While I’ve been living in Redmond, I’ve gotten to explore some of the “east side” of the greater Seattle area, including Kirkland. If you look at a map, Seattle is a straight of land bordered on the west by the Puget Sound, and on the east by enormous Lake Washington. There are two bridges across this lake, and three big cities on the east side- Bellevue, Redmond, and Kirkland.
I’ve been living in Redmond on Lake Sammamish, and Redmond is where Microsoft headquarters are located. A lot of people in all three of these cities work for Microsoft. In my observation, Redmond is where a lot of families live- the downtown is more family-oriented and also very commercial with lots of outlets and a shopping mall. Bellevue has a downtown that has high-rise housing and office buildings, and seems to be a place where a lot of young Microsoft employees live that want the feel of a city but don’t want to commute from as far as Seattle. Kirkland seems to be where a lot of young people or young families live who want less of a city feel. When I wander around Kirkland I regularly find beautiful parks and waterfront spaces on Lake Washington.
Kirkland is also where the largest Google office in the Seattle area is, which I imagine adds to the atmosphere. When Jade was visiting, we spent some time hanging out in Kirkland, and visited the Google office to hang out with Seth. Google Kirkland has a free photo booth in the cafeteria which is fantastic. As the only non-googler in the group, I was maybe much more into it than they were. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t take pictures here EVERY DAY.
Kirkland has a beach on Lake Washington named Juanita Bay, which has a sand spit and a walkway on the water. During the day there are tons of people out enjoying the sun and boats, and at night it is warm and you can catch a beautiful sunset on Lake Washington. At least in the summer.
Kirkland also has a cute downtown that seems to offer a lot to younger folks. Seth and I went to a bar that had an indoor mini-golf course, and stacks of board games. Their beer was also mostly local Washington brews and delicious. Seth lives in Kirkland and knows all of the best spots. He is also much better than me at mini-golf.
I’ve really been enjoying exploring places in Washington that I didn’t know existed. Kirkland is a 20-30 minute drive from Seattle, and feels both like a suburb and also like a vibrant community in The Nature. I love how many trees there are and how walkable it is in the downtown areas. I would live here if I could afford it. It certainly costs less than the Bay Area, but is still turning into a tech worker paradise, which means much higher cost of living. Maybe for now it is just a beautiful place to visit.