This guest post was written by Mercedes Benedict. A toddler mom and lover of the outdoors, you can find her & her toddlers adventures at: @maxwellandbeatrix

When you have two high-energy toddlers getting outside to explore is a must. Luckily this is where the Sammamish/Issaquah excels. Located east of Seattle this busy suburb is situated near Cougar Mountain, Squak Mountain, and Tiger Mountain as well as Soaring Eagle Regional Park, and the Evans Creek Preserve.

Our family of four just moved to the area last year from the North Beacon Hill neighborhood in Seattle. It’s been an adjustment. When the kids were little I could load them up in the double stroller and walk to a number of urban parks and playgrounds to soak up some Vitamin N (nature). Now they are 3 and 4 year olds, both with their own strong and different ideas of outdoor fun. Beatrix, 4, is a happy hiker and will walk anywhere that promises a water feature. Max, 3, does not love to walk but will ride a balance bike to destinations that provide a playground and snacks. Outdoor adventure challenge accepted!

Lake Sammamish State Park – Issaquah

First on our list of go-to spots is Lake Sammamish State Park. We found this large state park right away, as it is located just off I-90 in Issaquah. A Discover Pass is required but completely worth the $30 annual price. There are bike trails, grassy areas, a large nature themed playground and a beach with access to Lake Sammamish. Sunset Beach is quite expansive and perfect for sand play and swimming. There is a large shallow area so it is perfect for inexperienced swimmers and restrooms are close by. Weekdays are the best time to visit, as weekends can get very crowded with events and campers joining the regular day visitors.

Confluence Park – Issaquah

Confluence Park is underrated / overlooked nature gem located right off of Front St. in downtown Issaquah. Street parking is just behind the Darigold factory and leads you a big open grass area with a small path. It is a lovely ride/walk to the walking bridge that takes you over the Issaquah Creek. Once over the bridge there are several paths that take you through the park and along the creek. You can access the water from several spots and enjoy some rock throwing and frequently see some fish and ducks. This has quickly become one of our favorite parks and we rarely see another soul during our adventure. In the summer there are blackberries along the trail and the creek is calm enough to wade around in if your kids want to do some splashing.

Pine Lake Park – Sammamish

This is a popular spot and I completely understand way. You enter the park through a tree-lined road that leads to a moderately sized parking lot. As you walk down the path to the park, on one side there is a baseball/soccer field, basketball court, small rock climbing wall and some swings. On the other side there are two playgrounds and a unique park feature – mini skateboard/monster truck table. Max is a HUGE fan of this table and there is usually at least two kids playing on it with him – so remember to pack a car/truck or finger skateboard. If you continue farther down the path you reach the restrooms and the waterfront of Pine Lake. The wonderful thing about this park and lake is the water gets warm quickly in the summer and it has a very large swallow area. There is a dock you can walk out to and there is usually a couple people fishing from it. In the summer during peak hours there are also two lifeguards and a designated area for younger swimmers. All of this is located in such a beautifully shady and natural setting you will completely forget you are in a bustling city.

Ebright Creek Park – Sammamish

Another one of Sammamish’s great parks is a little more off the beaten path but still easy to reach and worth the trip. One of the fun features of this park is actually how you get there. The parking lot is right off the road and next to some tennis courts and a small climbing rock, but it hides the real reason to visit, by way of a boardwalk. My kids love to ride over this winding bridge and it serves as a nice walk to the hidden playground. Kids can also easily ride the entire boundary of the park on a flat gravel path that surrounds a large grass field. There is also a paved path around and through the playground. The playground itself has a small child area and a big kid area that sports a pretty tall metal slide. After you have finished playing you can wander past the playground and walk into the trees a bit to find the creek and a secluded bench area. On weekends this is a popular birthday spot so again I highly recommend weekdays visits.

This is just four of the many, many parks, natural areas, and playgrounds in Issaquah/Sammamish. If you are looking for a quick escape into nature this region serves up lots of options for your little explorers.