It’s a tradition in the PNW unlike any other. Talk to moms from the Midwest about where they pumpkin patch and they’re likely to raise an eyebrow. But out here on the Eastside? Choosing your pumpkin patch for the year is almost as big of a deal as choosing where you’ll vacation in the summer. With different patches offering amazing amenities and activities, competing for your gourd dollars winds up meaning a full day of family fun.
The one major bummer is that, with real estate being as costly as it is on the Eastside, you’re going to have to drive a bit to get to the best pumpkin patches. They’re all great, if I’m being honest, and you’ll enjoy any of them. That said, different patches appeal to different aged kids. Choosing the best one for your family makes the drive more worthwhile.
Here is the lowdown on the pumpkin patch experience!
This one is my pick for big kids. Once you arrive you’ll find acres upon acres of pumpkins as well as a ton of family-friendly attractions. Perhaps the best of all is the massive corn maze on site. The maze is a whopping 10 acres large and always Take a Hikecut into interesting, artistic designs that you can only see from above. I like this maze for the big kids because they specifically offer admission after dark, which is spooky and exciting all by itself! You can also reserve a fire pit to roast marshmallows after you make your epic escape. For the little kids, there are also two smaller corn mazes that are less intimidating. Other free activities include hayrides, a tike track for riding, and a playground area. In addition to your pumpkin, you can also pay to play on big slides, the corn crib (excellent for sensory kids) and fire apples out of the apple cannon. A rope maze, sandpit, and cow-train ride complete your full day experience.
My favorite pick for those with little kids, this is a wonderland for the imagination. On top of the you-pick-pumpkins, you’ll also find admission free fun things to do that enchant the smallest of adventurers. There is a large corn maze that is themed and unintimidating for younger guests, as well as a kid’s adventure maze, miniature golf, and a mouseville themed gift shop. Kids can also pet farm animals. On the weekends you’ll find hayrides, apple slingshots, and face painting, too. Older kids may get a little bored at this one, but for little kids, the value cannot be beaten.
If you’re noticing a nod to Snohomish, it’s not intentional! It just so happened that all of my favorite places are located just north of the Eastside. And, among all of them, The Farm at Swan’s Trail just may be my absolute favorite. It’s a literal adventure wonderland that is well suited for families with kids of all ages. A FIFTY-acre pumpkin patch pretty much guarantees selection wide enough to last the entire season, and you’ll also find a pretty nicely sized petting zoo. On top of that, expect to laugh your tail feather off at the duck races and Farmer Ben’s “Four Little Pig” shows. There are also wagon rides, picnic pavilions, a massive corn maze, and you pick apples. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the barn. It’s a tiny hay bale maze up to the hayloft where kiddos can zip down a slide into a pile of hay. It’s the stuff great photos are made of, friends.
Things really get fun when you get into the paid activities, though. A giant hay bale pyramid for climbing, a ball pit, large slides, an inflatable jumping pillow, rubber duck races, gemstone mining, pedal cart racing, and a cow train all await you. Plan to spend all day at this one, and make family memories that evolve into a tradition your kids will take with them for years to come.
Stocker Farms, Snohomish
Fox Hollow Farm, Issaquah
Remlinger Farms, Carnation
This list is just a short sample of all of the pumpkin farms out there. If nothing here tickles your fancy, here’s a longer list compiled by Red-Tri. If you’re not up for the drive to one of my favorite farms, maybe you can find one closer to your home neighborhood here and tell me all about why you loved it in the comments! Happy hunting!
It’s here we can’t deny it — fall has settled in. The beautiful, sunny, and warm days are coming have come to an end. But don’t you go downing fall on me just yet! It’s actually my favorite time of year! That nice little nip in the air in the morning, the lazy evenings, and the smell of fresh textbooks. It’s a wonderful time! Here are three great ways to enjoy September around the Eastside!
High School Football
Living in Seattle, for most of us, means a love of Seahawk football. Attending games is more than a way to pass a day, it’s an experience. And, like most major experiences, it costs a pretty penny. So why not enjoy a some Friday Night Lights and watch a more affordable game of gridiron? So many of our local High School teams are contenders on a statewide level that attending a high school game not only means you’re out enjoying the fall evening weather, it also means you’re seeing some legitimate talent. Plus there are affordable concessions, marching bands, and all kinds of school spirit!
