Japanese gardens can be pretty amazing, especially in the fall when all of the maple leaves turn gold, orange, and yellow. Unfortunately, most Japanese gardens in the Seattle area don’t allow dogs. I have discovered one dog-friendly Japanese garden though – the Kubota Gardens.
As it turns out, it’s a place that one of our favorite blogs – Dog Jaunt – wrote about several years ago. The garden is located about 30-minutes south of downtown Seattle in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. It takes about 30 minutes to get there in light traffic (but beware that it can be over an hour during rush our). The stunning 20 acre landscape blends Japanese garden concepts with native Northwest plants.
Another super awesome thing about this garden is you can get there by bus if you don’t have a car. Well-behaved dogs are allowed on Metro buses so all you have to do it visit the King County Metro Trip Planner, type in your starting address, and enter the garden’s address (9817 55th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98118). Most bus routes can get you and your pup there within an hour from Downtown Seattle.
We love to explore and seek out new places so we met a friend here last week for a stroll and fall photo shoot with the dogs.
I have to be honest: this garden is in “South Seattle” (Ok, technically, Renton) which is not the best part of town. I think of this area as very undesirable and kind of sketchy. The photos of the garden looked amazing though, and I was curious about this gem that had been hiding under our noses the whole time, so off we went.
I won’t lie – my stereotype about the area was not wrong. I parked on the street and the house across from me was surrounded by a 8-foot wrought iron fence with pointy things on the top. I could see what looked like construction inside the entrance of the park. I found the sign below in the parking lot and there was a police van the size of the RV camped out near the entrance when I was there.
Once I was inside it was like I was transported to a different, more pleasant part of the City though. There were nice wide walking paths next to manicured plants and grass and smaller foot trails cris-crossing in between them that made me feel like I was on an actual hike. In the center of this large park was the historic Japanese Garden.
The area surrounding the main Japanese garden had some pretty little hidden spots too.
We hiked the whole park in about an hour and a half, including our little photo breaks.
There are plenty of pretty parks closer to home but this one was a nice change from our normal routine. Also, because it’s in a low-elevation urban area, it’s a great alternative to snowy or rainy mountain trails in the winter.
Trail Name: Kuboda Gardens Park Loop
Distance: 0.8 miles round trip (but there are several trails that can be combined to make it longer)
Elevation Gain: 72 feet
Highest Point: 144 feet
Permits and Passes: None
Directions: From Seattle, south on I-5 to exit 158 for S Boeing Access Rd. Turn Left (east) at the end of the ramp. The road becomes S Ryan Way after crossing Martin Luther King Jr Way S. Follow that around a bend and turn left (north) on 51st Street/Ave S. In about 100 feet turn right on S Roxbury Street and then take an immediate right onto Renton Ave S. Drive 0.3 miles and turn right onto 55th Ave S. The parking lot is on your right. Note: it can fill up so you might need to park along Renton Ave S.