Located on the picturesque shores of Lake Washington, Kirkland, WA, is a vibrant city that combines natural beauty with a plethora of recreational and cultural activities. Kirkland has something for everyone, boasting a thriving arts scene, award-winning wineries, and a historic downtown area. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Kirkland, including 15 must-visit attractions, landmarks, and activities catering to various interests. So, whether you’re a local or a visitor, you’ll find plenty to discover in this gem of the Pacific Northwest.
Explore Downtown Kirkland
A visit to Kirkland wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through its charming downtown area. With its tree-lined streets, waterfront parks, and an eclectic mix of boutique shops, galleries, and cafes, downtown Kirkland is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Don’t forget to stop by the iconic Kirkland Arts Center, which hosts a variety of art classes, workshops, and exhibitions throughout the year.
Relax at Marina Park
Washington, and picturesque marina, the park is perfect for a picnic or a leisurely walk. Enjoy a game of beach volleyball, launch a kayak, or simply watch the boats go by from one of the park’s many benches.
Discover the Kirkland Performance Center
The Kirkland Performance Center is a state-of-the-art venue that hosts diverse events, including concerts, theater performances, and film screenings. With a 400-seat theater, the center provides an intimate setting where you can enjoy top-notch entertainment from local, national, and international artists. Be sure to check the calendar and book tickets in advance, as popular shows sell out quickly.
Tour the Award-Winning Wineries
Kirkland is home to several award-winning wineries, offering a delightful way to spend an afternoon or evening. Visit the popular Northwest Cellars, where you can sample a selection of locally produced wines while learning about the winemaking process from knowledgeable staff. Or, head to Waving Tree Winery, which features a tasting room with stunning views of the nearby vineyards. For an unforgettable experience, book a wine tour and leave the driving to the professionals.
Hike the Cross Kirkland Corridor
The Cross Kirkland Corridor is a 5.75-mile-long trail that stretches from the southern tip of Kirkland to the northern border. This former railway line has been converted into a multi-use path, perfect for walking, jogging, or cycling. The trail offers a unique perspective of the city, passing through residential neighborhoods, wetlands, and urban centers, all while providing stunning views of the surrounding natural beauty.
Visit the Houghton Beach Park
Houghton Beach Park is a popular destination for families, featuring a playground, picnic facilities, and a sandy beach with calm, shallow waters. The park also offers a designated swimming area, a beach volleyball court, and a public dock for launching boats and kayaks. Spend the day soaking up the sun and enjoying the stunning views of Lake Washington and the Seattle skyline.
Explore the Bridle Trails State Park
Bridle Trails State Park is a 482-acre park in the heart of Kirkland, offering a peaceful retreat from the bustling city. The park features 28 miles of equestrian, hiking, and biking trails that wind through lush forests and open meadows. With its dense tree cover and abundant wildlife, Bridle Trails State Park is a perfect destination for nature lovers looking to escape the urban environment for a few hours.
Admire the Artwork at the Outdoor Sculpture Collection
Kirkland’s commitment to the arts is evident in its impressive Outdoor Sculpture Collection, which features over 30 unique sculptures installed throughout the city. Grab a map from the Kirkland Arts Center or download one from the city’s website and embark on a self-guided tour to discover these eye-catching works of art, ranging from abstract metal structures to whimsical animal sculptures.
Experience the Juanita Bay Park Wildlife Habitat
Juanita Bay Park is a 110-acre urban wildlife habitat that offers visitors the opportunity to observe a diverse array of local flora and fauna. The park features a network of walking trails, boardwalks, and viewing platforms allowing visitors to explore the wetlands, marshes, and forests that comprise this unique ecosystem. Keep an eye out for the numerous bird species, amphibians, and mammals that call Juanita Bay Park home.
Enjoy a Round of Golf at the Inglewood Golf Club
The Inglewood Golf Club is a picturesque, 18-hole championship golf course that has been challenging golfers since 1919. With its tree-lined fairways, undulating greens, and stunning views of Lake Washington, Inglewood offers an enjoyable and challenging golfing experience for players of all skill levels. Be sure to book a tee time in advance, as this popular course fills up quickly.
Experience the Waters of Lake Washington
As a lakeside city, Kirkland offers a variety of water-based activities to enjoy on the beautiful Lake Washington. Rent a kayak, paddleboard, or boat from a local rental company and explore the lake’s hidden coves and picturesque shoreline. If you prefer to stay on dry land, consider booking a scenic boat tour to learn more about the history and ecology of the area.
