Take the time to explore Kirkland's many lakefront parks (poll)

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With over a dozen lakefront parks, Kirkland offers visitors everything from nature walks to swimming beaches

With the sun out and the afternoon temperatures up, summer’s arrived in Kirkland.  And while other Puget Sound residents may have to decide between going to the lake or a park; we have the best of both – lakefront parks! Our only ‘problem’ is deciding which one to visit, so we may have to visit them all.

This year, we’ll skip Juanita Beach Park while its facelift is underway, but even so, we still have more than a dozen lakefront destinations from which to choose.  For instance:

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* Marina Park, 25 Lakeshore Plaza Drive, in the heart of downtown Kirkland and is easily recognized with its oft-photographed large pavilion and public dock with over-night boat moorage.  Its crescent-shaped, pebbled beach might not be as good for building sand castles as places, but it still draws kids of all ages and their furry friends to the water’s edge.  Have a picnic on tables near the boat dock, listen to a concert in the park, shop at Kirkland’s Wednesday Market, or carry out a scavenger hunt to find the public art in the park. And for those who are reluctant to leave their computers, just bring them along - the city provides free Wi-Fi in the park.

Heading south from Marina Park:

* There’s Street End Park, 501 Lake Street and 5th Ave. S., this .10 acre park has 60 feet of waterfront and offers benches for those who want to simply sit and enjoy the view.

*Next you’ll reach David E. Brink, 555 Lake Street S., best recognized by the large bronze “The Water Bearers” art near the sidewalk. Grab your license and a pole and do some fishing or simply have a picnic.

* Just a bit further, Settler’s Landing, 1001 Lake Street S., has a great walking path that loops along the water in front of two residential condo buildings, a bench, a public dock and fishing area.

* Then there’s the 4.18 acre Marsh Park, 6605 Lake Washington Blvd. (note the road is the same, just the name changes). There’s on-site parking, restrooms, walking path, public dock and beach here.

* And then Houghton Beach Park, 5811 Lake Washington Blvd., is a 3.8 acre park that offers a volley-ball court, children’s play area, swimming area, non-motorized boat launch, public art and on-site parking. Munch a torta or burrito from Agua Verde Café (open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Thursday and as late as 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. Friday – Sunday).

* The undeveloped Yarrow Bay Wetlands, 10220 NE Points Drive and 101 Way N.E., is the furthest south. Wetlands, paved pathways, interpretive markers and benches can be found within its 73.33 acres.

If you head northwest from Marina Park:

* You’ll come to Heritage Park, 111 Waverly Way, home of Heritage Hall, 203 Market St. The 10.2 acre park has tennis courts, historic landmarks, trails and interpretive markers and on-site parking.

Near Heritage Park, the quarter acre park, Lake Avenue West, 297 Lake Ave. W., is open lawn where you can sit on a bench and enjoy the lake views.

A bit further you’ll come to the 2.6 acre Waverly Beach Park, 633 Waverly Way, with a public dock, children’s play area, an enclosed swimming area, places to fish or windsurf, and on-site parking.

Kiwanis Park, 1405 10th St. W. offers a trail, a picnic table and great lake views.

Juanita Bay Park, 2201 Market St., with 3,000 lineal feet of waterfront is Kirkland’s Urban Wildlife Habitat. Interpretive trails and boardwalks lace its 110 acres. There are picnic tables, benches, restrooms and on-site parking. Download a map from the City of Kirkland website, www.ci.kirkland.wa.us/parks or participate in one of the free tours led by Juanita Bay Park Volunteer Rangers the first Sunday of each month.  [See Jeff Heinz article about the tour, http://www.kirklandviews.com/archives/13181]  Or take a morning bird walk with volunteers from the Eastside Audubon Society.  Information about both tours can be found on the City’s web site.

Head a bit further northwest and you’ll come to O.O. Denny Park, 12032 Holmes Point Dr. NE, where you’ll find picnic areas, trails and forested land. The park is named for Orion Denny, son of Seattle’s founder.

If you go:

*On site parking in parks does come with time limits.  Signs are posted and exceeding those time limits could result in a parking ticket. Fines are hefty (A 16-minute delay in returning to my car parked on State Street resulted in a $35 ticket).

*The Parks Department advises you need a valid fishing license when fishing in a City Park.

* The City of Kirkland website:  www.ci.kirkland.wa.us/dept/parks has a wealth of information about all Kirkland parks and others in our area.  There’s also an excellent map of all city parks on the city’s web site. Check it out – you’ll find you want to explore them all; not just those on the water.

Jackie Smith, a Kirkland-based freelance writer shares a passion for travel with her husband, Joel.  Joel is the researcher for and Jackie the writer of a travel blog, www.travelnwrite.com in which they share travel tips and tales of their adventures. They are believers of adding  'a touch of travel' to close to home outings such as that described in the above article.