Credit: Devon Hammer
Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park in Renton has long been a popular destination for families from the Eastside and beyond. If you’ve ever tried finding parking there on a summer weekend, you know what I mean. It gets busy.
And no wonder! Perched on the shores of Lake Washington, the park features a swimming beach, a fishing pier, a boat launch, paved walking paths, tennis and volleyball courts, and two restaurants on-site; plus a giant playground area.
My kids are finally old enough — ages 4 and 6 — where going to the playground is more relaxing than it is stressful. They are surefooted enough that I am no longer in fear of a misstep off a playset edge. They almost always find friends to play with while I watch happily, relaxing on a bench nearby. This has turned us into big-time park hoppers so we had to head to Renton to check out the newly installed playground.
Even bigger than before
On our way to play, I talked with my kids about how huge the old playground was. We all hoped the new one would be just as big. Upon arriving, we were thrilled to find a playground even larger than the old one. Plus, we found tons of features we hadn’t seen before. The kids didn’t waste a moment and got right to exploring.
We found four main play structures, including one designed for the preschool crowd, ages 2–5. We also found three bays of swings, including baby swings, regular swings, a swing seat and a saucer swing that fits multiple kids. Several smaller structures within the designated wood chipped area serve kids looking for spinning, climbing and riding fun.
The playground is set right near the beach so views of the lake are plentiful and ducks waddle over frequently. Bathrooms are conveniently located directly next to the playset. Aside from our excitement at the sheer size of the new playground, we were also excited to try out lots of new play elements.
So many play features
Not only does the new playground include 11 slides (!) of varying lengths, one is a tube slide with windows. We hadn't seen a slide like this and it was fun peeping in to see the kids as they whizzed by. For the largest slide, kids had to ascend a cool ramp-type climbing structure to get to the top. It resembled a maze and even I was tempted to try it out.
Another feature earned the nickname “the obstacle course” from my kids. It was a dome climbing structure with various balancing features inside. My kids were pretending they were contestants on the "Ultimate Beastmaster" show and honestly some of the features looked a lot like miniature versions of the show’s obstacle course.
Another big hit was the four-person teeter-totter. This was perfect for our crew as my kids' two cousins were playing with us. They were happy to all have a seat for the ride (we won’t mention the fights about who got to sit by who — sigh). We also found two-person standing teeter-totters we'd never seen before that the kids enjoyed.
My kids were also excited to see multiple spinning apparatuses which they love (and which I will never understand). There are three small seat spinners on either side of the playground, one standing spinner and a larger spinner that could fit multiple kids. They tried them all while I watched from the sideline, feeling sick.
Worth a visit from anywhere
This park is known to deliver tons of fun on a hot summer day. Grabbing some post-beach fish and chips from Ivar’s or a Kidd Valley milkshake on the pier while admiring views of the lake can make you feel like you’re on a mini-vacation. But don't count this park out on cooler days. The brand-new play structures make Gene Coulon a destination playground for Seattle-area families any time of year.
We were lucky with a partly sunny spring day for our visit and we ended up spending over two hours playing on the playground. There is so much to do, the kids barely wanted to pause for a snack break. On a Friday afternoon, it was busy but not overly crowded.
Whether Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park is a regular stop on your play route or you plan a special trip, I recommend a stop at the fabulous new playground. I guarantee your kids will love it.
If you go…
Open hours: 8 a.m.– 8 p.m. daily
Parking: There is a large parking lot directly beside the playground. The lot does fill up quickly on weekends in the summer. There is an additional lot by Ivar's and Kidd Valley. Follow the main entrance road north.
Restrooms: There are restrooms located right by the playground area.