Now that it has finally warmed up after our soggy spring, you are probably eager to get your kids back outside. Bellevue families are fortunate to have many great area parks to visit. This week’s column highlights some of the best Bellevue park options.
Located at 10201 NE Fourth Street downtown across from Bellevue Square and adjacent to Old Bellevue, on Main Street. Turn left on NE 2nd Street, then turn right into the south parking lots or continue on and turn right on 100th Avenue NE for the west parking lot.
Ideal for: moms and dads who want to get outside and move.
The circular path around the downtown park make it ideal for moms and dads who want to get some exercise walking or running while pushing a jogging stroller. There is also a playground with an adjacent restroom. The sound of the running water in the park’s large fountain dulls the noise of the surrounding city. There is a new coffee and pastry shop across the street from the playground if you need a snack.
This summer starting July 5 until Aug. 23, every Tuesday night at dusk, the park will host free outdoor movies on a giant screen. The event is sponsored by Intelius and donations will be collected each night to support clients of local non-profit organizations. A complete schedule of movies and the items being collected each week is available here. June 18, July 29, 30 and 31 and August 27 the park will also host inflatables in all shapes and sizes for kids 3 and up to play on for a fee of $1 to $2 per activity.
Downside: the parking lots fills up fast during the summer and the park's fountain is tempting to toddlers who want to dive in and play in it – not allowed. Also, feeding the park's resident ducks and geese is discouraged for their safety and the safety of your child.
Located at 3519 108th SE in Bellevue, off Bellevue Way, with parking tucked under the I-90 bridge.
Ideal for: families who like exploring the nearby urban water wilderness of the Mercer Slough in kayaks or canoes
If you have kids who are strong swimmers and are looking for an outdoor adventure, the canoe and kayak rentals at Enatai Beach park may be just the ticket. You reserve one at the park’s boathouse from Cascade Canoe and Kayak Center by calling 425 430-0111. The center also offers summer camps where kids learn the basics of using a kayak or canoe and ten to fifteen year olds can learn to race. There is are clean indoor restrooms at this park, lifeguards during the summer and a small beach that is a great play and splash area for toddlers.
Downside: There is limited parking and the park can be challenging to find the first time. Don’t trust your GPS your first trip there. Ours attempted to take us there via the Interstate 90 bridge until we figured out the park was actually underneath the bridge.
Chism Beach Park
Located at 9600 SE 11th Street in a residential neighborhood. Turn west on SE 16th Street from Bellevue Way (look for across the street), then right on to 97th Avenue SE, left on SE 11th Street.
Ideal for: families with kids who love to swim.
Bellevue has several fabulous waterfront parks including Clyde Beach and but this is my favorite swimming beach on the Eastside. The long beach is patrolled during the summer by super strict lifeguards and there are many places for moms and dad to lounge on the beach or the nearby grass while their kids swim or play on the adjacent playground. It has clean bathrooms adjacent to the beach.
This is also a good park if you have a non-driving tween or teen who wants you to drive him or her some where to hang out with friends and then “disappear” until it is time to drive him or her home again. He or she can swim out to the swim platform and visit with friends while you hang out on the grass, close enough to keep an eye on the action without being intrusive.
Downside: it is quite a steep hike to and from the parking lot. You may have to carry a tuckered out toddler back up. You’ll also have to schlep your towels etc. so bring a big bag to haul your stuff. There are no nearby services, so pack your beverages and snacks.
Located at 2430 148th Avenue SE, near .
Ideal for: families with a toddler and older child
When my daughter was five and her brother a toddler we practically lived at this Bellevue park because of the adjacent playgrounds. One playground is designed with the needs of toddlers in mind, the other with a large structure for older kids. No services near the park but you can bring meals and beverages from the nearby Starbucks drive-thru on 156th or Sunset plaza’s Dairy Queen or .
Downside – you have to hike across a soccer field to get to a bathroom.
Located at 12400 Main Street, off NE 8th, at the intersection of 124th and Main street.
Ideal for: nature lovers.
Wilburton Hill Park is located just a block away from the gorgeous the . If you want to spend a very pleasant summer morning take your kids through the Botanical Garden first, then visit Wilberton Hill Park’s fabulous playground which features a zip line swing and several kid-pleasing play structures. The park has clean restrooms nearby but no concessions so stop by the nearby Bellevue , or on 120th Avenue NE for picnic supplies.
Located at 16000 NE 10th Street, off NE 8th Street, bordered by NE 160th Avenue and NE 164th Avenue.
Ideal for: families with kids who are learning to bike or golf or need to cool down and get wet on a hot summer day.
Crossroads is really several parks in one. It has a open March 1 through October 31 (), public basketball court, two playgrounds, a large track perfect for bike riding around a grass area that is frequently used for spontaneous soccer, frisbee and volleyball games. The water spray playground is open Memorial Day to Labor Day and features a Northwest nautical theme complete with orca whale, squirting clams and spitting frogs.
If you need snacks or beverages and don’t want to get out of the car, swing through the nearby at .
Downside: the park is often very crowded and nearby NE 8th Street is a busy road so keep an eye on your little ones at all times.