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.