A group of kids take advantage of the cool water spraying from the ground at Beacon Mountain Spray Park at Beacon Hill’s Jefferson Park

South End Guides | Beat the Heat: A Cool-Off Guide for the South End

by Patheresa Wells

Last week, Seattle temperatures reached into the 90s, a sweltering indication that the long-awaited summer had arrived. And for many, it was already too much. But, all complaints aside, the increase in temperature can turn dangerous quickly if safety is not kept in mind. Cooling centers throughout the area are designated to protect people from heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. With extreme heat continuing to become common “with more than two weeks of 90 degree (F) days likely each summer,” according to the City of Seattle’s Projected Climate Changes, the need to provide resources to beat the heat is a matter of public health. 

Erik, 6, sprays another kid with water at Beacon Mountain Spray Park at Jefferson Park
Erik, 6, sprays another kid with water at Beacon Mountain Spray Park at Jefferson Park. Erik came to the park with his grandmother to get some relief from the record-breaking heat. (Photo: Susan Fried)

When the weather reaches extremes, the need for places to cool off is universal. Only 44% of Seattle homes have air conditioning. Designated cooling sites provide those without AC and unhoused residents a place to ensure they can prevent heat-related illnesses. In addition, the need for them calls attention to how climate change in the Pacific Northwest between 1895 and 2011 led to “statistically significant warming occurring in all seasons except for spring.” 

Although the current forecast shows temperatures dropping from last week’s heat wave, higher summer temperatures are unfortunately here to stay, making cool-off centers a new normal for public services. 

This cooling guide is a resource for anyone seeking a haven from the heat. It is by no means meant to be exhaustive. Dial 211 for a complete list of Washington State resources, or search nearby for a cooling center on its website

Know of a place that should be on our list? Let us know at Community@seattleemerald.org. This info will be updated, so check back for current info. 


According to Public Health — Seattle & King County, some tips to keep safe in extreme heat include:

  • Check on those at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, including the elderly and those with chronic health conditions. 
  • Do outdoor activities in the morning and evening, when it’s cooler.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
  • Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Know and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Seek medical care immediately if you experience symptoms. Symptoms include:
    • High body temperature (103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher)
    • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
    • Fast, strong pulse
    • Headache
    • Dizziness or confusion
    • Nausea
  • Check the local weather forecast for heat advisory information.

For more about monitoring for heat-related illness, check out the CDC’s guidelines. They encourage learning the symptoms to be prepared in case of an emergency. 

Where to Cool Off: Beaches, Pools, and Spray Parks

There are a number of options for beaches, pools, and spray parks. A full list can be found on the Seattle Parks and Recreation website

A young girl prays in a spray of water droplets, which are in focus against the blurry image of the girl playing
Beacon Mountain, one of Seattle’s popular spray parks, offered some relief from Seattle’s 90 degree temperatures during the last week of July 2022. (Photo: Susan Fried)


Alki Beach Park
2665 Alki Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98116
Open May 27 to Sept. 4, 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Pritchard Island Beach
8400 55th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
Open daily from noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends

Madrona Beach
853 Lake Washington Blvd., Seattle, WA 98122
4 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Mount Baker Park Beach
2521 Lake Park Dr. S., Seattle, WA 98144
6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Wading Pools 

These are open when the temperature is forecast to be above 70 degrees. Please check their Facebook page for a current schedule.

Beacon Hill Playfield
1902 13th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98144

Van Asselt Community Center
2820 S. Myrtle St., Seattle, WA 98108


Rainier Beach Pool
8825 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
Please check its schedule for hours. 

Matt Griffin YMCA Pool
3595 S. 188th St., SeaTac, WA 98188
Please call 206-244-5880 to confirm hours. 

Tukwila Pool 
4414 S. 144th St., Tukwila, WA 98168
Admission is first come, first served. Please call 206-267-2350 to determine availability.

West Seattle & Fauntleroy YMCA Pool
3622 SW Snoqualmie St., Seattle, WA 98126
Please call 206-935-6000 to confirm hours. 

A little girl tentatively tests the water at Beacon Mountain Spray Park in Jefferson Park
A little girl tentatively tests the water at Beacon Mountain Spray Park in Jefferson Park. The last week of July 2022 was a record-breaking stint of consecutive days above 90 degrees in Seattle. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Spray Parks

Highland Park Playground
1100 SW Cloverdale St., Seattle, WA 98106
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day of the week

Jefferson Park
3801 Beacon Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98108
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day of the week

Judkins Park and Playfield
2150 S. Norman St., Seattle, WA 98144
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day of the week

Tukwila Community Center 
12424 42nd Ave. S., Tukwila, WA 98168
Call 206-767-2322 to confirm schedule. 

Libraries and Indoor Locations

International District/Chinatown Community Center
719 8th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98104
Mon/Wed/Fri: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Tue/Thu: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Seattle Public Library South Park Branch
8604 8th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98108
Please check The Seattle Public Library website for details on air-conditioned branches. 

Rainier Beach Community Center
8825 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
Monday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

SeaTac Community Center
13735 24th Ave. S., SeaTac, WA 98168
Monday–Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Other Options

Visit the King County Regional Homelessness Authority website for its guide on severe weather resources for houseless people. There is also a community-sourced Google map that lists local cooling spots. In addition to these locations, check out air-conditioned small businesses within your area. Many coffee shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and bars with air conditioning are comfortable places to hang out during the heat wave. In these instances, it’s best to call ahead to confirm!

Patheresa Wells is a Queer poet, writer, and storyteller who lives in SeaTac, Washington. Born to a Black mother and Persian father, her experiences as a multicultural child shaped her desire to advocate for and amplify her community. She currently attends Highline College in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter @PatheresaWells.

📸 Featured Image: A group of kids take advantage of the cool water at Beacon Mountain Spray Park at Beacon Hill’s Jefferson Park on Saturday, July 30, 2022. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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