If there’s one thing we’re good at in the Pacific Northwest, it’s layering on the clothing, zipping up our jackets and heading outdoors, even in inclement weather. We are rain warriors who know from experience that with the correct footwear and adequate apparel we can brave rain, wind and snow and still enjoy our outdoor paradise. Here are three parks to give you a breath of fresh air, even in the midst of a winter cold spell.
Big Rock Garden Park
Don’t be fooled by the name, there are no big rocks at Big Rock Garden Park, a sculpture garden tucked down a regular neighborhood street and obscured from the minds of most locals. Once owned by George Drake, a Bellingham City Council member, the park was purchased by the city of Bellingham in 1993 and contains a variety of sculptures likely to generate interest and conversation. Some are quirky, some serene, made of a variety of materials including polished stone, cut glass and steel. From a horticultural perspective, look out for the 100-plus varieties of maples planted throughout the park. And leave Fido at home – this park is not dog-friendly.
Details: To reach it look for 2900 Sylvan Street in the Silver Beach neighborhood.
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Terra Nova Adventure Play Environment
This park is an hour north of Bellingham in Richmond, B.C. – but it’s well worth the drive. Located on the middle arm of the Fraser River, the park was designed to mimic the intertidal foreshore, dykes and sloughs. It contains two 35-meter-long ziplines, a log jam structure that mimics walking on beach logs, a twisting, stainless steel slide accessible via a rope ladder, a tree house, an aerial rope walkway and “the spinnery,” a structure that spins up to 30 kids at a time in a circle. Don’t come here looking for metal and plastic. All the play structures were custom designed with an eye for sustainable materials including B.C. yellow cedar. Don’t bring your dog either, because this park is for “off-leash kids,” not dogs.
Details: To get there take the I-5 north, cross the border into Canada and then take B.C. Highway 91 North to Richmond, exiting at Alderbridge Way West and connecting to River Road. Terra Nova Adventure Play Environment is located at 2340 River Road.
There aren’t too many parks that can boast a century of longevity, but Broadway Park can. Acquired in 1906, this park is divided in two by Cornwall Avenue. On the eastern side there are restrooms and a playground for kids ages 3-9, while on the western side there’s a playground for younger kids, a basketball court and soccer fields. Because most of the park is located below street level, it has a secluded feel. Parents interested in plants will love the fact that this park showcases 100-year-old tastes in horticulture. Because kids have hollowed out most of the bushes over time, Broadway Park is also a great venue for a game of hide and seek.
Details: This park is located on the corner of Cornwall Avenue and North/South Park Street, north of Alabama Street.