Juanita Beach Park in Seattle, WA
Juanita Beach Park is a serene spot for sunbathing, fishing, and picnicking. It’s also the location of remnants from an early 20th-century amusement park. The site was once home to the Pike Street Bridge Amusement Park, which opened in 1907; it closed in 1911 due to bankruptcy. What happened? Who knows!
History of Juanita Beach Park
The history of the Juanita Beach Park goes back to the late 1800s when it was known as Kirkland’s Resort and later called Burke’s Landing after Andrew H. Burke. He bought property on Lake Washington in 1885 for development purposes. In 1921, Seattle Parks Commissioner W.T. Brace spoke out about how much he desired to see a drive-in movie theater built by Mr. Burke at this site because there were no theaters located west of Madison Street at that time (Seattle Municipal Archives). The wishes became a reality with an opening ceremony held on September 22nd, 1922, where thousands gathered to view “Inside Information” starring Mary Pickford (Jackson). The drive-in theater was the first of its kind in Seattle, and it operated for over 30 years.
Construction took place on Juanita Beach Park between 1912 and 1923 with a total cost of $75,000. A small piece of land at Kirkland’s Resort called Burke’s Landing was purchased to create this beach park which opened up July 20th, 1924, as Lake Washington’s second official public beach after Madison Park Beach located on Lake Washington Blvd S, according to the City Clerk records (Seattle Municipal Archives). Lifeguards were stationed here starting June 21st, 1930, under supervision by WPA workers during that period who also helped maintain the area through dredging sand from Elliott Bay daily because people kept taking it for their homes (Seattle Municipal Archives).
The Juanita Beach Park was officially renamed after Joseph E. McEwing, a local Seattle pioneer who settled here in 1869 and served as the first post-master of Kirkland before moving to Bellevue, where he helped form the community there (Jackson). The beach park closed down on October 29th, 1968, due to its deteriorating condition with plans to build an athletic complex called “Juanita Village” on this property, which would consist of two swimming pools, basketball courts, game fields, and tennis courts; however, those plans were not completed until 2003 because construction costs ended up being too much at 12 million dollars following lawsuits over funding issues between 1986 – 1989 (Davis & Jenkins), resulting in the athletic complex being built on the site of what was once known as “Kirkland’s Resort.”
The Juanita Beach Park has a storied past that far exceeds its time as a beach park, which will always be remembered by those who have lived here in the Seattle area for generations and especially so if you are one of them. Today there is still beauty to behold at this location with walking trails surrounding Lake Washington along with many activities taking place throughout the year, including various programs offered through Seattle Parks Recreation such as Summer Concert Series “Juanita Rocks,” movies shown during Movies in The Park series (Movies begin June 22nd, 2015), winter ice skating rink open November 14th, 2014 – February 21st, 2015, and much more.
About the Juanita Beach Park
The park is made up of grassy areas, benches, and some picnic tables. The water quality at Juanita Beach Park is excellent because it is near saltwater marshes that filter pollutants from storm runoff before they reach Puget Sound. It was voted best public beach by King County Executive – Ron Sims in 2006 after being closed for years because of pollution problems caused by residential development upstream from the park’s new groundwater source, which drains into Lake Washington via Pipers Creek. The freshwater flow limits seawater intrusion from Puget Sound. In addition, the park was restored by a local land trust in 2003, which built trails along Pipers Creek to help protect it from further development and pollution. It is more significant than Central Park in NYC, with 400 acres of land with trails, picnic shelters.
However, note that during winter months, this area gets very snowy, so check road conditions before taking any trips there since sometimes cars get stuck or have accidents due to hazardous driving conditions caused by snow.
What happened to Juanita Beach Park?
Went bankrupt in 1936. Sold to the Washington Park Arboretum in 1947 for $15,000.00 The city of Kenmore tried to repurchase it from them when they got tax money again but was denied because there were no funds available at that time. To get it back, they took the Arboretum and the City of Seattle to court. The judge ruled that both parties had a right to use Juanita Beach Park, but no ownership was given. Kenmore repurchased it from them for $15k in 2001 with plans on developing it into what you see today.
There is no ownership given by anyone, but both parties can use Juanita Beach Park according to the judge’s ruling in 2001 when they took them both to court overusing it. It has been said that even though many people live near or around Juanita, none of them go because they don’t want their cars vandalized. This could be one reason why we never heard about this park before despite its beauty and popularity in other cities like Bellevue and Kirkland, which have the same idea of a park on the water.
Things to do in Juanita Beach Park
The park has a playground, a small area for picnics, and a long stretch of beach.
You can rent kayaks in the summer or go ice skating during the winter months.
The Seattle Japanese Garden is nearby if you want to take your family on an educational outing.
The beach is dog friendly all year long with a few restrictions: dogs must be on a leash at all times, owners must clean up after them, and they cannot go into areas closed off to pets.
There are public restrooms available for day users of the park, as well as parking spaces nearby where you can leave your vehicle while you enjoy some time exploring its natural beauty!
There are also many food options nearby the park if you want to bring a picnic but don’t have anything with you! For example, there is an Ivar’s restaurant located right across from Juanita Beach Park on the other side of Lake Washington, which has excellent fish n’ chips and clam chowder in bread bowls. Yum!
At the bottom right corner, there is a small beach with some sand where children can play or build sandcastles during low tide, along with areas for launching kayaks and other boats into and out of Lake Washington (however, be aware that all watercraft must pass through locks before entering or leaving saltwater).
Things not to do in Juanita Beach Park
Do not plan on being able to lie down in a shady spot.
Do not plan on being able to spread out a blanket or towel.
Do not expect the beach to be easily accessible from your car without lugging all of your stuff down a long, steep hillside.
Do not wear high heels or flip-flops if you have sensitive feet because, believe it or not, this is an off-roading adventure. There are rocks everywhere.
Location and Admission
Location: 9703 NE Juanita Dr, Kirkland, WA 98034, United States.
Parking can be limited on summer weekends, so plan accordingly by arriving early if possible, especially if you plan an overnight stay. There is no parking on NW Juanita Drive; however, there is a trailhead near the south end of Juanita Beach Park. There are two main parking options, one being off 100th St NE near Juanita Bay Elementary School (the closest) and another further down N.E. 75th St next to the Boat Launch/Marina area, which will take longer walking but may have more availability close-by if you’re coming from Seattle probably best to take the bus to avoid all the traffic.
Admission fee: $0.00
The admission fee for the Juanita Beach Park in Seattle, WA, is free of charge. You will be able to enjoy many different activities such as boating, biking, picnicking, or just relaxing on a blanket with your family members. There are no food vendors at this park, so if you plan on eating, bring some snacks along with something to drink. If you’re bringing children, there’s also a little playground area they can play around while adults chat nearby, enjoying each other’s company without having their kids around them constantly, like how it usually works out when adults go out together minus parenthood responsibilities.
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