By Meg Butterworth
I sat down the other night after putting the kids to bed, allowing myself to sink into the couch after a long day and said to my husband,
“Wouldn’t you have thought you had died and gone to heaven if your parents had taken you to the beach for a picnic dinner on a random weekday night when you were a kid?”
I had just returned from an extremely pleasant picnic at Richmond Beach in Shoreline with a group of old preschool friends. Growing up in Philadelphia, I lived a good two hours from the beach, so it was a real event to “go down the shore” as we say back east. Now having the luxury of living within a few miles of Puget Sound’s shoreline, I feel the need to take full advantage of my close proximity.
My friends and I had spent what seemed like all summer trying to find a time to get together. With our kids in different camps and conflicting vacation schedules, we were finally able to pin down a night for a long overdue catch up session. Wanting to take full advantage of these unusually warm summer nights Mother Nature (or global warming) has blessed us with, we headed to the beach! Armed with blankets, a delectable selection of finger foods, a mouth watering bucket of KFC, beach toys and some refreshing adult beverages, we made our way determined to have some summer fun. Fortunately, the long stretch of beach was not too crowded. We quickly found a spot where we didn’t feel like we would disturb anyone with all of the typical hullabaloo that accompanies a small menagerie of Mothers and their over excited children.
Like so many NW beaches, Richmond Beach has an abundant collection of drift wood. Constructing shelters and forts with the large weathered logs seems to be a favorite pass time of visitors. Take a stroll and you’ll spot several sporadically placed from one end of the beach to the other. They provide great fuel for kids’ imaginations, who love playing in them and moving logs around, adding their own personal touch to the structures.
Although closer to the water the beach is rocky, further up towards the bluff there’s plenty of soft sand, providing a more comfortable place to lay down a blanket and stretch out. Unlike some beaches, Richmond Beach is dog friendly and has a designated off leash dog area. The kids get a real kick out of seeing dogs large and small race into the water chasing after whatever ball or stick their owner has thrown.
As with Carkeek and Golden Gardens, you’ll find many paddle boarders, kayakers and kite surfers here. Perhaps even the occasional sea plane flying overhead or a tanker off in the distance. With the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop, it makes for a truly stunning setting for a picnic.
Be sure to treat yourself before the summer ends, whether with a group of friends and their kids or just your own family. No matter how old your children are, an endless amount of entertainment awaits them at the beach digging in the sand, searching for crab shells and clam shells, and grossing out mom and dad by waving around gooey washed up jelly fish. And if your kids are true Northwesterners (or crazy as I like to call them), they won’t hesitate to take an evening dip in the frigid waters of Puget Sound.
Some beach time at the end of the day is just what the doctor ordered for parents with young children.
Here are some of my favorite beach parks:
Carkeek Park: http://www.seattle.gov/tour/carkeek.htm
Golden Gardens: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=243
I should note that all of these beach parks have playgrounds, picnic shelters and public bathrooms.
To find other beach parks closer to you go to http://www.seattle.gov/parks/parkspaces/index.htm
Obviously, you can make a beach picnic as formal or informal as you like. With young children tagging along, my vote is for easy finger foods that everyone can enjoy nibbling on. A stop at KFC, Dick’s or your favorite grocery store for some pre-made savory or sweet treats is worth your while. Be sure to bring plenty of water and wipes and plastic bags (as if I even have to tell you). Messes are sure to happen, like when my six-year-old tried to kneel down on the picnic blanket next me and landed her knee smack in the middle the salsa container!
About the Author
Meg Butterworth lives in NW Seattle with her husband and two children. She’s been a part of the PEPS community for almost nine years. WOW! When she has a couple of kid free hours she enjoys writing, exploring Seattle, and enjoying a couple of beverages with her life line of fellow Mom friends.