Expansive Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place.
Chambers Creek Regional Park
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.
Fly a kite
Catch a sea breeze with your kite in the open skies surrounding Chambers Creek’s central meadow. Any windy day will do the trick, but in summertime, check the Pierce County Parks website for a kite festival and additional kite-flying days, when kids can learn from more experienced fliers. There’s even access to food trucks as well as special activities for kids on select dates.
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.
Climb and play around 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.
My tips for your big-park outing ...
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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2021 and has been updated for 2023.