3 Reasons Why Forest Park Should be Your Family Destination

Editor’s Note: Originally published July 25, 2017.

Let’s talk about Forest Park for a minute.

I’ve lived in this city for a decade. I’m like: “Yeah, okay, Forest Park. Sure.”

But then I went there last weekend with the kids.

The parking lot was almost full. The place was packed. Kids running, kids swinging, hot sun, splash pads. The smell of barbecues. The sound of goats bleating. A professional band was playing Bill Withers covers.

And I was like: “Oh yeah: Forest Park. 40 acres of wooded green in the heart of the city. Summer destination for the whole family.”

Let’s take a closer look at the micro-jewels nestled inside this civic gem.

The Animal Farm

Animal Farm is the name of that one George Orwell book you had to read in high school.

It’s also the name of a family-friendly petting zoo that’s home to bunnies, sheep, ducks, horses, chickens and ponies.

(Weirdly, there used to be a full-on zoo at Forest Park. There were even grazing fields for elk and bison. But that's a different story.)

The animals of Animal Farm live in little red barns. It’s a fenced park with sawdust on the ground: forgiving for toddlers learning to walk. Kids run laughing through the park, excited by the novelty of petting a goat. There are hand washing stations and volunteer docents to help your kid handle a bunny.

Parents please note that this is a great summertime photo op.

The farm’s seasonal schedule is right here.

Floral Hall

Floral Hall is beautiful in the way that old buildings made from timber are beautiful.

The building was designed to be an exhibition hall for flower clubs. The ground was broken by Mrs. George Carter, president of the Gladiolus Society. I had to Google what a gladiolus was. You’ve seen them.

“Floral Hall was built of unhewn timbers in the classic National Parks Rustic Style,” notes local historian David Dilgard. The walls are made of native, peeled cedar logs with “pleasingly knotted” surfaces.

Floral Hall interior, rich with wood beams.

Floral Hall interior, rich with wood beams.

Yep. This building is a classy joint. I went to a wedding there (my own) and a membership party for the Sno-Isle Food Co-op. On both occasions I was impressed by the beautiful interior of this building.

When I think about Floral Hall I always circle back to the same question. Why design and construct a building dedicated exclusively for gazing at flowers? Why would the city give the green light to this project? And what does it say about society circa 1938?

I think it says a lot about the idyllic past of our city. Strong social bonds, built around flowers. Taxpayers bankrolling unadulterated aesthetic appreciation.

How do you go up from there, as a society?

Later there was more. The building has seen weddings, dances, parties. It retains eight decades of celebrations. Good vibes here.

You can rent Floral Hall by visiting the city’s website.

You can rent Floral Hall by visiting the city’s website.

The Swim Center

And by “Swim Center” I mean a regular pool, a sauna, a hot tub and a small outdoor kids pool.

The main pool has diving boards, a rope swing, hoops for water basketball, and swimming lanes roped off by floating buoys.

The city does a good job with programming. You can do floating yoga on paddle boards. You can do water aerobics. There are swim lessons for little swimmers in water wings.

Admission is affordable and it’s hard to think of a better way to cool off during the summer.

Plus, you can keep the kids busy for five dang minutes. Put on your shades, and lounge poolside with an iced americano.

And so.

When I go to Forest Park, I always think of my personal history. I got married here. I recognize my own nostalgia, compounded by natural beauty. And now my kids go here to play.

Other peoples' kids play here. I'm guessing these families are making lifelong memories, too. How many people have enjoyed, frolicked in this shared space? Picnicked here? Or marveled at the big trees in the heart of the city?

The word heirloom doesn’t have to mean a material thing.

Sometimes it's a place that you can share and pass on.

Forest Park
802 E. Mukilteo Blvd. 
Everett, WA 98203

Learn more about
Forest Park History

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Richard Porter is a writer for Live in Everett.