I LOVE Redmond Parks

Marymoor Park

With nice weather just around the corner (fingers crossed), it’s time to get outside! As a new mom my hobby is now finding parks that are stroller friendly and offer fun things to see and do. I have a very curious little one, who not only loves to feel the grass on her tiny toes, but she loves to explore new areas.

One of my favorite parks in Redmond is of course, Marymoor Park. There is so much to do! We can check out people on the climbing wall, watch bikes around the velodrome, from time to time we get to see horses and even people in the RC Airplane field. There are so many trails we can spend the entire day there! My favorite is strolling by the old windmill. It’s so unique and fun to see.

Another one of my favorite parks is Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park. My little one is a little too young to appreciate the children’s animal farm, but she loves watching the horses in the arena and having a family picnic. It’s great fun for our family, and when she gets a little older she will definitely appreciate the tire swing as many of the kiddos do.

As soon as it’s nice enough we are definitely going to be spending some time at Idylwood Park. The shore area is picturesque around Lake Sammamish. It’s also fun to watch people launch their car top boats into the lake and it’s nice to have the picnic shelters.

We have so many more parks to explore this summer throughout Redmond and I can’t wait! Let me know if you have any must-sees! I’d love to hear about them!

Sprung for Spring

Just weeks ago Puxatawny Phil saw his shadow and, much to the nation’s disappointment, we were thus assured six more weeks of winter. I wonder though, if Phil’s groundhog den was stationed in the Pacific Northwest if he wouldn’t have predicted differently. You wouldn’t know it by walking around Puget Sound that we’re still in the midst of winter. Everywhere I turn signs of the forthcoming spring are whispering to me – “come out and play”. The white and pink blossoms on the tree lined streets, warm sunny afternoons, shorts and sandals, and gardening tools are all beckoning me to take notice and rejoice. Spring isn’t just right around the corner; it’s pushing itself through the blinds on sunny mornings, it’s sitting on the restaurant’s deck at lunchtime, and it’s blinding us during the 5 o’clock commute home.

And if spring really is that close that means it’s time for my family to start planning some outdoor fun. As an extra special bonus this year my sister and her children are coming to visit us from Kansas City, and the whole family is excited about the trip. My sister has never been to the Great Northwest and I plan to show it off, starting right in my hometown of Redmond, Wa.

Because our family home is too “cozy” to accommodate five more people, I’ve booked my sister’s family adjoining suites at The Marriott at Redmond Town Center. Its location close to great shopping, food, and fun will be perfect for the time I haven’t already planned for all the activities that Redmond has to offer. With the Marriott’s current special weekend package, my sister and her husband can finally have that wine weekend they’ve been talking about for years (a surprise gift from me) and I can have a fun Easter day with my nieces and nephew.


Eggstravanza
is now in its 14th year and, when my kids were younger, was a tried and true family tradition – which I now get to relive with my sister’s children. I’m so excited to have an excuse to go again – and have already started scheduling the day. Since the egg hunt does not start until 10am, there is plenty of time to enjoy the huge pancake feast earlier in the morning hosted by the Redmond Lions Club. The kids will be in heaven with all the arts, crafts, music, and pictures with the Easter Bunny himself. This year even features a teen-centered Great Flashlight Hunt the night before for my own two “I’m not REALLY too old for this” teenagers.

After such a fun day for the Kansas kids, and a relaxing weekend for their parents, I’ll plan out a few day trips around Redmond showing off all the parks, including Marymoor Park and its climbing wall and all the great play fields there. We might even be able to watch a soccer or baseball tournament, as Redmond is one of the most popular places around to hold sporting events. Another afternoon will be filled with a delicious picnic at Idylwood Beach Park and a walk through Redmond enjoying all the inspiring displays of renowned local artist, Tony Angell. His displays are all over Redmond – at the library and along the Sammamish River Trail, to name just a few locations.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve got all of this packed into four short days, but with so much going on in my amazing hometown of Redmond I want to show it all off. I’ve been trying to convince my sister to move west for years and I’m hoping this trip will have her falling in love with Redmond just as we did – with the added benefit of proving to Puxatawny Phil that spring really has sprung after all.

Derby Days Staycation 2009

My daughters and I are festival fanatics and staycation experts. So this year, at the last minute, we decided that our July 2009 “staycation” would coincide with Redmond’s Derby Days, a festival we’ve made it a point to hit for the last five years in a row. Redmond calls itself the bicycle capital of the NW and if the turnout at Derby Days was any indication, they are quite right.

Friday evening I picked up the kids from summer day camp, headed home to throw some weekend essentials in a bag and headed out to Redmond to check in at the Redmond Inn. This hotel is just south east of the downtown core of Redmond and is in a quiet and convenient spot. I was delighted to find an overflowing over-the-shoulder cooler from the management welcoming me to town for Derby Days. It was filled with some high tech aluminum water bottles, tasty snacks and more. Not only was I impressed by the service, but I was surprised by the cool factor of the gift. It really was a very cool bag that I will use frequently.

