It’s the 11th largest city in Washington, the Seattle Seahawks train here, Boeing builds planes here, and you can eat as many Swedish meatballs as you like! But there’s so much more to this city by the lake. Read on for a list of Renton’s best kept secrets.

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photo: Kristina Moy

1. Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park
It’s beautiful any time of year but Gene Coulon Park especially shines in those lazy days of spring and summer. Right on Lake Washington, it boasts a swimming beach (with lifeguards on duty), a terrific playground, picnic shelters, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, volleyball, and a boat launch. There’s a fishing pier for your budding angler, walking trails by the lake, and a water walk. When your crew is ready for lunch or dinner, try some tasty fish ‘n chips from Ivar’s and a shake from Kidd Valley, located right there in the park.

Good to Know: There’s always something going on at Gene Coulon Park – Ivar’s Clam Lights over the holiday season, Kids’ Fishing Derbies, annual 4th of July festivities, Moonlight Movies and the always popular Kidd Valley Summer Concert Series.

Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park
1201 Lake Washington Blvd. N.
Renton, Wa 98056
Online: rentonwa.gov/living/default.aspx?id=74

gene coulon beach park

photo: Kirazuri C. via Yelp

2. Henry Moses Aquatic Center
Two super-speedy water slides, a huge wave pool, lazy river (watch out for the bucket of water!), spray play areas, and lap pool make Henry Moses a sure bet for summer! When you’re all splashed out, grab a “bite” at the Shark Bites Café, before hitting the slides again.

Good to Know:  You can catch a movie while floating in the pool when Moonlight Movies visits Henry Moses! Spend the afternoon enjoying the water park, then settle down for some pre-movie family entertainment. Movies start at dusk and are all rated PG. Admission is free with your water park admission. If you’d rather stay warm and cosy out of the water, there are loungers available or you can bring your own low-back chairs and blankets.

Henry Moses Aquatic Center
1719 S.E. Maple Valley Highway
Renton, Wa 98057
425-430-6780
Online: rentonwa.gov/living/default.aspx?id=190

Open: June 20–September 2015
Cost: $4-$14 (under 1 free)

water-slides-lazy-river

photo: City of Renton

3. Renton River Days
This summer, get quacking to Renton River Days! This annual festival is three days of fun for the whole family, including the “Duck Hunt” – a scavenger hunt for rubber duckies. Soak up the summer sun (don’t forget the sunblock) while enjoying the hometown parade, arts and crafts, an amazing KidZone (inflatables, climbing wall, putt-putt golf, petting zoo and more). Plus, The Nibble of Renton with lots of tasty eats from local restaurants. Psst… Kids can meet real heroes from the Renton Police and Fire Department.

Renton River Days
Liberty Park
1101 Bronson Way N.
Renton, Wa 98057
Online: rentonriverdays.org

Dates: July 24-26, 2015

kids-firefighters

photo: Renton River Days Facebook page

4. $3.50 Movies
Perfect for mini movie buffs and thrifty parents – Regal East Valley Stadium shows a huge assortment of movies for just $3.50 per ticket (latest blockbusters included) and $1 movies all summer long. We give it two thumbs up! The movies here start ON TIME – very important to remember if you’re buying popcorn and thinking you’ll only miss the trailers.

Regal East Valley Stadium
3751 E. Valley Rd.,
Renton Wa 98057
844-462-7342
Online: regmovies.com

movie-popcornphoto: Alison M. Seward

5. Creative Mom Toys
A finalist in Red Tricycle’s Totally Awesome Awards, Creative Mom Toys takes the guesswork out of choosing toys for your kiddos. Owned by local mom Cheri Saburi, this store is a wonderland for wee ones. Focusing on educational and developmental toys, Creative Mom’s mission is to: “Bring different, fun, and exciting new toys to kids and their grown ups.” Psst! Creative Mom Toys has free craft classes and activity days. Check their website for more info.

Creative Mom Toys
The Landing in Renton
840 N. 10th Pl. Ste. A.
Renton, Wa 98057
206-388-3940
Online: creativemomtoys.com

dragon-plush

photo: Taylor Marie Photography

6. Glazed Art
From mugs and plates to piggy banks and mosaics – Glazed Art is messy play day for everyone! To make your one-of-a-kind pottery, choose a ceramic piece and paint it, then leave it for glazing and firing and pick it up seven days later. Or create colorful mosaic artwork you can take home the same day.

Good to Know: You can reserve the party room for birthdays or Moms’ Night Out events or attend one of their weekday happy hour specials, where you get a discount on your work of art!

Glazed Art
The Landing in Renton
827 N. 10th Place Ste. D.
Renton, Wa 98057
425-264-5718
Online: glazedart.com

painting-pottery

photo: Taylor Marie Photography

7. Common Ground Cupcakes
For a scrumptious treat that’s sure to leave a frosting mustache – make your way to Common Ground Cupcakes in old downtown Renton. You’ll be spoiled for choice with different flavors to try everyday, including, Double Dutch, Orange Creamsicle, Almond Joy, Sweet Sixteen and the Tiffany (inspired by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Beverage-wise, there’s bubble tea, fruit smoothies, Mexican chocolate, espresso and more. At Common Ground Cupcakes, the motto is: “Live well, laugh often, love much…eat a cupcake!”

Common Ground Cupcakes
900 S. 3rd St.
Renton, Wa 98057
425-235-1717
Online: facebook.com/commongroundcupcakes

common-ground-cupcakes

photo: Helen Walker Green

8. 8 Bit Arcade
If your kids have seen Wreck it Ralph, and they’re wondering who Q*bert is – 8 Bit Arcade is the place to educate them. The 8 Bit has 80’s arcade games at 80’s prices! Your family won’t want to go back to the future after they’ve been playing Galaga, Ms. Pac-Man, Pole Position and the original Super Mario. There’s also a whole room full of pinball machines to keep pinball wizards happy too! The 8 Bit has pizzas, shakes, ice cream, and beer on tap. Save some quarters to play table top Q*bert and Donkey Kong while you eat.

Good to Know: Most of the games are suitable for all ages but there are some grown up games too, be sure to check the rating on the machine. The 8 Bit goes 21 and over at night.

8 Bit Arcade
916 S. 3rd St.
Renton, Wa 98057
425-291-7693
Online: facebook.com/pages/8-bit-Arcade-Bar/434005613350903

boy-pinball

photo: Helen Walker Green

9. IKEA
OK, we know you’ve been here, but no Renton roundup would be complete without it. Check the kids in at the Småland Play Area (ball pit, climbing, movies) while you shop for interestingly-named furniture to assemble at home (with a little luck there won’t be a piece left over). Then, it’s time to “release the kids” and head to the restaurant for Swedish meatballs and more. Psst: IKEA Family members get free coffee and tea at the restaurant and 30 mins extra Småland time. And all kids 12 and under eat free on Tuesdays from 11 a.m.–8:30 p.m.

IKEA
601 S.W. 41st St.,
Renton, Wa 98057
Online: ikea.com

ikea

photo: IKEA

10. StoryBook Theater
Fairytales come to life in Renton when StoryBook Theater is in town. Kids can enjoy musical performances written especially for children 3-10. There’s audience participation in every performance, which really gives young theatregoers a chance to be part of the show! Each story also includes a positive life lesson for children. And StoryBook Theater promises their stories are never scary and always have a happy ending… ahhh. Psst! You can also catch StoryBook Theater performances at other venues around the city.

StoryBook Theater
Renton Carco Theatre
1717 S.E. Maple Valley Highway,
Renton, Wa 98057
Online: storybooktheater.org

theatre-performance

photo: StoryBook Theater

11. Cedar River Trail
For an outdoorsy family adventure – cycle, scoot or walk your way along this historic railroad route. Everyone can enjoy the Cedar River Trail – from the tricycle set to mountain bikers. The 4.5 mile stretch that winds through Renton is just right for little hikers and bikers. The trail begins at Cedar River Trail Park – look out for Blue Herons and Bald Eagles; seaplanes too! You may have to stop to let a brand new Boeing plane pass (still wrapped in green plastic). The first part of the trail crosses downtown Renton and may be a bit busy for tiny tots. Try picking up the trail at Cedar River Park instead and heading south along the riverbank. There are plenty of spots to rest your legs and have a picnic along the way. This is a trail you can enjoy a bit at a time, at your own pace.

Good to Know: There is parking at both trailheads and many midway points.

Cedar River Trail Park – Trailhead
600 Nishiwaki Ln.
Renton, Wa 98057
Online: rentonwa.gov/living/default.aspx?id=67

Cedar River Park (best starting point for tots)
1717 S.E. Maple Valley Highway
Renton, Wa 98057
Online: rentonwa.gov/living/default.aspx?id=72

boys-scooters

photo: Taylor Marie Photography

12. Seahawks 12K Run at The Landing
Spend the day with Blitz, Blue Thunder, the Sea Gals and Seahawks players at this annual extravaganza. The Seahawks 12K Run takes place every April and has some really fun events for lil’ twelfies, including the 5K Run/Walk and Play 60 Kids Run (.5 mile). Little ones in strollers and pooches can take part too. And it’s all for a good cause – each year the Seahawks collect donations for a local nonprofit organization. All participants get a t-shirt, and a finisher’s ribbon! Psst! If you’ve always wanted to check out the VMAC, 12K participants run around the Seahawks training facilities.

Good to Know: Parents can participate in the Kids Run with their little 12’s if they are too young to run by themselves.

Seahawks 12K Run at The Landing
840 N. 10th Pl.,
Renton, Wa 98057
Online: seahawks12krun.com

seahawks-blitz-mascot

photo: Seahawks 12K Run at the Landing Facebook page

12.1 Seahawks Training Camp
Watch the Seattle Seahawks training at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center – and maybe even get an autograph and snap a photo of your favorite player. You need to register online first as space is limited (you can have up to six people in your group). On the day, you and your mini Hawks will check-in at The Landing and catch a shuttle bus to the VMAC. There’s plenty of green and blue fun once you’re there – as well as watching practices and possibly meeting players, plus giant inflatables for little 12s to get their bounce on and youth football clinics for kids 7-14. The Metropolitan Grill is on site each day with a delicious selection of eats fresh off the grill, plus kettle corn, shaved ice and Starbucks iced coffee.

Good to Know: Spring Training Camp costs $7 per person; 2 and under free; kids 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Fans with disabilities do not need to take the shuttle and may park at the VMAC.

Seahawks Training Camp
July and August 2015
Online: seahawks.com/schedule/training-camp

seahawks-training

photo: Seattle Seahawks Training Camp website

Do you have a favorite Renton hot spot? Tell us about it in a comment below (unless you want to keep it secret).

— Helen Walker Green