Sample the Local Cuisine
Kirkland is home to a diverse culinary scene featuring a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and eateries to suit every taste. From fresh seafood and gourmet burgers to international fare and farm-to-table dining, you’ll find something to satisfy your cravings. Don’t miss the opportunity to try local specialties like fresh Pacific Northwest salmon or artisanal cheeses from nearby farms.
Attend a Local Festival or Event
Bull-Doser, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Kirkland hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating the city’s vibrant community spirit. From the annual Summerfest to the Kirkland Classic Car Show, there’s always something happening in this bustling lakeside city. Be sure to check the city’s events calendar to see what’s going on during your visit.
Unwind at a Luxury Day Spa
Park Weggis, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Treat yourself to a day of pampering and relaxation at one of Kirkland’s many luxury day spas. Indulge in a soothing massage, rejuvenating facial, or invigorating body treatment to help you unwind and recharge. Many spas also offer a range of beauty services, such as manicures, pedicures, and hair styling, to help you look and feel your best.
Support Local Artists at the Kirkland Art Walk
Held on the second Friday of every month, the Kirkland Art Walk is a fantastic opportunity to discover the work of local artists and artisans. With galleries, shops, and restaurants staying open late and hosting special exhibitions, live music, and refreshments, this lively event is a fun way to explore Kirkland’s thriving arts scene while supporting local talent.
Why Is Kirkland, WA, So Expensive?
Kirkland, WA, often referred to as the “gem of the Pacific Northwest,” is known for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant cultural scene, and picturesque waterfront. Yet, it is also widely recognized for its high cost of living, with many people wondering why this charming lakeside city is so expensive. Several factors contribute to Kirkland’s elevated prices, including its desirable location, strong economy, high demand for housing, and excellent quality of life.
One of the main reasons Kirkland is so expensive is its prime location. Nestled along the eastern shore of Lake Washington, the city offers breathtaking views, easy access to water-based activities, and proximity to both Seattle and Bellevue. This desirable location attracts a significant number of people looking to live and work in the area, thereby driving up housing costs due to high demand. Additionally, the city’s well-maintained parks, beaches, and public spaces contribute to its desirability, further fueling the demand for housing.
Another factor contributing to Kirkland’s high cost of living is its strong economy. The city is home to several large corporations, such as Google and Tableau, as well as numerous small businesses and startups. These companies bring a large number of well-paying jobs to the area, resulting in a higher average income for Kirkland residents compared to other cities in Washington State. With more disposable income, people are willing to pay higher prices for housing, goods, and services, which drives up the overall cost of living.
The high demand for housing in Kirkland has also led to a scarcity of available properties, further exacerbating the city’s expensive nature. Due to its geographical constraints, Kirkland has limited space for new developments, which means that the existing housing stock must accommodate a growing population. This scarcity of available homes drives up property values and rental rates, making it more expensive for residents to secure housing within the city.
Lastly, Kirkland’s excellent quality of life plays a significant role in its high cost of living. The city boasts top-rated schools, a low crime rate, and a strong sense of community, making it an attractive place for families and individuals. The town also offers a wealth of recreational and cultural opportunities, from outdoor pursuits such as hiking and boating to an active arts scene and diverse dining options. These factors contribute to the overall desirability of Kirkland as a place to live, further driving up the cost of living.
Are There Cheap Things to Do in Kirkland?
Kirkland, Washington, a picturesque city nestled along the shores of Lake Washington, may be known for its upscale neighborhoods and attractions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of affordable activities for visitors and locals alike. In fact, Kirkland offers a wealth of inexpensive or even free things to do, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the city’s natural beauty, culture, and recreational opportunities without breaking the bank.
First and foremost, Kirkland’s numerous parks and green spaces provide an excellent opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in their favorite activities at little to no cost. The city boasts over 40 parks, offering playgrounds, sports fields, picnic areas, and walking trails. Take advantage of these public spaces to enjoy a leisurely hike, a family picnic, or a game of soccer or basketball with friends. For those looking to get even closer to nature, the waterfront parks along Lake Washington, such as Marina Park, Houghton Beach Park, and Juanita Bay Park, offer stunning views and access to the water for swimming, kayaking, or paddleboarding.
Another affordable way to enjoy Kirkland’s charm is by exploring its vibrant downtown area on foot. Downtown Kirkland features a variety of shops, cafes, and galleries, many of which host special events or offer discounts on certain days. The monthly Kirkland Art Walk is a prime example of a free event showcasing local talent and fostering community. The city’s Outdoor Sculpture Collection can also be discovered through a self-guided tour, providing an engaging and budget-friendly cultural experience.
