Kirkland, just an easy 12 miles across a new bridge from Seattle, takes full advantage of being on the eastern shore of Lake Washington. Dock your boat, listen to an outdoor concert and shop the summertime farmers markets. Don’t have a boat? You are warmly invited to stroll the docks and admire the yachts and sailboats in the marinas. As guests of Explore Kirkland, we found out that it’s all about the lake vibe and relaxed atmosphere.
Where to Stay
Just a few blocks from Kirkland’s Marina Park you’ll find the comfortable and convenient Heathman Hotel. The Heathman is modern, tastefully decorated and has a farm to table restaurant, Trellis, with outdoor seating. Valet parking brings your car to the door if you should be able to tear yourself away from all the downtown has to offer. The area is very walkable and even has special flags to enhance the safety of crosswalks. Want to ride a bike around? The Heathman has loaners.
The luxurious lakefront Woodmark Hotel and Still Spa is located at Carillon Point. They pride themselves on amenities and and provide self and valet parking. There are two on-site restaurants bin on the lake and Beach Café. Whether you stay at the Woodmark, dine at the restaurants or just take a walk at the Marina, you’ll enjoy soaking in the beauty of the lake and luxurious surroundings.
Both Marinas provided us with stunning sunsets over the lake. At Marina Park we were lucky enough to take in an outdoor concert while we sat on the dock and enjoyed the view.
Where to Dine
Our visit was short so we didn’t get to explore the hundreds of restaurants Kirkland has to offer, but we did find several we can fully recommend. At the top of our list is the new Bottle and Bull with cuisine and cocktails that follow the French, Italian, Spanish and Cuban travels of Ernest Hemingway, with small to substantial plates and a weekend brunch.
Everything is made to order from scratch. The specialty cocktails are crafted behind a beautiful dark wood bar. We must say that Bottle and Bull rivaled any popular restaurant in foodie Portland, where we are from.
To start, we tasted several wines from the extensive and well-curated wine list. The delicious pickled eggs with creamy smoked salmon mousse were topped with a green tuft of dill. We also tried steak tartare with capers, shallots, quail egg, chilies, herbs, dijon, and toasted rye bread. It was excellent… seasoned well and pretty hearty for a small plate.
But the reason that will draw me back was the pan-seared chicken breast with risotto, tomatoes, lardons, mascarpone and basil. We waited a bit for it as it was made to order, but it was worth it. Crisp and flavorful on the outside, the chicken was as delightfully moist on the inside. The atmosphere at Bottle and Bull is casual but the service was impeccable.
Another recommendation is Beach Café with excellent casual dining and service and a view of the lake to make your visit memorable. After both dinners we spent time on the docks admiring the boats and watching the glorious sunsets.
If you are a wine aficionado, Kirkland has a surprise for you. Within a few minutes drive from downtown, you’ll find a mini-mall with art, wine and shops to explore. Our favorite find in the Totem Square area was Northwest Cellars. We happened upon an evening of live music and tasting and were impressed with the award-winning wines. Founder, Bob Delf, explained the popularity of the cellars’ custom designed label program, often benefiting charity. One of their most popular wine labels is the 12th Man label.
Wines are made with northwest grapes in Prosser, Washington. You can also try their wines at Nectar Tasting Room in downtown Spokane. Year ‘round you can join wine lovers for tasting and music during their Friday night Happy Hour.
Kirkland has access to the agricultural bounty of Washington State. The Farmers Markets are a fun place to peruse local produce and pick up lunch or dinner. We enjoyed the colorful Friday evening market at Juanita Park.
Things to Do in Kirkland
You’ll not run out of things to do during a visit to Kirkland. Check out the Kirkland Arts Center on Market Street with classes, gallery exhibits and special events. I especially liked the setting—the historic Peter Kirk Building. Local citizens banded together and saved the beautiful brick building. Completed in the late 1800’s, the building was a result of the city’s industrial building boom and is an important example of commercial architecture directly associated with the city’s founder, Peter Kirk, and the Kirkland Investment Company.
Outdoor recreation is yours as you explore the waterfront parks or get out on the lake in a kayak or stand up paddleboard. Northwest Paddle Surfers features Stand Up Paddle (SUP) rentals at both Juanita Beach Park and Marina Park.
You can bike the Cross Kirkland Corridor, a 5.75 mile urban trail system running through the heart of the city, and stop at a brew pub along the way. Join in to play some beach volleyball at Houghton Beach. There are trails to hike and birds to watch not all that far from central Kirkland.
Shopping is fun in Kirkland. Pick out something for your furry friend at Boo Boo Barkery (Kirkland is a dog-friendly town) or treat yourself to champagne and a macaron at Lady Yum, both on fun-filled Lake Street. After dinner, the vibrant Lake Street night scene makes for some good people watching.
Kirkland is not all that far from the hustle and bustle of Seattle, but once you are settled in, you’ll find that Kirkland has an upscale but laid back vibe. It is a place where you can get away from it all yet not be far from a major urban center.
The lake is a big draw and you’ll want to treat yourself to sunset whether you are sitting on a dock or enjoying a craft cocktail in one of the lakeside dining venues. Kirkland has a good blend of urban amenities and natural beauty.