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Day-trippers head 25 miles north of Seattle to Whidbey Island, where beaches, nature, and wildlife abound. For panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and Strait of Juan de Fuca, visit Fort Ebey State Park. Once called “Triangle of Death,” the 635-acre park served as a coastal defense fort to protect Puget Sound during World War II. Although bunkers remain intact, now, the landscape is crisscrossed with miles of scenic biking and hiking trails. Breathe in salty air and spot bald eagle, whales, and seals from the shoreline bluffs along Admiralty Inlet. Or brave a stroll on the rocky, driftwood-strewn beach below. Make sure to purchase a Discover Pass if you’re visiting for the day; the fee is included for campers and sites are open year round.
Seattle is home to some pretty incredible urban parks. Kerry Park, on Queen Anne Hill (Seattle's highest), sports views extending across the city, all the way to Mount Rainier on clear days. This is the view you've seen a million times in post cards; go here to capture your own.
Gas Works Park is stunning too, in part for its view over Lake Union and of the skyline, but also for its weird steampunk ruins, the site of a former plant that converted coal to gas. On summer days you'll find the skies above the park strewn with colorful kites.
Another favorite is the Washington Park Arboretum, a 200-acre chunk of land that includes carefully maintained forest and beautiful wetlands along the shores of Lake Washington. Come in spring, when the enormous tulip, cherry, and pear trees are abloom.