Category Archives: Get Out of Town

Notes from a week in Seattle

Week in Seattle

We spent all of last week in Seattle, soaking up the city for our summer vacation. And, while it’s good to be home (isn’t it always, after a week away?), we had the best time visiting our favorite places, eating at a few restaurants we’ve been missing since we moved to Bellingham and catching up with our Seattle family and friends.

I’ll have more detailed posts about some of our adventures this week, but in the meantime, here’s the full run-down of everything we did…

Bouncy houses at Magnolia Summerfest. Kiddo talent show. Outdoor movie on the lawn. The best parade ever. Dinner with neighbors. Walking and scootering around the neighborhood. Downtown. Pike Place Market. The magic store. And the wind-up toy store. Gum wall. The waterfront. Lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. A trip to Bellevue. Lego Store. Dinner at Pagliacci. Mornings at Ella Bailey Park. Swimming at Pop Mounger Pool. Walks to our favorite Starbucks. Catching the Seahawks at the neighborhood pub. Running into countless friends. Queen Anne wading pool. Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Dinner with cousins. And delicious Moscow Mules. Too many Moscow Mules. Margaritas and nachos and friends at the ‘Ranch.

I feel like I’m forgetting a million things. Hopefully they’ll come to me this week as we get back into the swing of things! Which, speaking of, I’m off to Trader Joe’s, as our fridge is empty…

Look forward to getting back to bellingFAM! What have you been up to?

Camano Island Parks

Day trip: Rotary Adventure Playground & Freedom Park

A couple of weekends ago, we were on Camano Island for a family event and we arrived a little early (we were anticipating tulip traffic!), so we had a few minutes to kill. We decided to let the kids run wild at this little park that we’d passed a million time on the way into Camano, and were so pleased that we did.

Camano Island Park

The playground itself, much like most rotary-funded playgrounds (such as Million Smiles in Lynden) is awesome. There is a separate fenced-off area for children under age 5 to play, plus, a huge area for older kids, including swings, lots of climbing walls and ropes, and cool fort-like passages and towers to explore.

Camano Island Park

We were only at the playground for about 15-minutes, but I’m pretty sure that we could have spent all afternoon there. Josh and I loved that there were parent-friendly benches all around the play area, so we could kick up our feet and watch the kids play. Plus, the entire playground is fenced in and there is only one exit, both being musts considering the playground is surrounded by a busy highway and since the play area is big and you can’t always have your kids in your line of sight.

Freedom Park

In between the playground and the parking lot is Freedom Park. Have your kids run up to the very top of the hill to ring the bell, then check out the pretty view of Camano Island. It sure is gorgeous down there!

Be sure to pack a coat for everyone in your family — it always seems to be a bit breezy down there. There are covered picnic tables, if you want to bring snacks or lunch, as well as plenty of grassy spots to throw down a blanket at Freedom Park.

It takes about an hour from Bellingham to get to Camano Island. We prefer jumping off of the freeway early and taking the back roads to get there. The drive is prettier and you’ll cut about 15-minutes off of your drive.

From Bellingham:

  • Take I-5 Southbound to Exit 221 at Lake McMurray. Turn right at the stop sign at the end of the off ramp and follow the road onto Pioneer Highway
  • Follow the highway, which will take you across the railroad tracks and then into downtown Stanwood
  • At the stoplight in Stanwood (you’ll be facing Twin City Foods), take a right onto Highway 532/268th Street Northwest
  • Follow the highway over the bridge, onto Camano Island
  • At the split in the road, you’ll see the park ahead. Stay right onto North Camano Drive.
  • The parking lot is past the playground, on the left.
  • For your GPS, the address of the park is 818 N. Sunrise Blvd., Camano Island, WA 98282

You can read more about the park and playground on their website.

What do you love to do in Camano/Stanwood?
Any fave places to grab a bite with the kids?

6 Kid-Friendly Places to Visit in Seattle

6 Kid-friendly places to visit in Seattle… that you’ve never heard of

When we lived in Seattle and since we’ve moved, there’s nothing I love more than helping friends (and strangers!) who are visiting Seattle customize their trip — helping them discover restaurants that are off of the beaten track, local favorites for shopping and places to take their little ones. Friends and “friends” on Facebook will probably tell you that it’s super annoying, but with so, so, so many gems to share, I can’t help myself.

