Summer may be the best time to climb mountains and raft rapids. But let’s face it, not everyone wants to become a recreational hero this season. You don’t have to! Here are some mellow outdoor activities for those who prefer the softer side of summer.
Stroll among the rows of purple lavender bushes at Woodinville Lavender. It’s a picturesque escape for city folks looking for a close-by getaway. And it smells heavenly. The farm’s calming scent is one of its best attributes. We recommend packing a picnic basket, and eating lunch on the farm’s patio overlooking the fields. If you’re in the mood for dessert, it has ice cream. It also has a lovely gift shop full of lavender products, from soap to cleaning supplies. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
The Bellevue Botanical Garden is a 53-acre plant oasis on the outskirts of downtown. It showcases plants that thrive in the cloudy Northwest. For example, it has a collection of 750 different kinds of ferns. If you go, don’t miss the colorful Dahlia Display garden in full bloom from high summer through fall. The Botanical Garden also hosts classes, lectures, and garden tours. You can also download an app that will help you identify different plants along the trails.
Put on your finest summer dress and head to Afternoon Tea at Trellis Restaurant. Request a table on the restaurant’s patio. The menu features macarons, violet berry roulade, deviled eggs, and scones. They also serve an Italian prosecco, if bubbles strike your fancy. Afternoon tea is served from noon-4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. It’s $32 per adult, and $19 for children 12 and under.
Tour the Eastside from the water on Argosy Cruises’ Lake Washington expedition. The boat departs from Kirkland City Dock and glides down to Medina and Bellevue. Along the way, you’ll learn the history of the lakeside neighborhoods, pass under the new Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, and by Bill and Melinda Gates’ estate. There’s also a full-service bar aboard (just sayin’). Tickets are $13-$31.
The Eastside has some of the best birdwatching in the Puget Sound area. All kinds of feathered creatures fly, swim, and dive at Totem Lake, Marymoor Park, Mercer Slough Nature Park, and Lake Sammamish. But perhaps the finest bird watching in the area is at Juanita Bay Park in Kirkland. You can walk out over the wetlands on wooden boardwalks for up-close views of birds, turtles, and sometimes beavers. Find more information at eastsideaudubon.org.
There’s camping for rugged outdoorsy folks and then there’s glamping. At Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes on San Juan Island, you can sleep in a real bed inside a charming canvas cottage from May to September. On July 16, the resort will be hosting Gourmet Glamping with a stellar campfire cookout by beloved Chef Ericka Burke. Tickets are $75.