It’s a wet Puget Sound day and the kids are getting antsy. What to do? There’s no need to stay inside when many parks around Seattle and the Eastside offer enough protection to keep you from getting soaked. From covered shelters and visitors centers to trails with good tree cover, check out these fun parks with your kids on the next rainy day. All of these wonderful outdoor spaces have places nearby to warm up with a hot chocolate or lunch.
Camp Long, West Seattle
West Seattle is abundant with hiking options that are kid-friendly, and
Camp Long is one of the best spots for keeping kids entertained in any weather. Explore the half-mile Middle Loop Trail where there’s something new to discover around every corner, including Schurman Rock, the country’s first man-made rock climbing structure built in the 1930s. Picnic shelters will provide a dry spot for a lunch break, and you can also stop in to the Environmental Learning Center to escape a downpour (open Tuesday–Saturday during winter months).
Photo credit: Linnea Westerlind
Location: 5200 35th Ave. S.W., Seattle. Free parking is available near the main entrance. Buses stop on 35th Ave S.W.
Pair with: Chaco Canyon Organic Café, less than a mile away, serves coffee and hot food and has a small children’s play area (3770 S.W. Alaska St.).
Maple Leaf Reservoir Park, North Seattle
large playground is appealing to all ages year-round. Two picnic shelters — one right next to the playground — offer escape in pouring rain. Kids will have a blast on the zip line, two play structures, slides built into the hill and a large sand area. If the weather holds up, walk or bike the half-mile paved loop in the upper section of the park.
Photo credit: Linnea Westerlind
Location: 1020 NE 82nd St., Seattle. Free street parking is available on Roosevelt Way N.E. and N.E. 82nd St. Buses stop on Roosevelt Way N.E. and on 15th Ave. N.E.
Pair with: Walk to Cloud City Coffee 0.2 miles north from the playground on Roosevelt Way N.E. for terrific baked items (don't miss the coconut bread), soups and burritos, warm drinks and sandwiches.
Seward Park, South Seattle
Seward Park, a 300-acre forest park located at the southern end of Lake Washington in Rainier Valley, has enough to do to keep kids occupied for hours. The playground features a small climber for younger kids near the sandbox, in addition to a big treehouse-style structure for older kids that's partially covered. You'll also find swings and a popular zipline. When the rain starts, run for cover inside the Seward Park Audubon Center to learn about Seward Park's wildlife (open Wednesday–Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), which also hosts nature programs year-round, from owl prowls to bird walks. Hiking trails right behind the playground have good tree cover for rainy-day hikes.
Seward Park. Photo by Linnea Westerlind
Location: 5895 Lake Washington Blvd. S., Seattle. Free parking is available in the lot inside the park. Buses stop just outside the park.
Pair with: Caffe Vita, located one mile north at 5028 Wilson Ave. S., is a cozy spot for an espresso or hot chocolate. For something heartier, the Seward Park PCC is across the street.
Seattle Children’s PlayGarden, South Seattle
wonderful park is designed for kids of all abilities to play and explore their environment. The PlayGarden is fairly small and fully fenced, so parents and caregivers can let little ones discover on their own without worrying about losing them. Kids will find gardens, a large sand area, a tree fort, a boat, chickens, a tractor and much more. When the rain picks up, duck under the white tent area for relief. The park is also the grounds for a preschool, but is open to the public ( check hours on the website and look for special public programs such as free art classes). Make sure the gate is securely shut after entering and exiting the park.
Children's Playgarden. Photo by Linnea Westerlind
Location: 1745 24th Ave. S., Seattle. Free street parking is available on the street. Buses stop along Rainier Ave. S., two blocks west of the park.
Pair with: FareStart Cafe ( 2100 24th Ave. S.), just three blocks away, serves hot drinks and baked goods, located inside the 2100 Building and open weekdays. The Northwest African American Museum, a gem of a small museum, is also just a block away (free on first Thursdays).
Lincoln Park, West Seattle
Two great playgrounds and a long stretch of beach draw families to
Lincoln Park for year-round play. The park's more northern playground features large climbing equipment with lots of slides and bridges. At the more southern end, you'll find a wooden play structure along with an exciting zipline, swings and a sandbox. Venture down to the shoreline for a paved path that's great for biking and beachcombing. Five large picnic shelters — located near each playground and along the waterfront — provide a great spot to dry off if the drizzle turns to rain.
