Discovery Park is a beautiful slice of heaven located in the city of Seattle in a wonderful neighborhood called Magnolia (which just so happens to be my neighborhood). Discovery Park is over 500 acres of meadows, trails, forest, waterfront and also home to what was Fort Lawton. You can visit Discovery Park monthly and always find a new trail to hike. Personally I like the Loop Trail especially when I can follow it down to South Beach.
There are various entrances into Discovery Park and I believe most visitors enter from Government Way. However the side entrances off of Emerson within the Magnolia neighborhood is the way to go. The South parking lot is located off of Emerson and 44th (I believe), its actually marked as "the last entrance into Discovery Park," and it connects with the Loop Trail. With my kids in tow, this is my favorite starting point.
It's a short walk through some lightly wooded area which quickly opens up to the west end of Fort Lawton and its large meadows which is fantastic for running around and kite flying. The view of the park land and the expansiveness of the sound is really breathtaking. There is a wide, paved trail along the edge of the fields as well as some unpaved trails cutting directly through the fields. We opt for the latter since it feels more adventurous.
After a good 30-min of playing in the sand we continued our journey through the Loop Trail until we could detour off to South Beach. Just over a mile later we found ourselves at the beach and we were excited it was the start of low tide and much of the water was pulled back revealing the bottom of the bay and we could explore the tide pools, exposed rocks covered in barnacles and all the exposed anemones that were squirting water up in the air at their whim. It was so beautiful! The beach has a lot of driftwood and without fail there are always numerous driftwood structures built, typically teepees. It's an amazing site! Also located at South Beach is the West Point Lighthouse, and lighthouses are always so pretty to look at.
There are so many trails that on our return back to the park area we took a new trail back from the beach that joined with the main loop trail once atop the bluff.
All in all we walked about 3 miles maybe a little more, maybe a little less, this was the perfect, preplanned for our family. Not to little, for T and I who wanted to actually get some exercise in and not to much for the 3 pairs of little legs that were with us. Having the beautiful vistas to stop and admire, the giant sandbox and the amazing beach was the perfect amount of distraction for our kids.
We feel so lucky to have this right in our neighborhood and on nice days its an easy field trip for us to take whether for an hour or three!
Although you may see cars driving down to the beach you are not allowed to drive down there and park without permission, and yes you will receive a ticket.
That being said, if you have a small child, elderly person or a disabled individual with you, you can stop into the Visitor Center and request a beach parking permit. These permits are good for 4 hours and you can park at the little lot located steps from the beach. These permits go fast so if you are planning a trip to the beach I'd suggest stopping in early to pick up your permit.
I believe there is even a shuttle that leaves the visitor center to the beach and return regularly. Unfortunately I do not have the details.
Discovery Park is located at:
3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199