Kirkland is one of Washington's most affluent communities, yet, happily, it manages to retain a relaxed, friendly charm. It’s the type of town where people stroll the sidewalks and nod to each other on Sunday afternoons, often with an ice cream cone or coffee drink in their hand. Located just 20 minutes from Seattle, its vibrant arts scene, incredible restaurants, gorgeous parks, and diverse outdoor activities make it the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. To help you make the most of your visit, here are the 10 best things to do while you’re in Kirkland, Washington.
Explore Lake Washington
Kirkland makes its home on Lake Washington's shores, the largest lake in King County and the second-largest in the state of Washington. The lake offers stunning views of Mount Rainier to the south and Seattle and the Olympic Mountains to the west. The sunsets are spectacular.
For a memorable experience, grab some drinks and snacks and head down to Duffys Electric Boats. Their covered boats hold 10-12 people, and you don’t need a boater’s permit since they putter around at less than 15 miles per hour. If kayaking or paddleboarding are more your speed, you can rent them at Northwest Paddle Surfers. And if you want to enjoy the scenery from above...way above, the team at Parasail Kirkland is at your service.
Embrace the Arts
You don’t have to go far to find art in Kirkland. The downtown area is home to over two dozen outdoor statues and murals scattered throughout the parks, buildings, and sidewalks. If you’re visiting in summer, the aforementioned Marina Park is host to the excellent free Kirkland Summer Concert Series. Be sure to check out the state-of-the-art Kirkland Performance Center, home to film festivals, live concerts, plays, and performances from a mix of local and internationally-renowned artists.
Eat to Your Heart's Content
Kirkland has one of the best dining scenes in the Seattle area, with options ranging from fine dining to quick and casual. Several immigrant-owned restaurants and the diversity of cuisine are part of what makes a visit to Kirkland so rewarding.
The best restaurant in Kirkland is arguably Cafe Juanita. Chef-owner Holly Smith is a James Beard award-winner, and the restaurant specializes in Northern Italian dishes sourced from ingredients from the Pacific Northwest. Cafe Juanita is a special occasion restaurant with prices to match and to guarantee a table it’s usually a good idea to make reservations a few weeks in advance.
Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen focuses on dishes with roots in Thai street food. It’s a fantastic option, especially if you’re looking for a casual, budget-friendly restaurant. The food is fantastic, and It’s especially appealing in summer when they open up the glass walls for open-air dining. This is also the home of one of the best happy hours in town.
If you’re in the mood for something sweet, head into Siren Gelato and indulge yourself with a frozen treat as you walk the sidewalks or from one of the nearby parks.
Shop 'til You Drop
Kirkland is full of an eclectic mix of small businesses, many of which cater to a high-income crowd. This doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of treasures for bargain hunters, however. Consignment shops like Ragomffyn’s are always sure to have an enticing array of designer women’s clothes and accessories at a fraction of the original price. There are also gift shops like Clementine with unique finds for every budget.
If you’re still in the mood for more shopping when you’re through, downtown Bellevue is only ten minutes away and considered to be one of the top shopping destinations in the state.
Play at the Park
Kirkland has some of the best parks on Lake Washington. No visit to town would be complete without a stroll through Marina Park. It’s a gathering place where people of every age, culture, and background come to splash in the lake, take in the vistas, and watch the boats pull into the marina. Live events and festivals are frequently held here, and you’ll also catch beautiful views of the Seattle skyline on the other side of Lake Washington.
Waverly Beach Park is one of the best swimming beaches on Lake Washington. It’s also a great place for a picnic, and there’s a playground for little ones.
Peter Kirk Park is the centerpiece of downtown Kirkland with verdant lawns, tennis courts, a beautiful baseball field, a skate court, basketball courts, a swimming pool, picnic tables, and more. There is also a wheelchair-friendly paved path running through the center of the park.
Athletic types will have no shortage of activities in Kirkland. In addition to the activities on the lake, the 5-mile Cross Kirkland Corridor is an excellent crushed gravel trail for walkers, joggers, and bikers of all experience levels. If you prefer team sports, head to the waterfront to play some beach volleyball at Houghton Beach Park. The 19-mile Sammamish River Trail is in nearby Redmond. It’s paved, making it a great option for strollers or wheelchairs (as a bonus, it also passes through the wineries in Woodinville).
Downtown Kirkland is only a ten-minute drive from Woodinville, home to more than 130 wineries and tasting rooms. It’s a great way to explore Washington wine without traveling over the mountains to Eastern Washington.
Can’t-miss stops include Chateau St. Michelle Winery with beautiful grounds and free, informative tours. Just across the street, Delille Cellars has a gorgeous new tasting room and some of the best wines in the state. If you’re looking for something beyond wine, there are also many breweries and distilleries in Woodinville, including the award-winning Woodinville Whiskey Co.
Visit the Farmers Markets
Kirkland is lucky to be home to not one but two farmers markets, which typically run from the beginning of June through the end of September. You’ll find local fresh produce, flowers, eggs, honey, artisan foods, homemade crafts, and more. Kirkland Wednesday Market is held on Wednesday afternoons down by the waterfront at Marina Park. Across town near Juanita Beach, you’ll find the Friday Night Market on Fridays.
Channel Your Inner Chef
If you’ve ever wanted to elevate your culinary creations, Kirkland has you covered. The community is home to three excellent cooking schools. Sur La Table offers a regular roster of classes for both children and adults of various skill levels. Frog Legs Cooking School also offers classes for children and adults and even offers summer camps and birthday parties. In Kirkland’s Totem Lake neighborhood, Urban Table Culinary Arts is perfect for anyone looking for customizable options like private lessons or culinary-themed team-building events. They have options for birthday parties, also.
Stay the Night
Kirkland has several hotels; however, two stand out above the rest.
The Heathman Hotel is perfect for anyone who wants to park their car for the weekend. Located right downtown, this lovely boutique hotel is within walking distance to most of Kirkland’s main attractions. In addition, they offer guests complimentary car service within 10 miles of the hotel—far enough to deliver you to the wineries in Woodinville or the shopping districts in Bellevue. If you have a favorite mattress, you’re in luck: the Heathman Hotel has a mattress menu that allows guests to choose between pillow-top, Tempur-Pedic, or featherbed options when you book your stay. The hotel’s restaurant, The Hearth, offers delicious fare cooked to perfection in their hearthstone oven. As a special treat, the patio is heated and enclosed during inclement weather, so you can enjoy outside dining all year around.
If you came to Kirkland hoping to spend as much time on Lake Washington as possible, you can’t do better than a room at the Woodmark Hotel and Spa at Carillon Point. This gorgeous hotel is located on Lake Washington's shores, and many of the rooms have stunning views and balconies overlooking the water. Complimentary kayaks are available for guest use, as are beach cruiser bicycles. Guests also receive discounts for seasonal two-hour cruises on the hotel’s beautifully-restored 1956 Chris-Craft boat. If you wake up craving a midnight snack, you’re in the right place; they allow guests to “Raid The Pantry” for complimentary snacks and beverages between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. The Woodmark Hotel is also home to two waterfront restaurants with additional dining options a stone’s throw away.