By Jean Janes
As the season heats up and the weather keeps clear for more than a few hours at a time, the beach beckons! Living near the Puget Sound means many shoreline options. Just in the South Sound area, there are multiple little alcoves, corners, or walks from which to choose. The trick, however, is knowing which provides what amenities for the sort of beach day one prefers.The best beach for wading into the water may not be the ideal spot for picnicking.
I took a tour of three spots: American Lake Park, Titlow Park, and Chambers Creek Regional Park. All three are beautiful and are great recreational family locations, but each also has something special to offer that sets it apart from the others.
American Lake Park is a small alcove of trees, playground, and beach. Providing boat access and fishing spots, American Lake Park certainly serves as an excellent setting off point onto the lake itself, but this little park is a pleasant spot in its own right. Out of the parks I visited, I found this one to have the loveliest shade. There is a covered picnic pavilion as well, but there’s something magical about relaxing in the dappled sunlight and cool shadows that a corner of forest can provide. Yet, unlike the floor of a forest, the ground at this park is covered in thick green grass.
There is also a playground with the basics: swings, slides, and climbing. The shore, the primary reason for my visit, is a lovely stretch of the typical South Sound pebbles and sand combination. There is plenty of room to enjoy the shore with some chairs, and the water is ideal for those interested in some swimming or splashing. Out of the three parks, American Lake was the only one where the beach is accessible by stroller. Once on the beach, the usual difficulties of sand and pebbles make an extra pair of hands helpful with a stroller, but at least there was a useable path with which to reach the beach in the first place. I found American Lake Park to be a nice little area that delivers a little of everything.
Titlow Park, on the other hand, delivers a lot of everything. With sprawling lawns, a great playground apparatus, and a dynamic splash park, it would be easy to miss the segment of shoreline at the end of the park. Across a couple of tracks, over a dock, and down a sandy hill, a small section of coast displays an amazing view of the Narrows Bridge. Mostly rocky, there are some sandy areas as well. This compact region of beach is perfect for a soaking up some sun or leaning back with a book.
Right above the beach there is a fenced path along the train tracks that make for some fun train viewing for the kids, but be forewarned: some of those trains speed through. Overall, the Titlow Park beachfront offers a panoramic view and a pleasant place to escape the activity of the park pandemonium next door.
Chambers Creek Regional Park is a windswept wonderland. Trails and paths are ideal for strolling, walking, and jogging. Monolithic concrete artifacts from a bygone industrial past dot the expansive grassy fields.
A graceful footbridge arches over train tracks and leads to the beach. Unfortunately, the way down to the shore is stairs only. A kind stranger gave me a hand with the stroller on our way down, but in the future, I plan to have a friend come along for stroller assistance. Once on the sand and pebbles, the stroller is once more reduced to a chair. The rocks are too large for standard stroller wheels, but a jogging stroller might manage to make it closer to the water line.
This is definitely a “bring your own chair” type of beach as the texture of the earth is a bit rocky. Still, the view is superb, and the stunning vistas during the journey to the beach makes it worth the visit. Chambers Creek is by far my favorite of the three for walking or playing on the open grass. Taking a jog through the park or running some nervous energy out of the kids then wading in the water for a spell is my idea of a day well spent.
All three parks are worth a visit—maybe even a weekend—to appreciate what each has to offer. In short, I’d probably picnic at American Lake Park, play at Titlow, and explore at Chambers Creek. All three parks certainly have views that astonish, and remind me each time I visit how lucky I am to live in the South Sound area.