Here are some of our family’s favorites when we lived in Seattle that will get you out of your tourist-rut, while still making you feel like you had an adventure when you visit the city:

1. Lincoln Park

Alki beach, blah, blah, blah. Sure, it’s pretty. And beachy. And it will remind you that rollerblades do actually still exist. But, our favorite West Seattle beach is Lincoln Park, which is around the corner from its popular sister, Alki. Highlights include: A long beach with soft rocks for throwing in the water and tons of driftwood for building sweet forts. The best close-up view of ferries coming and going to the peninsula. A wide paved path that is perfect for strollers, scooters, bikes and plain old feet. A fun playground that’s tucked in the woods and includes a zip line. Find it: Lincoln Park, 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle, WA 98136

2. The Armory

It’s likely that you’ve been here when you’ve visited the Seattle Center before, but this food court has recently been through a major renovation and has been re-branded as The Armory. With a sampling of many of Seattle’s best and most popular restaurants in one place, it’s worth stopping here for lunch or dinner on your way into or out-of-town. You’ll get to try the Seattle foodie-favorites without needing a reservation (which will likely be at 9 p.m. anyway). Highlights include: The kid-sized tables and chairs for your littlest dining companions. Everything on the menu at Skillet, especially the Kale Caesar Salad. Creative kid-centric food at Bean Sprouts Cafe. Find it: The Armory, Seattle Center, Park in the parking garage on Fifth Avenue North, across the street from the EMP at 325 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109

3. The Locks

I’m guessing that you’ve actually heard of The Locks because Ballard, the Seattle neighborhood where they’re located, is about half-populated with people who grew up in Bellingham. When we lived in Seattle, if we were going to run into anyone we knew from Bellingham, it would be in Ballard, without a doubt. The Locks, or more formally, The Ballard Locks or the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks is where the fresh water of Lake Union meets the saltwater of the Sound, and where boats (of all sizes) and fish go through the locks (a water elevator, of sorts) to get from one side to the other. Highlights include: Watching the fish swim from the underwater viewing spot, Checking out the gigantic, intricate fishing boats up close as they pass through on their way to adventures in Canada and Alaska. Grabbing fish n’ chips nearby — there are a few spots within walking distance. Find it: The Ballard Locks, 3015 NW 54th St., Seattle, WA 98107

4. PlayDate SEA

If you’re looking for an indoor adventure when you visit Seattle, because it’s raining, again, check out PlayDate SEA. This place opened just before we moved from Seattle and it is a favorite for local families with little ones who need to run off some rainy day energy. It’s just off of the freeway at Mercer Street, making it convenient to add-on to other Seattle adventures or a great place to meet up with friends who live in the city. Highlights include: Parents aren’t charged an admission fee. Kids up to age 14 can play (and they will have fun!). They serve yummy Stumptown Coffee. Find it: PlayDate SEA, 1275 Mercer St., Seattle, WA 98109

5. Columbia Center Sky View Observatory

Want the absolute best view of Seattle? Head 73 floors up in the sky to the Columbia Center Sky View Observatory. Located in that huge black tower that looms over downtown (you often can’t even see the top on a cloudy day!), this is a Seattle adventure that even many Seattleites haven’t experienced. Find step-by-step instructions on how to get to the top on Red Tricycle, including how to find the world’s highest Starbucks. Highlights include: Kids under age 5 are free. You get a sweet peek into the Seahawks’ stadium. There is a ton of space in the observation room for your kids to roam around freely. Find it: Columbia Center Sky View Observatory, 701 Fifth Ave., Seattle, WA 98101

6. Columbia City

If you’re looking for a new neighborhood to explore when you visit Seattle, head south of downtown to Columbia City. This spot is where young families are flocking to buy homes and settle down, without giving in to becoming suburbanites and its full of fun places to shop, delicious restaurants, historical buildings and tons of community and character. Highlights include: If you’re in downtown Seattle, you can jump on the Light Rail (access under Westlake Center) and take it to Columbia City. Pinball and ice cream at Full Tilt. Live music and art, always. Find it: Visit the Columbia City Business Association website for directions

 What is your favorite tourist-free place to visit in Seattle with your kids?