courtesy KidsQuest

Accessible Exploration

Child playing and building with foam pieces at KidsQuest museum. courtesy KidsQuest

Nature paths, multi-sensory experiences, and outdoor adventures for all abilities.


Many of Seattle’s gorgeous parks and outdoor spaces are designed with consideration paid to visitors with mobility limitations, allowing for ease of access for wheelchairs, motorized scooters, and other aids. The 2-mile loop trail at the Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E) makes wildlife watching and wetland exploration enjoyable for all; likewise, the Seward Park (5900 Lake Washington Blvd S; perimeter loop provides Lake Washington views with plenty of benches along 2.6 miles. For a taste of sea air, follow the Alki Trail along the West Seattle waterfront to Alki Beach Park (1702 Alki Ave SW). Be aware: Many trails are also popular with fast-moving cyclists.


The city has been making improvements to its parks to ensure their accessibility and safety. That includes the creation of sensory gardens, where sound, scent, and touch experiences are elevated for individuals with developmental disabilities, autism, or other sensitivities. Adjacent to Woodland Park’s rose garden, Seattle Sensory Garden (700 N 50th St) includes a terrace and raised beds for better experiencing the look, feel, and smell of plants; wind chimes and bells add a sonic serenade. Highline SeaTac Botanical Gardens (13735 24th Ave S, SeaTac) also offers a stimulating year-round sensory garden with vine tunnels, raised beds, and a rain garden. Call ahead for docent-led tours.


Outdoors for All Foundation (6344 NE 74th St, Ste 102) encourages people of all abilities to participate in outdoor recreation. Their Adaptive Cycling Center in Magnuson Park has a fleet of some 200 different types of bikes, and their ski program at Snoqualmie Pass offers options for people with limited or no lower-body functionality. Seize the Oar Foundation offers outdoor adaptive rowing training April–October and indoor training over the winter months.


Seattle Children’s PlayGarden (1745 24th Ave S) includes play structures with ramps, a climbable “mountain” accessible to wheelchair users, musical installations, and even chickens. The park offers drop-in open play with support staff weekday afternoons and Saturdays. Many museums in the Seattle area offer low stimulation events, including KidsQuest (1116 108th Ave, Bellevue), which has free low-sensory afternoons the third Thursday of every month.


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