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What to See and Do With Kids in the Seattle Area’s Biggest Parks

Play all day in four huge parks that make up part of our collective big backyard

Published on: October 31, 2022

What to See and Do With Kids in the Seattle Area’s Biggest Parks

On a gray fall day, kids play at Playground by the Sound at Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place near Tacoma one of Puget Sound area's biggest parks
Playground by the Sound at Chambers Creek Regional Park. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

Chambers Creek Regional Park

Find it: Chambers Creek Regional Park is located at 6320 Grandview Drive W. in University Place, just south of Tacoma.

Locals commonly refer to this park as Chambers Bay, after the golf course that hosted the 2015 U.S. Open, but its 930 acres offer so much more than 18 holes.

Cross a kid-size Galloping Gertie

Enjoy the water views and the local flair that decorates the wooden Playground by the Sound on the northern end of the park. Orcas leap through the toddler area near a lighthouse and crab shack. Big kids can cross a bridge bearing the nickname for the Tacoma Narrows bridge, “Galloping Gertie,” before descending through an obstacle course watched over by an octopus named Stanley.

The playground is surrounded by a wooden fence, so you don’t have to worry about runners, but keep in mind that strollers and pets aren’t permitted inside the play area. I like to park near the playground before taking the Soundview Trail down to the Central Meadow area to extend our play. It’s 2 miles each way and a bit steep, but the paved path is stroller-friendly.

Young boy in red rain suit playing at  Chambers Bay Regional Park's Playground by the Sound he is balancing on a play element
Try to cross a kid-sized Galloping Gertie at Chambers Bay. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

Fly a kite

Catch a sea breeze with your kite in the open skies surrounding Chambers Creek’s Central Meadow. Look for the summer kite festival on the Pierce County Parks website. On additional kite-flying days, held monthly from April to October, you’ll draw inspiration from more experienced fliers. There’s even access to food trucks as well as special activities for kids on select dates.

Young boy looking at love locks locked to the bridge crossing the train tracks at the South Sound's expansive Chambers Creek Regional Park
Inspecting the many "love locks" left on the bridge over the train tracks. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

Cross that bridge when you come to it

The beautiful pedestrian bridge provides an excellent viewpoint for your little engineer to watch trains as you walk over to the beach. Herons and seals frequent the area, which was once a fishing village for the Steilacoom Tribe, and the rocky coastline is the perfect place for spotting wildlife.

As you head back to the meadow, admire the padlocks placed on the bridge’s rails by couples commemorating their everlasting love.

Boy playing on ruins of gravel mine at Chambers Bay a large park in the Puget Sound area
Playing by the gravel mine ruins. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

Climb not-so-ancient ruins

Gravel mined from the park once supported the building of Fort Worden, Fort Flagler and Fort Casey, and mining operations didn’t cease until 2003. Remnants of the former mining facilities provide a striking architectural element, but my kids think they’re best used for games of hide-and-seek.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2021 and has been updated for 2022.

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