Discovery Park, 3801 Discovery Park Blvd., is entered via Gilman Ave. W./W. Government Way at 36th Ave. W. Named after British explorer George Vancouver's ship the Discovery, this 534-acre urban wilderness and wildlife sanctuary is ideal for getting away from it all—if only for an afternoon.
The natural setting is impressive—Magnolia Bluff overlooks Puget Sound, with (in clear weather) views of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. There are cool, shady forest groves, soaring seaside cliffs, 2 miles of protected tidal beaches, sand dunes, open meadows and quiet ponds. Hiking is the best way to enjoy Discovery Park, and many visitors opt for the 2.8-mile Loop Trail that passes through lush stands of Douglas fir, western red cedar and big-leaf maple.
West Point Lighthouse, built in 1881, stands at the park's westernmost tip. The lighthouse grounds are open to the public but parking is limited; check at the visitor center for availability or to take the complimentary shuttle. The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, 5011 Bernie Whitebear Way, has several exhibits of Native American art. Guided bird walks are given during the spring and fall migration seasons; the park's wide variety of habitats shelter more than 230 resident and migrant species.
Picnicking is permitted.
Hours: Park open daily 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Visitor center open Tues.-Sun. 8:30-5. Visitor center closed major holidays. Cultural center open daily 10-5. Guided, 90-minute nature and bird walks depart from the visitor center on Saturdays during migration season; reservations are required. Allow 2 hours minimum.