Take a Hike
Head over to Bridle Trails State Park in Kirkland for a nice family hike. The park itself isn’t huge, which makes it perfect for exploring on a weekday evening after school. Walk through the dense trees seeking out unique shadows cast through the branches and onto the dirt pathways. The enchantment of this urban park is turned up to eleven when a horse comes striding by you. Bridle Trails was designed as a horse walking park, which means that the unexpected rider can pass you by. I love this quiet oasis right in the middle of the densely populated Eastside! I also have to give an honorable mention to Juanita Bay Nature Preserve, where you can spot bald eagles fairly regularly.
Have you ever tried to go stand-up-paddle boarding on Lake Washington? SUP for short, I actually prefer early fall for this activity to summer. The crowds are gone, the water is still warm, and the sunsets are something else entirely. Perfect Wave is my go-to spot. Located right at Houghton Beach in Kirkland, there is nothing more refreshing than an evening paddle, followed by happy hour at The Beach House, which is well worth a visit. Just remember, hours start to narrow as summer closes, so check ahead before showing up.
What are your favorite fall activities!!??
You’ll hear me talk about the “Big Three” pretty often. To me- those are the three cities that make up the heart of the Eastside. Redmond. Kirkland. Bellevue. Depends on who you ask, the Eastside is growing, and can sometimes include Issaquah, Bothell, Woodinville and Sammamish. But, for me, when we’re talking Eastside, we’re talking the big three.
Since the city is growing so quickly, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a patch of green space where you’re allowed to camp overnight. There are still plenty of parks and natural areas around town, but try to pitch a tent overnight and you’re likely to wind up in some hot water. It’s just not cool. But that doesn’t mean that you need to plan an epic road trip in order to find a nice little camping spot, either. Here are my personal top three favorite places to get some R&R and a bit of nature within three hours from the Eastside.
- Dash Point State Park
Address: 5700 SW Dash Point Rd, Federal Way, WA 98023
Drive Time: Less than an hour.
Why I Love It
Dash Point State Park is right off of I-5 in Federal Way. It’s so close to the city that sometimes you even get city noise while you’re in the park. While that may sound like a turn off, hear me out! This park has so much going for it! Positioned right near Commencement Bay, the park has access to a swimmable beach that plays host to some incredible beachcombing at low tide. Expect to find thousands of sand dollars, shells, clams, jellyfish, and the last time I was there, I even saw a fully intact “ghost” sailboat washed ashore. How cool! To top it off there are great hiking trails, a summer “Jr. Ranger” program for the kids, and a large grassy field in the middle of the campground loop for the kids to makes friends and play in. Remember that city I talked about? It’s pretty cool because, if you don’t like campfire cooking, you can easily pop right into town and have dinner out, returning to your site for s’mores and tent sleeping. Plus, if everything goes bust, you’re so close to home that it’s simple to call it a loss, pack up, and head home. That makes it perfect for first time campers!
- Pine Village KOA
Address: 11401 River Bend Dr, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Drive Time: 2 Hours
Why I Love It
The only non-state park camp on my list, this place is super fun for a long weekend. It’s only a 2 hour drive time (admittedly, that’s before we account for traffic) and most of that drive is spent going through either scenic Stevens or Snoqualmie Pass. The campsite itself offers SO many amenities. There is space for trailers, RVs, tents, and even a few cabins that you can rent. Onsite you’ll find a playground and even a pool. In the summer there is a free breakfast in the mornings, outside movies in the evenings, and even a free shuttle into downtown Leavenworth, where you’ll find a whole host of things to do. In the winter you can enjoy a massive open field directly behind the campground, perfect for sledding, snowshoeing, or a winter trek into town. Leavenworth is a city of festivals, with something going on almost every weekend. This glimpse into a Bavarian village makes the kids happy, and the high concentration of wineries and breweries makes mom and dad happy, too.
