We know the skies are still looking a bit, uh, Seattle-ish; but spring has officially sprung and regardless of the weather, everyone is ready for a breath of fresh air. It's time to welcome springtime with a trip to the most perfect places to play in Seattle! The kids around here really have it made when it comes to parks. We've got tons, and they all boast a little something special, whether it's a great view of water, the coolest climber in town, or just a lot of room to run. So pack a lunch, dress in layers, and hop out to discover the most happenin' parks in the hood.
Located along the shore of Lake Washington, Magnuson Park is loaded with options. It's home to one of the area's permanent orienteering courses and boasts draws like the ever-popular Kite Hill; two boat docks, one for motorized boats, and another for kayaks and canoes; an enclosed beach; and one of the most popular dog parks in Seattle, where kids love to watch the frolicking Fidos. Families can play at the enormous, newly updated playground, which includes kid-sized basketball hoops and three climbing structures; and get their hike on at the wooded Promontory Point trails in the south part of the park.
Saint Edward State Park
This Kenmore park is worth the drive! The extra large playground is divided into two sections: one fenced area for the toddlers and a gigantic fort-style wooden play structure for the five-and-over crowd. In fact, you might see a few really big "kids," since this is the sort of cool community built, old-school play area that entices parents off the bench for a fun game of family tag. Little diggers will love the sand pit equipped with trucks and shovels, and climbers can practice their skills on the rock climbing wall. Saint Edward State Park also boasts loads of trails and beach access, so you can turn this park trip into a whole day's worth of outdoorsy fun.
Located along Puget Sound and chock full of amenities, Lincoln Park is so much more than a neighborhood play structure (but it's got a large one, and it's shaded, too!). Adventurous tykes will love to take a ride on the best zip line in town, or grab a shovel and comb the beach while Mom and Dad gawk at pretty western views of the Vashon Island ferry on Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Picnic at one of many shelters in the park, or go a few blocks South to Endolyne Joe's for some comfort food with great picks for kids.
Pine Lake Park
This Sammamish Park is another woodsy spot with plenty of space to run and explore. The parking lot feels a little like a trailhead, since you have to take a (very) short hike through the woods to reach the playground. Because of the trees, there is plenty of shade on a sunny day and even a bit of protection from spring rain. The two play structures are located close enough together that you can easily supervise your tentative little toddler and your big adventurous climber from the same spot. The Pine Lake Beach is just a short walk past the playground, so it's convenient if the kids feel like splashing. (But the beach isn't obvious from the play area, so if water play isn't on the agenda, your kids might not even notice it's there.)
Deane's Children's Park
This Mercer Island park is home to the coolest park feature around. When the Adventure Playground opens for the season in May, kids can come to dig in the dirt, use provided toolkits to build forts, and let their imaginations run wild. The first of its kind in Washington and only the fourth in the nation, this Adventure Playground is modeled after parks with a similar concept in Europe. The idea is to let kids explore the natural environment and use their imaginations in an unstructured play setting. Playgrounds like this encourage cooperation, give children opportunities to meet physical challenges, and help them gain self confidence. It's staffed with Parks and Recreation "Playworkers," who assess risks and help when needed, and parents must sign a waiver before the kids play.