Happiness for our kids is simple. Give them sand and water and let the fun begin. Whether the kidlets want to cartwheel endlessly on sand or squirt water in each other’s faces at close range, we’ve found a groovy spot to do that and plenty more. Meet the much under-mined Blue Lake Park located just 20 minutes from wherever you are now.
Digging The Scene
Let’s start with Blue Lake itself.It’s big (64 acres), pretty and ready for your youngins’ to float. And by float we mean rentable paddleboats canoes and rowboats. Oh, and did we mention the lake hosts water skiing as well?
Got a couple of little trawlers on your hands?
Blue Lake is stocked with fish. Grab yer poles and get ready for the catch of the day! Or, go for a good ol’-fashioned swim in the lake. Just be sure to note that before your guppies start doggie paddling their way around the lake, your kids must be age five to jump in. Something about controlling bacteria. But don’t let the lake’s rule deter you. There is hope for the little polliwogs ahead.
Circles in the Sand
The lake features a sizable and sandy beach, which is perfect for digging, burying toes, whiling away hours perfecting round-offs and playing touch football. Since there are no waves, any sand castles will outlast your day at the beach, assuming destructive younger or older siblings don’t come crashing along.
For more fun in the sand, head inland about 30 steps to the Discovery Garden where adventure awaits to the tune of a fossil-laden sand box complete with shovels and brushes. See what the little archaeologists can find and then amble about for eco-gardening and conservation ideas, gorgeous flowers and fauna, and free kiddo classes, taught by Park Rangers, on offer every Friday through Sunday afternoon in the summer.
Tangled Up in Blue
At this point, it may just be time to cool off and get soaked, especially for the under-five set who couldn’t jump in the lake. Beeline it to the epic splash pad located conveniently at the entrance to the Discovery Garden. Giant squirt guns, buckets that drench any soul who dares stand beneath, and sprouting water mazes keep the wee and the bigger happy for what feels like weeks. Water comes on at 11:00 am and flows until 7:00pm.
For even more adventure and a chance to warm up after turning pruny in the splash pad or chilly spring-fed lake, follow the signs to the new and much loved disc golf course. The east winds are said to make the play awesome so give it a go. Being a novice is a-ok. Just go see what teams of diehards worked so hard to create.
And last but not least, be sure to bring your adventurers to the natural play area. With recreated dino bones, wood and stone climbing structures and even more sand, it is sure to be a winner and round out the superbly busy day o’ play.
What to Know
Blue Lake Park is twenty minutes east of Portland. Located in Fairview, it’s accessible via either I84 or Marine Drive. Hours are 8:00 am to sunset everyday and there’s an entry fee of $5 per car. The guard station is often unmanned except by gate – having plastic along grants easiest access. It’s an uber-pretty drive along the Columbia River so skip I84 at least once and roll Marine Drive. Watch the boats shimmy on the river and the 747s rise and land at PDX.
Beyond all this sand and water merriment, Blue Lake Park is full of picnic areas, wide-open fields (BYO badminton, volleyball, super soakers, rock some Capture The Flag – whatevs!), three play structures, a wetland and wildlife viewing area and a Chinook statue garden. It’s an overlooked gem of a park and it’s lovely.
Something For Everybody
Blue Lake Park has a splash pad and sand galore for all walks of little life and at the same time can tire out the rowdiest big kids with disc golf, green grassy fields and plenty of fishing and canoeing. And Blue Lake Park can sneak in some wildlife, gardening, and cultural education when nobody’s looking. By the time you all pile back in the car at the end of the day, we bet you’ve dug, splashed, tossed and paddled your way to a collective day of awesome. You’ll be home in 20, to boot.
Written by: Liz Overson