- Deception Pass State Park
Address: 41020 SR 20 Oak Harbor, WA 98277
Drive Time: 90 minutes
Why I Love It
As far as I’m concerned, this is the gold standard for an immersive camping experience. This park has.it.all. On top of a TON of spots for RVs, trailers, and tents, you’ll find not one, not two, but THREE beaches. There is a salt water beach opening to the Salish Sea, a freshwater beach on Cranberry Lake, and another saltwater lagoon beach that has some of the best tide-pools in the PNW (at low tide). The Salish Sea beach has a ton of driftwood, perfect for hut making, the lake beach plays host to canoe and kayak rental as well as a seasonal snack stand, and the tide-pooling beach has rangers on site to guide you (during the summer) and help you find creatures! On top of ALL of that, you’ll also find iconic bridges that you can walk (or drive) across with sweeping vista views of the sea. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the other half of this massive park has great fishing access, too. Freshwater and saltwater fishing are both available, along with a whole host of hiking opportunities of varying difficulty. Not that you will ever need to leave this park to stay busy, but my family really enjoys a quick trip into Oak Harbor where we enjoy an evening at one of the only drive-in theatres left in the state. (Blue Fox Drive-In Theatre). Frankly, if you’re only going camping once, make it this park. It’s pretty popular and fills up fast, so make sure to make reservations well in advance.
Moran State Park
Address: 3572 Olga Rd, Olga, WA 98279
Why I Love It
Missing my list due to time constraints only, this park is cool because it’s on an Island. Orcas Island, to be exact. That means that you’ll need to take a state ferry to get there, making it kind of pricey for trailer or RV campers. The sites are small, but the views are BIG. You can even drive (or hike) clear to the top of Mt. Constitution for a bird’s eye view of all of the San Juan Islands.
Did I miss your favorite campsite? If you want to keep it a well-guarded secret, I get it. But, if you’re willing to share, please let me know what I’m missing out on in the comments below.
The Insider’s Guide the July 4th on the Eastside
Something is about to explode on the Eastside! Every year around the Fourth of July, lots of communities put together a fireworks display. But it can be overwhelming to figure out where to go and when. Never mind navigating the traffic that comes with it. So I thought it’d be nice to put together a quick little list of firework shows, times, and locations for you. Yes, I’ve got the big three on here (Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue), but I also wanted to talk about a few of the outlying communities. Many have shows that are just as awesome, but with half the crowds. So who knows, maybe this year you’ll venture out and find something new!
The BIG Three
Date: July 4
Expect more than 60,000 people. Yes, there will be live music and events as well, but… 60,000 people. If you’re up for braving the crowds, the family fun zone opens at 2 pm, and the big show kicks off around 10 pm.
Date: July 4
Location: Marina Park
If you’ve never seen fireworks over water, you’re missing out. This might just be my favorite display because, if you’re lucky, you can catch some of Seattle’s show in the background, too. There is a parade starting at 7 am with events lasting right up until BOOM time at 10 pm. Parking is a right nightmare and space to sit is limited, so get in town early. Finding some blanket space at Houghton Beach or Heritage Park is a sneaky way to see the show with a smaller crowd, but the best trick is finding a friend with a boat and bribing your way aboard.
Date: Derby Days!
Redmond ushers its residents to nearby displays, opting to save traffic and budget for their Derby Days celebration. Read more about THAT, here.
Other Favorite Outliers
Date: July 4
Nothing like free pancakes (8:30 am) to get your day started off right! There’s also a children’s parade, grand parade, and other events to last the day until 10 pm when the fireworks show gets started.
Date: July 4
Close to home, the Down Home festival features a kids-n-pets parade (11 am), old-fashioned games, and live entertainment. I like that this one starts a bit later in the day, meaning I get to sleep in a bit before rushing to the festival to find parking. Yes, please.
Date: July 4
A short drive north for a fun experience! This one really gets started later in the evening, with food and vendors kicking off at 7:30 pm. The fireworks get started around 10 pm.
Date: July 4
Location: Vasa Park
This one is kind of a fundraiser and show built into one. Donations benefit the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank. The event has raised more than $69,000 since 2015. If you’re looking for a way to feel good about the Fourth, this is my pick. The fireworks show itself is beautiful and, again, over water. Things get started around 10:15 pm.
