If there are two things that most kids love best, it’s playing and eating—as long as it’s kid-friendly fare, of course—and generally in that order. As parents of hangry kids, we’re used to packing snacks and eating on the move, but when you don’t want to schlep food to the park or would prefer an easy-to-access post-play eatery, we’ve compiled a list of Eastside playgrounds with nibbler-friendly spots nearby.

photo: Jennifer B. Davis

Kirkland Waterfront
The many parks along the Kirkland Waterfront offer a variety of pleasures for little revelers. The largest and most kid-friendly park of all being Houghton Beach Park. With a large-scale climbing structure, a huge sandy beach and associated pedestrian dock, Houghton’s Beach Park is a hot spot when the weather’s hot or cool. The best part? You can walk directly across the street to Kidd Valley. With freshly made burgers, shakes, chicken strips and grilled cheese, Kidd Valley delights with classic, made-to-order fare. If you’re looking for something to eat with a side of ambiance, travel a few steps north of the volleyball courts to The Beach House Bar+Grill. With a small-bites menu for the kids (though not the cheapest around town) and a delish menu for mom and date, the waterfront view makes up for the price.

Park Extra: If walking or biking is more your game, head 3 blocks east from Houghton Beach Park (up the steep hill) to the Kirkland Corridor. This old train track has been recently converted into a level walking/biking path and provides a long trail running from the south to north end of Kirkland, with kid-friendly stops along the way like Google Park and Chainline Brewery  which generally features a food truck out front.

Houghton Beach Park
5811 Lake Washington Blvd.
Kirkland, Wa 98033
Online: parksofkirkland.com/houghton-beach-park

photo: Jennifer B. Davis

If the Littles are stroller bound, walk about a mile north (along the waterfront) to Kirkland’s Marina Park. This awesome space provides even more sand, green lawn and free-run space to get the wiggles out before a hearty meal. Exploring the boats at the dock or the large covered pergola provides all-season fun. And when tummy’s start to rumble, there are many, munchkin-friendly restaurants nearby including Homegrown (a sustainable sandwich shop); Hector’s (a yummy spot with an excellent kids’ menu, dog-friendly patio and amazing toy bin); Isarn (an absolutely delish spot for Thai soul food that boasts a great kids’ menu); and The Slip (a typically crowded, but super cute burger joint).

Marina Park
25 Lakeshore Plaza Dr.
Kirkland, Wa 98033
Online: parksofkirkland.com/marina-park

photo credit: Sara W. via Yelp

Park at Bothell Landing
If a huge climbing structure, swings and slides are on your tot’s menu, then the Park at Bothell Landing is the place to play. Beyond having a large ship-themed climbing structure and low-level boat for smaller sea-goers, the Park at Bothell Landing is a great spot to let the kiddos run. A grassy area leads to a theater-in-the-round (perfect for impromptu renditions of “Let it Go”) as well as a wooden bridge leading over the slough for exploring the longer walking trails. But the best thing? This park is an easy three-block walk to the newly opened McMenamins. With multiple restaurants, ample grounds to stroll (or kill time until you can be seated) and even an indoor public pool, McMenamins is a fun spot to grab a bite to eat. However, if after playing hard at the park makes three blocks seem too far, there are a handful of closer eateries including Pen Thai, Alexa’s Café, Hana Sushi and the perennial fave, Baskin-Robbins.

Park at Bothell Landing
9919 N.E. 180th St.
Bothell, Wa 98011
Online: parkstrails.myparksandrecreation.com/details.aspx?pid=308

photo: Yelpster P. via Yelp

Veterans’ Memorial Field Playground
Just a short drive down Front street, Issaquah’s Veterans’ Memorial Field provides a fabulously-fun playground, with a train-theme and actual retired train cars steps away. A small-scale train allows toddlers to join in the fun and the bigger kids can climb, slide and swing to their hearts’ content. What’s better, this charming park snuggles up to a handful of Issaquah’s family-friendly restaurants including Stan’s BBQ (with a lil’ buckaroos menu), Shanghi Garden (shaved noodles – yummmm!) and classics like Las Margarita’s, Subway and Domino’s Pizza.

Park Extra: Continue on after lunch with a trip to the Issaquah Library, which is within walking distance from the park, on the corner of Front and Sunset Streets.

Veterans’ Memorial Field
120 Second Ave. N.E.
Issaquah, Wa 98027
Online: parkstrails.myparksandrecreation.com/Details.aspx?pid=242

photo: Jennifer B. Davis

Anderson Park
You might have driven by Redmond’s oldest park a hundred times, but the next time you’re passing by with kids in tow, stop in for plenty of fun. This natural oasis in the middle of the city features a large play structure, swings and lots of green room to run. Got a birthday on the horizon? Rent a party room in one of the two historic cabins located in the park. Your little park-goers will enjoy a sturdy teeter-totter, swings, slides, a wooden bridge and short zip line. Bathrooms (closed during the winter, but a port-a-potty is onsite) and a covered picnic area, make this spot a long-term option. But better yet, there are a variety of lunch spots within walking distance including Red Robin, chain restaurants like Taco Time, McDonald’s and Dairy Queen and also a Panera Bread, Kanishka Indian and Thai 65 Café. If you don’t mind a short drive, Redmond Town Center offers a large variety of kid-friendly restaurants, as does the ever-growing Cleveland street with lip-smacking options like Tipsy Cow burgers.

Park Extra: If you want to take your picnic to a new level, Anderson Park features a charcoal grill on site, so you can pack the dogs!

Anderson Park
7802 168th Ave. N.E.
Redmond, Wa 98052
Online: redmond.gov/cms/one.aspx?pageId=4077

photo: Hina S. via Yelp 

Bellevue Downtown Park
It’s well known that Bellevue Square and the surrounding Lincoln Center offer a huge selection of dining options for Littles and Bigs alike, but there are also a few choice spots on Main Street, which are within walking distance of the play area at Bellevue’s sprawling Bellevue Downtown Park. Behind the massive lawn and water feature, the southwest corner features a dragon-slaying-friendly climbing structure and play area, complete with public restrooms, benches and plenty of green space to run, run, run as fast as you can. Once you’ve tuckered out the tykes, head over to Gilbert’s on Main, a swanky urban deli, and indulge in yummy breakfast options or custom salads and sandwiches. Definitely more on the gourmet side, Gilbert’s is still casual enough for munchkins. There’s also Local Burger if that’s more up your crew’s alley or a handful of more “exotic” choices like Ginza Japanese, Monsoon (Vietnamese) or Pagliacci. For dessert, delight in a delish macaroon at Belle Pastry.

Psst! A large-scale Inspiration Playground and Sensory Garden is in the works for Bellevue Downtown Park, providing an inclusive and universally accessible outdoor play environment for all.

Bellevue Downtown Park
10201 N.E. Fourth St.
Bellevue, Wa 98004
Online: ci.bellevue.wa.us/downtown_park_and_rose_garden.htm

The Eastside is bursting with amazing parks and play areas. Tell us your favorite spots to play and grub in the Comments below.

— Jennifer B. Davis

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