As the tires of our Subaru Outback crunched through the gravel parking lot of Discovery Park, we contemplated where we'd start in a green space totaling 534 acres. Discovery Park is big, meaning if you don’t know your way around, it’s easy to get lost. But if you do know where to go (which we help with here!), you’ll quickly realize that few places compare to the majesty of Discovery Park. It ranks in a league of its own, in terms of green spaces within city limits. Not just in Seattle, but the entire United States. It’s a common experience for the average visitor to conclude a trip to Discovery Park in disbelief, wondering, how is this within reach of a bustling metropolis? Otherworldly is a term often associated with Discovery Park. In fact, if you were blindfolded on the drive in, you may believe you were dropped onto some remote, exotic island. Though not actually an island, Discovery Park seems to have a natural barrier from the busyness of a major city. Save for a few camera clicks and airplanes flying over, the park exudes a pleasant calm. It's quiet and big enough to where the closest person might be half a mile away. Suffice to say, there's a lot to explore. For the purposes of restoration, it can't be understated how many parts of Discovery Park offer you a chance to slow down, pause, and rest from the daily toils of the city. Here, we explore Discovery Park deeper, beginning with a curated list of locations we’ve put together for you. This list is a good place to start if you're looking for restful, soul-filling spots.


After leaving the South Parking Lot, we ascended a steep stone staircase and walked through a short trail that spit us out near the Fort Lawton Historic District. The now defunct fort still has a few historic homes once occupied by army officers that can now be lived in for a steep price. (Though that price may be worth it to have Discovery Park as your backyard). This area is steeped in history and gives a unique window into Seattle's past. Fort Lawton was created in the late 1800s as a base to protect the Puget Sound and Seattle from potential invasion. At one point, over 20,000 troops were stationed at the base given its function as a departure port for World War II. Today, it's a peaceful row of houses, a small chapel and now-defunct army buildings. Standing atop the hill of historic homes, you can see serpentine dirt paths leading down to a picturesque overlook of the sparkling Puget Sound and silhouetted Olympic Mountains in the distance. Given that Discovery Park is a world within itself, we quickly realized that the stunning views at Fort Lawton were just a mere glimpse of what the rest of the park had to offer. Aside from a spherical radar tower nearby, the Fort Lawton area transports you back in time as you look at an undeveloped, sweeping meadow of tall grass. We saw a few park goers posted up in lawn chairs or sprawled out on blankets and regretted not bringing something to sit on. That said, even plopping down on a random spot of grass was a sweet reprieve from the steep climb in. Again, it can't be stated enough how quiet it is. White flowers dance in the cool breeze that lingers in the meadow, and a few unique looking trees provide shade on cloudless summer days. The oddest and most fascinating part is that it looks like something you'd find in an African Savanna, standing in stark contrast from the more beachy parts of the park. If you're looking for a sense of freedom and uninterrupted space, this is an ideal spot. Though most of the park is quiet, you'll run into more hikers and tourists in spots like the South Beach Trail and The Beach.



As we walked west down the dirt path from Fort Lawton, it quickly became less of a field and more of a sandy overlook. It felt like we'd departed the prairie for the more typical "coastal" vibe you'd normally associate with Seattle. The Magnolia Bluffs are high cliffs overlooking the Puget Sound that offer very detailed warning signs of what will happen if you get too close to the edge. However, if you use common sense, setting up a blanket or chair or one of the bluffs offers more privacy and silence than the out-in-the-open benches lining the walkway. Especially at sunset, this can be one of the most jaw-dropping spots to stoke your sense of wonder at God's nature. As the sun tucks into the mountains, the tall grass and lucious trees become bathed in an orange glow. Everyone seems to stop what they're doing and take it in. Our favorite memory was simply looking out into the vast blue water, reflecting on how spoiled we were to experience such a blissful moment. Regardless of season, this is a wonderful spot for contemplation that helps put life into perspective. No matter what's going on, it's hard not to be grateful for the immaculate beauty that draws your mind away from your everyday problems and onto something much grander.



The end of the forested beach trail is a clearing that (you guessed it) leads to a picturesque beach. And when you think beach, don't think tropical, white-sand beach. This is the Northwest, so rocky shores, driftwood, and frigid waters are more the norm. However, the distinctness of this Discovery Park beach makes it one of the prettiest spots you can find in the Greater Seattle Area. It was here that we plopped down onto one of the many logs and began journaling. Whether you enjoy writing or simply find it a helpful way to process your thoughts, it's hard to beat the sound of tame waves lapping against the shore as your "white noise." Even the occasional squawk of a seagull or drone of a passing seaplane is less of a distraction and more of a creative inspiration. But perhaps the most awe-inspiring part of journaling, resting, praying, or contemplating on the beach is the unobstructed view of Mount Rainier poking out in the distance. It almost looks like a watercolor painting as it faintly blends into the blue skyline. Seeing the mountain is contingent on it being a clear day, of course, but even a cloudy version of the beach is a balm to the soul. Salty air. Crisp wind. Majestic bluffs. If you walk to the northern part of the beach (you can also drive there), a small,19th century lighthouse shifts your eyes towards the northern part of the Sound. This area tends to be a bit more crowded with people taking pictures, but you can find more desolate spots perfect for contemplation and reflection. We opted for a smooth rock just below the Lighthouse and watched as freighters sailed slowly passed by. Before long, more time had passed than expected, reinforcing the fact that it's easy to get lost in the wonder. The snow capped Olympic Mountains we mentioned before are even more a focal point in this spot, and generate a sense of curiosity at what lies beyond. Perhaps that's why it's called Discovery Park?




