| Outings + Activities | Family fun

Idylwood Beach Park, Sammamish

Idyllic fun on Lake Sammamish
3650 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy., Redmond

Idlywood Beach Park, built on the site of a popular vacation cottage resort called Chandler’s Gateway Grove, boasts a naturally serene setting on Lake Sammamish and a brand new playground. The park draws huge crowds on summer weekends but autumnal visitors will find ample space to play and enjoy the changing colors of the leaves.

History: During the 1920s, Lake Sammamish was a popular summer vacation spot for families escaping Seattle’s urban grit. In 1927, the road between Issaquah and the west side of the lake was graded and paved, offering easier access to the ever-increasing number of area residents who owned a car, and stimulating the development of many small vacation cottage rental businesses. Shady Beach, Pete’s Place, Idylwood, Vasa Park, Shamrock Cottage and Gateway Grove all offered respite from city summers.

Gateway Grove was developed in 1927 by the Charles Enis family, which built about a dozen cottages as rental properties, along with a boathouse, swimming dock and playground. The property changed hands in 1944 and again in 1951 when it was sold to Chandler and Myrtle Pickering, who spruced up the resort with a 40-foot slide and a high diving board. During the 1950s, water skiing, sailing and motor boat racing were popular activities for the guests at Gateway Grove.

King County purchased Gateway Grove and its neighboring resort, Idylwood Beach, in 1969. The two properties were combined to form Idylwood Beach Park, which King County gave to the City of Redmond in 1994.

Features: 250 feet of Lake Sammamish shoreline form the park’s eastern edge, with a view of forested hills beyond Marymoor Park and Sammamish Slough to the north. Idylwood Creek flows through the center of the park and drains into the lake. Wetlands in the park are being restored and will provide habitat for wildlife, including coho salmon and coastal cutthroat trout. A large grassy meadow, surrounded by large Western Red Cedar, maple, chestnut, hemlock, spruce and black locust trees, rolls gently toward the sandy lake shore, which is dotted with picnic tables.

The playground features one large and one small compound play structure, two slides, and both tot and belt swings. The underside of the larger play structure is tall enough to play in without bumped heads, and a simulated bat cave beneath the climber reinforces this use. Climbable, touchable sculptures of a giant frog and a giant fish invite creative play. A covered shelter in the middle of the play equipment makes picnics possible even on rainy days. A great interpretive sign near the beach gives kids a chance to examine vintage photographs of the park in its resort days and learn more about Chandler Pickering. Other signs explain wetland restoration activities now underway throughout the park.

Access: A nice wide path leads from the parking lot through the meadow to the beach and branches off to the playground. Restrooms are wheelchair-accessible and both men’s and women’s have changing tables. The playground has excellent wheelchair and stroller access and the park’s unusually large number of well-chosen ground level play features make it a terrific choice for kids of all abilities.

Nearby: The Redmond Town Center shopping center lies 21/2 miles north of the park and offers numerous kid-friendly food options. The Redmond REI store, complete with climbing pinnacle in case the kids still have energy left after the playground, is located within Redmond Town Center. (16495 N.E. 74th St. 425-867-0808.) Victor’s Coffee Company is a quieter option for soups, panini, yummy baked goods and fresh-roasted coffee. (7993 Gilman St. 425-881-6451.) The Redmond Regional branch of the King County Library is nearby at 15990 N.E. 85th, 425-885-1861, www.kcls.org

Paula Beckeris a staff historian for www.HistoryLink.org and a mother of three.

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