the important trees and learn something about the science of the change of colour. It’s also a good place to take the kids to skip among the leaves, perhaps have a small picnic at one of the benches or the three picnic tables. Portable toilets are located near the entrance.

When: Open during daylight hours year round.

Where: 9817 55th Avenue S, Seattle, WA 98118

Contact: 206-725-5060 – leave a message and someone will get back to you or email

Cost: Free.

Discovery Park

About:  This large park covers 534 acres, has 11 miles of trails to explore and plenty of colourful foliage and includes two miles of protected tidal beaches where kids might enjoy making driftwood forts, as well as open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, sand dunes, thickets and streams. The playground was renovated in 2017 and play equipment now includes climbing structures, a zip line, swings, and structures that resemble tree houses. The play area is accessible to children of all abilities and includes a toddler area. Picnic tables enable visitors to take a break and enjoy their packed snacks in between leaf peeping – there is plenty of fall colour in Discovery Park, which is on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound with spectacular views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges.

When: Open daily from 4:00 am to 11:30 pm.

Where: 3801 Discovery Park Boulevard, Seattle, WA 98199.

Contact: 206-386-4236

Cost: Free.

Woodland Park

About:  Woodland Park is usually associated with visits to the zoo on the property but if you carry on the east of Aurora to South and Green Lakes you will come across the best views of fall foliage. Good colour is seen near the picnic areas so take along some snacks and let the kids play in the fall leaves. Let your dog play in the off-leash dog park where there is also good fall colour.

When: Open daily from 4:00 am to 11:30 pm.

Where: 1000 N 50th Street, Seattle, WA 98103

Contact: 206-684-4075.

Cost: Free.

Washington Park Arboretum

About:  The Woodland Garden at the Arboretum has one of the largest collections of Japanese maples in North America, affording an exceptionally bright display of color, then there are the sour gums, buckeyes, witch hazels and more to enjoy with colors ranging from gold to flaming orange, brilliant red, and even purples. The oaks were some of the first plantings at the Arboretum and now are a magnificent size, providing drifts of leaves that kids just love to run through! The Arboretum covers around 250 acres so there is plenty of exploring to be done here.

When: Open daily from dawn to dusk.

Where: 2300 Arboretum Drive E, Seattle, WA 98112.

Contact: 206-543-8800.

Cost: Free. The Japanese Garden, however, does have an entrance fee – it is located at the south end.

Union Bay Natural Area

About:  This area is on the University of Washington campus and covers 74 acres on the western shoreline of Lake Washington and is a top bird-watching site  – over 200 species of birds have been observed here, so a visit here to view the foliage can be combined with looking out for birds too, as you stroll among the magnificent golden tones and orange hues of trees in full fall colour.

When: Open 24 hours daily.

Where: 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105.

Contact: 206-543-8616.

Cost: Free.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

About:  The 53 acre area has cultivated gardens, restored woodland, and natural wetlands areas as well as a Meadow Trail that is about 1/3 of a mile. The Copper Kettle Coffee Bar is open from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm if you need a warming beverage after the leaf peeping. Look out for the bright red to purple of the Japanese maples in the Yao Garden, and the Euonymus alatus aka Burning bush with its fiery color in the Spring Courtyard and Tapestry Hedge, amid the sweet gum and various other trees.

When: Open daily from dawn to dusk.

Where: 12001 Main Street, Bellevue, WA 98005.

Contact: 425-452-2750.

Cost: Free.

Green Lake Park

About:  While its fun to walk along the 2.8 mile trail identifying and spotting various species especially if kids have a list to cross off what they have seen, it is even more of an adventure to hire a boat from the Greenlake Boathouse ( and explore the scenery from the water. The pedal boat will take four people, and the double kayak two adults and a child. The boathouse is open from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. The park abounds in birds and waterfowl, visible from the trail or from the boat, and there are lots of golden leaves visible on the trees.

When: Open daily – 24 hours.

Where: 7201 East Green Lake Drive N, Seattle, WA 98115

Contact: 206-684-4075.

Cost: Free entry to park and trail.  Most of the boats at the boathouse are $24 per hour, whether you take a double or quad pedal boat, or a double or single kayak.

Mount Rainier


About:  Head out of town to the slopes of Mount Rainier – its better at this time of year as there are fewer people and fewer bugs. The weather can be changeable to go prepared. There are plenty of hiking trails with chances to see good fall colour, and wildlife but it’s the views that will grab you – and kids will be excited to know it’s an active volcano and there are glaciers here!

When: Although the park is open all year in autumn, weather does determine the availability of facilities and roads so check ahead before you visit.

