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Outdoor destinations worth the drive

Published on: March 01, 2007

Read Paula's article about Park Advocacy for tips on how to be your local park's best friend.

When it comes to parks, Puget Sound families can literally play all
day. We are rich in outdoor spaces, wealthy in parks and playgrounds of
gorgeous variety. Sifting through the choices to pick out a just a
handful is a difficult task, but we've done it. Here are six terrific
parks, large and small, throughout the region. Now that spring is on
its way, it's time to get outside with the kids again. Pick a park
you've never visited before and get primed for play!

Snohomish County
Major destination: Spencer Island

4th Street South East, Everett
Spencer Island is a quiet gem in the Snohomish River Estuary. Walking
trails along the shoreline feel private, remote and undeveloped.
Signage and trails are currently undergoing renovation and the
surrounding slough is unfenced, but pond observation decks and an
abundance of wildlife make this park a great day trip for older
children. Bring water, snacks, sketchbooks and sunscreen, and observe
waterfowl, salamanders, frogs, raccoons, muskrats and deer in their
natural habitat.

Secret treasure: Marina Beach Park
End of Admiral Way South, Edmonds
Right on the beach with a stunning view of the Olympic Mountains,
Marina Beach Park is a tiny jewel. A bright, newish compound play
structure (over wood chips) is sited directly on the beach, giving
little children the chance to slide, build sandcastles and explore tide
pools in a manageably small area while the big kids throw a Frisbee

Major destination: Lewis Creek Park

5808 Lakemont Blvd., Bellevue
Bring the stroller, roller blades and doll carriage along when you
visit Lewis Creek Park and enjoy the long paved path that winds through
56 acres of wildlife habitat. Kids will notice the sights and sounds of
native wildlife as the path turns its back on busy Bellevue and
descends into a soothing valley. You'll pass several play structures,
swings and spring toys along the way. A great picnic spot!

Secret treasure: Deane's Children's Park ("Dragon Park")
5500 Island Crest Way, Mercer Island
A visit to the recently renovated Deane's Children's Park involves an
exciting treasure hunt along forested paths. Kids will discover two
large compound play structures (one with a castle theme), swings, a
climbing wall and a lovely longhouse-style covered picnic area, all
nestled between tall trees. The friendly dragon, a beloved park feature
since 1961, has gone from fuchsia to green but still invites children
to climb around, over and through it.

Major destination: Discovery Park

3801 W. Government Way, Seattle
At 534 acres, Discovery Park is Seattle's largest. Loop trails,
beachfront, West Point Lighthouse tours, a small play area with cable
ride, the Environmental Learning Center with cool indoor play area --
Discovery Park has something for everyone. Postcard-worthy views from
Magnolia Bluff will impress visitors and make Puget Sounders feel
downright smug.

Secret treasure: Meadowbrook Playfield/Friends of Annie's Playground
10533 35th Ave. N.E., Seattle
Meadowbrook Playfield/Friends of Annie's Playground is a breathtakingly
large collection of thoughtfully innovative play equipment with a
Pacific Northwest theme. Kids can wind through a cave habitat, slide
down four great slides and investigate a beautiful tile mural depicting
salmon migration. In season, watch for migrating salmon(and cutthroat
trout) as they swim up Thornton Creek, which flows alongside the park.


Paula Becker
writes frequently about parks and park history, and with her three
children has explored parks and playgrounds throughout the Puget Sound

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