Top 10 playgrounds in Whatcom County

Parks offer fun equipment for summer adventures in Bellingham, Whatcom County

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 6, 2014 

Boulevard Park, playground, Bellingham

Rogan Boushey, 2, right, goes head first down a slide as she plays on the S.S. Bellingham, a new playground at Boulevard Park, on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 in Bellingham.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Slides, water features, climbing walls and swings are just a few of Whatcom County's favorite playground things.

From scenic beach-side playgrounds to jungle gyms surrounded by acres of grassy fields, Whatcom offers up a diverse set of options for outdoor recreation and play time.

We asked where the best playgrounds and parks can be found, and readers answered - here's a list of 10 of the community's favorite playgrounds via our Bellingham Families Facebook page.

1. Lynden City Park

The City Park playground features a climbing wall, a castle-shaped maze, swings, and a separate area for younger children. Families can access Fish Trap Creek from the park, as well as use the tennis, pickleball and basketball courts. There are also picnic tables and shelters available for use. The park is open from 8 a.m. to dusk and is located at 8460 Depot Road, Lynden.

2. Fairhaven Park

This park is a favorite of families who live nearby and is a popular destination for those who don't. It features playground equipment, shelters and picnic tables, kitchens that can be rented for day use, basketball and tennis courts and a summertime favorite: the spray park. The spray park uses fresh, potable water and is open from 1 to 7 p.m. daily from mid-June through Labor Day. The remainder of the park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Fairhaven Park is located south of 107 Chuckanut Drive North, Bellingham. The entrance is marked by large brick pillars.

3. Birch Bay State Park

This summertime favorite is open for much more than camping. Featuring miles of both fresh and saltwater beaches, the park also hosts dozens of picnic tables, a first-come, first-served kitchen shelter, and, of course, a popular playground. The park is open from 6:30 a.m. to dusk in summer, and from 8 a.m. to dusk in the winter. Birch Bay State Park is located at 5105 Helweg Road, south of Blaine.

4. Whatcom Falls Park

Stretching over more than 240 acres of land on the eastern side of Bellingham, this park offers playgrounds, shelters and miles of trails. Those 14 and under can fish at Derby Pond, and everyone can check out the fish hatchery and water treatment facilities as they wander through the trails. The park also provides several access points to Whatcom Creek, as well as views of the upper and middle waterfalls. It is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The park has two access points for vehicles: the first is via 1401 Electric Ave., which leads to sports fields and the upper playground; for the second entrance, take Lakeway Drive to turn onto Silver Beach Road to access picnic shelters, the lower playground, Derby Pond and the fish hatchery.

5. Hovander Homestead Park

Hovander Homestead Park was a 350-acre farm run by the Hovander family before it was converted into a historical park.

The public can tour the original Hovander House from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The homestead also features picnic and shelter areas, gardens, an off-leash dog area, and it houses live farm animals during the summer months. This park features a new playground that was installed in 2012. The playground has separate areas for toddlers and children ages 5 through 12. Hovander Homestead is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. To get there from Interstate 5 take the Ferndale exit (262), and turn west onto Main Street. Just after the railroad underpass, take a left, then turn right on Nielson Avenue and follow signs to the park. For more information, visit whatcomcounty.us/parks/hovander/index.jsp.

6. Boulevard Park

Boulevard Park was established in 1980 as a place for everyone to enjoy access to Bellingham Bay. Visitors can enjoy the sunset, use any of the various picnic tables and barbecues, and walk all the way to Fairhaven on the trail that connects Boulevard Park with Taylor Dock. The park got a new playground in summer 2013. The jungle gym is shaped like a ship and sports the name the S.S. Bellingham. Boulevard Park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and is located at 470 Bayview Drive, Bellingham.

7. Elizabeth Park

First opened in 1884, Bellingham's first official park has changed a lot over the years. Where there used to be a large swimming area and lake, there are now grassy fields, a fountain, a gazebo, picnic tables, tennis courts and a playground. Each summer The Eldridge Society for History and Preservation, which explores the history of the area around the park, hosts a weekly concert series at the gazebo. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Elizabeth Park is located between Washington, Walnut, Madison and Elizabeth streets in Bellingham's Columbia Neighborhood.

8. Cornwall Park

This large park features a disc golf course, horseshoe pits, an outdoor basketball court, multipurpose fields, tennis and pickleball courts, picnic tables, shelters and barbecue grills, as well as gardens and playgrounds. There is also a spray park, which uses fresh, potable water from 1 to 7 p.m. daily, from mid-June through Labor Day. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is located at 3424 Meridian St., Bellingham. Visitors can use one of three entrances to access the park: two are on Meridian Street and one is at the north end of Cornwall Avenue. The spray park and a playground can be accessed from the Meridian entrance at the light at Squalicum Parkway. The horseshoe pits and another playground can be accessed from the entrance at the north end of Cornwall Avenue.

9. Bay Horizon Park

Bay Horizon Park is an old Air Force station that has since been converted into a 68-acre park. The park features a playground that was installed in 2010, a basketball court, and open grassy areas. It is also home to Lions Camp Horizon, an overnight summer camp for teens and adults with special needs. Bay Horizon Park is open from sunrise to sunset daily and is located at 7467 Gemini St., Blaine. To get to the park: from southbound I-5 take exit 270, follow Birch Bay Lynden Road to the west, turn left on Blaine Road, turn right on Alderson Road, then turn left onto Gemini Street; from northbound I-5, take exit 266, follow Grandview Road west, turn right on Blaine Road, turn left on Alderson Road, then turn left onto Gemini Street.

10. Josh Vander Yacht Memorial Park

Located behind the Van Zandt Community Center, across to highway from Everybody's Store, this park features a picnic shelter, basketball and tennis courts, horseshoes pits and a playground geared for toddlers. The park also has swing sets and a gazebo for all to enjoy. It is open from sunrise to sunset. To get there, from I-5 take the Sunset Drive exit (255), turn east on Sunset Drive and continue onto Mount Baker Highway. Turn right onto Highway 9 and the park will be near the crossroads of WA-9 and Potter Road.

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at Samantha.Wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.

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