Park, pool, library, coffee shop. Is that your all-too-familiar neighborhood summer rotation, perhaps with an occasional field trip to a beach or museum thrown in? In August, we dare you to leave your ZIP code behind and explore the corners, cafes, water parks, trails and food forests (!) of a new ’hood. Here are six up-and-coming communities around Puget Sound that are perfect for a day’s adventure.
Skip to the first neighborhood explore or browse all six:
BEACON HILL: Forage in the city
Beacon Hill, one of the seven hill neighborhoods of Seattle, is ripe for cultural and natural exploration. Start at Seattle’s sixth-largest park, Jefferson Park (3801 Beacon Ave. S.), where you can catch a stunning panorama of the city, play at the Beacon Mountain playscape and spray park, try lawn bowling or watch daredevils at the skate park.
Head to the southwestern end of the park to see the much-buzzed-about Beacon Food Forest (15th Avenue S. and S. Dakota Street), a 7-acre “edible urban forest garden” adjacent to the park that will be the country’s largest such project when complete. You can already glean food in some areas of the food forest: berries, greens and more.
Still hungry? Take a long walk or quick drive up Beacon Avenue to one of the many ethnic eateries that reflect the neighborhood’s diversity; local favorites include El Quetzal for authentic quesadillas (3209 Beacon Ave. S.), Bar del Corso for wood-fired pizza (3057 Beacon Ave. S.) or — a little farther up Beacon Avenue and west on 15th — Despi Delite Bakery for Filipino pastries (2701 15th Ave. S.).
Hoof it back to your car and drive about two miles to the Seattle Bouldering Project (900 Poplar Place S.), an indoor free-climbing space beloved by kids and adults.
RICHMOND BEACH: Coasting along
Although not all of this Shoreline neighborhood is walkable, its many attractions make it worth hopping in and out of your car. Local mom Kimberley Bryan suggests starting the day by buying picnic supplies at The Little Store (2002 N.W. 196th St.) and then making the short drive down to Richmond Beach Saltwater Park (2021 N.W. 190th St.), enjoying dramatic views of the Sound along the way. “When the tide’s out, you can walk for hours along the shoreline to the south — or just kick back and watch the kite surfers,” says Lisa Costantino, an Edmonds resident who often treks to this beach.
Pop back into your car and change gears completely at Spin Alley (1430 N.W. Richmond Beach Road), a bowling alley with an onsite restaurant. Caffeinate next door at locally owned Richmond Beach Coffee Company (1442 N.W. Richmond Beach Road), a cozy spot with good snacks and a small play area.
Reserve time to wander the trails of Kruckeberg Botanic Garden (20312 15th Ave. N.W.), a lovely 4-acre garden that is home to thousands of native Northwest species mingled with exotics, and which hosts many family-friendly programs throughout the year. Don’t miss the intriguing garden art (including a piece that kids can climb).
MAPLE LEAF: Peak park experience
Have you heard the loving raves about Maple Leaf Reservoir Park (1020 N.E. 82nd St.), the renovated two-story park in this northeast Seattle neighborhood? The upper section, located at one of the highest points in the city, covers the old reservoir and boasts a .5 mile circular bike path, pickleball and basketball courts, and a vast field that bustles with action. Walk down steps to the newly remodeled playground; though its play equipment is best suited for younger children, the zip line will thrill kids of all ages.
Lunchtime? Walk north to Cloud City Coffee (8801 Roosevelt Way N.E.), a neighborhood hangout with a small kids’ play area, outdoor seating, tasty baked items, soup and sandwiches and soft-serve ice cream (check out happy-hour specials from 3–6 p.m.). Just a bit north, Judy Fu’s Snappy Dragon (8917 Roosevelt Way N.E.) has earned a cult following for its hand-cut noodles and General Tso’s chicken.
After your meal, stock up on summer learning staples at Math ’n’ Stuff (8926 Roosevelt Way N.E.). Don’t let the odd storefront fool you: It’s a wonderland of building toys, science sets, Lego kits and — yes — math games.
ISSAQUAH: Alpine adventure
For a summer jaunt to the city at the southern tip of Lake Washington, bathing suits are a must. Start with what might be Renton’s most popular summer destination: the outdoor Henry Moses Aquatic Center (1719 S.E. Maple Valley Highway), a budget-friendly water park with 26-foot-high water slides, a wave machine, lazy river, toddler area and spray features (tip: purchase passes for the session early). Pre- or post-swim, play or walk the trails at next-door Cedar River Park (1717 Maple Valley Highway) — in the fall, it’s also a prime viewing spot for returning chinook, coho and sockeye salmon.
Mosey half a mile to explore downtown, including the Renton History Museum (235 Mill Ave. S.), an Art- Deco-style former fire station with exhibits that include a reconstructed house and Boeing historical artifacts. Fuel up at nearby Common Ground Coffee & Cupcakes (900 S. Third St.) and look for used books at the Old Renton Book Exchange (227 Wells Ave. S.), where you can settle into the play area and couches.
Next, soar on a giant tandem swing at Renton’s newest play area, Meadow Crest Playground (3000 N.E. 16th St.), an all-inclusive park designed to accommodate children in wheelchairs and with other aides. (Note: During the school year, you can only drop in outside of school hours.)
Or go for another dip, this time in Lake Washington at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park (1201 Lake Washington Blvd. N.). Ivar’s and Kidd Valley concessions will feed the gang — remind them to keep eyes peeled for the occasional Boeing plane taking off from the nearby assembly plant.