Credit: Natasha Dillinger
According to a recent tweet from Seattle’s branch of the National Weather Service, the number of hours registering above 70 degrees this spring has been only a tiny fraction of what’s normal. Just five hours!
So, when the forecast called for a little sunshine recently, my preschooler and I headed straight for the new playground at Renton’s Kennydale Beach Park. We needed some warmth and vitamin D, and of course we wanted to check out all the new stuff.
At 1.8 acres in size, Kennydale isn’t a huge park, and I had good sightlines throughout our visit, which was lucky because the minute we arrived, my son made a beeline for the waterfront digger equipment. I could envision a line forming for these popular features on a busy day. A nearby canopy cover provides shade over a patch of sand, so consider bringing a handful of sand toys from home.
My son occasionally asked for help lifting the bucket on the digger machines since the controls are a bit heavier and stiffer than others we’ve encountered, but I got to sit at the shaded picnic tables and sip my tea for quite awhile before he was ready to move to the next thing. I liked this park already!
The large (unshaded) climbing structure is best for older kids; park info indicates it’s designed for the 5- to 12-year-old age range. My preschooler could confidently climb all the ladders, but the rope bridges have large gaps that proved too challenging for him. (Stay very close with small kids.)
The main slide is quite zippy and ends close to the water’s edge, so it’s one feature of the playground where you will want to supervise little kids who want to try it.
Toddlers have their own structure with a wide shade cover that includes musical chimes, several climbing access points and three slides. We played with the chimes for a few minutes, but it was hard to resist the allure of the diggers and my son kept circling back to them.
A retro Tommy the Turtle sculpture has gotten around Renton in the years since he was designed as a climbing structure for 1950s-era playgrounds. Vintage photos show him at the former Renton Shopping Center (now a Fred Meyer) and the Renton Highlands Library (which has since moved as well) before he landed at Kennydale in 2020.
His sturdy build means kids can climb the historic reptile while Renton-native parents and grandparents can reminisce about his former homes.
A few steps lead down to a shallow wading and swimming area that’s relatively protected by a pier and log boom (although I did notice some boat wake creating small waves). It wasn’t quite warm enough for a swim yet, but we spread a towel on the pier to enjoy our picnic lunch.
It turns out we weren’t alone in wanting to enjoy the sunshine and light breeze! We listened to a pair of bald eagles chirping to each other in a tree just south of the swimming area, perhaps watching for some fish for their own lunch. Fluffy ducklings hopped up the swimming ladder and picked on each other like human siblings while their parents tried to nap in the sand.
Best for a weekday outing
Lake Washington Boulevard has no parking and the small lot on Burnett Avenue has spots for only about a dozen cars, so this seems like a spot to visit on a weekday morning (as we did). Alternatively, park elsewhere and opt to bike or walk along the Eastside Trail Rail Corridor that runs alongside Lake Washington.
Once we sorted out the parking situation, we descended a few flights of stairs to the playground and practically had the place to ourselves.
This small-but-mighty playground had plenty to entertain us for a couple of hours until we sadly had to move on to errands. Maybe this summer we’ll pack swimsuits, a light beach bag and tack some splash time on to our next visit.
If you go …
Open hours: The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Summer swimming: Kennydale is one of Renton’s designated swimming beaches, but it does not have lifeguards on duty. Children swimming must be accompanied by an adult.
Parking: Finding a spot might be tricky on a sunny weekend, but there are about a dozen spots available in a small lot off of Burnett Avenue North. A rail trail runs along Lake Washington, so you could also park elsewhere and bike or walk to the park. (There’s parking for the trail about 0.6 miles to the north of Kennydale Beach Park.)
Restrooms: Flush toilets with a small adjacent changing area are right on the beach. The water fountain and shower tower were turned off during our visit.
Snack time: Cloudbreak Coffee Co. serves coffee and ice cream, and is open long hours to supply your playground marathon needs.
More summer play day destinations: