November 29, 2016

A Walk Down the Boulevard

01ff45aa32abf202fe9a7d8fd97a08bdf1b28050Lake Washington Boulevard…newcomers to Kirkland, WA, soon find that it’s a daily fact of life. LWB is the route you take to get to State Route 520 and the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge; your closest access to Seattle. While Kirkland does have a Main Street, it is not the main thoroughfare in downtown – Lake Washington Boulevard is. It originates at Central Avenue, the main east-west access to downtown Kirkland, and runs down to SR-520, where it magically changes to Bellevue Way as it enters into the neighboring city of Bellevue.

Along this narrow (two lane!) strip of asphalt lies some of the most expensive and exclusive real estate in the Seattle area. When the Seattle Seahawks had their headquarters in Kirkland, before building their fantastic new facility (the VMAC) in nearby Renton, LWB was home to some of the richest and most visible professional athletes in America. Names like Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp from the Seattle Sonics as well as former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and linebacker Chad Brown could be seen jogging down the Boulevard at six a.m., or lunching at The Slip down on the Kirkland waterfront. Even now, five years after the Seahawks moved their training facility, corporate CEOs, athletes and actors still occupy many of the beautiful homes along Lake Washington Boulevard. Interspersed among the opulence are lovely little vest-pocket parks, many long-term local businesses, new condos, and offices have sprouted in every vacant foot along LWB.

The first three blocks of LWB are downtown businesses such as DeLille Cellars Tasting Room, The Lodge Sports Grille, Flatstick Pub & Mini-Golf, Zoka Coffee Roasters & Tea Company, Bank of America, Ben & Jerry’s, Milagro Cantina, Alanya Café, and Anthony’s Homeport. Continuing north towards Bellevue, are the parks: lovely, pastoral, contemplative David E. Brink Park, with benches and a beautiful lawn overlooking Moss Bay; Marsh Park, with its public pier and concrete walking trail; and the largest and busiest of the Kirkland waterfront play spaces, Houghton Beach Park, with beach volleyball courts, a small amphitheater, and its own fishing pier. Just beyond Houghton is Carillon Point, an upscale resort and office complex featuring the Woodmark Hotel and a small collection of exclusive shops, arranged around a central courtyard.

As opposed to every other community that surrounds it, Kirkland is made for walking, and on a sunny spring or summer afternoon, thousands of people stroll down stunning and peaceful Lake Washington Boulevard, with many going all the way to the small and uber-exclusive community at its southern end, Yarrow Bay. Even off the main sidewalks, there is an interlocking series of gravel and concrete trails that run literally right on the edge of the water and wind through (and sometimes even under) many of the residences that dot the street. With a stroller, a walker, a wheelchair, or at a fast jog, Lake Washington Boulevard is the main street of Kirkland; not because it was designated that way but because so people love it and treat it as such. In a city of countless amenities and scenic pleasures, it’s one of the most delightful places to spend a morning, an afternoon, or a romantic evening with someone special.