Date: July 4
Location: Angle Lake Park
I like this one because it’s a little lower key. There will still be a big crowd and lots of kiddos, but the spray park, lake, and kid’s bounce zone make it easy to spend more time here as you wait for the display to start. The operation kicks off around noon, with the big finale lighting up the sky around 10 pm.
I have a friend who absolutely RAVES about seeing fireworks down south at the Emerald Downs. It’s hosted BEFORE the 4th, this year falling on July 3rd, and runs like an all-day event. It kicks off with a kid’s movie playing on the big screen before the horses come out to race. Kids really love watching the horses run and trying to pick which one will win. Kids can get up close to the thoroughbreds, which is nice. When its show time, everyone sits right by the track for a real front row view of the fireworks- always set to music. There is, naturally, a TON of parking and almost always a Groupon for admission, making it nearly free to attend. (Kids are always free) If you’re up for something different, make this your family’s newest tradition.
Let’s face it — you can’t really go wrong with what you choose around here. So many amazingly fun things to do and places to see those fireworks. Happy Fourth Y’all!!
PS — if you check any of these things out be sure to share your experience and pictures!
4 (Nearly) Free Ways to Keep Kids Busy This Summer in the Seattle Area
Living in the Seattle-area is rich. Life is good here. It’s also expensive. But that doesn’t mean that your summer has to be a constant battle between boredom and broke. There are so many exciting, fun things for kids to do around town that are either free or darn close to it. Here are four of my favorite ways to enjoy the green of summer- without blowing all the green in my wallet doing it.
1. Splish Splash
Splash pads have got to be one of my favorite ways to cool off all summer. There is so much good about them! First of all, they’re free. Who doesn’t love free? Also, since there is no standing water, you don’t have to worry about swimming competency or if a lifeguard is on duty. Just show up, get soaked, go home. Kiddos who don’t enjoy water activities can even play on nearby fields or playground equipment, making this a real win-win for the entire family. One last perk? Packing a picnic lunch is super-fun for kids. That saves more money and makes mom look cool. Ready to get your splash on? Where we live on the Eastside there is Crossroads in Bellevue, Grasslawn Park in Redmond, the Redmond Town Center, and the Sammamish Commons spray park. Feeling more adventurous? Here’s a look at all area splash parks.
2. Summer Movie Days
Even a perfect Seattle summer can get overwhelming. When it’s too hot to play outside, or if we get a rainy day, take the fun indoors with Regal Cinemas. The Bella Bottega theatre in Redmond offers the summer Movie Express every year. Offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 am, movie tickets are just $1 each. Yes, you read that right, $1. You can choose between two family favorites every week, check out the lineup for this summer, here.
3. Take a Hike, Be a Princess
St. Edwards State Park is located at the very northern tip of Lake Washington. If you haven’t been there yet, I have to ask you, “WHY NOT?” The park is breathtaking. There are several hikes that vary in difficulty from simple to simply heart stopping. It’s hard to believe that such a challenging trek could be so close to the big city! Apart from the trails, which lead you right down to the lake for a picturesque cooling dip, you’ll also find a beautiful old seminary here. It’s now the base for Bastyr College.
But here’s the best part. At the top of the park, you’ll find a sprawling playground designed to look like a royal castle. It’s seriously epic. While visiting the park is free, plan to pay $10 for parking. It’s forgivable though, as all the parking fees go to the state parks and help keep gems like this open.
4. Discover a new Beach
Back to the water play! We love local beaches like Houghton and Juanita in Kirkland (and if you’ve never checked out Vasa Park, you’re really missing something special), but this summer, why not try something new? This one requires you to get out of town just a bit, but I promise it’s worth it. From July 5th through September 3rd you can catch a FREE foot ferry (that means no cars) out to Jetty Island.
This tiny sandbar is located in Puget Sound and offers 2 miles of sand, mud flats, sun, and shallow warm swimming water! The line to catch the free ferry can get pretty long, so here’s a tip. Get a party of 8 or more people together in advance and you can make a ferry reservation!
Do YOU have a favorite free (or nearly free) thing to do with the kids? I’d love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments and who knows? Maybe I’ll see you out and about this summer, too!