Family-friendly events coming to Bell Street Park

Bell Street Park held a grand opening in April, and this summer, Seattle Parks and Recreation is planning a variety of family-friendly activities to show off its newest park.

Belltown Summer Art Market
The Belltown Summer Art Market kicks off tomorrow, Saturday, June 7 and will be held the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through Sept. 6.

The market will be located on Bell Street between Second and Third avenues. It’s an opportunity for people to collaborate with and support local artists in a beautiful outdoor gallery. There will be pop-up studios, installations, demonstrations and crafts for kids.

For more information, please visit

Saturday Fun Days
The Downtown Seattle Association in partnership with Seattle Parks will sponsor Saturday Fun Days from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 7 through Sept. 6. Bell Street Park will be filled with chalk art activities, giant games, the imagination playground and more between Second and Third avenues. Enjoy the Seattle sunshine and spend some quality time with the little ones.

For more information and event updates throughout the summer, please visit\parks\downtown.


New play area opens at Westlake Park

mayor westlake play 02

Mayor Mike McGinn joins members of the community to cut the ribbon on the new play area.

The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), City of Seattle and Seattle Children’s Research Institute have partnered to open a brand new play area in Westlake Park.

The year-round play area includes a soft, rubber-like surfacing and a Geode by Goric.  This large, netted spherical structure and a collection of large domes is surrounded by a fence with bench seating in some areas.  The design and elements involved were selected specifically with sightlines and function in mind, as the structures do not obstruct views to the retail spaces and through the park. Geode is designed to be used by children up to 12 years old.

Currently, amenities for families, such as parks and play areas for kids, are deficient within the Downtown core, with an exceedingly low number of existing public spaces oriented or designed for children.  Filling this gap has become imperative with some 3,000 children calling Downtown home and the Downtown residential population increasing by 20 percent since 2000, and more than 70 percent since 1990. The play area will also serve as an amenity for the tens of thousands of children who visit Downtown every year.

Children joined Mayor Mike McGinn at the opening of the new play area.

Children joined Mayor Mike McGinn at the opening of the new play area.

“You can’t really have a neighborhood without families, and young families deserve easily accessible play spaces,” said DSA President & CEO Kate Joncas. “Attracting and retaining families is a top priority for making Downtown a diverse and healthy neighborhood and the new play area certainly helps.”

In addition to bringing a fun and family friendly environment, the new play space will also provide health benefits.  A study led by Seattle Children’s Research Institute found that children living in neighborhoods with favorable neighborhood environment attributes, including quality parks, had 59 percent lower odds of being obese.

“More than 30 percent of American children and teens are obese or overweight,” said Seattle Children’s Research Institute President Dr. James Hendricks. “Children need spaces like this play area so that they can be physically active, and research also shows that outdoor play time helps improve Vitamin D levels and mental health.”

“We’re excited to be a party to bringing this great new amenity to the heart of downtown,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Christopher Williams.” Every activity that draws families to the park makes it a better place.”


Construction to begin for new Westlake Park Play Area

Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA, are excited to announce the construction schedule for installing the new Westlake Children’s Play Area.

Work is projected to begin on Monday, February 18, 2013 and to last 5-7 days with an opening celebration on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 11:30 a.m.

Westlake Park Playspace rendering

The new play space will open on March 1 in Westlake Park.

Half of the park will be required for installation and construction staging. The play space will be located on the east edge of the park, about midway between Pike and Pine Sts., across from the Metropolitan Building. Westlake Park is located in the heart of downtown Seattle at 401 Pine St.

DSA has partnered with Parks to help make downtown more family and kid-friendly by providing this small play space for children. This is a two year pilot program.

The play space will be encircled by attractive low fencing and benches where guardians can relax. Inside the play area will be two exciting play elements. The first is called a Mini Geode, a climbing structure with a combination of rounded and linear beams forming the outside sphere and a complex inner structure of ropes. The second structure is a grouping of three rolling climber domes made of stainless steel. The surfacing will be a forgiving rubberized material that rests directly on top of the existing pavers, allowing it to be removed without much disruption. Some of the existing planters have been relocated and pedestrians will be able to move smoothly past and around the play space.

Mithun ( volunteered their creative skills to design the space and Lease Crutcher Lewis ( generously volunteered to install the play equipment. Seattle Children’s Research Institute ( is the presenting sponsor for this project.

For a list of partnering organizations and to learn more about the project please visit

Playground in a Box brings creative play to urban kids

Playground in a Box is sort of Legos meets Lincoln Logs in giant blue foam. Now, put those pieces inside a brand new urban community center where it’s always warm and dry – no matter what the weather. And, voila! You have the concept for imaginative, physical, indoor play.

Playground in a Box is comprised of large foam blocks that are oddly formed with unique, abstract shapes that make kids curious and want to start building immediately. With their uniform blue color, abstract shapes, and infinite configurations, these blocks from Imagination Playground get kids’ minds working fast and keep them active. Instead of prescribing activities (climb this, sit on that), the blocks prompt kids to “fill in the blank” with their own ideas.

The blocks can be used to make anything kids can think of, and encourages socializing and cooperation. Younger, smaller kids may need help balancing and moving them, so they work in pairs or small teams. Older, larger kids quickly realize that if they want to build structures that are bigger than life, they need to plan and work together with other children.

Seattle Parks and Recreation, The Downtown Seattle Association and the Seattle Parks Foundation have partnered to bring this indoor playground to Belltown Community Center, 415 Bell St.

Children and their caregivers are invited to play on Wednesdays from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. and Fridays from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Entrance to the playground is free. Playground in a Box is appropriate for children at least 2 years old and older. For the very little ones, Belltown Community Center also has an indoor play room that is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 3:30 – 7:30 p.m. The drop-in fee is $2.

Playground in a Box can be used indoors and outdoors, and is waterproof. It will be housed at Belltown Community Center, but will be loaned out for special events at Westlake Park, Waterfront Park, and Bell Street Park when it is finished.

For more information, contact Belltown Community Center at 206-684-4093.