I took a giant leap and moved to the Pacific Northwest about four years ago and have never once regretted this decision (no, not even in the wet dark winters when the sun rises at 8am and sets around 4pm). I love it here, and a huge part of that is that the community/city as a whole really values nature and outdoor activities.

The path down from the bluff.

Olympic, Mt. Rainier and North Cascades are all about two hours away, there are countless miles of National Forest nearby and the Greater Seattle Area itself is chock full of wonderful parks.

I found Discovery Park when I visited Seattle for the first time, and every visit to it is magical in its own way. My first trip, a bald eagle soared right over my head. I could have reached up and touched its talons. I’ve watched sunsets from the bluffs and walked way out at low tide. I love that it’s right in the city, a chunk of wilderness right here for all of us to enjoy.

There are several trails that loop through the park, taking you through forests, along bluffs and on rocky beaches. Yesterday, we walked down to the beach to watch the sunset. It’s been extremely cold in Seattle–the coldest it’s been since I lived here–the temperature is hovering right around freezing during the day. But the cold is ensuring that the skies are clear, and the weak winter sun gives us a tiny bit of much needed vitamin D.

Gorgeous Mountains

I grew up on beaches with sand that was sometimes so hot that it would burn my feet. In California, you can be on a beach almost year-round. You can lay in the hot, soft sand and breathe in the salty air whether it’s March or July or November. Some of the beaches are even tamed, peppered with lifeguard towers and fire pits.

Wild Beach

In Washington the beaches are wild. They’re rocky, coated in dark pebbles and shells that are still connected like small white wings. And in the winter, these beaches are cold.  Because we’re surrounded by forests, big logs end up in the water. These ancient mossy beings float in the small waves. They also wash up on the beach, these bones of trees, to be built into sandy driftwood forts–beachy shelters on an unruly shore.

Log or monster?

I love the beach at Discovery Park because it’s a beautiful long strip of sand. You can meander west towards the lighthouse, or back east to look for eagles and seabirds along the bluffs. Look out across the sound toward Bainbridge Island and catch the glimpse of the ferry, chugging along. Yesterday we sat on logs and watched the sun disappear in a burst of golden light. It lit up the snow-covered Olympic Mountains and brushed the sky a pastel pink.

Me, taking it all in.

So Footsloggers, are there any special places in your city that you love? If you can’t make it out on a hike or a camping trip, what do you do instead to stave off cabin fever? Where do you go?