Although the room was nice and cool already, we decided this was the perfect time for a quick swim. We all threw on our swim gear and kicked our Friday evening off to a great start with a dip in the hotel pool. Though on the smaller side, it suited three gregarious children quite nicely. Other guests joined us as well and it turned into quite a fun little party.

Next, the kids and I decided to head over to the Derby Days concert, which, by then, was in full swing. The Beatniks are a Seattle must-see and one of our personal favorites. So, of course, we danced and sang along to many of the songs. By sunset, three little girls needed some quiet time and we returned to our room at the Redmond Inn.

Redmond Inn’s Kings suite with 2 beds was roomy, with comfortable beds, a nice bathroom, vanity, desk and television, plus wireless internet for those adults (like me) who can’t seem to stop working, even during a staycation. As the kids zoned out on TV for a while, I finished some work, browsed the web and relaxed. We woke up the next more relaxed, refreshed and ready for breakfast.

The hotel also provided us with a complimentary breakfast at the Family Pancake House next door. Quickly seated, we placed our orders – and were treated really well. The Family Pancake House, or as some repeat diners referred to it –FPH, has a very extensive breakfast menu, great service, a fine cup of coffee and very affordable prices.

Back at the hotel, the girls and I packed up our light bags effortlessly and checked out of the hotel. Even at checkout, the staff at Redmond Inn was efficient and thoughtful, offering to help us with our minimal luggage.

We headed over to Derby Days straight away. Parking was incredibly easy to find that early in the morning and we watched the parade participants practicing. It was fascinating to see all the work the vendors go through to get their booths ready. It really made me appreciate the festival from an entirely different angle.

We officially started our morning at this years combined parade. It was amusing watching all the children on their decorated bicycles. So many Redmond businesses and organizations were represented in the parade as well. Our favorites were (in no particular order) the jazzercise dance group; the KCLS “wizards”; the Seahawks mascot, Blitz; McGruff, the crime dog; and the pirates (Argh!).

First things first: The booths. The kids are a sucker for a great booth with fun giveaways. First stop were the Redmond booths. Paint the Township Redmond was offering an amazing airbrushed tattoo, so much better than the regular face painting you normally see at such festivals. Free water bottles, a wine corkscrew (for Mom) and cute flower shaped suckers got us off to a great start. We moved on to the other vendors – many of which used the “spin the wheel, win a prize” tactic. The kids scored a lot of free candy.

With the children now hopped up on a major sugar high it was a great opportunity to take them to the blow up houses to burn off some of that energy. I was able to relax in some shade while they bounced for an hour.

Next stop was food. From great Indian food and Asian choices to your basic hot dog and burgers, there was something for everyone in the family. We also stopped by the PCC Kids Pick mobile booth for some delicious tastes of their healthy options for kids.

The entertainment at the Microsoft stage was a delightful background for the gorgeous summer day. No matter where you were at Derby Days, you could still appreciate the sounds of whoever was on stage at the time.

Somewhere around 2pm that afternoon the major portion of Derby Days began – the bicycle race. It’s always so fun to watch these amateur and professional racers prepare for the beginning of the race, and nothing is more exciting than the starting gun and the determined strength of the riders as they begin the fight to stay in first place. Though our young family has yet to stay through the end of the race I’m really looking forward to the day that I can see the winners face as they cross the finish line.

Just before dinnertime on Saturday, we were all very hot and tired and decided to stop for the day. Overall, I was very impressed with the service and rooms at the Redmond Inn, the relaxing breakfast at the Family Pancake House and the packed day at Derby Days. This is a staycation that has now become a family tradition.

http://www.youtube.com/get_player

The Perfect Family Easter Event – Eggstravaganza


For those of you who might be in Redmond this Saturday, April 11th, here’s an Easter event to check out: The 13th annual Eggstravaganza at the Redmond Senior Center.

This event is so much fun. Kicking off your day with a pancake feed with a group of supercharged kids is always a blast. All of the kids are keyed up for the egg hunt, which starts at 10am, and the adults (or as I like to call them, “Super Tall Kids”) are equally as excited. I know I usually have to hold myself back from joining the hunt, and I can see myself on every parents face. It’s events like this that bring back such incredible memories from childhood. Seeing the kids really get into all the arts and crafts, face painting, and discovering that there really is an Easter Bunny makes dealing with the inevitable sugar high well worth it.

The Redmond “Eggstravaganza” really knows how to put on a great event fit for the entire family. They provide a pancake feed at 8am and 10am, which makes it easy for just about everyone to get there, eat great food, and participate in all the fun. Even better, this event is completely affordable with prices a staggeringly cheap $5 to $7 – and that includes breakfast! And it’s totally worth the extra $3 donation to make the memories last longer to get a photo of your child with the Easter Bunny.

