New Meydenbauer Bay Park play area and pier. Credit: JiaYing Grygiel
Summer plans? Check.
After visiting Bellevue’s stunning new Meydenbauer Bay Park, I already know where we’ll be spending the summer. This waterfront park with spectacular views opened to the public a couple of weeks ago, and families from near and far are eagerly trying it out.
The redesign of the park expands its original footprint from 2.5 acres to 10 acres along the shoreline of Lake Washington. Planning for the park began in 2007, and construction broke ground in 2017. The steep site is now terraced into distinct areas: the beach level, the playground level and lookout points all the way up to street level, 70 feet above the lake.
A 400-foot curved pedestrian pier juts out onto Meydenbauer Bay, so you can feel like you’re out on the water without getting wet. There’s a built-in boat launch for canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. At the end of the pier is a surprisingly accurate sundial, as well as plenty of benches where you can sit and relax.
The pier wraps around a swimming area with ropes, a swim platform and a sandy beach. Lifeguards will be on duty late June through early September. Kids will love the brand-new playground, located just above the beach. The climbing structures incorporate natural elements like boulders and logs, a nod to the beautiful surroundings.
Wide, paved walking paths lead from the playground to one of the parking lots. Along the way, stop and enjoy the scenery from a lookout point jutting out over the beach. If you head up the slope to street level, take a break at a bench with a view. You can peacefully watch the boats on the water (and maybe have a picnic lunch). You get the same view of Lake Washington as the zillion-dollar homes lining the shore, only you’re off the hook for expensive maintenance and property taxes.
Meydenbauer Bay Park is in a swankier part of Bellevue, so the neighborhood is a little tonier and the amenities a lot nicer. The new beach house is tucked under the pier, and these are legit nice restrooms with a changing area and two separate family restrooms. (No park-grade stainless steel commodes here.)
You won’t even need to bother packing a lunch. The park is a block away from a Pagliacci Pizza, just down the street from a cute Main St. shopping district and a stone’s throw from Bellevue Square (and its neighboring swanky yet family-friendly food hall). Anything you need, it’s right here. If your kids are itching to explore another fantastic playground, Downtown Park's epic Inspiration Playground is less than half a mile away.
Just for fun, there’s an actual Clark Kent-style telephone booth next to the lower parking lot. When was the last time you saw one of those? No idea if it really works, but it was amusing to see and made us parents feel like dinosaurs.
The only shortfall is that parking can be an issue. For the opening weekend, shuttle buses ran from Bellevue High School. You could luck out with a spot in the lower parking lot by the marina, closest to the beach. There are two more upper parking lots, both accessible, but one of them is especially steep for strollers. But what a view — from the street level, you can see the scale of this magnificent park and the bay.
Now you know where to find us this summer.
If you go...
Open hours: The park is open daily from dawn to 11 p.m.
Pets: Pets are not allowed in summer, June 1–Sept. 15. Pets permitted on leash outside that time period.
More playgrounds to explore: