Parks, eateries and posh shops offer plenty to do in Mill Creek

By Gale Fiege September 20, 2014

Mill Creek is Snohomish County's youngest city.Not a lot of quaint history here. But quite a bit of healthy vitality.Incorporated only 31 years ago, it's what you might call a bedroom community, a commuter town or a retirement burg.No matter. People in Mill Creek, many of whom are well-educated and affluent, will tell you their young city has soul.At first it was just second-growth forests, farms and small businesses lining Bothell-Everett Highway.

Then it was developed into the Mill Creek planned community, built around a golf course and country club as its centerpiece.Now Mill Creek is home to about 20,000 people living on about five square miles, surrounded by other suburban neighborhoods.The city has numerous parks. Mill Creek Sports Park hosts baseball, softball, soccer and a skate park, and Highlands Park has tennis and basketball courts. The county runs two nearby parks. McCollum Park has an outdoor swimming pool and North Creek Park has a nature preserve.If you are in Mill Creek for your kid's ballgame, there's more to see.McCollum Park, 600 128th St. SE, also is the home of Washington State University's Snohomish County Extension office, which offers programs such as 4-H, agricultural and forestry resources, Master Gardeners and Beach Watchers volunteers, natural resource education and research. The Northwest Stream Center also is located there, with exhibits, a nature trail and documentary movie showings.

The city's North Creek Trail stretches from McCollum Park south along its namesake creek to North Creek County Park, located near 180th Street.The paved trail goes right through Mill Creek Town Center, an award-winning mixed-use outdoor mall that includes City Hall, restaurants, gift shops, Central Market and services such as yoga and fitness gyms, chiropractic and eye clinics, and manicure, pedicure, massage, tanning and hair salons.It's all there, including an outdoor venue for city events. Town Center's final free concert in its summer series is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at 151st and Main streets, just off Bothell-Everett Highway. Performing that evening will be Cherry Cherry, a Neil Diamond tribute band.Especially in warm fall weather, Town Center is a nice place to stroll, shop and eat.

Look for Thai Bistro, just south of 164th Street, or check out Azul on the north end of the center, especially if the bar window is all the way open for diners enjoying the restaurant's Mexican, Latin, Caribbean-inspired cuisine.Make a stop at Frost, a “dessert lounge” that serves an interesting mix of wine, espresso, cupcakes, doughnuts and frozen custard.Nicole Reisz, 18, and Shelby Kiel, 19, of Bothell said they like to meet at Frost to enjoy a sinful doughnut as often as they can.The restaurant's specialty is the Doughnut Sundae, a doughnut, custard and various toppings for $5.99.After that, you'd better take a stroll. University Book Store in Mill Creek Town Center may not stock all the University of Washington textbooks, but it offers occasional book talks and author visits.

At the Color Me Mine pottery studio, the Romeo sisters, Andrea, 11, and Rachel, 18, spent a recent leisurely afternoon painting figurines as the shop.“We come down every chance we can to get out of the house and relax,” Rachel said. “That's what Mill Creek Town Center is — a relaxing place.” Mill Creek library, a branch of Sno-Isle Libraries, is a popular and crowded place. The Friends of the Mill Creek Library offers books for sale near the library entrance.

Located at 15429 Bothell-Everett Highway, the library sits adjacent to the Mill Creek Veterans Memorial, landscaped by the Mill Creek Garden Club, and a small park and playground, just right for children who need to expend a little energy before going into the library to check out a book.That's exactly what Xavien Konig, 4, of Mill Creek, did earlier this month.After playing, Xavien, who reads at about a second-grade level, picked out several books to read to his mom, Missy Konig, as they sat on the library's window seat in the children's area.

It was a nice, early fall afternoon.Tourist in Your Own TownIn each of our cities in Snohomish and Island counties, we have tourist attractions often overlooked by the people who live in this region. Have you taken the time to be a Tourist in Your Own Town? This the ninth in a continuing series of monthly explorations of our hometowns. For more Tourist in Your Own Town stories, go to