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Mercer Island - In The Middle Of It All

Mercer Island residents are lucky for many reasons besides always having a front-row seat when the Blue Angels come to town. Located in the middle of Lake Washingon, they have the choice of Seattle & the Eastside when looking for things to do. However, they don't even need to leave the island to find great activities as there's a ton of choices right in their own backyard. A 77-acre park offers everyone the chance at a waterfront lifestyle (even the pooch) and the quaint downtown has an array of fun shops and restaurants. Our round-up below highlights the best places to play, dine (with kids & date night), and shop.

  • PLAY:
    • Mercer View Community Center - Drop In Playground
      8236 SE 24th St - 206.236.3545
      (Click on Recreation Programs, then preschool programs for current schedule)
      Like most community center drop in programs, this one runs from late September through May (breaking for summertime). Call to make sure it's running when you want to go! This program has weekday times plus a Sunday option which we think is great!  Kids up to age 6 will have fun bouncing, scooting, and playing with all sorts of toys. (Parents stay). $3.
    • Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club
      2825 West Mercer Way - 206.232.4548
      October through May. Preschool programs include Rainy Day Gym on Wednesdays (with trikes, tunnels and more) and Wheels & Balls Tuesdays from 9:30 - 12 noon. $3. Check for current schedule.
    • Mercer Island Mary Wayte Pool
      8815 SE 40th St - 206.296.4370
      Pool offers swim classes, open swim times, and a fun new Water Walkway float! Pool party packages available!
  • Artsy Fartsy
    • Youth Theatre Northwest
      8805 SE 40th St - 206.232.4145
      Indulge your little drama queen or king. Look for theatre classes, workshops and camps starting as young as age 3! Check their current schedule for performances for all ages. Birthday parties are offered too!
    • Libraries and Story Times
      Mercer Island Library 4400 88th Ave SE - 206.236.3537
      Story times for various age groups, check website for current schedule.
    • Island Books - 3014 78th Ave SE - 206.232.6920
      Story times on various Saturday mornings (discontinued in the summer-call for schedule). Other events include summertime PJ Story times in the for current schedule.
  • Parks We Love For Tots:
    Find addresses and directions here, plus a list of all parks in Mercer Island:
    • Deane's Children's Park: also known as Dragon Park - 5500 Island Crest Way
      Stay cool on a hot summer day at this park developed for tots by the Mercer Island Preschool Association. Little One will love the dragon, climbing toys, and exploring the walking trails!
    • Luther Burbank Park - 2040 84th Ave SE
      Rich in history and fun to boot! Over 77 acres and 3/4 of a mile of shoreline on Lake Washington with swimming beaches, playground with swings and climbers, picnic areas and even a great off-leash dog area where Fido can take a swim!
    • Clarke Beach - Perfect for picnicking with tables and nice shady areas. Bonus: There's swimming and a nice lakefront wading pool area for little ones. Lots of grass for playing!
  • EAT:
    A selection of RT faves for when you're out and about with Little One. These picks are for dining options ALL of you will enjoy!
    • The Islander
      7440 SE 27th Street (above True Value) 206.232.6676  
      Come for lunch or dinner! This neighborhood bistro has friendly, fast service and an outdoor patio for those blue sky days! Dine on lamb stew or the Portobello mushroom salad or try pub faves such as fish and chips. Kids get their own menu and crayons!
    • ALSO TRY:
      • Roberto's Pizza and Pasta (Downtown) - 7619 SE 27th St - 206. 232.7383 (no website)
      • El Sombrero Mexican (Southend) 8451 68th St -  206.275.4900
      • Haruko's Japanese Restaurant (walking distance to Mercerdale Park) 3033 78th Ave SE 206.236.1557 (no website)
    Sometimes you can get a break for a few hours and when you're really lucky, you can get away for the whole night! Here are some RT picks for fabulous date might just have to make this a regular occurrence!
    • Bennett's Pure Food Bistro
      7650 SE 27th St (Downtown)  - 206.232.2759
      You'll love dining on entrees like the salmon with blueberry sauce and the roasted sunchoke ravioli at Bennett's where the ingredients are all "pure". That's additives or artificial anything. Most ingredients come from the Cascadia region too so you know it's fresh, delicious, and pure.
    • Cellar 46 - Wine Bar
      7650 SE 27th St, Suite 120 - 206.407.3016
      This brand new wine bar on the island offers wine flights, light small-plate meals. Special tasting events include winemaker bottle signings, live entertainment, and wine education.
    • 3rd Thursday Art Walk: Downtown Mercer Island at participating retailers-look for the orange balloons as you walk around the town center. Stores open late will have art, music, wine tasting, & snacks. 5:30 - 8:00 pm. Program runs in the summer and part of spring & fall. Check here for schedule.
    • Mostly Music In The Park
      Mercerdale Park-77th Avenue SE and SE 32nd Street
      Thursdays and Sundays 7pm-8:30pm from July 19 - Aug 16,  2007 Enjoy everything from the Washington Wind Symphony to The Beatniks! Bring a picnic!
    • Shakespeare In the Park
    • Luther Burbank Park - 2040 84th Ave SE
      Various dates in July and August, check 2007 schedule here.
  • SHOP:
    • Island Books
      3014 78th Ave SE - 206.232.6920
      Story times on various Saturday mornings (discontinued in the summer-call for schedule). Other events include summertime PJ Storytimes in the for current schedule. Find great reads to satisfy your little bookworm including Newbery and Caldecott winners. Fun games and gifts too!
    • What To Wear (Mostly clothes for moms, some great finds for Little One too)
      2727 78th Ave SE - 206.232.2108
      This hip boutique will keep you looking current on all the latest styles! Designers include: AG Jeans, Juicy, Michael Stars, Splendid, Three Dots, and more. Also check out their accessories, shoes and bags! Cute items for baby too such as:  Michaels Stars Maternity T's , MD Moms Baby Silk skin care for baby, Little Giraffe Blankies, Robeez and more!
    • Finders Gifts
      7607 SE 27th St - 206.236.1110
      The perfect shop to "find" that perfect something for every occasion. Home decor, cookbooks, artist-made treasures and so much more! Don't miss the hidden "gem" at the back of the store where you'll find great gifts for babies and kids including books, dolls, games, & puzzles!
  • LINKS: