Why travel to a faraway beachside town when we have a perfectly good one to explore right here in our own backyard? Kirkland is charming, kid-friendly and just a short drive over the bridge. From summer concerts to winter activities, outdoor movies to bookstores and beaches, this Eastside locale is your one-stop destination for fun anytime of the year. Read on to learn more and check our Kirkland calendar for all the local events!
photo: Mamie L. via Yelp
Go Play Outside
Surprisingly, Kirkland is home to almost 50 parks with one of its most popular ones being Google Park. Located just in front of Google’s 180,000 square-foot Eastside complex, this park has its own sand volleyball court, basketball court, Crossfit/TRX fitness section, bocce ball court and plenty of lush lawns to play and spread out on. For the Littles, there’s an awesome climbing structure that will keep the tiniest of tots busy. But the best part of this park? The tot-friendly zip line. Originally intended to be a massive zip line connecting the two office buildings (strangely, ix-nayed by legal), this rockin’ line packs just enough zip for preschoolers and adults alike. While you’re at the park, be sure to check out the nod to the Corridor’s original purpose (the railroad) with an old-school caboose parked nearby.
Other parks worth mentioning include North Rose Hill Woodlands Park which features a fantastic playground fit for a pint-sized king or queen, boardwalks, paved pathways, picnic tables and lots of grass; Crestwoods Park with its many athletic fields dedicated to soccer, softball, Little League baseball and a basektball court, plus many nature trails and a playground; Houghton Beach Park which is a great spot for afternoon picnicking, swimming, fishing, beach volleyball and goofing around on the playground; and, of course, the beautiful beachfront Marina Park.
photo: Angelfish Swimming
Where to Splish & Splash
During the summer months, you and your litle fish can cool off at Peter Kirk Pool where the water is kept at a warm 86 degrees. Kids are kept safe with complimentary life jackets and will have a great time splashing about in the wading pool, goofing around with pool toys or taking their first brave dive off the diving board. This is also a great pool for swim lessons, too! For a more intimate experience, and perhaps a less scary environment for newbie swimmers, Angelfish Swimming offers classes on weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. for kids as young as six months old to adults. Located in the Kirkland Highlands neighborhood, this is more than just you’re ordinary backyard pool. It’s a tent-covered pool with beautiful surroundings and plenty of comfortable seating for mom and dad to watch little fish swim around.
Music Makes the World Go ‘Round
With not one, but two Summer Concert Series, Kirkland has an abundance of awesome artists sure to turn your toddler’s heels. Super-cool kid concerts take place at Juanita Beach Park on Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. during July and August and offer artists your little ones will go bananas over, from the sweet bebop of the Not-Its! to the perennial toddler favorite Caspar Babypants and Recess Monkey thrown in for good measure. The evening concerts are offered on Thursdays from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at Marina Park and are nothing to shake a binky at, with Seattle fave Hit Explosion usually playing in August. Get your groove on all summer long in Kirkland!
There’s lot of tradition to be found in Kirkland, especially during the city’s many festivals and special events. Lace up your running shoes and don green clothing for the Shamrock Run which takes place every March. In July, families can celebrate Kirkland during the city’s annual 4th of July festivities which include a hometown parade in the morning, family activities throughout the day and fireworks at dusk. Also in July, the Kirkland Classic Car Show roars into town. This is where you and your little hot rods can see over 500 gorgeous classic cars and take in live music, kids’ games and a few dance contests thrown in for good measure. And, of course, we can’t forget about Kirkland Uncorked which includes a a popular all ages street fair and wine tasting event in July.
The free Summerfest Arts and Music Festival is held every August and offers a plethora of kid-friendly fun, including arts and crafts, inflatables and food, plus a young artists exhibition and much more! And December brings Kirkland Winterfest, a fun holiday event that kicks off with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony the first weekend of December.
Jonesing for a farm fresh strawberry? Take a trip to Kirkland for the city’s awesome farmers markets. Held along the downtown waterfront at Marina Park from June through early September, the Wednesday Market lets you peruse a bounty of local fresh fruit and veggies, handmade goods and delectable dining. Is Hump Day not your day? The Juanita neighborhood hosts a Friday Market from June through September at Juanita Beach Park. From handmade ice cream to wood fired pizza, plus a bounty of fresh produce and more, you’ll have no problem heading home with a car full of local goodness, whatever day you choose.
Do you have a crew of hearty mateys in your family? Kirkland has a few fun ways to set sail during the summer months. Argosy Cruises leaves the Kirkland City Dock at Marina Park every day for a 1.5 hour cruise through the sparkling waters of Lake Washington. While on board, you’ll get to gawk at fancy waterfront homes, float by Husky Stadium and even see the Floating Bridge from a totally new angle, plus learn what lurks under the gorgeous lake.
