Volunteer Park Conservatory: Life In Glass

This ‘hidden gem’ greenhouse in Volunteer Park is where you want to be in Seattle – especially on a rainy day. So join me!

Volunteer Park Conservatory feels like it shouldn’t be in Seattle. It’s from another era, this Victorian glass marvel stuffed to the brim with cycads and orchids. And yet, it’s here, and most visitors will never experience it, even though it’s a short trek from the core of Capitol Hill.

Opened by the Olmstead Brothers in 1912, the VPC consists of five ‘houses,’ or rooms with different themes. And each room has a walkable loop, with plants on both sides. What I love about this place is the sheer range. Cactus and succulents in one house, ferns in another, orchids and carnivorous plants in between. And since there’s a seasonal house, I always know I’ll see something new.

(Though I did manage to totally miss the last corpse flower viewing. I blame grad school.)

And yes, it’s amazing to visit in the rain. It’s like being wrapped in a humidity hug – with orchids.

The Volunteer Park Conservatory’s major downside is that it’s small. Like, really small. Someone at a normal walking clip could look through it all in 15-20 minutes. Which is why I wish there was room for more benches, because I really want to sit and absorb it all. (And not be as tempted to poke at the cacti. I may be a trained scientist, doesn’t stop the urge to poke at sharp cute plants. DO NOT POKE THE CUTE PLANTS.)

Some things to know before you go:

They’re closed on Mondays. However, it is open 10-4 year round! Rejoice in finding one of the guaranteed warm spots in this city!

They have really neat events! Yes, most might be ‘neat only if you’re a plant nerd’ types, but there’s an orchid show and I think that sounds awesome. Also they do a really cute holiday display, some of which you can see in the video I’ve included at the end of this blog post. So check their website out before you go!

There’s very little parking. I mean, there’s a tiny bit, and some street parking/parking near the Seattle Asian Art Museum. But it’s not a ton. I’d bus, Lyft, or walk over.

It’s no longer cash only. They now have a really neat ticket machine! (For years it was cash only, and I always forgot to plan ahead.)

Want to see more? Check out my video:

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