Choose your own beach adventure at Golden Gardens

Beaches might not be the first thing students think of when it comes to the Pacific Northwest, but Golden Gardens Park, one of Seattle’s best Puget Sound beaches, is just 5 miles north of Seattle Pacific University’s campus.

The easiest way to get there is by car, so get a group together and share the drive. The park, and the neighborhood of Ballard around it, provide a number of entertainment options for a relaxing day off-campus.

walking through the treesplaying volleyball on the beach skipping rocks on the beach

Mix up an instant day of fun by pairing food options with an activity ranging from volleyball to an easy walk by the beach. Choose your own adventure with some of SPU students’ favorite options:


No beach day is complete without food. The area around the park offers a range of options from gourmet to convenient.

  • Start your journey to the beach with a stop on your way there in Ballard at Frankie & Jo’s for a scoop (or two) of ice cream. Try the salty caramel ash or brown sugar vanilla.
  • If it’s a Sunday, pop into the Ballard Farmers Market between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some farmer’s markets only happen in the summer, but Ballard hosts its Farmers Market throughout the year. There you can find ingredients for a beach-side picnic.
  • Closer to the park, there are some pricey restaurants like Anthony’s Home Port or Ray’s Boathouse that serve fresh seafood. Try Dick’s Drive-In for burgers and milkshakes or the popular waterside restaurant Little Coney for fish and chips.
  • Don’t forget to bring s’mores ingredients for the bonfire you can start in the fire pits at the park along with some very warm clothes for cool fall evenings. The fire pits are available after 4 p.m.
friends eating ice cream in front of a colorful wallpaper friends eating sandwichespicnic beach


Plan ahead by bringing layers and water-friendly shoes. Golden Gardens Park is owned by the City of Seattle and closes at 11:30 p.m. Many students think the best time to visit is sunset.

  • On your way to the park, you can rent a kayak or paddleboard at Shilshole Bay Marina. Ballard Kayak also offers kayak tours of the Sound. While you’re there, check out the Leif Erikson Statue. The Viking explorer has been overseeing the marina since 1962.
  • From Golden Gardens Park, walk south to the Northwest 60th Street Viewpoint for a round-trip of about 1.8 miles, much of it paved. Appreciate the breeze off the water, dip your toes in the sand, and enjoy the water views from the benches at the viewpoint.
  • Drop into a first come, first serve volleyball game just south of the bathhouse, near the picnic area. Or bring your own net and reserve space for $8 per court.
  • Catch an outdoor concert on dry evenings when groups like Seattle Drumcircle come to jam. The park has a long musical history; the Grateful Dead even performed there in 1967.
playing on the swingsfriends playing the ukulele sitting on the beach

Regardless of how long you stay at the beach, it’s worth the short drive to see the scenic views so close to campus.

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