Seattle Spheres Shutterstock


Warm up on chilly days with lush, plant-filled spaces.

By Sarah Anne Lloyd
Seattle Spheres Shutterstock

On Capitol Hill, Volunteer Park Conservatory (1400 E Galer St) was built in 1912 for rest and relaxation inside a popular park. Its plants live in five themed rooms so you can prioritize your visit, whether you’re feeling the dramatic tropical flowers of the bromeliad room or craving the dry heat of the cactus room. Check the online calendar for special tours and events, and keep an eye out for sago palm and jade trees more than 75 years old.

The futuristic orbs of the Seattle Spheres (2111 Seventh Ave) in South Lake Union house more than 40,000 plants in a high-altitude rainforest environment. The massive greenhouse is primarily a work space for Amazon employees, but you can visit by reservation during open houses held two Saturdays a month. And the bottom-floor Understory is fully open to the public, telling the spheres’ tale through interactive exhibits.

No Seattle plant shop embraces the winter quite like Swansons Nursery (9701 15th Ave NW). Starting Nov 9, much of its outdoor space in Ballard transforms for the Reindeer Festival: While locals choose their perfect trees, you can pet reindeer, pose for a photo with Santa, marvel at a model train village, and shop handmade jewelry. You can also warm up with pastry baskets, omelets, and fried chicken sandwiches at Barn & Field (9701 15th Ave NW), a family-owned restaurant in Swansons’s conservatory. It sits beside a koi pond under a lush canopy of palm, banana, and fig trees for full tropical effect.


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