I’ve told you in the past about Volunteer Park, which serves as a front lawn for Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood — leashed dogs are welcome, and it’s a lovely place for a stroll. I’ve also mentioned that you can wander the neighborhood streets, particularly Millionaire’s Row and the Harvard-Belmont Historic District, ogling the gorgeous old houses. All well and good, you say, but give me more — so here are three hidden places to discover with your leashed dog.
Start your walking tour at Volunteer Park, in front of the conservatory. Turn left out of the front door of the conservatory and walk out of the park (you’ll find yourself at the intersection of 15th Avenue, which borders the park, and Galer Street). Consider walking two more blocks downhill on Galer to the Volunteer Park Café for a quick meal or snack — it’s our home away from home — or simply turn left and walk north on 15th.
The first thing you’ll see (and pass, alas, since dogs are not allowed) is the Lake View Cemetery, which borders the park to the north. It’s lovely, especially when the cherry trees are in bloom, and its inhabitants include Bruce and Brandon Lee, as well as representatives from Seattle’s founding families — including Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Sealth. Take a soothing sip of your latté and cross Garfield Street to find the first of the spots I want you to see: Louise Boren Park. The bulk of it is a nearly vertical hillside leading down to Interlaken Park (the trail is officially closed), but the overlook at the top is spectacular. From here you can see the sports complexes at the University of Washington, the 520 bridge, a big chunk of the Laurelhurst neighborhood, and much of the north end of Lake Washington, with distant views of Bellevue and the Cascade Mountains.
Walk north on 15th, or — better — take the little dog-leg of Olin Place until it brings you back to 15th, and then turn left at the north end of the cemetery, onto Howe Street. Walk west one block and you’ll arrive at the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery Park, a tiny city park sheltering the gravesites of 526 Confederate War veterans. This is the second place I want you to see. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park and in the central memorial area. It’s a pretty place in a quiet neighborhood — dogs love the park, and I love reading the old gravestones and thinking about the history at my feet.
Keep heading west and leave the park on Howe Street. Turn left on Federal Avenue (Federal, by the way, is another street of big, old houses to admire), then turn right on Blaine Street. Cross 10th Avenue, which is a busy arterial, and on the other side you’ll find the top of a steep staircase. Descend. About 2/3 of the way down, on the left, you’ll see an opening in the stair railing. Step inside with your leashed dog (and I am serious about the leashing — you’ll soon see why, when you visit), and you’ll find yourself at the top of the Streissguth Garden, the third place I want you to see.
The garden started as the private project of a couple of neighboring landowners, and has recently been given to the city for the public to enjoy. A narrow, precipitous trail leads you in a series of switchbacks down to the bottom of this 1-acre garden. Watch your step, keep an eye on your dog — and take your time. The garden has been meticulously planned, and is packed with exquisite details.
If you want to return to Volunteer Park, I recommend crossing back over 10th and turning right on Federal Avenue. Walk down Federal, then turn left (and uphill) on Prospect Street. By the time you get to the water tower, at Prospect and 14th, you’ll know where you are — and where you left the car!