May 2, 2019 (Montlake Cut)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out by attending a party. Opening Day/Windermere Cup weekend starts on Friday (6-10pm) at Seattle’s third annual Party on the Cut. The event features live music, food trucks, a beer garden for age 21+, and lawn games on the Montlake Cut (3710 Montlake Boulevard NE). Proceeds from ticket sales will establish rowing scholarships for low income youth, through the Windermere Foundation.

Join your fellow boating fans. Boats of all kinds will pass through the Montlake Cut on Saturday. Windermere Cup rowing races start off the day, beginning at 10:16am, culminating in the races between University of Washington crews and the German National Team, Boston University, and UCLA. Following that is the Opening Day boat parade, which celebrates the official start of the boating season in Seattle.

NOTE: Once the boat parade starts, the Montlake exit from SR 520 and the Montlake Bridge will be closed.

Get Out! along the parade route — and beyond. If you’re on the south side, you can walk along the Cut, then join the Arboretum’s vast network of trails, which will take you along Union Bay on a series of islands and boardwalks. Turn south at Foster Island and walk among the trees and plants. North of the cut, a walk through the beautiful UW campus is also a favorite.

Fuel up at Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club. Enjoy tasty Mexican food, as well as espresso, at Agua Verde (1307 NE Boat St). The cafe is open on Saturdays from 9am to 9pm, and Sundays from 9am to 8pm.  You can also rent kayaks there, but it may be a little hectic on the water this weekend.

Leaving the car at home? Take the light rail to the University of Washington station. Several bus routes, including 4871, and 73, provide service to the Montlake Cut area.

Weather forecast: Mostly sunny with highs of 63 on Friday and 68 on Saturday and Sunday.

February 14, 2018 (Magnuson Park)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Join your fellow mountain film fans. The Mountaineers (7700 Sand Point Way NE) are screening a documentary about two ascents of Mount Kennedy, a remote peak in the Yukon named for JFK — the first (and first-ever ascent) by Jim Whittaker and Robert Kennedy in 1965; the second by the sons of the original climbing team 50 years later. Tickets are available online for the Tuesday evening event. Doors open at 6pm.

Help out with forest restoration. Volunteers will be working in Magnuson Park () on Sunday near the west side of Sports Field Drive NE, from 9am to 1pm. And on Monday (the President’s Day holiday) near Kite Hill, from 9:30am to 1pm. Check “Sunday” and “Monday” links for details and directions.

Get Out! on your own adventure. Magnuson Park has a network of trails that take you along the lakeshore, through marshlands, across fields, and past outdoor art installations. If there is still snow and/or slush on the ground, take a spin on snowshoes or try Yaktrax.

Looking for a longer trek? The Burke-Gilman Trail is easily accessible from Magnuson Park.

Fuel up at the park or along the trail. Magnuson Cafe & Brewery (7801 62nd Ave NE) has locally-made beers on tap and is open for brunch at 9am on weekends (and for lunch at 11am on weekdays). Saint Helens Cafe is located right on the Burke-Gilman Trail (3600 NE 45th St) about 2.5 miles from the park and opens at 10am on weekends and 11am on weekdays. Both places are worth a stop for coffee, brunch, happy hour or dinner.

Leaving the car at home?  Metro bus 62 and bus 75 will take you to and from Magnuson Park. But check for any route changes due to weather and road conditions.

Weather forecast: The holiday weekend is forcast to be mostly cloudy with showers on Saturday with a high of 45 degrees on Saturday, 42 on Sunday, and 39 on Monday.

February 7, 2019 (Snoqualmie Pass)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Join your fellow snowshoers. Strap on snowshoes (which are provided if you don’t have your own) for a ranger-led trek at Snoqualmie Pass. Choose from 1-mile or 5-mile routes or a winter photography outing. Trips take place on weekends through March 24. Pre-register and find the details online.

Help out at Outdoors for All. While up at the Pass, chances are you will see Outdoor for All volunteers skiing/riding with adaptive, visually-impaired, and developmentally-disabled athletes. OFA is always looking for new volunteers and runs programs and events year-round, including the SPREEFEST at Alpental on March 9.

Get Out! on the hill. The snow has been plentiful lately (even at sea level!), and the Summit at Snoqualmie is only 45-minutes from Seattle. Storms this week should make for great skiing and riding from your choice of five base lodges.

Fuel up on the mountain. The Pass has no shortage of eateries. Other options are located in the small commercial area on the road linking the base areas (NF-9041).

Leaving the car at home? On Sundays, from now until March 24, you can catch the Seattle Ski Bus to Snoqualmie Pass from the University District, Downtown Seattle, or Bellevue. Book your seat and find information online.

Weather forecast: Snow is forecast for the weekend, with high temps in the mid-20s at the Pass.

January 31, 2019 (Downtown/Alki)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Join your fellow “Step Forward” participants. Whether you’re curious about the new tunnel or nostalgic for the viaduct, you can explore them this weekend at events taking place from the stadiums to the Seattle Center. Saturday includes an 8K fun run, tunnel walk, STEM activities, and a community celebration and art festival on the viaduct. Sunday offers a registered bike ride through the tunnel.

Help out at Alki. On Friday, from 10am to 1pm, volunteers will pick up garbage (click Feb 1 on the calendar) at Alki Beach and neighborhood to prevent it from ending up in the Sound. Bring gloves and a garbage bag; pick-up sticks provided. Meet at Alki Beach (2452 Alki Ave SW). Contact the organizer for more details.

Get Out! on water and wheels (or feet). On Friday and this Saturday, you can take the West Seattle Water Taxi to the Alki Beach Trail — and beyond — for a bike ride or walk. Bikes can be brought on board the water taxi.

Fuel up downtown or on Alki. Sitting atop the new tunnel, Von’s 1000Spirits has, as you might imagine, a full (spirited) bar, as well as pizzas, pastas, and giant burgers on buns made from their own sourdough. Located at the top of the Harbor Steps at 1225 1st Ave, Von’s is open at 11am daily.

Need a break from all the changes in Seattle? Step back in time at Alki Spud Fish and Chips (2666 Alki Ave SW). Since 1935, Spud has been serving up fried fish and shrimp, chowders, and shakes from 11am to 9pm daily.

Leaving the car at home? The West Seattle Water Taxi normally operates on weekdays only in the winter, but will also run this Saturday. The entrance is at the foot of Madison Street (801 Alaskan Way). From the West Seattle (Seacrest) dock, the free DART shuttle (#775) runs along Alki Ave SW.

Weather forecast: Friday could see some rain, with a high of 51 degrees; Saturday is forecast to be mostly cloudy with a high of 50 degrees; Sunday should be mostly cloudy, but colder with a high of 44 degrees.

November 29, 2018 (Lake Washington-Southend, Renton)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out those in need. It’s Christmas Ship season (through December 23)! Board an Argosy vessel this Sunday at Hyatt Regency Lake Washington (1053 Lake Washington Bl. N, Renton) from 2pm-4pm and journey to Seward Park with Bellevue Youth Choirs — or an evening cruise with The Dickens Carolers (7pm to 9:45pm) that stops at Mount Baker Beach, Stan Sayres Park, and Ferdinand Street Park. Check the website for the schedule and pricing. A portion of all ticket sales is donated to The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy.

If you’d rather stay on land, the ports of call listed above are hosting free bonfires, ship viewing, and music from the choirs and carolers. Schedule: Seward Park () at 3:05pm, Mount Baker Beach () at 7:40pm, Stan Sayres Park (3808 Lake Washington Bl. S) at 8:15pm, and Ferdinand Street Park (5018 Lake Washington Bl. S) at 8:50pm.

Join your fellow winter walkers. Seward Park Audubon Center (5902 Lake Washington Bl. S) is leading free nature walks on Sunday, which highlight the park’s plants and animals as winter approaches. Three times are offered: 11am to 12pm, 12:30 to 1:30pm, or 2pm to 3pm. Register online.

Get out! in Gene Coulon Memorial Park. Situated on Lake Washington in Renton (1201 Lake Washington Bl. N), Coulon Park features two miles of paths and trails.

The park is also on the popular Lake Washington loop cycling route, as are the ports of call on the Christmas Ship cruises above.

Fuel up at Bent Burger. This southend spot in Seward Park (5100 S Dawson St) serves my favorite burger: the Black Cat Bleu Bacon with sweet candied bacon and blue cheese crumbles. I haven’t tried the Bent Burger, but if you’re game, it has two grilled cheese sandwiches for a bun with candied bacon, a hotlink, and a fried egg. Bent also serves breakfast items, shakes, and draft beers from 11am daily.

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #50 goes to Seward Park and Bent Burgers and connects with several other bus lines. The #14 and #27 stop within a 10-minute walk of Mount Baker Beach and the #14 within a 20-minute walk of Stan Sayres Park. You can get to the Hyatt/Coulon Park in Renton by light rail and bus by connecting to the F Line at Tukwila International Blvd. Station (it just takes between 60-90 minutes, depending on where you board the light rail).

Weather forecast: Saturday and Sunday are forecasted to me partly cloudy/mostly sunny with highs in the mid-40s.

November 15, 2018 (Green Lake/Ravenna)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out the homeless at a run and mashed potato-eating contest. Support Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission at the Green Lake Gobble & Mashed Potato Munch Off on Sunday. Run, eat, drink beer — and donate to the canned food drive. Pre-register online or at the event beginning at 8am. The start and finish lines are at the Green Lake Crew Boathouse.

Join your fellow readers, eaters, and drinkers. Author Judith Dern reads from her book, The Food and Drink of Seattle: From Wild Salmon to Craft Beer at Third Place Books Ravenna (6504 20th Ave NE). Learn about the history, culture, and cuisine of Seattle on Thursday at 7pm.

Get out! and explore Ravenna and Cowen Parks. You can walk primarily on greenbelt from Green Lake to Cowen and Ravenna Parks. The Green Lake loop is about 3 miles, and continuing to Cowen Park adds another mile — there you’ll find 4.5 miles of trails within the two contiguous parks, which take you into a ravine and past Ravenna Creek.

Fuel up at Cafe Arta. Located inside Third Place Books, Cafe Arta Bistro & Pub serves Greek/Mediterranean cuisine from 8am daily. Fidalgo coffee and espresso are available, as well as a full brunch menu. The downstairs pub opens at 3pm daily with 18 beers on tap. See food photos here!

Leaving the car at home? Several buslines serve the Green Lake/Ravenna area, including #45 and #62.

Weather forecast: Mostly sunny. High around 53 on Saturday. A little cooler on Sunday with a high around 49.

October 25, 2018 (Seward Park)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out the Leukemia and Lymphona Society. And celebrate Halloween! “Dress up as your favorite decade” and run/walk around Seward Park (5900 Lake Washington Blvd S) at Run Scared, which includes a 10K, 5K, 4K, kids’ dash, treasure hunt, and costume contests for people and dogs. Proceeds benefit blood cancer research. Takes place on Sunday; registration begins at 7:30am.

Join South Seattle writers at Third Place Books. On Thursday evening at 7pm, speakers and contributors to Emerald Reflections 2: A South Seattle Emerald Anthology will be at Third Place in Seward Park (5041 Wilson Ave S) for an author event.

Get out! on the Lake Washington Boulevard lakeside path. Enjoy fall color and lake views on a walk north from Seward Park. If you go all the way to Mount Baker Park, it’s more than a six-mile round trip.

Fuel up at Raconteur. Located inside Third Place Books, this new neighborhood hangout offers a coffee bar and full-service restaurant upstairs and a pub downstairs. Brunch items like Belgian Waffles and Corned Beef Hash rank among our favorites. The coffee bar and restaurant open at 8am on weekends. Lunch, dinner, and happy hour are also happening.

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #50 serves Seward Park and Third Place and connects with several other routes.

Weather forecast: Cloudy with a high right around 60 degrees; periods of rain on Sunday.

October 18, 2018 (Crown Hill/Carkeek Park)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out at Carkeek Park. The park is the place to be on Saturday for two volunteer opportunities. Join Carkeek STARS volunteers from 9am-12pm for forest restoration and trail maintenance. Follow the STARS signs to the meeting place (950 NW Carkeek Rd.).

Alternatively, attend the Carkeek Park Salmon Stewards training at the Environmental Learning Center from 9:30am to 3pm. Then sign up for 3 or 4 shifts on Saturdays and Sundays from November 3 to December 2. Volunteer duties include staffing a salmon information table, talking to visitors at Piper’s Creek, and keeping tally of the location and number of salmon returning to the creek. See the website for more info or to sign up.

Join your fellow Arbor Day celebrants. Soundview Playfield (1590 NW 90th St) hosts the Celebrate Arbor Day! event on Saturday from 9am-12pm. Join local non-profits, agencies, and companies for tree planting, an “Ask an Arborist” booth, a neighborhood Tree Walk, and apple cider pressing. RSVP online.

