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Marina Park



By Norris Comer

It’s January in the Pacific Northwest, and Ken Kesey’s forecast in Sometimes a Great Notion of “dark smeary shiny night full of rain” translates to conservative cruising options for most boaters. Who really wants to take on the Straits of I-Wanna-Puke-a (Juan de Fuca) this time of year for a quick, no-fuss boat trip? The comparatively sheltered Pacific Northwest inland waters are at their most inviting right now while the coast gets pounded by winter storms. If you’re within easy striking distance of Lake Washington, the main drag of Kirkland is a suburban playground with plenty to offer for a winter day trip. Kirkland does not offer the darling-Puget-Sound-hamlet experience of a place like Coupeville on Whidbey Island, nor does it provide a window into the gritty, salt-crusted underbelly of the maritime industry like Bremerton, Washington. The Kirkland waterfront is about as posh a destination as you’re likely to find with big open parks, more restaurants and bars than you could possibly visit, and beauty spas galore. For the kids, the stuffed animals in the toy stores are jumbo and the candy shops loaded. For couples, wine tasting lounges and anniversary-caliber restaurants abound. Perhaps it is appropriate that Kirkland is synonymous with the Kirkland Signature label prominent within Costcos around the world. Costco was born here, after all. For a visiting boater, Kirkland’s goods are readily accessible via the Kirkland Marina Park Dock that is situated off the public beach of Marina Park, located in the center of the action. If you choose to dock at the Marina Park Dock, you’ll be sharing the space with the iconic Argosy Seattle-area cruise ships that take trips out from there. There’s usually plenty of space in the winter with your name on it. The Kirkland Homeport Marina is a more long-term moorage choice located a stone’s throw south of the Marina Park. As always, make prudent decisions with regards to weather. It is said that if you can swim in it, you can drown in it. For the Pacific Northwest boater, it’s always wise to have foulies on hand just in case.


Marina Park on a busy weekend is the quintessential Kirkland portrait. A small, but much loved lakeside beach is bordered by a half moon of meticulously maintained lawn usually dotted by families and dog walkers. A covered pavilion and grove of trees with shaded benches invite one north while the visiting boats of the Kirkland Marina Park Dock bob in their slips to the south. In theory, you could dock your boat and start the picnic in under a minute. Wander inland a few hundred yards and you’ll be among the cafes, ice creameries, and boutiques of Lakeshore Plaza.

Lake Street S. There are plenty of streets made for strolling in Kirkland, but the artery of it all is Lake Street South. Lake runs parallel to the shoreline, northwest-southeast, and takes the explorer through a gauntlet of consumerist fun. You’d be hard pressed to find a mile as packed with artisan coffee roasts, upscale clothing, fancy cocktails, and excellent, often fusion-modern, food. Pedestrian friendly Central Way, Park Lane, and Kirkland Ave. branch off to the east for the curious newcomer to wander.

The Kiddos Kirkland is a very clean, kid friendly place. If you visit on a nice day and want to stay outside, both Heritage Park to the northwest and Peter Kirk Park to the east are perfect for throwing around the Frisbee. The treats of Aura Bakery are right next to Rocket Fizz Kirkland creative soda and candy shop, and Roo’s World of Discovery, a children’s amusement center, is at the intersection of Central Way and Lake St. S. Simplicity ABC is a kid’s book, toy, and room décor store next to Sirena Gelato at the intersection of Park Lane and Lake St. S. If your kids like model trains, Eastside Trains hobby store is on the corner of Central Way and Main St. They grow up fast, so make some memories while you can.

Date Night For those of us looking for an upscale getaway with the Mr. or Mrs., Kirkland has plenty to offer. Between the many vintners, like the popular The Grape Choice and posh Maison DeLille Wine Lounge, you’re spoiled for choice. There’s dress-up worthy establishments around every corner, like the upscale Italian restaurant Volterra. There must be over a dozen places with that martini and leather couch vibe to them, and the restaurants come in every flavor imaginable from vegetarian Chinese to Italian, Mexican to Indian, and Thai to American comfort. There probably isn’t a better view of the sunset over Seattle to the east either, and there’s even MeaMarie Bridal Atelier and Lake Street Diamond if you decide to get hitched right then and there. It’s all within easy walking distance to the overnight moorage to boot, so whoever is usually the designated driver can cut loose.

Art Walk If you’re artsy, Kirkland has you covered. Art galleries, like the Rhonda Hill Gallery, Parklane Gallery, and Howard Mandville Gallery feature works by local artists of all types from paint to sculpture. What’s more, funky and easily overlooked statues abound to make Kirkland sort of an art scavenger hunt. Iconic cow and coyote statues sit on the intersection of Central Way and Lake St. S. A touching Navy memorial of a returned sailor in the arms of his loved one can be found in Marina Park. Two giant bunnies cuddle on the sidewalk across the street from the cow and coyote. What does it all mean? I suppose that’s up to you. Art is about interpretation, as they say. If you want to make some art yourself, a CANVAS! Paint and Sip studio is on Central Way.

Northwest Yachting January 2017  

All the latest on Power Boating & Sail in the Northwest, featuring a preview of the 2017 Seattle Boat Show, our annual Washington Marina & F...

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