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Secret Eastside Parks Every Family Should Explore

From a dragon-themed park in Kirkland to a gem of a beach park, green spaces to put on your summer list

Published on: July 12, 2015

One of the perks about living on the Eastside? The parks! From expansive, multi-structured playgrounds to tiny neighborhood pocket parks, Eastside families are downright spoiled with kid-friendly green space. Here are a few of the lesser-known parks of the Eastside that every family should discover.

Waverly Beach Park, Kirkland

Tucked away in Kirkland’s beautiful “West of Market” neighborhood you’ll find a little Lake Washington gem. The three-acre Waverly Beach Park has a bit of everything; a small beach perfect for skipping rocks, an enclosed swimming area, a good-sized grassy lawn and a little playground including swings, climbing toys and a wooden play structure. During summertime it can get crowded (go on a weekday), but as for the rest of the year, it’s like a secret park!

Find it: 633 Waverly Way, Kirkland

Park at Bothell Landing, Bothell

This gorgeous park sits right along the Sammamish River with easy access to the Sammamish River Trail. The playground caters to both little ones and older siblings, and there’s a small waterfront area perfect for skipping rocks and watching ducks. This park is great for a stop-in after a stroller-jog along the trail or a family bike ride.

Bonus: After playing, head up to Main Street Bothell for a bite to eat at the kid-friendly Alexa’s Cafe.

Find it: 9919 N.E. 180th St., Bothell

Rhododendron Park, Kenmore

Practically hidden in the heart of Kenmore, this quiet little park boasts an attraction other than its play area: Rhododendrons, and hundreds of them! Come during the late spring through summer and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into The Secret Garden! Kiddos not impressed with perennials? Not to worry: The 13-acre park also offers two play areas (one for tots, one for big kids) including swings, a paved path for scootering, ample grass space and nature trails. Don’t forget your shovels — there’s a sandbox too!

Bonus: Another plus you don’t see very often at public park: a heated bathroom with a diaper-changing station.

Find it: 6910 N.E. 170th St., Kenmore

Rhododendron Park, Kenmore. Photo credit: brewbooks, flickr CC

North Kirkland Community Center Park

Located right next to the North Kirkland Community Center, this park is great for the ages  2–8 crowd. There are swings, a sand box and a couple of play structures that include slides and climbing bars. While not huge, the park does have some green space (steep, grassy hills that my kiddo loves to roll down). Another big plus is the community center, offering classes throughout the year for babies (with parent) through preschoolers (think art, music, dance, cooking, science classes) as well as an open play for kids ages 1–5 every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Check here for hours.

Details: 12421 103rd Ave. N.E., Kirkland

Summit Park, Issaquah Highlands

For some Frisbee-worthy grass area, cool Kompani playgroung toys tw of the adventurous slides in greater Seattle, hit up Summit Park, one of the hidden parks in the Issaquah Highlands community. The two “tube” slides are actually built into the hill, making for a thrill of a ride! Pack a picnic and stay awhile.

Bonus: Amazing views from the park.

Details: 30th Ave. N.E. and N.E. Harrison St., Issaquah

Summit Park. Photo credit: Linnea Westerlind
Summit Park. Photo credit: Linnea Westerlind

North Rose Hill Woodlands Park (Castle Park), Kirkland

Local children helped design this fun Rose Hill park, a.k.a. Castle Park, which boasts a large castle structure complete with turrets, dragon murals and secret passageways. There’s also a toddler area, with smaller-sized equipment, as well as a tire swing and two slides. The entire park is almost 20 acres, with a big grassy lawn, nature trails and boardwalks across wetlands. Tip: Most people park along one of the side streets off 124th Ave, which means you must cross the busy street. But there is also a small lot off of N.E. 100th Street.

Bonus: The park is completely fenced, making it ideal for small children and kids who wander. 

Details: 9930 124th Ave. N.E., Kirkland

Photo credit: Allison Holm
Photo credit: Allison Holm

Phyllis A. Needy Houghton Neighborhood Park, Kirkland

Got toddlers? This park is perfect. Small-scaled, flat and fully enclosed, parents and caregivers can breathe a bit easier if they are toting more than one tot. Aimed specifically for little ones, this play area features a teeter-totter, spring toys, swings, a sandbox and a slide. Open lawn space is perfect for getting wiggles out.

Bonus: A small basketball court is great for scootering and big-wheeling in a small space.

Find it: 10811 N.E. 47th St., Kirkland

Phyllis A. Needy Houghton Neighborhood Park
Phyllis A. Needy Houghton Neighborhood Park. Photo credit: Allison Holm

Tot Lot Park (Turtle Park), Kirkland

Tot Lot, another toddler-friendly park (and often referred to as "Turtle Park”) is tucked away in the residential NorKirk neighborhood in Kirkland. This cute park features a great sandbox with toys, a toddler-sized play structure, swings and picnic tables. Fully fenced, it's great for parents of young kids and kids on the autism spectrum. There’s also a slide (tall and a possibly a bit intimidating) that’s great for older siblings.

Bonus:community garden has plots for rent.

Find it: 111 Ninth Ave., Kirkland

Perrigo Community Park, Redmond

Perfect for sports fans and nature lovers alike, Perrigo Park boasts some great basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis courts and even a sand volleyball court. The playground is great for little ones and there’s a large covered pavilion with a BBQ and picnic tables.

Bonus: When the sand volleyball courts are free (and the often are), it’s a great opportunity to let your kids loose in a huge sandbox.

Find it: 9011 196th Ave N.E., Redmond 

McAuliffe Park, Kirkland

This beautiful North Kirkland park, not far from Juanita Bay Park, has some history behind it. The McAuliffe homestead goes way back to 1877, and is now owned by the city of Kirkland. The 12-acre estate features a kids’ playground (including swings, slides and picnic tables), wide grassy lawns, an apple orchard, a community garden and a cool old windmill. Picnic, toss a Frisbee or wander through the grounds, which are dotted with Americana memorabilia.

Bonus: Classes (through the city of Kirkland) are held here as well, from an organic gardening course to cooking classes.

Find it: 108th Avenue N.E., Kirkland

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