When you drive up to the Sammamish Commons, it is clear you are in the city. On one of the busiest streets in Sammamish, across the street from a high school, you will find the Sammamish City Hall and a police station sharing space with a skate park and some new construction. Just beyond this scene, however, is a stunning hidden park that will make you forget you were just in the middle of suburbia.
Behind the Sammamish City Hall is a series of stairs and walking paths that take you down into a deep valley. As soon as you begin your way down the steps, you no longer see many signs of city life. Grassy hills and trees surround the paths that lead you into the valley and towards a hidden playground and splash park. You pass a large area of protected marshland that gives the Commons it’s strong connection to nature. As you come around the corner that will bring you to the playground, you also pass a large, dilapidated barn (on private property bordering the park) that adds to the atmosphere. Finally, after about 10 minutes of walking, you arrive at the playground and splash park.
There are very few splash parks on the Eastside or in the Seattle area, so finding one is like finding hidden treasure. Tucked up against a small hillside orchard of trees, this one is a cement area with 11 fountains embedded into the ground. After pushing the black start button on the top of the green pole next to the spray area, the fountains spray in unexpected patterns, allowing kids to chase them around and get soaking wet. The whole spray area is flat, making it competely accessible to wheelchairs. The fountains spray for about 10 minutes and then turn off, but will start again by pushing the button.
The splash park is tucked into the side of a brand new playground, with swings, slides, seesaws and sand. There is a loop of cement path good for roller skates, bikes, and chalk drawing. A covered picnic area adjacent to the playground (but opposite from the splash park) offers a few tables for eating. There is a large grassy area for playing- not big enough for a sports game, but fine for running around.
The effect of the isolation, valley, and farmhouse, all combine to give this play area the feel of a different time. In fact, if Laura Ingalls Wilder had a splash park near her little house on the prairie, it would look a lot like this. It is such an uncommon park, Sammamish Commons is worth many lazy afternoons.
Sammamish Commons Park
Address: 801 228th Ave SE, Sammamish, WA
Some tips for fun at Sammamish Commons:
The path down into the valley to the playground and splash park is quite long. If you have kids who tire easily, it would be worth it to bring a stroller or wagon. Even if they are fine on the way down, they will still have to make their way back up to the car, making wheels a lifesaver. The path is completely paved, making it very easy to maneuver. It is not a steep path, although it does switch back and forth several times. Stairs are also available straight up the hill. Expect to hike down for about 15 minutes to get to the playground, and back up a bit longer.
Bathrooms are located in the City Hall building. If you think your child will need to use the bathroom, do so before you go to the park, otherwise it will be a 15 minute trek back up the hill to use them.
There is very little shade in the play area, except for the covered picnic area, which is several yards away from little ones enjoying the splash area. A beach umbrella is a great source of shade and can be planted right in the grass near the playground or splash park.
Parking is available in front of the City Hall building and in front of the skate park. The City Hall parking is more convenient for trekking to the path if you have a stroller or wagon. After you have parked, head around the north side of the building and down a gravel hill and through the gravel reserved parking area. At the end of the parking area you should see a path connecting to the cement path down the hill. Whatever you do, do not take strollers or wagons into the large cement open space right next to the City Hall and across from the skate park. This will take you to a steep set of stairs that is not good for wheels and you will have to head back.
A new parking area is being built on the back side of the Commons Park, and there is currently some limited street parking available, as well. To get to the back side, go west on SE 4th St from 228th St. Turn left at 222nd Place SE and drive until you see the sign for Sammamish Commons. This has a slightly shorter path to the playground area.
Good things to bring with you: swimsuit, towel, beach umbrella, sunblock, picnic, wagon or stroller, chalk, sand toys, and other toys like frisbees, bikes, and scooters.