Five Spots for Swimming and Splashing in Seattle

Erin Wing - Seattle
July 5, 2011

Hey, Seattleites, the temperatures are rising and summer is officially in full gear! Luckily the Emerald City has no shortage of splashy venues to keep the kiddos comfortable and happy. With neighborhood pools, hidden spray pads, water slides, and sandy beaches by the bucketful, Seattle is loaded with opportunities for aquatic adventure. It's time to break out the water wings and cool those little piggies at the sweetest splash spots in town!

Golden Gardens

Come to Golden Gardens on a summer day to enjoy the sandy beach, and really cool off in the (chilly!) waters of Puget Sound. At low tide, head to the northern part of the beach and explore the tide pools. On select dates, beach naturalists from the Seattle Aquarium are on hand. (Check the aquarium site for more information.)  Want a special summer night adventure? Go later for a campfire cookout on the beach. (Bonfires are permitted in designated fire pits.) Wrap up the day with s'mores and amazing sunset views over the Olympics. To protect little feet from debris in the sand, don't forget to pack beach shoes. Parking is close and accessible for families, but lots fill up fast on summer days, so plan to play a few rounds of "I Spy" while you search for a spot.

Sammamish Commons

A hidden treasure tucked behind the Sammamish City Council building, Sammamish Commons is lovely if you're looking for a quiet, relatively uncrowded splash spot. Although it's right off the main drag in Sammamish, by the time you walk down the path through a peaceful wetland, you'll feel like you've found a remote oasis. Kids can activate a circle of large sprayers with the push of a button, and once they've cooled off, they can climb around on the adjacent play structure, or play tag on the large grassy lawn. Check for parking first in the smaller lot off of 222nd. If you don't find a spot there, use the main lot at City Hall, and bring a stroller in case you need to tote tired tots back up the hill after splashing. Wheels are also handy for hauling your gear, which should include a picnic blanket and a beach umbrella for maximum relax-i-mum. Shade and picnic tables are limited near the splash pad, and restrooms are available at City Hall, or look for a port-a-potty closer to the splash site.

Seattle Wading Pools

This summer, Seattle residents are fortunate to have access to 16 wading pools and 6 spray parks located all around the city. While some are operating on limited schedules due to budget cuts, don't fret! Many of the best spots are still open for daily splashing on hot days. ("Hot" is when temperatures are forecast to be 70 or above.) Just check the Seattle Parks and Recreation schedule to make sure your favorite pool is open before heading out. The big three: Lincoln Park, Greenlake and Volunteer Park are filled every day (with water and kids), and they're situated in amenity-filled parks, so you can turn the outing an all-day adventure. Other favorites include Miller Park, with a huge spray feature for adventurous kiddos, and Wallingford Pool with a nearby playground for younger children; a bit of shade near the water; and Trophy Cupcakes a few blocks north in the Wallingford Center.

Kirkland Marina Park

For a quick dip in Lake Washington, Kirkland Marina is a perfect choice. Go on Tuesday mornings and dance yourself silly at a free kiddie concert on the lawn, then cool your heels in the lake and play at the pebbly beach. You can watch fancy boats, splash and dig, walk out on the docks, enjoy a kid-friendly lunch, and probably still make it home before nap time. Cafes are plentiful along Lake Washington Blvd. Our favorite is Santorini Greek Grill for amazing gyros and a hummus and pita plate that is picky-eater approved!

Henry Moses Aquatic Center

No splash list is complete without a water park! Located in Renton at the Northeast corner of Cedar River Park, the Henry Moses Aquatic Center is a nice pick for little ones because it has a separate area for toddlers, a leisure pool with zero-depth entry, and water spray play areas. There are two sessions, which start at 12:00 and 4:00. Arrive early, and prepare the kids to wait in line since sessions sell out quickly. Once inside, you'll appreciate the limited admittance, since it keeps the center from becoming overcrowded.

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