The arched entrance to Magnuson Park feels like a step back in time, with tall, brick buildings, rolling hills and enticing paths to woods and waterfront unmarred by urban sprawl. Nestled on the shores of glistening Lake Washington, Warren G. Magnuson Park comprises 350 acres of rolling hills, sports fields, walking trails, waterfront picnic spots, kid-friendly pebble beaches, and countless hours of outdoor fun. Named for the famous U.S. Senator from Washington State, this mile-long stretch of land in northeast Seattle was converted from a dilapidated pre-WWII military installation into a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Warren Magnuson’s almost 40 years as a dedicated senator saw repeated attempts to increase the size and activity of the naval base that is now his namesake and famous park. Open year-round, the park’s public-use services and attractions are extremely popular with locals and out-of-towners.
The pebble beach swimming area at Magnuson Park boast 67 degree waters during summer months and is monitored by a lifeguard during prime time hours. With a diving platform, diving boards, and a roped “safe” area for children, the beach is popular with families and those seeking a short dip into the cool, shallow waves of Lake Washington. In June and July, the small beach house provides changing rooms, restrooms, and non-motorized equipment rental, including life jackets. The beach is open for swimming from noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends from June 26th through August 29th. To get to the beach, turn on NE 65th from Sand Point Way and drive or bike straight to the lake; turn left and park in the large lot at the foot of “Kite Hill”. Bike racks are located closer to the shoreline near the beach restrooms.
Picnic Areas: Covered and uncovered picnic tables dot the park from the tree-lined shores to the rolling fields close to Sand Point Way. During peak season—April 1 through September 30—you must reserve the covered picnic areas; see below for contact information.
Boat Launches: The Park offers separate boat launches for motorized and non-motorized vehicles. Non-motorized boats can paddle their way around Lake Washington and the Arboretum. Although boat rentals are not available at the park, they can be obtained at other places around Lake Washington, including the University of Washington and Agua Verde Kayak Club. Motorized boaters must have a license for fishing, and the small fees for motorized boats are easily paid at automatic machines located on the ramps. Open year-round from 4am to 11pm.
Community Center and “The Brig”: Indoor activities and services, including an auditorium, a gymnasium, kid’s basket ball courts, and community garden, are located in and around these two remodeled facilities. X-Files enthusiasts will recognize “The Brig” as a film location for the popular series. Enter from the main park entrance on Sand Point Way and follow the clearly marked signs to both buildings. Hours for the public areas of both buildings are: Monday and Wednesday from 1pm to 9pm; Thursday and Friday from 10am to 9pm; Saturday from 10am to 5pm; closed Sundays.
Dog Park: The off-leash area for dogs at Magnuson Park is one of the top ten dog parks in the U.S., so bring your four-footed companion and meet new friends.
Other park services include a windsurfing launch, a children’s wading pool, a 35-foot kite flying hill, and numerous walking trails. Bird watchers take note; part of the park hosts the Promontory Point wildlife habitat. In addition, the popular NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) “Sound garden” art installation is still open to visitors on the weekdays, but due to security restrictions you must first obtain a pass, the information for which is found on the park website.
Many of the military buildings and rooms now house artists’ spaces, university offices, non-profit groups and periodic private functions. These are private and marked as such, so please respect the buildings that are not marked for public use.
- May 1st through Labor Day: 4am to 11:30pm
- Labor Day through April 30th: 4am to 10pm
- See above sections or park website for beach and community center hours
- Getting There:
- To get to the park by car, drive along Sand Point Way NE and turn into the large stone entrance way on the 7400 block.
- By bicycle, take the Burke Gilman Trail and turn off at 65th, cross Sand Point Way and take the paved path straight to the beach or turn right for the main buildings.
- Metro buses #74 and 30 will take you from downtown and the north end right to the park entrance.
- The main entrance to the park is at: 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA
- Phone for park information: 206-684-4946
- Website: www.seattle.gov/PARKS/Magnuson/