You’ll definitely see me there this Saturday. Just watch for the syrup covered, face painted Mom who looks like she wants to find some eggs of her own.

Spring Is Around The Corner

Is that the Sun? A Pacific Northwest morning arrives crisp and clean with brilliant blue skies overhead and the promises of spring underfoot. The sun is a welcome sight after four months of snow, snow, rain, snow, wind, snow and more snow. I find myself already making plans to take advantage of the longer days and warmer weather ahead.

While these plans invariably include weeding and mulching lonely flowerbeds, trimming rose bushes, and shopping for new garden gnomes, my plans always include breaking out my outdoor gear. In fact, I spent this morning tuning up my bicycle to include new tires, brake and shift cables, and installing new reflectors. Given the brief window of opportunity the weather affords during this season of intermittent weather I need to be ready to hit the trails at a moments notice.

What better place to grab those moments than in Redmond? One of my favorite relaxed rides is the Sammamish River Trail. It follows the Sammamish River from Marymoor Park to Woodinville, making it an almost 20 mile round trip. The views from the trail are spectacular and varied, including the snow-capped Cascade Mountains, majestic Mount Rainier, and of course the breathtaking Sammamish Valley. The trail gets a lot of use, which is part of the fun; bicyclists, skaters, walkers, joggers, and even the occasional horse and rider all share the same path.

With all that to offer, it’s the short “off-trail” excursions that make this trail an absolute local favorite, including both the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery and the Redhook Brewery. Easing onto the Bear Creek Trail just north of Marymoor, I can satisfy my well-earned hunger at one of Redmond Town Center’s many eateries, or grab a new book and slow down the pace for a while with a coffee and good story.

Another great destination is the Redmond Puget Power Trail, which is just over three miles long and leads to Farrel McWhirter Park. The park is a great jumping off point for the Watershed Preserve Trails where I stop and take in the splendor of the lilies in Beaver Pond. The Watershed Preserve Trails are a system of multi-use trails that include an ADA accessible boardwalk known as Tree Frog Loop.

On more adventurous days I’ve taken the Sammamish River Trail north to Blyth Park in Bothell to ride the Burke-Gilman Trail. It’s easy to lose myself on this wide and winding path as I cruise through Seattle neighborhoods with the rare street crossing to slow my momentum. On more than one occasion I’ve ended up in downtown Seattle, phone in hand, trying to find a friend willing to make the drive to Gasworks Park for a late lunch and a lift home.

Though I am a native of Redmond, every year I find new areas of my own backyard to discover and treasure. The trail system in Redmond is a great starting point for local adventure. With the days getting longer and the temperature rising it won’t be long before I’m back on two wheels exploring the great Pacific Northwest. Perhaps we’ll meet on the trails.

Valentines Day in Redmond…


I always look forward to Valentines Day. It’s one of the few days of the year that my family knows we can take a big break from everything in our schedule and just spend time alone together. Our family has certain traditions we always follow, from the heart shaped waffles for breakfast, to waking up to roses in the master bed room. However, like many other married couples, it is Valentine’s night that we always look forward to most. I love finding new events every year and keeping them secret until just before the big day. Part of the joy in Valentine’s Day is showing your loved one that you’ve really thought about them and spending time with them in a special and unusual way.

When planning our Valentine’s I always keep my eye open for things that I know will make my spouse happy, and this year I think I’ve really hit the jackpot. There’s so much to choose from in Redmond that I am having a difficult time making a final decision. I’ve also found events and activities for the whole family, a few friends, and my brother and his daughter.

Perhaps you’d like to dazzle your loved one with a weekend spent snuggled up in an elegant room with wine, chocolates, a bubble bath, and other romantic delights. If so, check out two of the current packages at The Redmond Inn, one of Redmond’s premier hotels. The “Wine Lover’s” package includes a one-night stay in a Superior King guest room, an assortment of exquisite chocolates, and a bottle of Deep Merlot or Crisp Chardonnay from the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. Or upgrade to the “Deluxe Wine Lovers” package. In addition to everything in the Wine Lover’s Package, you’ll also receive two 30 minute Serenity Massages, and a 20 minute Wine Bath soak for two at Spa Agio.

Also from The Redmond Inn is a package devoted to your comfort and wellness. Check out the “Here’s To Health” package, including a one night stay in a superior king guest room, a bevy of healthful snacks and beverages as a gift upon check in, and a full day pass to Golds Gym with full access to everything that strengthens both your mind and your body.

