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One woman’s adventure to every secret park in Seattle

What to do on a beautiful day like this?

Don’t just hit the obvious spots like Green Lake or Seattle Center or the Arboretum. There are hundreds of parks in this city, and I can guarantee you that you have no idea where they are or what they offer.

There are more than 425 official parks in Seattle. That’s one for every 1,500 residents of this city. There are probably four or five parks in your own neighborhood that you don’t even know exist.

“There are so many parks that I couldn’t believe because I would go to on a beautiful day, and there would only be a couple of people there, sometimes they would be empty and it would be a sunny beautiful day,” said Linnea Westerlind. “Every single corner of Seattle has great parks that hardly anybody knows about.”

Westerlind would know. She’s visited every park in Seattle over the last four years, and she wrote a blog sharing her journey.

On her list of top secret parks is Howell Park, which is sandwiched between million-dollar homes on Lake Washington.

But be careful before taking the kids to Howell. “I’ve heard about some nude beaches, but I never witnessed any,” she said. “I think some of these secret waterfront parks, I’m sure, are occasionally used for that.”

We met at Lowman Beach Park in West Seattle. It has amazing views of the Sound and it’s just down from Lincoln Park, so you’ve probably never stopped by.

Westerlind said many of these secret parks aren’t much bigger than a postage stamp. “There were some that were literally a triangle of grass with maybe a tree inside of them – about the size of a car” she said. “There were a lot that were that size. I thought, ‘Gosh, why are we holding onto these strange pieces of land.'”

If you’re hunting for a fun forgotten park, Westerlind said the best place to start is street ends. A lot of them have trails that lead out to small quiet spaces.

Westerlind said many smaller, and less known parks have views that rival many of their more popular relatives. “If you’re coming to West Seattle, people love to take people to Alki, but people don’t know about Jack Block Park,” she said. “It is an amazing waterfront park that’s fun for kids. It has all kinds of little hiding places and bridges. If you get out to the very end, there’s an amazing view of downtown Seattle that I think is better than Alki.”

If you’re wondering what possessed Westerlind to start her four year odyssey, it all came down to timing. “I had a six-month-old baby, and I thought this would be a great way for us to get out of the house and go see different neighborhoods, just something fun and different for us to do,” she said.

Though she admits she bit-off more than she could chew. She had planned to visit all the parks in one year, but that was before she realized how many were on the list.

Now, she’s set her sights on county parks, state parks and any other open spaces that are out there.

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