Volunteer Park is a diversely landscaped park with open green space and several landmarks including a water tower, conservatory, and Seattle Asian Art Museum.
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Volunteer Park was purchased in 1876 and was designated as a cemetery, before becoming a park, and eventually named after volunteers who served in the Spanish-American war.
There is some parking available inside the park, and the 10 bus goes straight to the park.
Start in front of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. This Art Moderne building was constructed in 1933 as the Seattle Art Museum and offers free admission the first Thursday and Saturday of every month.
In front of the museum is a sculpture called “Black Hole” through which people often enjoy taking photos of the Space Needle and Puget Sound. The reservoir behind the fence supplies some of Seattle’s drinking water.
Head north along the main road towards the Conservatory. You’ll pass a large lawn to the left where on a given day you could see hipsters reading in the sun, medieval role playing, and young people throwing frisbees.
In front of the conservatory is a statue of former US Secretary of State William H. Seward, who is perhaps best known for his role in purchasing Alaska from Russia.
The Conservatory is made of 3,426 glass panes and has five display houses with thousands of plants available to look at.
Turn right before crossing the road separating you from the conservatory and head downhill. In case you need it, there is a public restroom on your left. Behind the fence is Lake View Cemetery, burial place of many of the city’s pioneers. Also on your left is a children’s play area.
Continue along the sidewalk and veer right on the gravel trail. Depending on the time of year, there may be many colorful flowers to your right.
As you continue through this large lawn area, you’ll pass by a very large tree to your right. This area is a fine place for a picnic or to lie down in the sun.
The path will veer back around towards the main road into the park and the Volunteer Park Water Tower. The reservoir was built in 1901. The 106 steps to the top of the tank are available to the public and offer great views in all directions. There is also an exhibit about Seattle’s Olmsted-Brothers-designed park system.
Turn north along the road towards the Asian Art Museum, staying on the left side of the road. Feel free to veer off towards the small pond on the left and enjoy. There is a similar pond on the opposite side of the Black Hole sculpture.
Our walk ends back where it started but feel free to stay and enjoy the museum or more of the park.
Highlights: Beautifully landscaped, views from water tower and in front of the museum, ample lawn space, plants in conservatory, flowering plants
Lowlights: Rumors of illicit activities after dark, would be nice if it were a larger park