Rich in history, Luther Burbank Park, on the North End of Mercer Island, offers something for everyone (including the pooch). The 77-acre park has 3/4 of a mile of Lake Washington waterfront and is home to nature trails, a sandy beach (with summer lifeguard), tennis courts, wide open fields, a separate dog beach, picnic areas, and lots to explore.
The playground is fun for all ages with a tunnel, climbing toys, and swings nearby. The new toddler area has a shiny red “fire engine” climbing toy with slides and is perfect for the little ones.
(Side note: The MI Preschool Association is selling engraved, personalized pickets online with plans to fence in the toddler zone.)  If you’re bringing a stroller, opt for the jogger if that’s a possibility. Some trails are paved, but others are gravel or dirt and the jogger is just easier. (If you walk down the steep hill to the docks and then plan to walk along the small lake-front trail to the swimming beach, forget about the stroller as the trail is pretty tight…you may want to just walk back up to the main trail instead.)  Don’t forget buckets and shovels for the beach…if you go before the big kids are out of school, you just might have the beach to yourself!
PS: Mark your calendars for some fun outdoor summer date nights…check out Shakespeare in the Park, presented by the Mercer Island Arts Council, held at Luther Burbank’s amphitheater. With a picnic in the grass, it’s summertime “dinner theater.”
—Angie Ballas