McMenamins Anderson School: Old Jr. High Turned Hip Family Haven

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Finding out about new kids’ play spaces ranks pretty high on the parent need-to-know list. Finding out about a new play space where kids and parents can play? That’s an automatic list-topper. And that’s what we love about the new McMenamins Anderson School property that just opened in Bothell. Its pool, movie theater, restaurants and bars spell fun for the whole fam. Whether you stay for the day or for the weekend, you won’t want to miss this one!

Anderson School courtyard Kathleen Nyberg

photo: McMenamins/Kathleen Nyberg


The great thing about this eclectic, cozy compound is the casual room for the kidlets to roam. Each building seamlessly spills out in the courtyard, which easily connects to another restaurant, bar or the movie theater, so you can follow the lead of your Little without missing a beat. The Anderson School is a go-as-you-flow kind of place that equals relaxed playtime for parents and their always-curious counterparts.

Take your little fish for a dip in the The North Shore Lagoon, McMenamin’s on-site pool that’s open to the public every day from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Swim sessions are broken up into six, two-hour long time slots where families can splish and splash around the tiki-themed pool before changing into street gear to grab some delish eats at the restaurant upstairs. We love that the pool has plenty of shallow play areas where even the most timid toddlers can test the waters with ease. And the deepest point is only 4’6”, which means you won’t be treading water as you make the Marco-Polo rounds with your big kid sidekick.

Anderson School Pool AWS shot

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Upstairs, former home to the pool bleacher seats, families will find the North Shore Lagoon restaurant, where parents can nosh on some South Seas-inspired eats, like coconut shrimp and the Kapu Hut Baguette, while kiddos nom-nom a more traditional menu of burgers, chicken fingers and sliders. Add in a tropical drink for yourself (hello, afternoon pina colada!), made with one of their 80-plus rums, and you’ve got the 30-minute vacation you need to make it through the week. All that plus a bird’s eye view of the pool below? Yes, please!

North Shore Lagoon Bar Kathleen Nyberg

photo: McMenamins/Kathleen Nyberg

Need a little down time? Head to the on-site movie theater that plays first run flicks, four times a day, two matinees and two shows at night. The cozy 121-seat theater is luxed out with cushy chairs and cup holders for maximum veg time your mini crew. Order some brew food, simple snacks or a frothy beverage before the show, and they’ll bring it straight to your seat so you can enjoy dinner and a movie without much fuss. We suggest grabbing seats in one of the two rows with bar table seating to make things easier for the kiddos. Food and drink isn’t quite as spillable here, as it is without a place to land. The best part? Like the other amenities at the Anderson School, the movie theater is open to the public, so you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy this big screen (the only one in town!). Tickets for kids are always $7. Parents pay $7 for matinees and $9 for showings after 5 p.m. Be sure to check the schedule online to see what’s playing and when.

Anderson School theater Kathleen Nyberg

photo: McMenamins/Kathleen Nyberg

Beyond these two daily activities, the Anderson School hosts a slew of musical guests and seasonal events, most of which are all ages. To see what’s coming up between now and the new year, check the online calendar for details and tickets. It’s the kid-friendly nightcap you’ve been waiting for!


Food and drink is a McMenamin mainstay and the Anderson School is no exception. When hunger strikes there are lots of options to choose from. If the North Shore Lagoon restaurant, or the casual fare of the movie theater, doesn’t quite fit the bill, head over to the former cafeteria, now the Tavern on the Square, where they’ve traded tater tots on plastic trays for farm-to-table breakfasts, lunches and dinners focused on Northwest cuisine. Seating is first come, first serve for now. But we love that you can wander in the courtyard with the kids or chill out by a fire pit on a cool autumn night while you’re waiting for a table.

Tavern on the Square Kathleen Nyberg

photo: McMenamins/Kathleen Nyberg

Right next door is the converted Woodshop (we’ll give you three guesses what it used to be). You won’t find any bandsaws or drill presses here, though. Just plenty of pub seating, pool tables, pinball machines and some old school shuffleboards, queued up for family fun time. It’s easy to kill a few hours with the minis over lunch with some hand-crafted brews and games here.

Anderson School Outside Tavern AWS shot

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

There are two sweet, tiny bars tucked into the property too. The Shed that sits in the middle of the courtyard looks like the tiny house you’ve been dreaming of on the outside, and the whisky bar of your dreams on the inside. A small bar, cozy wood-burning fireplace and just enough seating for dinner with your ten besties, this is one great spot to hole up for a drink. On the third floor of the hotel building is the Principal’s Office. It feels like a library turned bar, and it’s a great place to stop in for a bacon Bloody Mary on a crisp fall day. Kids are OK at both of these spots, just don’t let them belly up to the bar when you’re not there!

Shed Anderson School AWS shot

photo: Allison Sutcliffe


Make a weekend out of your adventure by booking a room for you and your munchkins in the remodeled Anderson School building. Walking through the 72-room, three-story renovation it’s hard to imagine this was once a school, halls filled with students bustling between classes. Short of the names you’ll spot on the many doors and the pictures of former staff that line the wall, the old school has been respectfully usurped by the new hotel. In true McMenamin’s style, each room is intriguingly different, with hand-painted headboards, decorative windows and even surprise double rooms that work (really) well for families.

Anderson School guest room Kathleen Nyberg

photo: McMenamins/Kathleen Nyberg

The overhead lighting is a mix-and-match collection of chandeliers that are worth more than a few gawks. And all of the paintings in the hallways and stairwells, depicting life in Bothell and the history of the school, are painted by local Pacific Northwest artists. Even if you just wander through for a quick peek, it’s worth your time. Room rates range from $150-$300 per night, depending on the season and the day. And your furry kids are welcome too, for $15 per day, per pet. Check room availability and make a reservation online for an unexpected, easy fall getaway with the kids.

Hallway lights Anderson School Kathleen Nuberg photo: McMenamins/Kathleen Nyberg

After School Activities

The Anderson School’s central, downtown location makes it an easy option for families who want to extend playtime beyond school bonds. It’s within walking distance of Bothell Landing, the city’s centerpiece park that runs along the Sammamish River and hooks up with the Burke Gilman. Here your wiggle worms can expend some extra energy on the playground or take a walk along a trail before heading out on the next adventure. Just as exciting are the city’s plans to put an amphitheater in the Anderson School’s backyard. The ground has been broken on this new project, which should bring even more music and entertainment to this little corner of the town. Still want more? Check out some of our favorite spots around Bothell.

Anderson School outside shed Aws shot

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

McMenamins Anderson School
18603 N.E. Bothell Way
Bothell, Wa 98011

Do you plan on visiting McMenamins Anderson School with your kids? Have you already been? Tell us about your experience in the Comments below.

— Allison Sutcliffe

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