Ella Bailey Park. Credit: Linnea Westerlind
Parents, grandparents and nannies spend a lot of time at playgrounds in the Seattle area, pushing kids on swings, digging along in sandboxes and — if we’re lucky — relaxing on benches nearby. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a gorgeous view to enjoy while spending time at the park? On the next no-cloud-in-the-sky day, check out one of these fantastic, lesser-known playgrounds. We've picked out the best Puget Sound, Lake Washington and mountain views around town
1. Kayu Kayu Ac Park, Shoreline
This quiet neighborhood park opened in 2009 and is the Shoreline community’s secret view playground. Kids love the climbing structure with tube tunnel, rings and multiple slides. Parents can push their kids on the swings while looking out at clear views of Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island and the Olympic Mountains. A cute wooden lookout is wheelchair-accessible and signs inside talk about the history of the railroad just in front of you. For a shady picnic, lay out a blanket on the grass under the line of trees.
Location: 19911 Richmond Beach Dr. N.W., Shoreline. Free parking is available in the small lot. Buses stop at N.W. 196th St. and 26th Ave. N.W.
Also nearby: Due to the railroad tracks, there’s no beach access at Kayu Kayu Ac Park. To get to the water, check out Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, one mile to the south.
2. Ella Bailey Park, Magnolia
This excellent, and accessible, park is hugely popular with Magnolia families. The heart-stopping views of Mount Rainier on a clear day are unparalleled and adults will have no problem lingering here while kids play. The playground has separate structures for older and younger kids with dozens of climbing challenges and attractions. A bonus at this park is the flat, paved path circling the park that is perfect for kids to bike on while parents stroll and enjoy the view.
Location: 2601 W. Smith St., Magnolia. Free parking is available on adjacent residential streets. Buses stop at 28th Ave. W. and W. Smith St.; and at W. McGraw St. and 32nd Ave. W.
Also nearby: Magnolia Playfield has a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, playground and ballfields just a third of a mile to the west.
3. Ward Springs Park, Queen Anne
Much less known than Queen Anne's famous Kerry Park, Ward Springs Park has great city views and is a blast for kids. A large wooden play structure looks like a fort and has lots of spots for climbing and sliding. Kids will also get a kick out of the tire swing and sandbox while parents or grandparents sit on benches and gaze at the Space Needle and city skyline. A gently sloped lawn is perfect for a picnic lunch.
Location: Fourth Ave. N. and Ward St., Queen Anne. Free parking is available on residential streets nearby. Buses stop at Taylor Ave. N. and N. Prospect St.
Also nearby: Bhy Kracke Park, three blocks to the north, has equally amazing views from its upper section and a small playground in the lower area.
4. Enatai Beach Park, Bellevue
Don’t let its location almost underneath I-90 deter you. Enatai Beach Park has some of the best views on Lake Washington and is a great, kid-friendly park. Stop first on the upper level with its huge lawn of perfectly mowed grass and two brightly colored play structures. Then take the steps down to the sandy beach and dock. Kids can swim, dig in the sand and watch kayakers launch from this popular spot while adults take in views of the lake and Mercer Island across the water.
Location: 3519 108th Ave. S.E., Bellevue. Free parking is available in the lot. Buses stop on 106th Ave. S.E. near the park.
Also nearby: Chism Beach Park, also on Lake Washington with a playground and sandy swimming beach, is two miles north.
5. Groveland Beach, Mercer Island
It’s a steep descent from the parking lot into this hidden park. First you’ll come to the playground, a plastic structure with slides, a climbing wall and musical instruments. Continue down the path to the beach where a wide lawn with a small strip of sand waits for digging. A bonus on a hot summer day: This beachfront is almost entirely shaded in the morning. With its western position on the island, Groveland Beach has excellent views across Lake Washington of forested Seward Park. The city had renovations to the beach area planned for summer 2018 — it's nearly time to check out the results.
Location: S.E. 58th St. and 80th Ave. S.E., Mercer Island. Free parking is available in the lot. Buses stop on W. Mercer Way a couple of blocks from the park entrance.
Also nearby: Island Crest Park and its excellent Deane’s Children’s Park playground are two miles away in the center of Mercer Island.
6. Beer Sheva Park, Rainier Beach
Take in Lake Washington views and glimpses of Mercer Island and the Cascade Mountains from this waterfront South Seattle park. It’s perfect for family picnicking with tables and barbecues throughout the park and within sight of the large playground. Kids can play on the two climbing structures that have blue curving slides, ladders and tunnels. Little tots will like the spinning and springy toys as well as the sandbox. There’s no lifeguarded swimming here, but cross the bridge that goes over Mapes Creek to reach the waterfront where you can look for ducks and watch boats being launched.
The local neighborhood is planning improvements to this park. Watch the city's project page for updates.
Location: 8650 55th Ave. S., Rainier Beach. Free parking is available on residential streets and in the Atlantic City Boat Ramp parking lot next door. Buses stop just outside the park on S. Henderson St. and on Seward Park Ave. S.
Also nearby: For a lifeguarded swimming beach, try Pritchard Island Beach, a quarter of a mile to the north.
7. Westcrest Park, West Seattle
This popular West Seattle park was expanded in 2015 and now has even more kid-friendly features. Bring bikes for kids to ride loops on the paved path that circles the upper section of the park. Parents and caregivers can walk and look across at Beacon Hill and the Cascade Mountains or to shining Mount Baker in the distance. The playground has a wooden play structure, two zip lines, a net climber and a spinning net. Don’t miss the two slides that plummet down the hillside. Miles of easy hiking trails crisscross the forest at the south end of the park.
Location: 9000 8th Ave. S.W., West Seattle. Free parking is available in three separate parking lots. For the playground, enter at Eighth Avenue S.W. and S.W. Cloverdale Street. Buses stop on Ninth Ave. S.W. near the park.
Also nearby: Highland Park Playground has a seasonal spray park and sits a quarter-mile miles to the west.
8. Redondo Beach and Pier, Des Moines
A long curving beach offers hours of digging and exploring for kids while adults take in views of the Puget Sound, Vashon Island and the Olympic Mountains. Walk out on the wooden pier to see what the fishermen are catching and get a wide perspective on the sweeping views north and south. A small aquarium operated by Highline College next door is free and open to the public on Saturdays 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and Thursdays (summer only) 4–7 p.m.
Location: Redondo Beach Dr. S. and Redondo Way S., Des Moines. Free parking is available on nearby streets. There is a paid parking lot off Redondo Way S. (There’s no convenient bus service to the park.)
Also nearby: Cross Redondo Beach Dr. S. to find Wooton Park, hidden just steps away up the hill. Here kids can play on the colorful plastic play structure with four slides and a tunnel. You can also take advantage of the barbecue grills and picnic tables.
Want more? Try these fab local playgrounds:
Editor's note: This article was originally published a few years ago and updated for 2019.