Get out! in the woods and on the beach. Carkeek Park has something for everyone — forest trails, beach walks, and expansive bluff views. Download/print a trail map online.

Fuel up at The Dane. This neighborhood beer and coffee cafe (8000 15th Ave NW) also offers Danish-style sandwiches, salads, dogs and brats. Try The Dane Dog with cream cheese, diced onions, pickles, mustard, and homemade remoulade. Open at 8am daily until 10pm Sunday-Thursday and 11pm Friday & Saturday.

Leaving the car at home?  Metro buses #40, #45 and the D-Line will drop you within blocks of Soundview Playfield and The Dane. The D-Line stops near the Piper’s Creek Trailhead in Carkeek Park, and it is a 0.8-mile walk to the Environmental Learning Center (950 NW Carkeek Rd.).

Weather forecast: Mostly sunny skies are forecast with temps in the mid-60s.

October 11, 2018 (Queen Anne/South Lake Union)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out with the fight against heart disease and stroke. Join the Puget Sound Heart & Stroke Walk as a volunteer or participant. The event takes place at the Seattle Center and walkers/runners can choose between a 1-mile or a 5k route.

Join your fellow enlightened. The inaugural BOREALIS festival happens this weekend (rain or shine) at Lake Union Park and the South Lake Union neighborhood. Each evening, Thursday through Sunday, features a competition and exhibition of technology and light art, live music, street art performance, lighting art installations, and multi-media video mapping. The festival is free, but tickets are needed for the video mapping performances.

Get out! and up the hill. Take in one of the best views in Seattle (and get a pretty good workout too) at Kerry Park. From the Seattle Center, head up the hill to W Highland Dr and turn west to the park (211 W Highland Dr).

Fuel up at Toulouse Petit. Beignets, catfish sticks, and other New Orleans-inspired fare are available at this Lower Queen Anne favorite (601 Queen Anne Ave N). Weekend brunch is served from 8am to 3pm, as well as Early Happy Hour (4-6pm), dinner (5-11pm), and Late Night Happy Hour (10pm to closing).

Leaving the car at home? To get to the Seattle Center, you can take buses #8#13/2, and #24/19. For South Lake Union, bus #40 runs along Westlake Avenue and #70  goes along Eastlake. The South Lake Union streetcar travels to SLU from the Westlake light rail station.

Weather forecast: Low 60s and mostly sunny (!)

September 20, 2018 (Fremont)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out at a little park with a big view. Fremont Peak Park (4357 Palatine Ave N) could use some weeding. Join area residents for a work party on Saturday from 10am to 12pm.

Join your fellow cooks. PCC Community Markets celebrates the release of its first cookbook, Cooking from Scratch, with an author event. PCC’s executive chef, Lynne Vea, will discuss and demo cooking with sustainable ingredients and answer questions. The event happens on Thursday at 6:30pm at Book Larder (4252 Fremont Ave N).

Get out! for a festival tour (plus a park or two). What says fall better than the Fremont Oktoberfest? Chainsaw pumpkin carving happens Friday and beer tasting all weekend long at 35th and Canal (ages 21 and over only).

Looking for a more family-friendly, less boozy event? Head over to neighboring Ballard for the Sustainable Ballard Fest at Ballard Commons Park (5701 22nd Ave NW) on Saturday from 11am to 4pm. Activities include learning new ways to lower your carbon footprint, helping to make fresh cider and meeting farm animals.

Incorporate one or both fests with a walk or bike to Gas Works Park and Fremont Peak Park. A suggested 5-mile route is here.

Fuel up with middle eastern food. When in Fremont, we go to Cafe Turko for authentic and delicious Turkish fare, including some of our favorites: “aromatic lamb with Turkish apricots and almonds,” eggplant moussaka, and Turkish delight. Our walk/bike route goes right by its 750 N 34th St location, open from 10am daily (closes at 9:30pm Sun-Fri, 10pm on Saturdays).

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #40 goes to Fremont and Ballard (and in between). Routes 31 and 32 and 62 go to Fremont. Biking from the UW/Husky Stadium light rail station is also an option.

Weather forecast:  Highs in the mid-60s with occasional rain on Saturday; sun and clouds on Sunday.