Parks offer something special in springtime

Children play on the pirate-themed play structure at Boulevard Park in June 2013.
Children play on the pirate-themed play structure at Boulevard Park in June 2013. The Bellingham Herald

Nearly every park in Whatcom County offers something special as the seasons change, but local residents find these three locations best in springtime, when the brighter days beckon families outdoors again. Parents might want to bring a towel to dry off wet play structures, and a change of shoes and pants for when the kids get wet and muddy.

Boulevard Park

Enjoy views of Bellingham Bay, along with marine animals and ships that ply its waters, at this popular expanse of lawn along the Bellingham waterfront.

There’s a small beach to play on, lots of room to run, and a play structure with a pirate-ship theme that features a speaking tube, slides, climbing structure that mimics tall ship’s rigging, and all sorts of unorthodox shapes for scrambling, crawling and sliding.

“Sandy play area, playground, rock throwing, and a big grassy area for play,” raves Melanie Page of Sudden Valley, who brings her two children.

“Ours is also Boulevard,” says Alishia “Smock” Joubert of Sudden Valley. “We have a 3-year-old and 13-year-old, and there is something for everyone. And coffee for mom and dad.”

There’s plenty of free parking, but it’s also accessible by Whatcom Transportation Authority bus or via the South Bay Trail and a small shoreline. It has restrooms and a Woods Coffee. Find a printable map at cob.org/documents/parks/parks-trails/trail-guide/south_bay.pdf.

Cornwall Park

This playground nestled between Birchwood and Columbia neighborhoods features new playground equipment, a large sheltered picnic area, plenty of parking, bus service and restrooms, along with a disc golf course, a basketball court and a horseshoe pit. In late spring, after school year ends, a spray park opens daily. The biggest allure in spring is the network of trails through the adjacent woods and the wetland areas of Squalicum Creek and Bug Lake.

Jen Nelson of Sudden Valley recalls how her now-teenage son one used to enjoy roaming the trails and exploring the creek.

“He loved it so much, but he grew up and now he likes skate parks,” she said.

Find a map of the park and its trails at cob.org/documents/parks/parks-trails/trail-guide/cornwall.pdf.

Hovander Homestead

Situated on a former pioneer farm along the Nooksack River, this park outside Ferndale offers an immense array of activities. There’s the historic 1903 home, (open for tours Friday-Sunday, Memorial Day to Labor Day) and the 60-foot barn, which houses a collection of antique farm equipment. Starting in May, you’ll find barnyard animals such as cows, chickens, sheep and pigs in outside pens. There’s a huge lawn, a restored water tower for climbing, and two playgrounds: one for toddlers and another for ages 5-12. Visitors will also find a large picnic shelter, restrooms and a riverside trail. Nearby is Tennant Lake Park, with its Fragrance Garden and boardwalk trail through a marsh.

Find a map online at whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/6956.