The common thread for why we’ve chosen to feature all these getaways is that they are lightly trafficked and off-the-beaten-path, providing a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. They provide an opportunity for us to develop rhythms of reflection, contemplation and simply being present with ourselves. As we’ve previously discussed, science has shown that getting at least two hours each week in green spaces is essential to our well-being. A report from Yale University revealed, “the studies point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive function.” Long before science made these discoveries, we find that Jesus was adopting these rhythms, often getting away into the wilderness. Modeling what would later be known as silence and solitude, what happened in the wilderness became the fuel for him to return back and engage with the culture around him. You may agree that this has never been more relevant than in modern-day times. When we’re out in nature and captivated by its beauty, it often produces a wonder and heightened awareness of the world around us. How could such a beautiful place exist? That wonder can lead to an awareness of the One who created all the transcendent beauty that surrounds us. And here’s the transformative part — we can allow that awareness to drive us into connection with God. For Jesus, this is what getting away was all about. Being out in nature was about who he connected with whilst he was out there. When we encounter God in these environments of refreshment, we are able to acquire the strength and perspective we need to go back out into the world. We need this to love other people well. To create the change we long to see. To become the truest and best version of ourselves. These rhythms are essential for our well-being. As we see from the science, they are built into the very fabric of our existence. We benefit spiritually, mentally and physically from these environments of refreshment. For much of human history, these were our natural habitats. You could argue that the construction of modern city life is unnatural in this sense, as the constant busyness and distraction prevents us from getting perspective and moments of reflection. Seattle naturally attracts motivated tech entrepreneurs and digital nomads alike. But both creating apps and checking off bucket lists can wear on you over time. Following Jesus in modeling this “in-and-out lifestyle” will help us thrive amidst the weariness of 24/7 connectedness and hustle culture. We’ll leave you with a few practical tips before you wander into Discovery Park, which include:

1) Pick a time & place

Scheduling time to get away is essential. The busy nature of modern-life increases the need for intentionality. So consider where you will regularly visit in Discovery Park and when it's practical do that. Is it before work in the morning? Is it midday during lunch? Which part Discovery Park is most accessible to you?

2) Start small & build

Success is in simply showing up, nothing more. If you’re making the effort to get away regularly, you’ve already hit the goal. Remember, habits are also formed by starting small. Rather than saying we’re going to visit Discovery Park for 90 minutes every morning, try retreating for an hour once a week. If you get in a rhythm doing that, start ramping that to an hour in Discovery Park for 2-3 times a week. And so forth.

3) Put your phone on silent

Smartphones breed distraction and will pull you away from being present in the moment. So while you might use your smartphone to navigate to some of these locations initially, try putting your phone on silent and resisting the urge to pull it out once you get there. Build up your tolerance over time.

4) Consider your wiring

We've cited both spots of contemplation and trails you can wander through. If you like to be active, you've struck gold with Discovery Park. Engage your body by walking through some of the other trails in the park, or the South Beach Trail. As you navigate the winding trails, take in all the sights and sounds.

5) Bring a blanket

We regretted not having a chair or blanket to throw down in some of the sandier areas like the beach. While sitting on a log feels adventurous, it can also get uncomfortable real quick. Consider buying a blanket or small camping chair and using it to rest as you enter a place of contemplation.

6) Bring a journal

Fight against the urge to stuff away your thoughts by actively processing them through this form of feeling prayer. How are you feeling? Why are you feeling that way? Name the emotions coming up - envy, greed, sadness, grief, etc. Like Jesus, our emotions are a place to meet with God.

7) Contemplate scripture

This ancient practice, called Lectio Divina, involves picking a small passage to meditate on. Even if you haven’t read scripture in ages, this could be as small as a Psalm, a Proverb or the words of Jesus in the gospels. Let’s say a verse comes up about humility or loving your neighbor, we then pray for a greater understanding of how to model that in our lives. See what comes to mind. You can pick up a copy of the new Passion Translation here.

8) Practice gratitude

Gratitude is hard for us. Sometimes it feels like we suffer from chronic short-term memory loss, only able to see what we don't have or how our circumstances are less than ideal. And while there might be truth in that, this perspective causes us to miss the precious things of life that are sitting right in front of us each and every day. Take some time to write down prayers of gratitude, even for the smallest of things.

9) Be silent

Discovery Park is so beautiful and diverse that some days you might find yourself just wanting to be silent. Embrace this. The spots we mentioned can sometimes be occupied by others, but you'll have no problem finding your own little quiet spot among the 534 acres.

Whatever you decide to do with your time, consider the opportunity to start today. Retreat from the pressure of now and enter into the timeless expanse of Discovery Park.


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