psst! click on the first image above to get to the gallery!
Neighborhood: North Ballard
Finding it: 950 NW Carkeek Park Road, Seattle, WA 98177 // It is quite the windy road down to Carkeek, so take it slow… Follow the signs down to the park from the main street.
Parking Situation: There is a parking lot next to the playgrounds, which had plenty of spots on the day we visited, but I’m pretty sure that on a sunny weekend or summer afternoon, would get packed quickly. There does seem to be overflow parking closer to the trails, but it would be a trek back to the playground with little ones. Long story short, don’t be afraid to stalk people who are leaving to secure a good spot. All is fair in love and parking, after all.
Park stats: Carkeek Park has a little bit of everything… and plenty of room for it all. There are a few different play areas, including a tall play structure with slides, a separate area with swings, a cool little hideout that reminds me of the play area near the meerkats at the zoo and, of course, the famous salmon slide. Add in a huge grassy playfield, plenty of tables for picnics and the beach and Carkeek was certainly a sweet spot to kick off this project.
What the kids loved: Um, the salmon slide. And, then, the salmon slide. Did I mention the salmon slide? I had heard of this slide before and featured it in various Red Tricycle articles over the past few years, but I had no idea how epic it really was. The kids loved it — it was fast, semi-spooky and perfectly positioned in the shade. The beach was also a favorite for Janie, Meg and Ev, and we could have easily spent all afternoon throwing rocks in the water and building sand castles.
What I loved: Carkeek got major mama points from me for having so much to do, but having everything close enough together that I could keep an eye on all three kids, even if they were all doing something different at the park. I dread playgrounds where the swings are so far away from the play structure, because Meg always wants to swing and it’s impossible to make sure Ev isn’t launching himself off of the slide at the same time. The beach was pure heaven too — I wish that I’d planned better and brought the hard-core beach supplies (like, um, sunscreen, maybe?) so that we could have stayed through the afternoon.
Bring it: If you’re going to head down to the beach and plan on staying for a while, bring all of your beach goodies, including sand toys and a place for you to sit (blanket, beach towel, folding chair, whatever…) while your kiddos explore. This is totally a Crocs moment — the walk down the stairs to the beach is kind of treacherous and that sand is h-o-t. If you’re simply looking for some playground fun, bring the usuals — snacks for them, an iced coffee for you.
Leave it: No need for a stroller at Carkeek, so don’t bother. The stairs to the beach are way to insane to carry or even to bump one down and unless you have an infant along, you won’t need one at the playground area.
The verdict: This is likely our new favorite place to play in Seattle and I’m feeling insanely jealous of Ballard-ites for getting to call it their own! We were there late-morning and I suspect that during the weekend it turns into Golden Gardens-esque craziness, which I’d tend to shy away from. My best advice — don’t plan on making a quick visit to Carkeek Park. You’ll need at least a couple of hours to enjoy it and if you try to zip in and out, you’ll likely be carrying a screaming three-year old to the car at the end of your visit. Your own three-year old, I mean. Not someone else’s. Obviously.
Share what you love about Carkeek Park and your little tips for making the best of it! We hear that there are awesome kid-friendly trails and a little stream as well? Dish it, Ballard friends!