Lincoln Park. Photo by Linnea Westerlind
Location: 8011 Fauntleroy Way S.W., Seattle. Free parking is available in two parking lots. Buses stop along Fauntleroy Way S.W. immediately outside the park.
Pair with: Get warm with coffee, hot chocolate and a pastry inside Caffe Ladro located about a mile away at 7011 California Ave. S.W.
University Village Play Area, North Seattle
You can give your shopping helpers a well-deserved play break at
University Village's cute play area. This covered outdoor playground is small and suited to tots ages 5 and under so it's perfect for a rainy day. A couple of slides, a climbing structure and other small toys are set inside a fully fenced area in front of the Kid's Club store.
University Village. Photo by Linnea Westerlind
Location: 2630 N.E. University Village St., Seattle (south side of the shopping center in the pedestrian court, across from Kid's Club). Free parking is available in surface lots and in the parking garage. Several bus routes stop close to University Village.
Pair with: University Village is packed with great dining options, many that are kid-friendly. Specialty's Cafe and Bakery serves coffee, baked goods and sandwiches and is just steps away from the play area. On Tuesdays, parents with young kids can join University Village Playdays, free activities and story time from 10-11 a.m.
Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park, Beacon Hill
fully-fenced playground opened in 2014 in front of El Centro De La Raza to the delight of families living on Beacon Hill. Kids will have fun on the colorful climbing structures, which have little roofs on the tops of each platform. There’s also mosaic art that looks like stepping stones, swings and a demonstration garden. Parents and grandparents can keep an eye on the kids from nearby benches, and everyone can duck under the covered shelter if rain hits. (Note: the park is closed to the public 10:30-11:45 a.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday when the child care center in El Centro De La Raza uses it.)
Photo credit: Linnea Westerlind
Location: 16th Ave. S. and S. Lander St., Seattle. Free street parking is available on adjacent streets. The Beacon Hill Light Rail station stops next to the park.
Pair with: The Station coffee shop is just across the street on 16th Ave. You can also head indoors to the Beacon Hill Public Library branch, two blocks south on Beacon Ave. S.
The Eastside and North Sound
O.O. Denny Park, Kirkland
Some of the oldest and tallest trees in the region shelter visitors to this
north Kirkland waterfront park on Lake Washington. Start at the playground, which has a tree-house style climbing structure with slides and rock climbing wall. If the weather turns bad, a large covered picnic shelter is just steps away and provides plenty of protection for lunch or a snack. The network of trails starts across the street near the overflow parking area. This dense forest has good rain cover, and kids will like looking for the giant stump of Sylvia, a 600-year-old Douglas Fir.
Photo credit: Linnea Westerlind
Location: 12032 Holmes Pt. Dr. N.E., Kirkland. Free parking is available in the parking lot. No nearby bus access.
Pair with: Three miles south, just off Juanita Drive, you’ll find a cluster of coffee shops and restaurants including Top Pot Doughnuts and Starbucks. If the rain lets up again, cross the street to Juanita Beach Park, which also has a playground, swings and large u-shaped dock that’s fun to walk.
Blyth Park, Bothell
Adjacent to the Sammamish River Trail in Bothell,
Blyth Park , just a bit west of Bothell Landing, is a 40-acre park that's popular with picnickers. The two covered picnic shelters are just steps away from the playground if rain picks up. The playground has two climbing structures with slides and a little suspension bridge. An interesting structure made out of old tires is also a fun place to climb. You can also venture onto the Sammamish River trail where kids can bike, cross bridges and occasionally see boats coming through on the Sammamish River.
Blyth Park. Photo by Linnea Westerlind
Location: 16950 W. Riverside Dr., Bothell. Free parking is available in the lot. The park is about a one-mile walk from downtown Bothell where there are bus connections available.
Pair with: Warm up with a hot sandwich and soup at Alexa's Cafe , less than a mile away at 10115 Main St. in quaint downtown Bothell.
Beaver Lake Park, Sammamish
Nestled among tall trees on the Sammamish Plateau,
Beaver Lake Park is a peaceful spot for a fall or winter walk. Several spots along the shore are great places for kids to throw rocks or dig. Bring a lunch and take advantage of the picnic tables, many of which are underneath tall cedars and other evergreen trees for protection from the rain. There's also a playground and, if you need to dry off, a large picnic shelter.
