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

Seattle summer can be a glorious time of year. To say we appreciate the season is an understatement. The one, possibly two, months the Emerald City gets of all-out sunshine is packed full of events. Pride, Juneteeth, block parties, and outdoor festivals fill weekends with reasons to explore the magic of the city without the rain. But over the past few years, the heat has hit in waves of extreme — and dangerous — temperatures. In June of 2021, for instance, extreme temperatures caused local road surfaces to buckle. According to a report issued by the Washington State Department of Health, “extreme heat events (heat waves) are predicted to happen more often and last longer due to our changing climate.”

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 doesn’t show extreme heat waves in our near future, 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. 

Updates for summer 2023 include new info on Seattle Parks 2023 summer pools, spray parks, beaches, and indoor cooling locations, like libraries and community centers.


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)


Beginning Saturday, June 24. Below beaches are lifeguarded weekdays from 12 p.m. -to 7 p.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. to 7 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 

Starting June 24, these are open when the temperature is forecast to be above 70 degrees. Call the Wading Pool Hotline at 206-684-7796 to verify hours and open/closed status the day of your visit, or follow the SPR Wading Pool Facebook page.

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
Check its schedule for hours. 

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

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

Colman Pool (West Seattle)
8603 Fauntleroy Way S.W., Seattle, WA 98136
Check the schedule on the Seattle Parks and Recreation website.

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

Open May 27 through Sept. 4. These spray parks will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day of the week. Check the SPR Wading Pool Facebook for daily updates. 

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

Pratt Park
201 20th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

Tukwila Community Center 
12424 42nd Ave. S., Tukwila, WA 98168
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily for the 2023 season

Libraries and Indoor Locations

International District/Chinatown Community Center
719 8th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98104
Call to confirm hours, 206-233-0042

The Seattle Public Library South Park Branch
8604 8th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98108
Check The Seattle Public Library website for details on air-conditioned branches, which include Beacon Hill, International District/Chinatown, and Rainier Beach Branches.

Rainier Beach Community Center
8825 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
Call to confirm hours, 206-386-1925

SeaTac Community Center
13735 24th Ave. S., SeaTac, WA 98168
Call to confirm hours and that AC is working, 206-973-4680
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. (This map was made in 2022, so it’s a good idea to call ahead first to confirm these spots are still open.) 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 is currently pursuing a B.A. in creative writing. 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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