If you don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day, there is no need to spend the evening alone with the TV remote and a pint of ice cream. Hey all you single ladies…check out The Redmond Inn’s “Girlfriends Getaway which includes a one night stay in a standard guest room, and a full hour of relaxation at Spa Agio consisting of two 30 minute Serenity Massages and two 30 minute Fast Facials. Also receive a booklet of $1500 savings from the Redmond Town Center. What better way to celebrate your than with your girlfriends?

To take advantage of one of these special packages from The Redmond Inn, make your reservations online and surprise the one you love. Just click on Redmond Inn link right on the ExperienceRedmond.com home page. Redmond’s hotels vary in price and style and you’ll be sure to find a location to suit both your needs and your budgets.

Want even more ideas to celebrate with your loved one in style and comfort? Check out the “Lights, Camera, Action” package at the Redmond Marriott Town Center. This package includes: Overnight weekend accommodations, two premium passes to Gold Glass Cinemas and a Complimentary desert for two. Gold Glass Cinemas is the newest theatre in Redmond and offers an elaborate way to enjoy the movies with a luxurious lounge, intimate seating, personalized service, fine wine and gourmet dining, state-of-the-art technology, stunning sound and superwide screens. Prices vary based on room choice.

Want to spend Valentines Day shopping? You can with the “Retail Therapy” package from Redmond Marriott Town Center. Balance recreation and relaxation in the heart of Seattle’s wine country. Start with a $100 gift card and 11 percent discount at Macy’s and add a relaxing weekend stay at Marriott! Make your reservations soon as these rooms won’t last long. Just click on the Redmond Marriot Town Center logo on the home page of ExperienceRedmond.com.

Whether you’re a single, a couple, or a large group, head over to Chateau St. Michelle Winery on February 13th or 14th for a special evening with the winery’s Culinary Director, John Sarich. The culinary team will create a menu for the romantic in all of us. Space is very limited, and tickets are only $115 per person. Spend the night at a fabulous Redmond hotel and the Mr. or Mrs. in your life is sure to remember how you made V-Day 2009 spectacular for them.

It’s never too early to introduce kids to the fun of Valentine’s Day. The Father/Daughter dance, brought to you by The Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center has planned an enchanted evening of dancing, music, crafts and refreshments. For girls ages 3-12 and their father, father figure, uncle, grandfather. What little girl wouldn’t want to be treated like a princess on Valentine’s Day and be swept off of her feet by the first “knight in shining armor of in her life”? This inexpensive event costs only $25 per “father”/daughter and pre-registration is required. Just ask for event #27278. For event details log on to Experience Redmond dot com.

This Valentine’s Day when you’re spending time with your loved one experience all that Redmond has to offer on this special day. There’s so much to explore in and around Redmond both day and night that you’ll be asking yourself “What’s NOT to love about Redmond”? For more great date night ideas for Valentines Day, or for fun and interesting events for any other day or night of the year, check out ExperienceRedmond.com’s event calendar. Enjoy nearby wineries, dining for every taste and first-class lodging. Experience everything Redmond has to offer.

Start your exploration at Experience Redmond.com.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

With only 3 days remaining until the busiest shopping day of the year, many American’s are gearing up for another holiday season filled with family, the spirit of giving, and the time-honored traditions that make the holidays unique and special for everyone. There are football bowl games, winter break from school, and if we’ve been good this past year, maybe a special gift bearing our name.

This season does come with its share of challenges, too. It can bring stress and anxiety to many, as a seemingly endless string of office parties, shopping lists, and decorating and entertaining chores take their toll on all of us. I can’t offer much help with your company’s office party, but I do have a great suggestion for easing your shopping burden: Redmond Town Center.

Last year my family and I stumbled onto what is for us now a new holiday tradition. A power outage the first week in December lead to us packing our bags, loading up the girls, and taking a short drive to the Marriott hotel at Redmond Town Center. We checked in for two nights, with nothing else planned than to get a little Christmas shopping done while we waited out the power problem back home.

It was the most Enjoyable yime of the season, without question. Rather than fighting traffic at Bellevue Square, or worse, trying to find parking in downtown Seattle, we slept in late and walked to the fantastic stores and shops just outside the front doors of the hotel. When we got tired of shopping, we had lunch at one of the many area restaurants. We went out to a movie together, enjoyed a quiet dinner, and slept in late once again. The following morning the girls and I checked off the last few items on our shopping list while my wife relaxed with a massage and manicure/pedicure.

We left Redmond Town Center with all of our Christmas shopping done (and the presents wrapped, no less), feeling relaxed and ready for whatever the holiday season might bring.

Now is the perfect time to make your hotel reservations for your holiday shopping trip to Redmond. While the Marriott is the most central hotel to Redmond Town Center, both the Redmond Inn and Silver Cloud Inn offer local shuttle service for their guests. You can shop, dine, explore, and get a ride back to your room without the headache of driving or looking for parking.

Have a Happy Holiday Season!