On an urban hike in West Seattle in 2018, I happened to stumble upon a hidden gem at the north end of the campus of the South Seattle Community College: the Seattle Chinese Garden. If you’re looking for a peaceful and serene place to take in the views of downtown Seattle, Elliot Bay and the Cascade Mountains devoid of the usual crowds around Seattle landmarks, there’s no place like the Chinese Garden and its beautiful Spring Courtyard.
The 4.6-acre Seattle Chinese Garden is still under development and will upon its completion be one of the largest Chinese gardens outside of China, showcasing not only plants, but also stone, architecture and water elements that are customary to Chinese gardens. The garden is a Sichuan-style garden, very different from Portland and Vancouver’s Suzhou gardens, which are small, urban gardens, whereas Sichuan-style gardens like the Seattle Chinese Garden are larger and more rustic, built on hills to “borrow the scenery” from the distance and make the garden seem even larger.
Although still incomplete, it’s still worth visiting for the lovely courtyard, the peace and serenity, and the views. Go in the Spring when the Magnolia trees blossom, and make sure to check out the South Seattle Community College’s Arboretum adjacent to the Chinese Garden. It’s free and claims to be “the best kept secret of West Seattle.”
Dogs are welcome on leash. Stop at the ticket office to sign in and pick up a self-guided tour brochure and plant guide.