Relax on the quiet beaches and sandy trails or take advantage of the ideal picnic spots
Why go now: Everything you want in August—leafy trails, uncrowded beaches, grassy picnic spots—is here, just a half-hour from Seattle.
If you really want to earn your visit: Pedal the roughly 15 miles from Seattle to St. Edward on the Burke-Gilman Bike Trail (206/684-7583), which dumps you 2 miles from the park gate.
Before exploring: Pick up a free map at the ranger station (425/823-2992).
20: The acres of grass rangers mow for picnickers.
Forgot your picnic? Pagliacci Pizza delivers (425/453-1717).
Keep your eyes peeled for: Eagles, peregrine falcons, and pink Nootka roses.
Not your average cafeteria: A post-hike lunch at Bastyr University commons ($; 14500 Juanita Dr. N.E.; bastyr.edu) means organic, local dishes like roasted red snapper and salad flecked with student-grown herbs.
In its past life: The 316-acre park housed a Catholic seminary. Tour its historic building (by appointment; 14445 Juanita Dr. N.E.; 425/823-2992) and climb the spiral staircase to a teensy, cool bell tower.
Your own private beach: The park borders the only undeveloped stretch of Lake Washington—3,000 feet of shoreline ideal for fishing (warm, shallow water makes for great wading), picnicking, or kayaking and canoeing, if you’re willing to haul in your own boat. 425/823-2992; wdfw.wa.gov for fishing license.
Be a kid again … for an afternoon: Kids—and maybe a few parents—can run wild at the park’s all-volunteer-built playground, which has a mini climbing wall and forts. Next to it is a sprawling green lawn made for picnicking. Bring a blanket or nab one of the tables. 425/823-2992.
Mingle with the locals: At Third Place Commons, a mall-cum–community center just a short drive from the park, you can browse the super-stocked indie bookstore, indulge in organic coffee and a slice of mile-high layer cake at the cafe, or play chess or watch a concert in the large common area. On Sundays, a farmers’ market takes over the lower parking lot. 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park; thirdplacecommons.org
Take a woodsy hike: Amble just a few switchbacks down any of the park’s hiking trails, and the hubbub gives way to canyons, creeks, and towering firs. The 6-mile North trail cuts through 80-year-old cedars while the easy Seminary trail has wide paths for strolling; cardio-junkies should tackle the steep, 1-mile South Ridge trail. Prefer pedaling? That’s allowed on most trails too. 425/823-2992.