Beaver Lake. Photo by Linnea Westerlind
Location: 24801 S.E. 24th St., Sammamish. Free parking is available in the parking lot.
Pair with: Starbucks and several other casual eateries are located two miles away at the corner of Issaquah-Pine Lake Road S.E. and 228th Ave. S.E.
Lewis Creek Park, Bellevue
Lewis Creek Park, a gem of a park south of I-90 in Bellevue, has it all: trails, playgrounds and a super interpretive center. It features two separate play areas for different age groups and both have large sail-like covers that provide some protection from both rain and sun. If it's truly a deluge, venture into the beautifully designed interpretive center (open Wed.-Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.), which offers kids' puzzles, hands-on educational materials from animal furs to models of animal tracks, comfortable seats and huge windows that look out over the wetlands. When the rain lets up head back out and take the half-mile Loop Trail for an up-close look at a variety of landscapes; it's open (and separated enough from roads) that you can let even small children run ahead and explore. PIck up a scavenger hunt from the center before you go.
Lewis Creek Park. Photo by Linnea Westerlind
Location: 5808 Lakemont Blvd. S.E., Bellevue. Free parking is available in the parking lot.
Pair with: Grab something hot at Starbucks or Matthew's Fresh Market, less than a mile down the road at 4851 Lakemont Blvd. S.E. If you don't make it to Bellevue that often, you might check some other family-friendly gems, from KidsQuest Children's Museum at Factoria to Bellevue Arts Museum and Downtown Park in downtown Bellevue.
Mercer Slough Park, Bellevue
A fantastic park for urban hiking,
Mercer Slough Park — just off I-90 in Bellevue — has more than 300 acres to explore. With kids in tow, it's best to start small and begin your visit at the Environmental Education Center on the park's eastern side. A visitors center perched in the trees like a treehouse is a good place to wait for the rain to let up (and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Trails start just below the center and wind down the hillside to the flat wetlands where it's fun to try to spot wildlife.
Mercer Slough. Photo by Linnea Westerlind
Location: 1625 118th Ave. S.E., Bellevue. Free parking is available in the parking lot near the Environmental Education Center. Buses stop at the South Bellevue Park and Ride, on the west side of the park.
Pair with: A Tully's Coffee and many other restaurants are located a mile and a half north of the park on Main St. in downtown Bellevue.
Pioneer Park, Mercer Island
Enjoy a hike along flat trails under a thick tree canopy in the middle of Mercer Island at
Pioneer Park. Even as the huge maple trees are nearly done dropping their leaves, cedars and other evergreens will keep you mostly dry as you explore this 113-acre park. Pioneer Park has three quadrants totaling about six miles of trails. In two of the sections, dogs are allowed to go off-leash, so keep an eye out if your kids are nervous around dogs. Pick a section and let your kids choose the direction to go at each turn. The trails cross often enough that it's manageable even for little hikers. Need to bribe them with some playground time? Deane's Children's Park (also known as the Dragon Park) is a half-mile north and has a fabulous playground with a large covered area for picnicking.
Pioneer Park. Photo by Linnea Westerlind
Location: Island Crest Way and S.E. 68th St., Mercer Island. Free street parking is available on the surrounding residential streets. Buses stop at the corner of Island Crest Way and S.E. 68th St.
Pair with: A Starbucks is located just down the street in the shopping complex on S.E. 68th St.
South of Seattle
Seahurst Park, Burien
This 178-acre park has nearly a mile of recently restored saltwater shoreline to explore, along with trails and a new playground. Take the South Shoreline Trail on a rainy day and you'll get some good protection from the elements under tall trees. The park also has covered picnic shelters located close to the beach, so if you get caught in a rainstorm it's a quick dash to cover.
Seahurst Park. Photo by Linnea Westerlind
Location: 1600 S.W. Seahurst Drive, Burien. Free parking is available in the parking lot. Buses stop on Ambaum Blvd. S.W., about one mile outside the park.
Pair with: 909 Coffee and Wine serves hot breakfast, lunch and espresso and is located less than two miles from the park. Consider also heading to downton Burien, for ethnic food, bookstores and a nifty indoor playground (the Jungle Gym). Info: burienwa.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/19