Back in the late 1850s, before Washington was even a state, the United States needed a land route connecting Fort Steilacoom in the south to Fort Bellingham in the north. In 1857, the then Secretary of War (and future Confederate States President) Jefferson Davis helped convince the United States Congress to grant $35,000 for the construction of such a road. Under the supervision of the U.S. Army, surveying and construction of the road began in 1858 and reached Seattle in the fall of 1860.

The modern road still functions as a scenic and historic route through Seattle Southside and beyond, to the greater Pacific Northwest. Here’s a loose itinerary you can use to see some of the top sights along this historic route:

Note: This itinerary starts from the north and heads south.

Start your trip along Military Road at the beautiful Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden. Take a stroll through 10.5 acres of beautifully manicured gardens. In addition to rhododendrons, fuchsias and lilies, you’ll also find the soothing Seike Japanese Garden, where a moment of Zen and a history lesson awaits.

Back on Military Road, your next stop should be our Seattle Southside Visitor Center (you didn’t think I’d skip our own stop, did you?). Here you’ll find a friendly and knowledgeable visitor center staff, plenty of brochures to help you plan for your next destination, and maybe even a coupon or two.

If you have kids, and the weather is nice, stop by Angle Lake Park! There’s plenty to do at this beautiful, clean lake. A highlight for the kids would be epic water spray park (or splash park); of course, there’s the lake to swim in, BBQ/picnic areas, a playground and for the fisherman, the lake is stocked with bass and trout.

If you have a dog or you’re interested in the military history along Military Road, stop by the Grandview Off-Leash Dog Park. What does a dog park have to do with the military, you ask? Well, it just so happens that before it was a dog park, the Grandview location was a NIKE missile launch site in the 50s and 60s. It’s fascinating to think that the park filled with happy-go-lucky frolicking dogs was once an anti-aircraft missile site!

Okay, it’s time to hop off Military Road and get some fresh, delicious seafood at Anthony’s HomePort. Situated along the Des Moines Marina, this local favorite offers top notch seafood and spectacular views of Puget Sound. Sit upstairs for dinner and you might just get a colorful view of a Pacific Northwest sunset! There’s nothing like it…

For more information on the history of Military Road, visit http://www.federalwayhistory.org/pdf/Military-Road-Brochure.pdf