While the old adage “April showers bring May flowers” certainly rings true in the Pacific Northwest, the departure of Winter still brings more days of favorable weather for getting back to some of the outdoor activities our beautiful area is known for. Come March (March 20th to be exact) Spring officially arrives, just after the beginning of daylight savings, happening March 14th this year. If you’re looking for ways to enjoy Spring’s welcoming combination of more sunny skies, and longer hours of daylight, you’ve come to the right place! Below we share five of our favorite ways to spend a sunny Spring weekend on Seattle’s Greater Eastside.
1. Visit Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Beautiful Blooms
After taking us over three decades to make our first visit, now that we’ve experienced the magic of Bellevue’s Botanical Garden we’ve been back several times in just a few short months. This 53 acre retreat is free to visit year round, but is particularly gorgeous Spring through Fall.
The Garden includes shady hikes through a tree lined forest, a gorgeous Japanese inspired Yao Garden, Rhododendron Glen and more. Located just a couple minute drive from Downtown Bellevue, Bellevue Botanical Garden has a lovely little coffee bar onsite, and makes the perfect spot for an afternoon walk with a friend, a quiet space to journal, or a kid-friendly urban hike with the family.
To learn more, check out their website: https://bellevuebotanical.org/
2. Get the Camping Gear Out on a Shakedown Trip
Did you know that the Eastside has a hidden gem of a campground, right in our local Snoqualmie Valley? The Tolt McDonald campground is a little known retreat located downtown Carnation, just along the shores of where the Snoqualmie and Tolt Rivers meet. With easy access to any of the Eastside cities, and super low elevation, this site makes for a great early season camping trip close to home. Whether you’re looking to acclimate young new campers to the fun of spending a weekend outdoors, or test out some new gear before heading out on a longer adventure, be sure to check out Tolt McDonald.
The campground opens in April, and offers walking distance access to a variety of hiking, walking, and biking trails, a large playground, downtown Carnation in case you need your Starbucks (JOKING!) and river based activities. Temperatures do still get a bit chilly at night in Spring, so we recommend packing accordingly, and possibly waiting until later in Spring if you’re a new camper (May and June are great months to head out!).
You can learn more and make reservations here: https://www.kingcounty.gov/services/parks-recreation/parks/parks-and-natural-lands/popular-parks/toltmacdonald.aspx
3. Head Out on the Water
Although it’s a little early to head to Washington’s signature lakes for a swim (unless you’re willing to don a wetsuit!), Spring is a great time to hit the lakes for some fishing, boating, or stand-up paddle boarding (SUP).
Beaver Lake, Pine Lake, and Lake Sammamish are all great spots to fish from shore for those just “diving” into the hobby of fishing.
If you’re interested in heading out onto the water, local outdoor retailer REI offers kayak, canoe, and SUP classes and rentals to take out on Lake Washington and the Mercer Slough, out of Bellevue’s Enatai and Meydenbauer Beaches. Issaquah Paddle Sports, located at Lake Sammamish State Park, offers boat rentals to take out on Lake Sammamish.
For more information on some of our favorite local beaches, check out this link: https://discovertheeastside.com/2020/07/06/an-eastside-beach-for-every-week-of-summer/
4. Walk, Run, or Ride Down the Lake Sammamish/Sammamish River Trail
If you’ve been feeling a bit cooped up this winter, the regional Lake Sammamish and Sammamish River Trails offer plenty of distance to stretch the legs. Combined, the trails run from Issaquah to Redmond, and on to Woodinville, for miles of mixed paved and gravel enjoyment. There are plenty of access points and places to park throughout the combined 20+ miles of trails, as well as plenty of opportunity to make a day of your outing. One of our favorites is starting at Redmond’s Marymoor Park, and riding out to Woodinville Wine Country for food and hydration 😉
Sammamish River Trail Info: https://www.kingcounty.gov/services/parks-recreation/parks/trails/regional-trails/popular-trails/samm-river.aspx
5. Visit Woodinville Wine Country
Speaking of Woodinville….Located on the Northern point of Seattle’s Eastside suburbs in the heart of the Sammamish River Valley, is scenic Woodinville, Washington. Home to over 100 wineries and tasting rooms, and surrounded by gorgeous hillsides and farmlands, Woodinville offers a world-class wine tasting experience to residents and visitors alike. Wine connoisseurs can easily spend a day, weekend, or week exploring here, and Spring makes an incredible time to visit this lovely wine country.
Whether you’re planning your own outing, or looking to schedule a guided tour, https://woodinvillewinecountry.com/ is a great resource to start planning your adventure.