Redmond may be known as the hometown of Microsoft, but there’s much more to this Eastside city than computerized creations. With a revitalized downtown core, new bike paths, exciting new businesses popping up (the Eastside’s first Molly Moon’s!) and more new green spaces in the works, Redmond has morphed from a bedroom community for tech families to a destination in its own right. As the days grow hotter, here are the top five ways to find your cool in Redmond.
1. Shop, play and splash at Redmond Town Center
Redmond Town Center, an open-air shopping and entertainment complex stretching between Leary Way and 170th Avenue, has been around for nearly two decades, but a recent facelift has seen it go from a mall to a warm-weather family hangout. Stock up on kid staples from favorites like Gymboree, Gap and Janie and Jack, then spend a lazy morning chilling at the new pedestrian-only corridor, set up with shaded loungers, pavement games and a plaza with a colorful splash pad (now safely enclosed in the pedestrian-only zone).
Also be sure to check out the “Sensory Garden” play area in RTC's west corner, where kiddos can make music on giant instruments made from salvaged materials (note: It's not in the pedestrian zone, but is fenced in). You can grab a savory pastry or coffee next door from Kitanda, a Brazilian cafe.
Cool bonus: Redmond Town Center puts on a number of seasonal events throughout the summer months, including the wonderful Redmond Saturday Farmers Market, (open May through October, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.), cultural festivals, and an occasional exotic car show that makes a for great daddy morning out. Check the calendar for complete schedule.
2. Spin your two wheels
Redmond is known as the Bicycle Capital of the Northwest, a tradition that originated with the Redmond Bike Derby (now Redmond Derby Days), and that continues to this day. Criss-crossed by several major trails and bike paths, it’s a beacon for cyclists of all ages and aptitudes. The popular Sammamish River Trail runs down from Bothell, connecting to Bear Creek Trail by the Town Center.
Linking to the beautiful East Lake Sammamish trail is the recently completed Redmond Central Connector, a fully paved path that cuts across the downtown and is scattered with benches and artwork, with tasty pit stops steps away. Park downtown; there is a paid lot right next to the Connector.
Cool bonus: Redmond’s Marymoor Park hosts the Seattle area's only velodrome, offering a variety of classes and events. Friday night races make a great spectator sport, and the first and third Friday of every month, June through September, kids aged 2–12 can get in on the action at the Kiddie Kilo, an exciting chance for the littles to zoom through a one-lap race. Entry is free!
3. Scoop it up at the new Molly Moon's
Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream is beloved for its creative flavors, innovative local ingredients, and all-around cold creamy deliciousness. Now, suburban dwellers will no longer have to cross the bridge to score one of Molly’s artisanal treats. Newly opened in a historic bank building in downtown Redmond on Cleveland Street, just few minutes’ walk from Redmond Town Center, the Eastside’s very first Molly Moon’s location is a scorching-day (or any day) must-have. Try a seasonal strawberry rhubarb sorbet, classic Scout Mint (featuring locally grown peppermint and crushed Girl Scout cookies), or Molly’s 3-year-old daughter’s favorite flavor, Melted Chocolate, in a fresh-baked cone.
Cool bonus: Right next door, connected through an archway, Molly Moon’s friendly neighbour is Homegrown Sustainable Sandwich Shop, which shares the same dedication to sustainably sourced eats. Chow down on freshly toasted sammies, made from locally sourced produce (Homegrown actually owns a farm on the Eastside) and meats or kid-menu faves such as grilled cheese and PB&J. For grown-ups, there's also Stumptown coffee.
4. Hit up an amazing park
Redmond is home to one of the state’s biggest and best-known parks, Marymoor Park, which draws more than 3 million visitors each year. The 640-acre space is worth a day trip in of itself, offering everything from a pro-level rock climbing wall to plenty of paved trails, two playgrounds, a world-class dog park and a designated field to launch, and watch, radio-controlled aircraft. During the summer, the park turns into a sizzling weekend event venue: Check the line-ups for the wildly popular Marymoor Park Concerts series, and Movies at Marymoor, offering open-air, big-screen fun for the whole family.
Cool bonus: For more park adventures, drive five minutes from downtown Redmond to Grasslawn Park, where the two-story spiderweb play structure is easily the Eastside’s most daring. There is also a smaller version for tots, along with carousels, sand pit, climbing rocks and splash pad.
5. Get your game on at Uncle's
If you happen to have an older kid or teen who is into gaming and looking to meet similarly minded peers, head over to Redmond’s Uncle’s Games, a game and puzzle store located in Redmond Town Center, which hosts weekly game nights, collectible card exchanges, puzzle swaps and special events from Magic: the Gathering tournaments to Star Wars Miniatures battles. Check the calendar for details. And if comics is where it’s at for your teen, be sure to stop by The Comic Stop across from REI.
Cool bonus: Younger sibs can love a toy store adventure of their own at Snapdoodle Toys. A couple of minutes’ drive away from RTC, it’s a trove of unique, well-made, educational toys and games. Afterwards, grab a beverage next door at SoulFood Coffeehouse, a funky New-Age-themed shop with a cute kids’ corner.
If you go ...
Getting there: Redmond is accessibly situated at the center of the Eastside. Ample free parking is available around downtown. It is also well-served by transit, with the Sound Transit Express 545 bus linking the city center with downtown Seattle.
Showtime: If you're thinking of attending a concert at Marymoor, be sure to review the policies online before going. Pack blankets and a picnic, but certain items, such as beverages in disposable containers, are not allowed. Shows take place rain or shine, so come prepared with umbrellas if necessary! Another entertainment tip: SecondStory Repertory, a theater in Redmond Town Center, regularly hosts plays for young audiences, and even has family-friendly improv at the SecondStory Hideaway.
Tech bonus: Microsoft is the city's undisputed industry hub, and STEM-minded youngsters will love a stop at the futuristic Visitor Center at Overlake's main campus to learn about the company's past and present, and play with uber-sleek devices galore.
Eye on the future: Several intriguing planned developments are in the works for the city, including construction on another part of the Connector trail and a new central park, rumored to come with a water playground. Keep your eyes peeled for what's to come!