Where: 39000 State Route 706 E, Ashford, WA 98304 – this will take you to the Nisqually entrance.

Contact: 360-569-6575  -park information.

Cost: Single vehicle fee $30 grants unlimited entry for one vehicle and passengers for seven consecutive days

Mercer Slough Nature Park

About: This 320-acre park has seven miles of trails and is one of the largest of Lake Washington’s remaining freshwater wetland ecosystems. Free ranger-guided walks take place on select Sundays at 2:00 pm  – phone 425-452-2565 for info and to reserve a place. The fall colours in hues from gold to auburn reflected in the lake are a beautiful sight.  There is also a blueberry farm on the property that sells fresh seasonal produce, which will make a welcome detour for kids in summer. A canoe launch site enables one to view the foliage and birdlife from the water.

When: Open daily dawn to dusk

Where: Bellevue, WA 98005.

Contact: 425-452-6885.

Cost: Free.

Olallie State Park

About: This day-use park located 45 minutes east of Seattle sprawls over 2,336 acres, offering around 6 miles of moderate hiking trails on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains. There are several trailheads and hikes here that take in lush forests, gushing waterfalls, cliffs, and sweeping views of the countryside and river. Twin Falls is a popular trail destination, and then there are the smaller Weeks Falls and other waterfalls to explore. All the trails will have varied hues of fall foliage to add interest to the hike.

When: Open

Where: 51350 SE Homestead Valley Rd, North Bend, WA 98045

Contact: 425-455-7010.

Cost: There is an automated pay station at the entrance to purchase a one-day pass for a vehicle at $10.

Swan Creek Park

About: This 373-acre green space lies on the boundary of East Tacoma and Pierce County. The park has a number of features including new mountain bike trails, and paved, and natural hiking trails. Besides the fall colour one can see the salmon-bearing stream, explore the wooded canyon, the upland forest, and look out for the many bird species.

When: Open daily from dawn to dusk.

Where: 3997 E Roosevelt Ave, Tacoma, WA 98404.

Contact: 253-305-1000.

Cost: Free.

Wright Park

About: The park, covering 27 acres, has a varied and rich collection of more than 600 trees, which include the colourful Japanese maples with their brilliant red hues in fall as well as sugar maples, Norwegian maples and Sycamore maples. Before heading out, you might like to download the Wright Park TreeMap for a self-guided tree tour, at this park, which provides a green space in the city.

When: Opens daily ½ an hour before sunrise and closes ½ an hour after dusk.

Where: 501 South I Street, Tacoma, WA 98405.

Contact: 253-305-1000.

Cost: Free.

Point Defiance Park

About:  Best known as the site of the zoo and aquarium, the 760-acre park also has natural forest areas, saltwater beaches, and spectacular views. Five Mile Drive has an outer driving loop and an inner walking loop, both of which are popular for viewing fall foliage. The park has abundant walking trails, but no trails for bicycles. Within the park are the Point Defiance Living History Museum and the Point Defiance Marina. After leaf peeping perhaps heads down to the saltwater beaches with the kids for some playtime in the sand.

When: Open daily from ½ an hour before sunrise to ½ an hour after sunset.

Where: 5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, WA 98407.

Contact: 253-305-1088.

Cost: Free.

Lincoln Park

About: For its size, Lincoln Park is pretty diverse with 4.6 miles of walking paths, 3.9 miles of bike trails, five picnic shelters, acres of playfields, an outdoor heated saltwater pool and bathhouse, views across Puget Sound, and rocky beaches. The north play area has ‘tree house’ elements, a cable ride, play equipment, a plaza and interactive information on migratory birds found in the park, while the south play area is currently being updated. The fall foliage ranges through all the tones from light gold through to deep red.

When: Open daily from 4:00 am to 11:30 pm.

Where: 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle, WA 98136.

Contact: 206-684-4075.

Cost: Free.


About:  The 2-hour 15-minute scenic drive via Highway 2 or Highway 97 to the Bavarian style village of Leavenworth is full of gorgeous fall colour. Make a weekend of it and stay over to experience the Leavenworth Oktoberfest happening over the following weekends: October 5-6, 12-13, and 19-20, 2018. Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride, visit the fish hatchery and the farmer’s market, listen to live music and drive out to explore the area, stopping off at local farmer’s stands and taking photos of the fall foliage.

When: October 5-20

Where: Leavenworth, WA.

Contact: For festival information email For accommodation information call Leavenworth vacation homes on 509-548-5204.

Cost: The festival tickets cost $10 per person on Friday and $20 on Saturday, and it’s free for kids under 12.

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