For those interested in learning about the history of Kirkland, the Heritage Hall, and the Peter Kirk Building offer free admission and fascinating insights into the city’s past. These historic landmarks provide a glimpse into the origins of Kirkland and serve as a reminder of its rich heritage. Similarly, the Kirkland Cemetery, where many of the city’s founding families are laid to rest, can be explored at no cost.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly entertainment, be sure to check out the various free or low-cost events throughout the year. From outdoor movie nights and live music at local parks to seasonal festivals and farmers’ markets, there’s always something happening in Kirkland that won’t strain your wallet. Keep an eye on the city’s events calendar to stay informed about upcoming activities.
Finally, while dining out in Kirkland can sometimes be pricey, plenty of budget-friendly options are available. Food trucks, casual cafes, and inexpensive eateries throughout the city offer affordable and delicious meals that cater to various tastes. Don’t hesitate to venture off the beaten path to discover hidden gems that offer great food at reasonable prices.
Is Kirkland Washington worth visiting?
Kirkland, Washington, is undoubtedly worth visiting for its scenic landscapes, vibrant arts scene, and numerous recreational activities. This lakeside city nestled along the eastern shore of Lake Washington offers a unique blend of natural beauty, urban amenities, and a strong sense of community that appeals to a wide range of visitors. Moreover, Kirkland is home to several unusual places and hidden gems, making it an even more compelling destination for those looking to explore beyond the well-trodden tourist trail.
One of the more unusual places to visit in Kirkland is the Totem Lake Malls, an abandoned shopping center that has been partially reclaimed by nature. This eerily fascinating site contrasts the bustling city and the encroaching wilderness, providing an intriguing backdrop for urban explorers and photographers alike. Plans are in the redevelopment works, so visit before it’s transformed into something new.
Another offbeat destination in Kirkland is the mysterious Goat Hill, a curious landmark featuring a cluster of large boulders perched precariously atop a hill. Local lore attributes these boulders to glacial activity during the last ice age, but their unusual arrangement has fueled speculation about supernatural forces at work. Goat Hill offers a unique opportunity for a short hike and interesting photography.
The Doris Cooper Houghton Beach Park is a hidden gem that offers a more intimate experience than some of the city’s larger, more crowded waterfront parks. This peaceful park is perfect for a relaxing day by the water, with its sandy beach, calm waters, and beautiful views of Lake Washington. Visitors can enjoy a quiet picnic or take a refreshing dip in the lake, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
For art enthusiasts, the Kirkland Arts Center is a must-visit destination. Located in a charming, historic building, the center hosts a variety of rotating exhibitions, workshops, and classes, often featuring lesser-known local and regional artists. This commitment to showcasing new and emerging talent makes the Kirkland Arts Center an exciting place to discover fresh perspectives on contemporary art.
Another unusual attraction in Kirkland is the TechCity Bowl, a retro-style bowling alley that has been entertaining visitors since 1958. This nostalgic venue offers a fun and affordable way to spend an afternoon or evening,
complete with vintage decor, classic arcade games, and a lively atmosphere. Don’t forget to stop by their on-site café for some delicious comfort food to round out your experience.
Nature lovers should take advantage of the opportunity to explore the Yarrow Bay Wetlands, a lesser-known ecological treasure located just minutes from downtown Kirkland. This expansive wetland area offers a peaceful retreat from the city, with walking trails, boardwalks, and observation platforms that provide an immersive experience in this unique ecosystem. Keep an eye out for the various bird species, amphibians, and mammals that call the Yarrow Bay Wetlands home.
In the end, Kirkland, Washington, is undoubtedly worth visiting for its stunning natural beauty, thriving arts scene, and recreational opportunities. Additionally, the city’s unusual places and hidden gems add a layer of intrigue that sets it apart from other destinations in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you’re interested in exploring abandoned malls, discovering local art, or immersing yourself in nature, Kirkland offers many experiences catering to various interests and preferences.
With its diverse array of attractions, activities, and natural beauty, Kirkland, WA, offers something for everyone. Whether interested in outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply relaxing by the water, this charming lakeside city has everything. Use this guide as a starting point for planning your visit, and don’t be afraid to explore beyond the recommendations to create your own unique Kirkland experience. With so many wonderful things to see and do, you’re sure to make lasting memories and fall in love with this vibrant Pacific Northwest gem.
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