Arboretum and Japanese Garden
Trees and shrubs from all over the world thrive at the 267-acre University of Washington Arboretum (Lake Washington Blvd., dawn–dusk daily, free). A half-mile trail leads visitors past lodgepole pine, Oregon crabapple, huckleberry, Pacific dogwood, madrone, and more than 5,500 other varieties of plants. The 0.75-mile Azalea Way path winds through cherry, Japanese maple, azalea, dogwood, and rhododendron trees and bushes; it’s a gorgeous place in the spring when everything is in bloom. In the off-season, head to the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden.
The Waterfront Trail is a 1.5-mile round-trip stroll through wooded islands and Union Bay’s shores at the north end of the arboretum, passing through the largest remaining wetland in Seattle (duck sightings guaranteed). The woodchip and boardwalk trail is level, with numerous benches for resting.
Pick up a nature guide at the west end, at the Museum of History and Industry, or at the arboretum visitors center. The Graham Visitors Center (206/543-8800, www.depts.washington.edu/wpa, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily) on the north end of the park has a shop with gardening books and knickknacks for sale. Stop here for free hour-long guided tours at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (Sunday only in winter). A greenhouse near the visitors center sells plants propagated from the arboretum collection.
At the south end of the arboretum (near Lake Washington Blvd. E) is the 3.5-acre Japanese Tea Garden (206/684-4725, opens at 10 a.m. daily Mar.–Nov., closes at varying times depending upon the season and weather, $5 adults, $3 kids and seniors, kids under 6 free), with manicured ornamental trees, a secluded pond, and an authentic teahouse given to Seattle by its sister city, Kobe, in the 1960s. A popular tea ceremony takes place at 1:30 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition