When I first heard about Jennings Memorial Park and how great it is, my initial reaction was, wow, Marysville is really far from our house. It’s a 40-minute drive north of Seattle… but let’s not kid ourselves, it can easily take 40 minutes to drive across town if you time it wrong.
We are always game to check out new-to-us playgrounds, so my son and I waited until rush hour died down, then zipped up I-5 for a visit to this serene and beautiful park.
First of all, Jennings Memorial Park is huge. The Jennings family gave their farm to the city of Marysville, and its 51 acres now include three playgrounds, a fishing pond, a master gardener’s demonstration garden, ball fields and nature trails. Just the grassy area next to the parking lot alone would pass for a pretty good-sized park in Seattle.
At the park’s main entrance off Armar Road, you can’t miss the big red barn used for community events. To the right is a 2-story, barn-inspired play structure with a bridge. Kids will also like the climbing caterpillar, the pretend train engine and swings. There are a couple of other buildings around the playground: a Rotary Ranch used for classes, plus an 1884 homestead and a 1901 steam donkey engine, both owned by the Marysville Historical Society.
Even with all that fun stuff, we saw a tot who just wanted to lay down and play with a mound of dirt.
From the barn, we could see another playground on the other side of the park. It was a perfect nature walk away, via a boardwalk across a wetlands area and up a wooded hill. We looked up to see a honking “V” of geese in the sky.
The second playground at Jennings Memorial Park is dinosaur-themed. Big footprints stamped in the sidewalk lead the way in. There’s a T-Rex to ride on, a Stegosaurus climber and a faux-rock balancing bridge. On one side of the playground is a slide built into the slope; the other has a chain-link fence to keep kids from tumbling down the hillside. This park was recently updated and even smelled like fresh wood chips when we visited.
My 4-year-old’s favorite feature at the dinosaur park was the zipline. It’s on the shorter side, and modified with a larger seat so several people can sit on it together. Most ziplines only give you a rubber nub of a seat, and whiz along way too fast. My little guy was thrilled to find a zipline that was the perfect size and speed for him.
Both these playgrounds are designed for kids ages 5–12, but my timid kid did just fine. Some of the newer playgrounds he finds a little too risky for his comfort zone.
We saw lots of volunteers working in the master gardener’s demonstration garden. It’s open to the public, so we popped in for a look. The one-acre space is divided into lots of cute little zones: an English cottage garden, an alpine garden, a meditation garden and more. Every time you turn a corner, you discover another charming nook. We found roses, dwarf conifers, squash, hostas, tomatoes. No green thumb required to enjoy this very impressive garden.
In the little valley between the playgrounds, there’s a pretty man-made pond with a fountain feature. In spring, the Kiwanis Youth Fishing Pond gets stocked with trout and perch for kids 12 and under. The water is pretty murky, so this isn’t one you want to go wading in, but take a walk along the gravel path around it. We even saw a rainbow in the spray.
The restrooms inside the red barn are modern and clean. In case of an emergency, you can use portable toilets scattered in other areas of the park so you don’t have to walk all the way back to the barn. The park has tons of nice picnic tables, some under covered pavilions. Pack a picnic lunch, or pick up takeout on the way in — you’ll pass by lots of options on 4th Street (Mod Pizza, Jimmy John’s, Starbucks and more).
Usually, I’d try to think of a few nearby attractions to pair with a destination park. The excellent Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett? Marysville's Seattle Premium Outlets? But Jennings Memorial Park is an incredible park that has everything you need for a fun, full day with your family. Besides, you will leave with such a Zen feeling after visiting this peaceful place, you really won’t want to mess that up.
I can’t even count the times I’ve sped past Exit 199 on I-5 without a second thought. After our visit, Google told me about a third playground at Jennings Memorial Park I’d completely missed! (It’s down the trail past the ball fields, on 64th Street N.E.) We’ll save it for our next visit — I know we’ll be back.
If you go...
Open hours: dawn to dusk every day
More great playgrounds to explore: