Kid-friendly Eastside picks to get the whole family outdoors
Switch up your usual plans and head across the lake for some lively outdoor fun
City of Bellevue Washington/Flickr
The Eastside has no shortage of superb outdoor activities. If you’re looking to switch up your usual weekend adventuring and motivate your kids to get out of the house, head to one of these spots.
The always-calm Bellevue Botanical Garden is a total oasis for nature- and flower-loving kids; they also host kids’ gardening and agricultural classes throughout the year. The tranquil spot is also ideal for family photos. 12001 Main St, Bellevue
Mercer Island’s incredible outdoor Adventure Playground (read our review here) opens on June 26 and runs through September 30, and is one of the Eastside’s neatest play spaces. The one-of-a-kind play area allows kids to create their own play adventure — kids are provided toolboxes, various building supplies, safety items and the freedom to create build-it-yourself play zones with the guidance of staff members. Check the website for any closures due to weather, etc. Deane's Childrens Park, 5500 Island Crest Way, Mercer Island
If you've never zip-lined, maybe it's time to try. Bellevue Zip Tours' six rad zip lines will get your heart racing and show you a side of the city you've never seen before. Located in Eastgate Park just off I-90 at the South Bellevue Community Center, this is an awesome activity for families with teens or older kids looking for bigger thrills and a way to get wild and crazy within city limits. 14509 SE Newport Way, Bellevue
Luther Burbank Park is rich with history, including its years as a "reform school" for Seattle kids.
An old brick dormitory still stands as evidence of the many children who have visited this piece of land through the years. The site of a school for delinquent youth from 1905 to 1966, kids used to be schooled in academics and farming here. Today, kids come here to play. At 77 acres, the waterfront park has incredible Lake Washington views, trails, a boat dock and fishing pier, a sandy beach perfect for little kids, and a unique playground. 2040 84th Ave SE, Mercer Island
What began as a roadside produce stand more than 30 years ago, has grown into a full-fledged market, restaurant, U-pick fields, and the closest thing the Eastside has to an amusement park for kids. Right now, the park is open on weekdays only, but officially is open every day, for the season, on June 16. The Country Fair Fun Park has more than 25 rides and attractions including a kid-sized roller coaster, pony rides and a mini steam train that rolls along the Tolt River. 32610 NE 32nd St, Carnation
Animal lovers will dig the farm animals at Kelsey Creek Farm. Every day of the year, Kelsey Creek Community Park, a charming 150 acres of forest, meadows and wetlands in the heart of Bellevue, offers a glimpse of this city's rural past with two historic barns, hiking trails, and creeks. The furry pals are also in their pastures every day of the year from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. The farm just got a brand-new playground and picnic tables, and best of all, entrance is free! 410 130 Pl SE, Bellevue
Lovely Enatai Beach Park is a haven for paddle fanatics: Rent kayaks or canoes daily throughout the summer and weekends in September from Cascade PaddleSports. Just a short paddle away, you'll find the calm and protected waters of the Mercer Slough Nature Park, the largest remaining wetlands on Lake Washington. The water channel is lush with aquatic iris, water lilies, and several varieties of berries, turtles, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, Black Birds, Swallows, Osprey and Bald Eagles. 3519 108th Ave. SE, Bellevue
No Eastside guide would be complete without mentioning Snoqualmie Falls. Did you know they're 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls? At 276 feet, the breathtaking falls are one of the state’s most popular attractions, with more than 1.5 million visitors each year. 6501 Railroad Ave. SE, Snoqualmie
Just one mile west of Snoqualmie Falls, this is the little museum that could. It’s housed in the original 1890 Snoqualmie Depot, a national historic site. Walk through the short railway exhibit, then buy a ticket to ride on an historic train – at the same ticket window people used more than 100 years ago. The 70-minute, five-mile ride runs through the Upper Snoqualmie Valley to North Bend. All aboard!
38625 SE King St, Snoqualmie
Sightings of western painted turtles sunning themselves on wetland logs are almost a sure thing on a warm day at Juanita Bay Park. The 110-acre park hosts interpretive trails and boardwalks. Eastside Audubon offers regular birding walks at the park. Check their calendar for dates and times. 2201 Market St, Kirkland