Verdant open spaces, a host of natural attractions, excellent shopping, and delectable restaurants — the city of Kirkland buzzes with activities. Whether you’re keen on enjoying a day in the great outdoors at one of the suburb’s 54 parks, or want to explore a class at the region’s renowned art center, Kirkland bounds with things to do — and Jeff Reynolds is the guide to walk you through them. Read on for the best Kirkland has to offer.
Rise early to watch the birds
The Pacific Northwest boasts an abundance of wildlife — and is especially a delight for bird lovers. Pack up your binoculars and rise with the sun to see the splendors that roam around Juanita Bay Park. Some of the treasures you’ll see in this urban oasis include great blue herons, northern flickers, belted kingfishers, and American coots. Check ahead before heading in this direction: The Eastside Audobon Society offers interpretive tours twice a month.
Attend a reading
Shop along the waterfront
Kirkland’s lakefront shopping district boasts the best of two worlds: terrific shops and ample natural beauty. The district’s Park Lane has been utterly transformed in recent years: Once struck by floods and collapse, it’s gone through an enormous resurgence and is now home to the most vibrant part of the city. Here, you can shop at various stores, from J. McLaughlin to Sobia’s Art, admire the public art, peruse vintage finds, or sip on a glass of wine at the beloved Park Lane Public Space — a lively bar and restaurant that’s famous for their truffle and shallot macaroni and cheese, wild boar sloppy Joe’s, caramelized butternut squash, beer-battered Alaska cod, and flatbread pizzas.
Live it up at Kirkland’s annual Oktoberfest
The PNW’s take on this robust German holiday is an experience that will linger in your memory for years. Presented at the end of September, the three-day fest thrums with live music from bands and DJs while sausage is eaten, cold bier is poured, and family and friends engage in super-fun games. Kirklandites look forward to this celebration — and dress up in their finest Lederhosen outfits to show it.
Play zombie dodgeball
Sail in the sky
Toss a ball over a net
Kirkland is home to several beaches on the shores of the magnificent Lake Washington, and Doris Cooper Houghton Beach Park is one of its most splendid. Rally your friends and family members for a volleyball game at one of the park’s courts, where you can play a few games while enjoying views of Seattle.
Dine on award-winning fare
The gorgeous and intimate Cafe Juanita took home a coveted James Beard award — and for a good reason: this upscale eatery’s carefully curated menu exhibits the tastes and textures of Northern Italy. Their “tasting menus” are tailored to specific diets — from vegan to pescatarian — and feature gems ranging from yellowtail cruda with fresh coriander to seared foie gras with crystallized ginger. Their wine list is fabulous, and their desserts are divine (think: vanilla bean panna cotta with honey and cinder toffee), rendering Cafe Juanita the ideal venue for a birthday, graduation, or anniversary.
Sample locally-sourced wines
Few people may realize that Washington is the second biggest wine manufacturer in the States. Woodinville Wine Country, a mere ten minutes from Kirkland, personifies this with its world-class beverages and more than 110 wineries. Located in the Sammamish River Valley, the wineries that make up this region are compared to the gems found in California’s Napa Valley. Get your hands on a tasting pass to tour multiple wineries in a day, and savor the outlying beauty of the green, rural area.
Watch a local film at the Kirkland Performance Center
The Kirkland Performance Center is a striking, intimate venue that frequently features locally-made films and live music, including concerts by Grammy Award-winning artists.