During December, you and your family can have a completely different experience during the Christmas Ship Festival. Choose to board the Lead Boat or take the Follow Boat and experience photos with Santa, live choir music performances, holiday crafts and activities for the kids, plus box meals and beverages. Waterways Cruises also offers their own family-friendly holiday cruises, including a Thanksgiving dinner cruise and Holiday Parade of Lights cruises.
photo: Frog Legs Culinary Academy
Cooking Up a Storm
Developed in 2007, the Frog Legs Culinary Academy not only offers children hands-on experiences, but gives them a positive viewpoint on both food and cooking. The classes are just for the kids, but cooking challenged moms and dads are encouraged to jump in as well! Psst…Frog Hollow is a must-visit candy shop that sells candy, cookies, ice cream, party supplies and more.
Play It Out
Is it a rainy day and the whole household is tired of the same ol’ indoor play gym? Kirkland hosts a plethora of playtime fun, from LEGOs to trains, with some bouncing thrown in for good measure. During the summer months, Play-Well TEKnologies offers weekly, half-day camps to teach little brick lovers about all things LEGO, with super-cool themes like Ninjaneering and Junk Yard Challenge for kids ages 5-14.
If Thomas rules your toddler’s life, Eastside Trains Inc. is the place to stop in to check out an awesome selection of all things that go choo-choo, from Thomas to Chuggington to Lionel—just don’t forget your engineer’s cap.
The owners of Roo’s World of Discovery say their place spaces are meant to be “your home away from home” and where parents will find new friends and community while their kids play. Unlike other playgrounds, this inside playground features quiet music, a relaxing atmosphere and a eco-friendly learning environment year-round.
photo: Kirkland Art Center
If you have a budding Picasso or Streep on your hands, Kirkland offers art-tastic opportunities for little artists. The Kirkland Arts Center offers art camps all summer long for kids ages 5-12, with weekly themes ranging from Global Art to Space Odyssey. These camps help kids learn new skills through a variety of art mediums, including clay, paper, pencils, pens, markers, crayons, pastels, printmaking inks and water-based paints. During the school year, the Kirkland Arts Center offers youth classes during the weekends and around school hours according to the Lake Washington School District’s academic calendar. Supplies are provided for most classes for children ages 10 and under, too.
If you’re looking for even more art fun, the Kirkland Art Walk takes place on the second Friday of every month from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. And both the Parklane Gallery and the Kirkland Arts Center offer receptions and exhibitions to check out throughout the year. Psst…be sure to keep an eye out for special pop-up events coming to Kirkland, too.
photo: Storybook Theatre
If you have a dramatic child, you might want to invest in a little time at Kirkland’s Studio East. This awesome studio offers fantastic camps for kids ages 4 and up during the summer months that will not only banish boredom, but will help them ignite their creative thinking. Many of Studio East’s Storybook Theatre shows are offered at the Kirkland Performance Center throughout the year bringing to life well-known stories like the Three Little Pigs and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but with a silly twist.
Where to Nosh
If you’ve got a crew of hungry hungry hippos to feed, Kirkland’s restaurant scene will not disappoint you or your kid crew. Cactus is a fun, family-friendly spot for delicious Mexican food and patio seating on warm days, as well as a great spot for yummy brunch on the weekends from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (tres leches French toast anyone?). The popular Santorini Greek Grill is another great spot for beach takeout every day but Sunday, and offers mouthwatering gyros and chicken skewers with Greek fries (psst…don’t forget a slice of baklava and remember cash—credit cards are not accepted here). If your kids are of the pizza and burger ilk, then Acropolis Pizza & Pasta or Zeek’s Pizza are always good choices and Burgermaster (although technically in Bellevue but not far away) will definitely please your famished fam.
Where to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
If you and your crew have a hankering for something sweet, Kirkland can help with that. At Sirena Gelato, a small serving gets you two delicious scoops of creamy gelato in flavors ranging from creamy Turkish hazelnut to dairy-free lemon, with plain ol’ vanilla thrown in for your simple sweetie. The centrally located French-style Aura Bakery and Coffee Bar will also cure that sweet tooth with their plethora of pastries and sweets, plus to die for sammies, paninis, crepes and more. Do you need a cool down after the beach? Coffee and Cone is located steps away from Marina Park and serves Dreyers Ice Cream with a smile, which makes it our go-to ice cream stop in this ‘hood.
The Best Upcoming Events for Kids in Kirkland
If you’re looking for events and activities, don’t miss our local Kirkland family events calendar, which has everything from story times to seasonal activities like apple picking, pumpkin patches and Christmas tree farms.
—Jeffrey Totey & Erin Cranston