Editor’s note: Updated in May 2021. Some photos were taken pre-COVID.
If you’re a parent of toddlers, you know that parks are lifesavers. And with so many to chose from, we’ve focused on some of our Eastside favorites geared especially toward the under-5 crowd. Be it a separate space for toddlers or an entire park created just for pint-sized players, here are 14 parks for toddlers on the Eastside!
1. Tot Lot Park, better known as Turtle Park (namely for the large stone turtle that sits in the middle of the lawn), is a fully fenced, flat and fabulous mini park for toddlers. You’ve got a well-stocked sandbox, a small climbing structure with slides, ride-on toys, a few swings and lots of grass for snack time.
Restrooms: There’s a portable toilet, so come prepared.
Snacks: Head to downtown Kirkland for Jimmy John’s or DERU Market (about six blocks east) for artisan pizzas and organic salads (plus some to-die-for cake).
141 9th Ave., Kirkland
2. Houghton’s Phyllis A. Needy Park is another great, fully fenced park for your minis. It’s also got a sandbox full of tractors, play equipment, ride-on toys, swings and lots of grass to run around on.
Restrooms: There are bathrooms and a drinking fountain on-site.
Snacks: Nearby snack stops include Metropolitan Market and Menchie’s.
10811 NE 47th St., Kirkland
3. McAuliffe Park is actually on a homestead that’s owned by the city of Kirkland. It’s a cute little park that’s rarely crowded. One side has swings, play equipment and a huge grassy area; the homestead is located across the road. Wander the apple orchard, admire the huge windmill and stroll through the sweet community P-Patch.
Food: Grab a pizza at Pagliacci and make it a park picnic.
10824 NE 116th St., Kirkland
4. North Kirkland Community Center Park is another great bet for toddlers and preschoolers. There are two sections of the park and it includes all the regulars: Swings, a sandbox, slides, climbing equipment. Your littles will love exploring the small patch of bushes between the two play areas and rolling down the grassy hill.
Snacks: Continue east on 124th for a post-park Menchie’s treat or for a sandwich from QFC.
12421 103rd Avenue NE, Kirkland
5. The newly updated Juanita Beach Park boasts a brand new bathhouse, picnic pavilion, and an all-abilities playground. Highlights include fun features like the “roller” slide, a double swing, and a mini climbing wall. There’s a smaller climbing structure for the 5-and-under crowd, plus a larger one for a big brother or sister.
Snacks: Pop over to Urban Coffee Lounge for a sandwich and scone.
9703 NE Juanita Drive, Kirkland
6. North Rose Hill Woodlands Park, better known as “Castle Park” to the community members who helped build it, is a one-of-a-kind playground. It features — you guessed it — a castle full of climbing structures, secret passageways and slides. There’s a separate area for toddlers with smaller (but just as cool) equipment, and everyone will love the tire swing. There’s tons of grass for picnics, plus a few small nature trails and boardwalks. (Note: Parking can be tricky. Either park along busy 124th Avenue, or head to the small lot and side-street parking off of NE 100th Street.)
Restrooms: No restrooms, so come prepared.
Snacks: Grab pizza and soft-serve at the Kirkland Costco (down the street).
9930 124th Ave. NE, Kirkland
7. Downtown Bellevue’s unique Inspiration Playground feels more like a whimsical playland than your average swing-and-slide go-to. Designed for all abilities, the 1.5-acre park features swings, bouncers, slides, climbing structures and a super-cool “Roots and Rock” climbing wall. The splash area is also a hit — perfect for your pint-sized park-goers.
8 and 9. Two more must-play parks on the Eastside are Grass Lawn Park (Redmond) and Crossroads Park (Bellevue). They both made it into our roundup of favorite family picnic spots, and for good reason. Check out Crossroads Park for its fantastic spray park full of life-size orcas, double play area (with one structure for big kids and another for toddlers) and huge grass lawns. Full restrooms on-site. In Redmond, head to Grass Lawn for a cool splash pad, huge park (great for older kids) and toddler-friendly play space complete with sand area and play house.
Crossroads Park: 999 164th Ave. NE, Bellevue.
Grass Lawn Park: 7031 148 Ave. NE, Redmond
Mercer Island parks
10. On Mercer Island, Luther Burbank Park is home to nature trails, Lake Washington beachfront and a great play area for toddlers with swings, climbing structures and a zip line (perfect for older siblings!). There are restrooms, drinking fountains and picnic tables in the area. (Note: The parking lot nearest the playground often fills up on nice days, but there’s more parking at the Mercer View Community Center. Just be prepared to walk to the play area.)
Snacks: There aren’t many convenient lunch places nearby, so pack a picnic.
2040 84th Avenue SE, Mercer Island
11. Lake Sammamish State Park has got it all: water, sand, and some of the coolest play structures around. The all-accessible playground follows a nature theme, with oversize toadstools, a “mountain mining” play structure, a zip line, and a painted stream where kids can follow leaping salmon. (Note: Discover Pass needed for parking. You can purchase a one-day pass there, which is $11.50, including a processing fee.)
Snacks: Bring your own, or pop on over to Gilman Village for lots of goodies.
12. If you’re in Bothell, swing by the Park at Bothell Landing, a cute pirate ship-themed park perfect for little buccaneers. Play equipment includes a ship-shaped climbing structure, slides, a pulley and swings. Visit the ducks at the edge of the Sammamish River, picnic in the amphitheater or explore the historical buildings on the grounds.
9919 NE 180th St., Bothell
13. Saint Edward State Park boasts a huge castle-themed wooden playground that’s perfect for big kids, but there’s also an awesome, fully fenced toddler area that features tunnels, slides, bridges, swings and a great sandbox. If your kiddos still have energy to burn, have them sprint around the large expanse of grass or take a mini hike on some of the nature trails. (Note: Requires a Discover Pass for parking. There are pay stations where you can purchase a one-day pass.)
Snack: BYOS (Bring Your Own Snacks), or head to Bothell or Kirkland for lots of options. There’s also a nearby QFC for snacks or picnic supplies.
14445 Juanita Drive NE, Kenmore
14. Rhododendron Park is tucked away in Kenmore and blooming with rhodies in spring and early summer. Aside from flowers, the park features two play areas (one for big kids, one for littles) with a triple slide, swings, a sandbox and tons of green space plus paths for scootering.
Restrooms: There’s a bathroom on-site with a diaper-changing station.
Snacks: Head to nearby Bothell Way for burgers and shakes at Kidd Valley.
6910 NE 170th St., Kenmore
This updated story was originally published on May 28, 2016.