Just 15 miles from Seattle, along the northeast shores of Lake Washington, a beautifully restored landmark sits in the middle of a 316-acre state park. Amid winding trails and lush forest, this once Catholic seminary—the first accredited in the United States—has since evolved into a Northwest-inspired lodge, which welcomed its first guests in 2021.
Lodge at St. Edward Kristin Gillespie
Despite its proximity to the city, The Lodge at St. Edward Park truly feels like a getaway destination from the moment you arrive. And while it serves as a relaxing escape for adults—complete with the indulgences of two bars, fine dining, and a spa—I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it offers exploration and adventure for pint-sized travelers as well. My 5-year-old’s interest peaked when she heard of our plans to not only visit a park, but to stay overnight. One of her first discoveries upon arriving was Otto the Otter, a bronze statue who greeted us just outside the front entrance. After spotting Otto again in the lobby mural and on the kids’ menu in the restaurant, my daughter instantly became one of The Lodge’s most faithful ambassadors.
Our guest room was so comfortable and elegantly decorated that it was a challenge not to sink into the pillows and plant ourselves there for the duration of our stay. But the lure of adventure proved greater. We dropped our bags, tucked in some stuffed animals, and set out again.
The Lodge provides complimentary transportation to help guests explore the surrounding area within a 10-mile radius. Wine tasting in Woodinville, shopping and dining in Kirkland, or a sightseeing flight with Kenmore Air are just some of the activities that are readily available to Lodge guests. That said, there are so many activities and amenities available right on property that my family didn’t find the need to leave the grounds during our stay. Our daughter’s favorite amenity? Hands down, the library. It is available to guests 24/7 and has a ready supply of not only books, but games as well. And snacks—granola bars, fruit snacks, pretzels, trail mix, lollipops, free for the taking. After making that discovery, you can bet that she asked to stop by the library to snag a lollipop each time we returned to our room.
Our first priority was to get out on a trail. After a quick stop at The Grotto, where my daughter procured a white rose from the remnants of a recent wedding, we picked up the Seminary Trail and followed it down to Lake Washington. As we were taking in the view, a bald eagle swooped down to graze the water’s surface and back up again to perch on the branches that hung above our heads.
Returning to The Lodge, our exploration of discovery continued. We were delighted to happen upon the Chef’s Garden and apiary, learning later that the produce, herbs, and honey harvested there are often incorporated into the menu at the signature restaurant, Cedar + Elm. We made a game of finding, scanning, and sharing the trivia found on QR codes that make up the self-guided historical tour, scattered throughout the property. And we wandered through the Gallery of Fine Arts, an on-site showcase of rotating local art. Did my daughter identify her favorites and pose next to them, demanding photos? Yes, indeed, she did.
Dinner that evening was a treat. Fans of Bravo TV’s Top Chef may recognize Chef Luke Kolpin from season 19, now Executive Chef at Cedar + Elm. The menu focuses on sustainability, seasonality, and support of local producers and purveyors. Our selections for the evening: crisp, raw oysters with a fermented chili mignonette and black garlic braised short ribs with a delicate mushroom flavor. Artistically crafted cocktails from Father Mulligan’s Heritage Bar rounded out our evening—and I have it on good authority that they make a mean Shirley Temple as well.
The lure of the trails called to us again the next morning and we decided to head out to the park once more—this time on two wheels. My husband and I had considered borrowing some of the mountain bikes that The Lodge keeps on-hand for guest use, but ultimately decided to stay on our feet so we were available to help our daughter through some of the tougher parts of the trail. Naturally, we had to make a stop at the playground afterward. With a castle-like structure, a climbing wall, slides, swings, and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, it was well-populated—obviously a magnet for kids of all ages.
Finally, the time came for us to take our leave. As we circled the driveway and turned our car away from the beautiful brick façade, a voice from the backseat asked if she could celebrate her next birthday at The Lodge at St. Edward. If that is not the ultimate endorsement from a 5-year-old, I don’t know what is. I guarantee that my family and I will be back for another visit.